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Kentucky Housing Sales Show Strong Market in 2015

From C-J.com: The housing market in Kentucky had a record-setting year in 2015. The Kentucky Association of Realtors reports that total home sales in 2015 statewide reached a record 48,488, a 4.2 percent increase over the 46,553 homes sold in 2014. The previous record for home sales came in 2006, when 47,312 homes were sold. Read more.

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Is The U.S. Housing Market Strong Enough To Handle Fed Rate Hike?

From Reuters.com: The U.S. housing market is probably strong enough to stand up against an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve this year, with stabilizing home prices supporting sales, a Reuters poll of top economists showed on Wednesday. Of 22 economists surveyed, all but two said the market could withstand the Fed's expected rate hikes. They pointed to job creation and growing demand for houses from millennials as factors contributing to the market's resilience. Read more.

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Existing Home Sales Spike

Existing-home sales jumped in March to their highest annual rate in 18 months, while unsold inventory showed needed improvement, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Led by the Midwest, all major regions experienced strong sales gains in March and are above their year-over-year sales pace. Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 6.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.19 million in March from 4.89 million in February—the highest annual rate since September 2013 (also 5.19 million). Sales have increased year-over-year for six consecutive months and are now 10.4 percent above a year ago, the highest annual increase since August 2013 (10.7 percent). March's sales increase was the largest monthly increase since December 2010 (6.2 percent). Read more.

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Housing Recovery in Red States Trounces Blue States

In the past two years, the housing markets have recovered faster in red states than in blue, a new analysis reveals. According to data from RealtyTrac, most housing markets in the U.S. (52%) are better off now than they were two years ago, though 11% are worse off and for the 36% remaining it’s merely a toss-up.

Put simply, to be declared “better off,” a majority of the residents in that state had to live in counties that exhibited at least three of these five factors (all of which have a strong influence on housing health): significantly fewer foreclosure starts; higher median home prices; a percentage of homeowners who are severely underwater on their mortgages that was lower than the national average; significantly lower unemployment; and be counties where home prices didn’t rise so quickly that many average people could no longer afford to purchase a home. Read more from Marketwatch.com.

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Housing Price Appreciation Expected to Hit 7%

Despite a weak first quarter, home prices are still expected to rise by 7% in 2014, according to Wall Street analysts. “We continue to expect home price appreciation to moderate from the torrid pace of mid-2012-13, supported by improving employment and growth prospects,” said analysts from Morgan Stanley (MS). “We leave our 2014 projections for new home sales (450-500 thousand units) and home prices (up 5-7% for the year) unchanged.” Read more.

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Strongest Housing Markets in 2014 State-By-State

(Originally posted on Bloomberg Businessweek.com)

A housing market rebound seems tenuous following the expiration of the home buyer tax credit, and consumer confidence remains weak due to lackluster employment, but David Stiff, chief economist at Fiserv, says the bottom is near. Home prices in the U.S. have declined 29.5 percent over the past four years, according to the Fiserv Case-Shiller Indexes. Stiff says prices should form a trough early next year, when median prices will be down an estimated 32.9 percent from the 2006 peak. By early 2014, they will have climbed about 7.2 percent from 2010 levels, according to the indexes. Fiserv and Moody’s Economy.com base the housing forecast on factors that include income growth, demographic trends, unemployment rates, foreclosure rates, and construction costs. Read more

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Home Prices Post Biggest Gain in 7 Years

Home prices are moving up at a quicker pace, rising in May by their largest annual amount in more than seven years with more to come, according to the latest report released by CoreLogic. Home prices increased 2.6 percent in May over April and have shot up 12.2 percent compared to last year’s prices. CoreLogic economists are predicting that home prices will rise by another 2.9 percent in June, making the yearly price gain 13.2 percent year-over-year. Read more.

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Where Houses Sell In A Day

Here’s a sign of how tight inventory levels have been lately: More homes are selling in a flash—finding a buyer within 24 hours of being listed. Sound unlikely? Angela Catanzaro thought so, too, until her Broward County, Fla., home received a written offer one day after their listing hit the Internet. The home she and her husband decided to buy was also on the market for less than a day; they pounced on it after struggling to find quality properties that didn’t “need work.” They plan to close on both transactions this month. “We weren’t anticipating our home to sell so fast, so we asked if it was OK to stay until June so our daughter could finish school,” Catanzaro said. Read more.

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Case-Shiller: Home Prices Soar

Home prices continued to speed upward in March, posting their biggest year-over-year gain since April 2006, according to a widely-followed index. Property values shot up almost 11 percent in March over the past year according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index released Tuesday. March's gain comes on top of a more than 9 percent gain in February, sparking fears that some U.S. housing markets might be overheating. Las Vegas, Phoenix, and San Francisco all posted appreciation rates of more than 20 percent. Even the smallest gains -- 2.6 percent in New York, 4.8 percent in Cleveland and 6.7 percent in Boston -- were characterized as "quite substantial" in the report. Read more.

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The 10 Hottest Housing Markets of 2013...So Far

After a long and painful downturn in the housing market, home prices in many—but not all—regions of the U.S. are showing signs of recovery. According to Zillow, a real estate listing website, home values rose 5.1% across the U.S. between February 2012 and February 2013. Many local housing markets are performing considerably better than the country as a whole. Home values rose more than 13% in 10 of the 30 largest housing markets for which Zillow has data, and rose more than 20% in five of them. Read more.

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Nationwide Real Estate Supply Down and Prices Up

Sales of existing homes rose in July even with constraints of affordable inventory, and the national median price is showing five consecutive months of year-over-year increases, according to the National Association of Realtors®.  Monthly sales rose in every region but the West, where inventory is very tight. Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, grew 2.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.47 million in July from 4.37 million in June, and are 10.4 percent above the 4.05 million-unit pace in July 2011. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said housing affordability conditions are very good.  “Mortgage interest rates have been at record lows this year while rents have been rising at faster rates.  Combined, these factors are helping to unleash a pent-up demand,” he said.  “However, the market is constrained by unnecessarily tight lending standards and shrinking inventory supplies, so housing could easily be much stronger without these abnormal frictions.” Read more.

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Home Buying: Most Affordable In Decades

Buying a home is now more affordable than it has been in the last twenty years. Thanks to continued declines in home prices and rock-bottom mortgage rates, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index hit a record level of affordability. According to the index, 75.9% of all new and existing homes sold during the three months ended Dec. 31 could have been comfortably purchased by families earning the national median income of $64,200. That was the highest percentage recorded in the 20-year history of the index, and a sharp increase from just three months earlier when 72.9% of all homes sold were considered affordable. Read more.

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10 Cities Where List Prices Soared Last Month

Median list prices nationwide have risen 4.05 percent on a year-over-year basis, according to November housing data of 146 metro areas from Realtor.com. Fewer cities are reporting year-over-year list price declines, “suggesting a growing optimism on the part of sellers about 2012 market conditions,” according to Realtor.com. So where have prices risen the most in the last month? The following are the 10 cities that saw the largest median list price increases from October to November. Read more.

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12 Housing Markets Seeing The Biggest Turnarounds

The National Association of Home Builders is debuting a new economic index that highlights metro areas that are seeing the most improvement in their housing markets. The First American Improving Markets Index reveals 12 metro areas that have seen a turnaround for at least six months in three core economic areas — housing permits, employment, and housing prices. 'Despite the challenging conditions in the national economy and housing sector, there are areas throughout the country where we are seeing pockets of improvement,' Bob Nielsen, chairman of NAHB, said in a statement. 'We created this new index to shine a light on those housing markets across the country that have stabilized and have begun to show signs of recovery.' Read more.

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Freddie Mac Claims Better Days Ahead In Housing

Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said mortgage rates will likely remain historical lows of between 4.5 percent and 5 percent for the remainder of the year. Also, he expects more buyers to stop waiting on the sidelines as recent price drops in home prices have improved affordability. Nothaft said consumers’ uncertainty about the economy has caused them to delay home purchases and other “big-ticket items.”  'Some potential buyers who have the means to buy are awaiting clearer signs that home values have firmed,' Nothaft says. But Nothaft says they should be getting their signs in the second half of the year, with projected job gains, and a growing, improved economy. Read more.

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Existing Home Sales Rise in Most States in First Quarter

Existing-home sales continued to recover in the first quarter with gains recorded in 49 states and the District of Columbia, while 22 percent of the available metropolitan areas saw prices rise from a year ago, according to the latest survey by the National Association of Realtors®. Total state existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, rose 8.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 5.14 million in the first quarter from 4.75 million in the fourth quarter, and are only 0.8 percent below a 5.18 million pace during the same period in 2010. Read more.

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The Foreclosure Prevention Program That Works

As Republicans try to kill an Obama administration foreclosure prevention program that even Democrats agree hasn’t lived up to expectations, a program in Pennsylvania is being lauded for being simpler, cheaper and more effective. It’s called the Pennsylvania Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program and was established in 1984, long before the recent mortgage crisis. The program gives bridge loans to people who have recently lost their jobs. Loans do not accrue interest until the participant’s income is restored. Read more.

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Home Sales Up Nearly 4%

Investors drove up U.S. home sales last month, plunking down cash to grab cheap homes at risk of foreclosure. But purchases made by first-time homebuyers, who are crucial to a housing recovery, fell. Sales of previously occupied homes rose in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.1 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. That's up 3.7 percent from 4.92 million in February. Read more.

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Pending Homes Sales Rise According to NAR

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator, rose 2.1 percent to 90.8, based on contracts signed in February, from 88.9 in January. The index is 8.2 percent below 98.9 recorded in February 2010. The data reflects contracts and not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says it’s important to look at the broader trend. “Month-to-month movements can be instructive, but in this uneven recovery it’s important to look at the longer term performance,” he said. “Pending home sales have trended up very nicely since bottoming out last June, even with periodic monthly declines. Contract activity is now 20 percent above the low point immediately following expiration of the home buyer tax credit.” Read more.

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Warren Buffett Sees Housing Recovery This Year

The Sage of Omaha believes our best days are still ahead of us, and that includes a nationwide housing recovery. Louisville's typical slow and steady market appreciation is right up Warren's alley. More here.

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