Home sales, equity show positive signs

The fall and winter are usually when home sales start to decrease, while the other seasons are both the hottest in terms of temperature and housing market activity. However, a recent report from the National Association of Realtors has shown that existing-home sales are on the rise, a sign that there is still life in this segment before the end of 2014.

The fall and winter are usually when home sales start to decrease, while the other seasons are both the hottest in terms of temperature and housing market activity. However, a recent report from the National Association of Realtors has shown that existing-home sales are on the rise, a sign that there is still life in this segment before the end of 2014.

According to the NAR report, existing-home sales ticked up 2.4 percent from August to September, now at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million. The month-over-month trend in August was negative, so this reversal is a good sign for the housing market. Even so, the total for September remains 1.7 percent below year-ago levels.

"Low interest rates and price gains holding steady led to September's healthy increase, even with investor activity remaining on par with last month's marked decline," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun explained in a statement. "Traditional buyers are entering a less competitive market with fewer investors searching for available homes, but may also face a slight decline in choices due to the fact that inventory generally falls heading into the winter."

Yun also noted that the change with existing-home sales is likely related to strong buyer demand carrying over from the spring into the fall.

Fewer homeowners delinquent
In addition to the surge in existing-home sales, it appears that fewer current homeowners are facing difficulties with their residential financing payments.

RealtyTrac's U.S. Home Equity and Underwater Report for the third quarter of 2014 showed that only 8.1 million borrowers were seriously underwater during that time. These negative equity numbers are the lowest seen since RealtyTrac began tracking this data back in 2012. The second quarter of 2014 had 9.1 million properties seriously underwater, while that figure was 10.7 million in the third quarter of 2013.

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