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Tag Archives: Homebuyer Tax Credit

Starts Plunge in January; Permits at 4 1/2-Year High

Housing starts plunged 8.5 percent in January--the steepest drop in two years--to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 890,000, the Census Bureau and HUD reported jointly Wednesday. Applications for residential permits rose 1.8 percent to a rate of 925,000, the highest level since June 2008. Economists had expected start activity to drop to 914,000 in January from the initial report for December of 954,000 starts. Permits, according to the consensus forecast, were expected to increase to 920,000 from the original report of 903,000 in December.

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Existing-Home Sales Dip in December; Inventory Falls to 11-Year Low

Existing-home sales fell 1.0 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million, and November sales were revised downward, slipping below 5 million, the National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday. Economists had expected the sales pace to improve to 5.1 million. The supply of existing homes for sale fell in December to 1.82 million, the lowest level since January 2001. At the current sales pace, the homes available for sale represent a 4.4 month supply.

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Homeownership Still Holds High Emotional Value

Despite the economic downturn, a study conducted by Coldwell Banker and psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig found that even though people's feelings about homeownership have changed, owning a home is still very much a goal for many Americans. One of the findings stated while 79 percent of U.S. adults indicated the recession has caused society to rethink the concept of homeownership, 91 percent agreed owning a home is part of the American Dream. Another issue being re-evaluated is what homeowners want versus what they really need. According to the survey, 90 percent of U.S. adults agree some people purchased more expensive homes than they should have before the recession.

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Pending Sales Increase May Point to Budding Market Recovery

The National Association of Realtors' (NAR) pending home sales index reported strong positive movement over the month of October, rising 10.4 percent from September. The index, which measures sales contracts but not closings, is also 9.2 percent above its rate a year ago. NAR's chief economist Lawrence Yun says the market volatility inflicted by the homebuyer tax credit last year is now past. Thus, the monthly and year-over-year increase in sales contracts is a positive indication for the market.

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Fiserv Predicts Price Declines Through 2011 Followed by Gains

Fiserv, Inc. released its home price index Tuesday noting declines but predicting stabilization by the end of 2012. For the short-term, Fiserv sees continuing declines - at least until the end of the year. However, beginning in 2012, Fiserv predicts small gains in prices. Fiserv notes that the first quarter of 2011 showed a continuation of the double-dip trend started last year when demand waned after the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit. Price declines early this year were also driven by a jump in foreclosure sales.

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International Monetary Fund Voices Concerns With U.S. Housing System

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has some pretty direct words for the American government and its handling of the U.S. housing crisis. In an annual report that will be released next week, IMF says the origins of the global financial crisis can be found in the U.S. housing finance system. The agency says government participation in the U.S. housing market has been ""pervasive"" but has not yielded the expected benefits to prospective or existing homeowners.

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Senators Advocate Restructuring Foreclosure Programs and Processes

While both the House and Senate seem to have similar ideas - that changes in foreclosure prevention are needed, and fast - the groups seem to have completely different takes on how to achieve those changes. This week members of a House committee reviewed proposals advocating for the termination of four foreclosure prevention programs and voted to send two of those proposals to the full House. Meanwhile, senators sent a letter to several government agencies, urging them to modify the very programs the House will consider terminating.

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NAR Survey Finds Half of Homebuyers to be First-Time Purchasers

First-time homebuyers purchased half of all homes that were sold from July 2009 to June 2010, according to an annual survey of buyers and sellers conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). It's the highest share of first-time homebuyers in the history of NAR's study, which dates back to 1981. The trade group attributed its findings to the success of the government's tax credits, but also voiced concern that today's credit policy restrictions are locking responsible borrowers out of homeownership.

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Analysts See 7% Drop in Home Prices over Next Year

Despite a bounce in home prices during the first half of 2010, Fiserv Inc. says it expects property values nationally to fall another 7.1 percent over the next 12 months before beginning to stabilize at the end of 2011. The company sees double-dip territory ahead for many major markets, particularly those that saw the strongest appreciation during the spring and summer months of this year. The analysts at Standard & Poor's have released a similar forecast for the path of home prices. They anticipate an additional 7 percent to 10 percent drop through 2011.

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Home Prices Fall in Half of Major Metros on Post-Credit Sales Declines

Home prices dropped in 76 of the 155 metropolitan areas tracked by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) during the third quarter, following a sharp decline in sales after the federal government's homebuyer tax credit passed. Seventy-seven metro areas held their ground in the post-credit months and recorded higher median prices on existing homes compared to a year ago. NAR points to the numbers as improvement, considering only 30 metros experienced annual price gains this time last year.

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