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Numbers Count: Weekly mortgage data highlights

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: Inventories are up

Wooden, two-story home in the middle of construction (beams showing) in Phoenix.The inventory of homes for sale rose 15% in May compared to a year ago, according to a survey of three dozen metro markets released June 13 by online real estate brokerage Movoto. The past year, inventories have climbed significantly in a number of cities, including increases of more than 60% in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Sacramento. More than half the metro areas in Movoto’s survey had double-digit gains in inventories. Still, a few markets, including San Francisco and Denver, had declines in inventories.

What counts: Finding a home you want takes a lot of work under normal circumstances. So when there are hardly any homes for sale in the area you are looking, your hunt can feel pretty discouraging. A lack of homes for sale this past year in many markets has been a major issue contributing to rapid price appreciation and leading some prospective buyers to just give up. This increase in inventories in other markets is good news for buyers, as it may help stabilize prices and give buyers more options to choose from.

The numbers: Single-family housing permits jump

Single-family housing starts declined in May compared to April, but building permits jumped 3.7% — the highest level since last November, according to data from the Census and HUD released June 17. Permits were up in all four regions of the country.

What counts: This is more positive news for the housing market. The jump in single-family housing building permits should be more welcome news for prospective homebuyers trying to find a home amid 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.

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