Nearly 100 Metro Areas on Improving Market List

The list of Improving Housing Markets (IHM) maintained by
the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) took another big jump in
February, rising from 76 in January and more than doubling the 41 reported in
December.  There are now 98 metropolitan
areas
representing 36 states included on the list.

The IHM identifies metropolitan areas that have shown
improvement from their respective troughs on each of three metrics –
employment, housing permits, and home prices – for at least six consecutive
months.  NAHB uses data from the Bureau
of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and Freddie Mac to measure
improved performance.

The additions to the February Index include some
metropolitan areas that had been particularly weak including Miami, Detroit,
Memphis, Kansas City, Missouri; Portland, Oregon, and Salt Lake City.  NAHB points out that inclusion in the Index
does not indicate strong recovery, merely that some of these troubled areas are
coming off of extreme lows.

Seven metro areas dropped off of the Index in February due
to softening housing prices.  One of
these was Washington, DC, one of the few areas that had continued to show
strong prices and sales through 2011. 

“While many of the markets on the February IMI are far from fully
recovered, the index points out where employment, home prices and housing
production are no longer retreating and have held above their lowest recession
troughs for six months or more,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.
“This is a sign that a large cross section of the country is starting to
turn the corner as local economic conditions stabilize.”

 MSA  Permits Trough Date Growth From Trough Prices Trough Date Growth From Trough Employment Trough Date Growth From Trough
1 Florence, AL 03/31/09 2.6% 02/28/11 0.6% 07/31/09 3.9%
2 Tuscaloosa, AL 05/31/11 8.8% 02/28/11 3.6% 06/30/09 1.7%
3 Fayetteville, AR 03/31/09 1.2% 02/28/11 1.0% 02/28/10 3.0%
4 Napa, CA 06/30/11 31.2% 02/28/11 0.3% 02/28/11 3.3%
5 Boulder, CO 11/30/09 11.6% 01/31/11 6.2% 01/31/10 2.7%
6 Denver, CO 03/31/09 2.8% 02/28/11 2.1% 01/31/10 1.4%
7 Fort Collins, CO 03/31/09 4.5% 12/31/10 4.6% 12/31/09 3.5%
8 Greeley, CO 11/30/10 8.1% 02/28/11 3.3% 12/31/09 0.1%
9 Bridgeport, CT 03/31/09 1.2% 02/28/11 4.5% 01/31/10 1.4%
10 New Haven, CT 04/30/11 26.0% 02/28/11 0.0% 02/28/10 2.1%
11 Cape Coral, FL 03/31/09 3.1% 02/28/11 8.1% 01/31/11 1.7%
12 Deltona, FL 03/31/11 2.6% 03/31/11 15.1% 01/31/11 3.3%
13 Jacksonville, FL 04/30/09 1.4% 02/28/11 1.5% 02/28/10 2.3%
14 Miami, FL 04/30/09 7.3% 03/31/11 2.6% 03/31/10 1.7%
15 North Port, FL 01/31/09 2.7% 02/28/11 6.2% 06/30/11 1.2%
16 Punta Gorda, FL 01/31/09 1.6% 02/28/11 11.5% 06/30/09 3.5%
17 Tampa, FL 03/31/09 1.7% 03/31/11 3.8% 12/31/09 2.6%
18 Athens, GA 03/31/11 4.2% 01/31/11 2.7% 01/31/10 0.8%
19 Augusta, GA 12/31/08 1.7% 03/31/11 3.0% 05/31/11 0.0%
20 Honolulu, HI 12/31/08 0.4% 01/31/11 3.4% 08/31/10 3.1%
21 Ames, IA 07/31/10 7.4% 02/28/11 6.3% 05/31/11 2.4%
22 Davenport, IA 05/31/09 1.8% 12/31/10 4.1% 01/31/10 0.7%
23 Des Moines, IA 02/28/09 4.5% 01/31/11 2.6% 05/31/11 1.5%
24 Dubuque, IA 12/31/08 5.0% 02/28/11 3.1% 04/30/09 5.8%
25 Waterloo, IA 03/31/09 1.4% 11/30/10 0.9% 07/31/09 4.1%
26 Elkhart, IN 04/30/09 2.2% 02/28/11 1.5% 08/31/09 10.4%
27 Indianapolis, IN 01/31/09 0.4% 02/28/11 3.0% 10/31/09 0.6%
28 Lafayette, IN 01/31/09 15.7% 02/28/11 5.4% 07/31/09 4.0%
29 Muncie, IN 04/30/11 11.1% 02/28/10 3.4% 02/28/11 2.7%
30 Lake Charles, LA 04/30/11 6.2% 02/28/11 0.9% 11/30/10 3.6%
31 Monroe, LA 03/31/09 3.3% 05/31/10 3.6% 03/31/11 1.3%
32 Shreveport, LA 01/31/09 1.9% 03/31/11 5.6% 10/31/09 3.2%
33 Boston, MA 02/28/09 1.1% 03/31/11 0.7% 07/31/09 2.9%
34 Springfield, MA 04/30/11 3.8% 03/31/11 2.5% 08/31/09 2.6%
35 Cumberland, MD 05/31/10 3.1% 01/31/11 6.2% 06/30/11 6.5%
36 Lewiston, ME 06/30/11 16.1% 01/31/11 1.4% 06/30/11 3.8%
37 Ann Arbor, MI 05/31/09 0.1% 12/31/10 4.5% 07/31/09 3.0%
38 Detroit, MI 04/30/09 8.6% 03/31/11 6.8% 06/30/09 2.4%
39 Grand Rapids, MI 04/30/09 2.9% 02/28/11 7.7% 07/31/09 5.0%
40 Lansing, MI 05/31/09 4.4% 02/28/11 10.6% 08/31/09 2.7%
41 Monroe, MI 12/31/09 2.7% 02/28/11 7.6% 10/31/09 2.5%
42 Muskegon, MI 11/30/09 0.2% 01/31/11 6.1% 12/31/10 1.6%
43 Duluth, MN 05/31/11 2.9% 03/31/11 4.6% 09/30/09 0.6%
44 Minneapolis, MN 03/31/09 1.8% 02/28/11 2.5% 09/30/09 1.5%
45 Rochester, MN 03/31/09 0.7% 02/28/11 2.4% 12/31/10 1.5%
46 Columbia, MO 11/30/08 1.7% 02/28/11 1.5% 08/31/09 3.6%
47 Jefferson City, MO 08/31/10 1.0% 03/31/11 3.9% 02/28/10 2.1%
48 Joplin, MO 02/28/11 5.0% 02/28/11 15.4% 08/31/09 1.2%
49 Kansas City, MO 03/31/09 3.2% 02/28/11 5.2% 06/30/11 1.2%
50 Hattiesburg, MS 01/31/11 2.2% 03/31/11 4.1% 04/30/11 3.6%
51 Fayetteville, NC 12/31/08 2.1% 01/31/10 0.3% 10/31/10 3.2%
52 Winston-Salem, NC 03/31/09 1.9% 11/30/10 0.1% 01/31/11 2.4%
53 Bismarck, ND 03/31/09 15.3% 02/28/10 8.8% 12/31/07 8.8%
54 Fargo, ND 04/30/09 4.9% 02/28/11 3.0% 07/31/09 4.2%
55 Grand Forks, ND 04/30/09 3.0% 12/31/10 7.7% 09/30/10 4.2%
56 Lincoln, NE 01/31/09 1.6% 01/31/11 4.2% 07/31/10 3.2%
57 Omaha, NE 07/31/10 4.5% 03/31/11 2.7% 02/28/10 2.6%
58 Manchester, NH 02/28/11 2.1% 02/28/11 0.5% 01/31/10 1.8%
59 Ocean City, NJ 03/31/09 1.0% 03/31/11 6.3% 05/31/11 5.7%
60 Syracuse, NY 03/31/11 2.9% 03/31/11 10.2% 08/31/10 1.5%
61 Cincinnati, OH 01/31/09 0.2% 02/28/11 2.1% 12/31/10 1.6%
62 Springfield, OH 01/31/11 13.4% 03/31/11 2.5% 01/31/10 3.5%
63 Toledo, OH 05/31/09 1.4% 01/31/11 0.6% 06/30/09 3.4%
64 Youngstown, OH 06/30/11 5.2% 02/28/11 3.9% 06/30/09 4.0%
65 Oklahoma City, OK 05/31/09 0.6% 02/28/11 1.0% 01/31/10 4.0%
66 Tulsa, OK 10/31/10 0.8% 02/28/11 4.4% 02/28/10 3.1%
67 Corvallis, OR 04/30/11 5.7% 02/28/11 4.3% 07/31/09 4.9%
68 Portland, OR 03/31/09 2.6% 03/31/11 3.7% 11/30/09 2.0%
69 Erie, PA 03/31/11 4.6% 02/28/11 3.1% 02/28/10 3.9%
70 Philadelphia, PA 03/31/09 0.7% 02/28/11 2.9% 02/28/10 0.5%
71 Pittsburgh, PA 02/28/09 1.6% 01/31/10 6.5% 02/28/10 4.1%
72 Williamsport, PA 03/31/11 46.3% 02/28/10 8.5% 12/31/09 3.9%
73 Chattanooga, TN 05/31/11 2.6% 02/28/11 4.0% 08/31/09 3.2%
74 Clarksville, TN 01/31/09 2.7% 02/28/11 1.3% 08/31/09 5.1%
75 Kingsport, TN 02/28/11 0.4% 01/31/11 1.6% 02/28/10 2.8%
76 Memphis, TN 04/30/09 2.8% 03/31/11 1.1% 09/30/10 3.1%
77 Nashville, TN 03/31/09 1.6% 02/28/11 1.4% 09/30/09 3.7%
78 Amarillo, TX 10/31/08 1.7% 01/31/10 3.2% 04/30/10 4.6%
79 College Station, TX 10/31/10 5.5% 02/28/11 10.2% 12/31/07 3.6%
80 Corpus Christi, TX 01/31/11 5.1% 12/31/10 4.3% 11/30/09 6.0%
81 Dallas, TX 05/31/09 0.9% 02/28/11 0.5% 12/31/09 3.6%
82 Laredo, TX 12/31/08 1.3% 01/31/10 2.9% 09/30/09 7.1%
83 Longview, TX 04/30/09 3.2% 03/31/11 5.9% 10/31/09 7.9%
84 McAllen, TX 01/31/09 0.4% 11/30/10 1.9% 12/31/07 5.2%
85 Midland, TX 04/30/09 3.6% 01/31/10 8.7% 08/31/09 10.0%
86 Odessa, TX 02/28/09 24.5% 11/30/10 8.9% 08/31/09 9.0%
87 Tyler, TX 03/31/09 0.4% 12/31/10 0.8% 07/31/10 5.3%
88 Victoria, TX 09/30/10 4.2% 02/28/11 6.2% 11/30/09 4.8%
89 Provo, UT 02/28/09 2.7% 03/31/11 1.1% 12/31/09 4.6%
90 Salt Lake City, UT 03/31/09 2.3% 03/31/11 0.4% 02/28/10 3.6%
91 Danville, VA 03/31/09 1.8% 11/30/10 11.4% 11/30/09 2.9%
92 Winchester, VA 04/30/11 7.9% 10/31/10 8.4% 08/31/09 5.4%
93 Burlington, VT 03/31/11 6.1% 01/31/10 1.3% 09/30/09 4.5%
94 Bellingham, WA 04/30/11 2.7% 03/31/11 0.2% 06/30/11 0.4%
95 Kennewick, WA 03/31/09 4.2% 03/31/11 0.3% 12/31/07 4.4%
96 Madison, WI 01/31/09 1.3% 02/28/11 0.8% 08/31/09 2.1%
97 Casper, WY 11/30/10 7.0% 01/31/10 3.2% 12/31/09 8.5%
98 Cheyenne, WY 12/31/08 6.0% 12/31/10 3.0% 01/31/10 2.8%

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Case-Shiller Reports Continued Erosion in Home Prices

Home prices continued to fall in November according to the
S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released this morning.  Both the 10-City and the 20-City Indices were
down 1.3 percent in November compared to the previous month and for the second
month in a row19 of the cities also saw their prices inch lower.   Phoenix was the only one of the 20 to post a
gain in November.

The year-over-year price declines in November widened from those in October.  The 10-City and 20-City Composites were down
3.6 percent and 3.7 percent respectively from November 2010 to November 2011
compared to the -3.2 percent and -3.4 percent annual rate of change in
October.  Thirteen of the cities in the
larger index also saw a large drop in annual prices than they had in October. 

Atlanta had the worst performance with its annual return down 11.8 percent.  Atlanta’s prices fell 2.5 percent in November
following a 5.0 percent decline in October, 5.9 percent drop in September and
2.4 percent loss in August.  As was the
case in October, only two cities, Detroit and Washington, DC saw an improved
annual rate, but in both cases that annual increase was lower than their
October number.

David Blizer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices said,
“Despite continued low interest rates and better real GDP growth in the fourth
quarter, home prices continue to fall. 
Annual rates were little better as 18 cities and both Composites were
negative.  Nationally, home prices are
lower than a year ago.  The trend is down
and there are few, if any signs in the numbers that a turning point is close at
hand.”

The 10-City Composite is now about 1.0 percent above its crisis low reached
in April 2009 and the 20-City is 0.6 percent above the low it reached in March
2011.  Both Composites are close to 33
percent off of their 2006 peak levels. 
As of November average home prices across the U.S. are back to mid-2003
levels.

“It’s not telling us much we don’t know. A lot of people fell into the trap of looking at the upturn in housing starts at the end of the year and mistaking that for a turnaround in the housing market. That’s absolutely premature.” – Andrew Wilkinson, Chief Economic Strategist, Miller Tabak & Co., New York.

 

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Pending Home Sales Decline in December, Remain Above a Year Ago

Pending home sales fell off of the
19-month high reached in November according to figures released on Wednesday by
the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), but were still higher than one
year ago.  NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index
(PHSI) dropped from 100.1 in November to 96.6 in December, a decline of 3.5 percent.  December pending home sales were still 5.6
percent above the December 2010 index of 91.5.

The PHSI is a measure of signed
sales contracts for home purchases where the transaction has not closed.  It is considered a forward indicator as the
sale is usually finalized within one or two months of contract signing.  An index
of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the trend line remains
positive.  “Even with a modest decline, the preceding two months of
contract activity are the highest in the past four years outside of the
homebuyer tax credit period,” he said.  “Contract failures remain an
issue, reported by one-third of Realtors® over the past few months,
but home buyers are not giving up.”

Yun said some
buyers successfully complete the sale after a contract delay, while others stay
in the market after a contract failure and make another offer.  “Housing
affordability conditions are too good to pass up,” he said.  “Our hope is
lending conditions will gradually improve with sustained increases in closed
existing-home sales.”

On a regional
basis results were mixed with three regions showing increases on a year to year
basis but only one increasing during the December.

Pending Home Sales by Region

Region

Index in

December

Chg Nov to
Dec.

(%)

Chg Dec.
2010 to

Dec. 2011
(%)

Northeast

74.7

-3.1

-0.8

Midwest

95.3

+4.0

+13.3

South

101.1

-2.6

+4.9

West

107.9

-11.0

+3.7

U.S.

96.6

-3.5

+5.6

NAR also issued an economic forecast which predicts a healthy growth in
both real and nominal GPD over the next two years with real GDP growing in a historically
normal range of around 3 percent and the unemployment rate falling under 8
percent by 2013. 

Housing starts are expected to improve to around 750,000 in 2012 and
reach a million the next year – both figures well below the historically
typical 1.5 million.  Housing sales, both
new and existing, will remain relatively flat with new home sales reaching a
half million by the end of 2013.  
Existing home sales are estimated to have totaled 4.26 million in 2011
and will rise gradually to 4.45 million and 4.62 million in 2012 and 2013
respectively. 

Inventories are not projected into the future, but the supply of existing
homes is trending down and is now around 2.25 million.  The inventory of new homes has declined to a
nearly negligible level, however given the pace of sales, both inventories
represent about a six month supply.

NAR expects
median prices of both new and existing homes to rise only slightly from current
levels of$223,400 and $166,100 during 2012 but will rise more rapidly during
2013 to a median level of $235,800 and $172,600 by year end.

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Freddie Mac: Speedy Recovery Seems Unlikely in 2012

“Perspectives on the housing market
depend on where you sit,” according to Freddie Mac’s U.S.
Economic and Housing Market Outlook

for January.  The monthly forecast noted
that existing home sales increased in November, the inventory of unsold homes
decreased to a six to seven month supply, and Freddie Mac’s economists predict
home sales will grow between 2 and 5 percent in 2012. 

But
there is “a historically large gap between sentiments of buyers and sellers.”  Nearly 80 percent of American households
believe it is a good time to buy a home, but sellers are not as happy, with
only 7.6 percent who responded to a Mortgage Bankers Association survey
believing that it is a good time to sell. 
If this gap doesn’t narrow, Freddie Mac’s economists say, the
housing-market recovery will be delayed.

The monthly report titled Toasting the New Year with a Glass Half Full
concludes that, while the economy is undoubtedly in a better place that the
same time a year ago, a speedy recovery still seems unlikely this year. 

Other highlights of the Outlook

  • Economic growth will likely
    strengthen to about 2.1 percent in the first quarter.
  • The current U.S. unemployment rate
    of 8.5 percent is likely to increase after seasonal gains are reversed.
  • Mortgage rates are projected to
    remain very low, at least in the beginning of 2012.

Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac, vice
president and chief economist said, “With the new year comes a sense of
cautious optimism. There are some positive signs in the job market and consumer
confidence; housing is starting to raise hopes for continued gradual economic
recovery. But the economy still is giving some mixed messages.”

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China Construction Starts Slowed in 2011

Growth in new construction starts in China last year decelerated sharply compared with a year earlier, data showed. Meanwhile, Shanghai set new price limits for private ordinary homes.