Posted by: realtormarkpalace | September 9, 2010

Real Estate’s Latest Numbers

Real Estate’s Latest Numbers
by Carla Hill
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It can be difficult to wade through the varied reports on housing and the state of the U.S. economy.

In this edition, we bring you some of the latest figures from across the nation.

We look first today to consumer spending. The latest figures in show that while personal spending was flat in the month prior, and even stagnated in the Spring, July saw the strongest pace in four month — up 0.4 percent.

An increase in consumer spending means the economy is being reinvigorated by cash flow. When consumer spending is down, it means, according to The Huffington Post, that shoppers are remaining "cautious, and it could lead economists to curtail their expectations for growth."

So this rise in July is welcome news.

The National Association of Realtors has released their monthly pending home sales index findings, showing that pending sales — that’s sales where a contract has been signed, but the transaction is not yet closed but is normally finalized within one of two months — rose 5.2 percent in July.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, commented that, "Home sales will remain soft in the months ahead, but improved affordability conditions should help with a recovery."

He continued, saying, "But the recovery looks to be a long process. Home buyers over the past year got a great deal, and buyers for the balance of this year have an edge over sellers. For those who bought at or near the peak several years ago, particularly in markets experiencing big bubbles, it may take over a decade to fully recover lost equity."

Pending sales are still far below, around 20 percent below, their rates seen in the summer of 2009.

The silver lining in pending sales news? Interest rates remain at historic lows, meaning home affordability is at new highs. This is great news for would be buyers.

This week we also heard from Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke. He said in an address at an Economic Symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, "The prospects for household spending depend to a significant extent on how the jobs situation evolves."

Unemployment rates continue to remain high in most of the country. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the current rate is 9.5 percent.

You will find pockets of the nation where unemployment rates are a bit lower. Yahoo! Finance reports that North Dakota, powered by agriculture and commodities, has just a 3.6 percent unemployment rate.

Numerous Midwestern states offer similar rates. Nebraska is "another state reliant on its agricultural sector, Nebraska also specializes in freight transport, telecommunications, manufacturing, information technology, and transportation. And, not to mention, it has the nation’s third-wealthiest person amidst its GDP rank." Their rate? Just 4.7 percent.

Bernanke continued that "Household finances and attitudes also bear heavily on the housing market, which has generally remained depressed."

He noted that in "particular, home sales dropped sharply following the recent expiration of the homebuyers’ tax credit. Going forward, improved affordability–the result of lower house prices and record-low mortgage rates–should boost the demand for housing. However, the overhang of foreclosed-upon and vacant housing and the difficulties of many households in obtaining mortgage financing are likely to continue to weigh on the pace of residential investment for some time yet."

Published: September 7, 2010

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