Monday, October 17, 2011

Housing News Digest, October 17

Slim Pickings Are Latest Headache for Home Sales

The housing market, which has struggled with an oversupply of homes for years, is facing a new problem: a lack of attractive inventory.
Housing Inventories Down

The number of homes for sale fell for the fourth straight month in September to the lowest level of the year. Track housing inventories.

There were more than 2.19 million homes listed for sale at the end of September, down 20% from a year earlier, according to a new report from the real-estate website That is the lowest level since the company began its count in 2007.

The report is the latest sign of how the U.S. housing market can't seem to catch a break. While falling inventories are typically a sign of health, because reduced competition can boost prices, that isn't the case right now.

Boulder real estate market in limbo
Darla Campbell purchased a $246,000 home in Erie last July, and got married a few months later in October. Her husband, Bob Waurio, was unemployed for about six months after their wedding, but finally found work as a draftsman in Fort Collins early this year.

Now, they're looking to move out of Campbell's house and onto some acreage somewhere between Fort Collins and Lafayette, where Campbell works as a physician's assistant. They're hoping to upgrade and look in the $300,000-$350,000 price range.

Campbell, 46, said her house has seen some activity -- about 15 or so showings in the last two months -- but so far no one has made an offer.

"A lot of people say they're not making any decisions, they're just starting to look," Campbell said. "One buyer was going to come back for a second showing, but she had to get her finances in order first. We never heard from her again."

Different mortgages default at different times: NBER report

Both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages are susceptible to default, though a different times when the right dose of economic volatility shakes the financial markets, a new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday.

However, the factors that end up leading each type of mortgage into default are often quite different.

Residential Remodeling Index at new high in August

The Residential BuildFax Remodeling Index rose 29% year-over-year--and for the twenty-second straight month--in August to 138.6. Residential remodels in August were significantly up month-over-month over 8 points (6.3%) from the July value of 130.4, and up year-over-year 31.2 points (29%) from the August 2010 value of 107.4.
In August, the West (11.9 points; 9.3%), Midwest (11.4 points; 10.8%), and South (1 point; 1%) all had month-over-month gains, while the Northeast (-.6 points; -.8%) saw a decline.

Wages have dropped and won't catch up until 2021

Our income has fallen since the new millennium began and it isn't expected to catch up until 2021, according to a Wall Street Journal survey of economists' forecasts.

And in bad news for students, not even a college degree is going to help much, some of the 50 economists surveyed believe. Only people with advanced degrees will see any meaningful increase in their standard of living.