This is not another article about foreclosures, tight credit, or the housing market crisis.
Nope – this is a recap of all the good news surrounding the housing market. From increasing sales to shrinking unemployment rates, the real estate industry has lots of reasons to smile.
Take a moment to relish in these positive findings from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Existing home sales increase
Sales of existing homes rose 4.3 percent from December 2011 to January 2012, according to the NAR. An increase of .7 percent was seen in year-over-year figures (from January 2011 to January 2012).
Pending home sales are also on the rise in early 2012. The NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index for January rose 2 percent from December, and climbed 8 percent higher than the January 2011 level.
First-time buyers increasingly active
Many economists equate a 40 percent market share by first-time homebuyers to a “healthy” real estate climate. The latest NAR data shows that first-time homebuyers are inching closer to that mark, with a 33 percent share of all home sales in January. The first-time homebuyer share of the market is up from 31 percent in December and 29 percent in January 2011.
Total housing inventory falls
In other good news, today’s housing market is less flooded with available inventory. NAR reports that the number of homes on the market at the end of January fell to 2.3 million, the lowest level in almost six years. At January’s sales pace, it will take 6.1 months to clear the supply of available homes. That figure is down from December’s figure of 6.4 months.
Interest rates remain low
Each month seems to bring a new, lower interest rate. February 2012 was no exception: Freddie Mac reported the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was a record low 3.89 percent in February. February’s interest rate reflected a slight drop from 3.92 percent in January, and a significant decline from last February’s figure of 4.95 percent.
Unemployment rate falls
More potential buyers are returning to work, as evidenced by the lowest unemployment rate in nearly three years. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent in January, and held steady at that figure through February. December, January and February were three solid months for job growth, posting an average of 245,000 new jobs per month.
Hip, hip, hooray!
Good news for the housing market seems to be getting easier and easier to locate. Low interest rates and increasing employment appear to be bringing more buyers into the market. The glut of available housing is beginning to clear, and sales are gradually picking up.
Bad news is certainly out there, too, but we’ll save that for another day.
Photo courtesy of Jessica.Tam