The Mortgage Corner

DataQuick just reported Southern California homes sold at the fastest pace for an April in seven years amid the release of pent-up demand for move-up homes and high levels of investor purchases. This is while April new-home construction dipped slightly, though housing permits for new construction are increasing at 1 million units, annually.

The median sale price rose to a 58-month high, reflecting both home price appreciation as well as the simultaneous plunge in foreclosure resales and surge in mid- to up-market buying. On average, sales between March and April have risen 1.0 percent since 1988, when DataQuick’s statistics begin.

The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the six-county Southland was $357,000 last month, up 3.3 percent from $345,500 in March and up 23.1 percent from $290,000 in April 2012. Last month’s median was the highest since June 2008, when the median was $360,000.

Last month’s sales were the highest for the month of April since 27,114 Southland homes sold in April 2006, but they were 11.8 percent below the April average of 24,291 sales. The low for April sales was 15,303 in 1995, while the high was 37,905 in April 2004.

“This is a market that is still re-balancing. Sales of deeply discounted properties in affordable neighborhoods are way down. Activity in middle and high-end communities is on its way up. Now it’s catch-up time, with a healthier economy spurring more demand and rising prices tempting more people to put their homes up for sale,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president.

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Graph: Econoday

Privately-owned housing starts in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 853,000. This is 16.5 percent below the revised March estimate of 1,021,000, but is 13.1 percent above the April 2012 rate of 754,000. Single-family housing starts in April were at a rate of 610,000; this is 2.1 percent below the revised March figure of 623,000. The April rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 234,000.

But Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,017,000. This is 14.3 percent above the revised March rate of 890,000 and is 35.8 percent above the April 2012 estimate of 749,000. So we can see that future construction looks promising and continues the building surge in 2013.

So it is no surprise that builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved three points to a 44 reading on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for May. This gain, from a downwardly revised 41 in April, reflected improvement in all three index components – current sales conditions, sales expectations and traffic of prospective buyers.

Harlan Green © 2013

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