Numbers Count: Weekly mortgage data highlights

Wendy Cutrufelli
Posted by Wendy Cutrufelli
Mortgage Banking

Numbers count. They matter to bankers and to prospective homebuyers, sellers, and real estate professionals. Here’s my take on the key numbers on the housing market this week.

The numbers: New-home sales jump

man's legs beneath one end of a suspended sofa as it's being moved into a new home, with moving boxes in the background.Sales of new single-family houses in May were up almost 19% compared to April and up almost 17% compared to a year ago, according to data released June 24 by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

What counts: The jump in new home sales is important because it can encourage homebuilders to build more homes as they see demand pick up, and that should benefit home shoppers struggling with the tight inventory situation. Also, buyers of new homes are frequently relocating from a first home or smaller place, so as new home sales climb that may free up inventory of existing homes.

The numbers: Existing-home sales jump

Existing-home sales were up a strong 5% in May from April, according to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). All four regions of the country experienced sales gains compared to a month earlier, NAR reported June 23. Meanwhile, inventory gains continued. Unsold inventory is 6% higher than a year ago and represents a 5.6-month supply at the current sales pace.

What counts: This is more positive news for the housing market. The jump in single-family housing permits should be more welcome news for prospective homebuyers trying to find a home amidst the low inventory of homes for sale. Those permits won’t turn into houses for several months, but it’s reassuring to see more plans in the works to build homes.

The numbers: Price appreciation slows

Home prices rose 11% in April, significantly slower than previous months, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index released June 24. Nineteen cities in Case-Shiller’s 20-city composite index registered lower annual gains in April than in March.

What counts: Home price appreciation is easing at the same time that inventories are rising, both good trends for buyers. Potential sellers should keep in mind the days of astronomical price appreciation may be behind us. So if you are holding off selling in the hopes of a bigger upside, you may be disappointed.

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