Despite 18% Contract Failure Rate, Home Resales Stay Strong

Existing Home Supply

Despite fewer homes for sale nationwide, the number of home resales remains steady.

According to data from the National Association of REALTORS®, on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis, September’s Existing Home Sales eased by 150,000 units, falling to 4.91 million units nationwide.

An “existing home” is a home that’s been previously occupied and, despite last month’s drop, September’s sales volume remains the second-highest on record since April 2011.

This statistic is noteworthy for two reasons :

  1. There are 9.9% fewer homes available for sale as compared to 12 months ago
  2. Contract “failures” are twice as high as compared to September 2010, now averaging 18 percent nationwide

A contract failure is typically the result of homes not appraising for the purchase price; mortgage denials in the underwriting process; and, insurmountable home inspection issues.

Because sales volume is steady, we can infer that more buyers are “in the market” than the final sales tallies would have us believe. This notion is also evident in the Existing Home Supply data.

In September, the number of homes for sale fell by 69,000 nationwide. At the current pace of sales, it would take 8.5 months to “sell out” the complete national inventory. This is more than 2 months faster as compared to September 2010 — a major improvement for the housing market and a sign that home prices should rise soon.

Today’s market exemplifies Supply and Demand. Demand for homes is holding steady as home inventories fall. This creates pressure for home buyers to make offers, and multiple bidding situations become more common. Negotiation leverage shifts to the sellers and the result is that buyers pay higher prices for homes.

Thankfully, mortgage rates remain low. 

Freddie Mac reports that the 30-year fixed rate mortgage ticked lower this week, averaging 4.11% nationwide with 0.8 discount points. This means that mortgage payments are lower by $46 per $100,000 borrowed as compared to the high-point of the year.

You may pay more for a new home, in other words, but you’ll pay a lot less to finance it.

Existing Home Sales Jump; Home Supplies Falling

Existing Home Sales Aug 2010 - Aug 2011

Are home resales rebounding?

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales rose 8 percent in August from the month prior, and 19 percent as compared to August of last year.

“Existing homes” are homes that are previously owned; ones that cannot be considered new construction.

A total of 5.0 million existing homes were sold last month on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis. This is slightly better than the 12-month home resale average, a statistic partially powered by “distressed sales”. Distressed homes — homes in various stages of foreclosures or sold via short sale — accounted for 31 percent of all home resales in August.

At the current rate of sales, the national home resale inventory would be depleted in 8.5 months. This pace is a full month faster as compared to July, and the lowest home supply reading since March 2011.  

Other noteworthy facts from the August Existing Home Sales report :

  • There are currently 3.58 million existing homes for sale nationwide
  • 29 percent of home buyers paid cash in August
  • Real estate investors bought 22% of homes in August, up from 18% in July

Home prices are based on Supply and Demand and, at least right now, it appears the supply is dropping. Furthermore, with mortgage rates at all-time lows, it’s reasonable to expect demand to pick up. These two conditions should lead home prices higher.

If you’re shopping for a home right now, recognize the trends and work them to your advantage. It may be “cheapest” to buy now.

Pending Home Sales Slip In July; Creates Buyer Opportunity

Pending Home Sales Jan 2010 - Jul 2011After 3 straight months of gains, the Pending Home Sales Index slipped 1 percent in July. The monthly report is published by the National Association of REALTORS® and measures the number of home under contract to sell nationwide.

The Pending Home Sales Index is closely watched by Wall Street and analysts because it’s a forward-looking housing market indicator. Unlike most housing market data, though, Pending Home Sales forecasts a future housing market event. In this case, the Existing Home Sales report.

In its methodology, the Pending Home Sales Index states that 80% of homes under contract close within 2 months, with most of the remaining home going to closing within Months 3 and 4.

We would expect home sales data to taper into the fall buying season, but this year, they may taper more than normal. This is because, in a separate report, the National Association of REALTORS® said that contract cancellation rates are running high.

As compared to a 4 percent contract cancellation rate in May 2011, June and July both registered 16 percent. This means that fewer homes tallied as part of July’s Pending Home Sales Index will show up as “closed sales” this fall.

Contracts can be canceled for any number of reasons including more stringent mortgage guidelines, appraisals falling short of the purchase price, and changing mortgage loan limits.

For home buyers , the Pending Home Sales Index may represent an opportunity. Not only are fewer homes going under contract nationwide, but with cancellation rates spiking, sellers may be more willing to “make a deal”.

Note, though, like all real estate, the pace at which homes go under contract is a “local” statistic; you can’t assume national data applies to all markets equally. Your home market, for example, may out-perform — or under-perform — the national average.

For a closer look at what’s happening on your street including the speed at which homes are selling, talk to a local real estate agent.

Existing Home Sales Slip In July

Existing Home Sales dataHome resales slipped in July.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales nationwide fell to 4.67 million units on a seasonally-adjusted annualized basis last month. It’s the fourth straight month below the 5 million mark, and the report’s lowest reading since November 2010.

An “existing home” is a home that’s been previously occupied or owned.

In addition, the Existing Home Sales report showed home supplies rising nationwide. At the current pace of sales, in other words, the complete, national “For Sale” inventory would be exhausted in 9.4 months. This, too, is the worst reading since November 2010.

On a units basis, however, the number of homes for sale actually fell in July. As compared to June, home resale inventory dropped 65,000 units to 3.65 million.

From these figures, we can infer that, despite low mortgage rates and lagging home values, buyer activity is slowing in Ohio and nationwide. This may be seasonal, or it may be a long-term trend.

Either way, there’s opportunity for today’s home buyers.

With mortgage rates at all-time lows, home affordability is peaking. More households can afford housing payments than during any time in history and with the fall season approaching, buyers may find contracts negotiations to be more “friendly”.

This can mean lower sale prices and larger concessions from sellers — the hallmark of a Buyer’s Market.

It’s a good time to look at your options. Talk to your real estate agent and see what’s out there for you. Low home prices may persist, but low mortgage rates likely won’t.