LISTINGS Residential (Single Family & Condo)
October 20 – 26, 2008 511
Last Year 544
October 12 – 18, 2008 192
Last Year 239



Pending Home Sales Up Sharply Nationwide

Pending home sales activity surged as buyers took advantage of low home prices and affordable interest rates, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in August, jumped 7.4 percent to 93.4 from an upwardly revised reading of 87.0 in July, and is 8.8 percent higher than August 2007 when it stood at 85.8. The index is at the highest level since June 2007 when it stood at 101.4.

Improved Affordability

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says home buyers were responding to improved affordability. “What we’re seeing is the momentum of people taking advantage of low home prices, with pending home sales up strongly in California, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Rhode Island, and the Washington, D.C., region,” he says.

“The improvement also reflects the drop in mortgage interest rates after the government takeover of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. It’s unclear how much contract activity may be impacted by the credit disruptions on Wall Street, but we’re hopeful most of the increase will translate into closed existing-home sales”, adds Yun.

The PHSI in the West surged 18.4 percent to 109.5 in August and remains 37.8 percent above a year ago. In the Northeast the index jumped 8.4 percent to 79.8 and is 2.0 percent higher than August 2007. The index in the Midwest rose 3.6 percent to 84.5 in August and is 6.6 percent above a year ago. In the South, the index increased 2.3 percent to 96.0 but is 2.1 percent below August 2007.

Yun notes the unusual timing of contract activity in August. “Home buyers in July were hampered by overly stringent lending criteria in the months before the government takeover of Fannie and Freddie,” he said. “August shows some unleashing of pent-up demand before the credit crisis accelerated in September.”

He cautioned that the sampling size for pending home sales is smaller than the track on existing-home sales, so there is more volatility in the forward-looking series. “We need to see just how much of this gain holds up,” Yun adds.

NAR President Richard F. Gaylord says despite all the turmoil in world financial markets, home mortgages are available. “The recently enacted economic stimulus package should help housing by gradually freeing the flow of credit,” he says.

Yun now expects growth in the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) to contract for two consecutive quarters, in the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2009, before expanding in latter part of 2009 as the housing market begins a steady improvement.

Existing-home sales projected to rise next year

Looking at middle-ground assumptions, existing-home sales are forecast at 5.04 million this year and 5.41 million in 2009. Following national declines of 5 to 8 percent in 2008, home prices are projected to increase 2 to 3 percent next year.

New-home sales should total around 503,000 this year and 471,000 in 2009. Housing starts, including multifamily units, are likely to fall 28.2 percent to 973,000 units this year, and come in around 843,000 in 2009 as builders continue to clear the accumulation in inventory.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will probably average 6.1 percent in the fourth quarter and rise gradually to 6.6 percent by the end of 2009. NAR’s housing affordability index is expected to average 18 percentage points higher this year than in 2007.

The unemployment rate is projected to average 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter and then average 6.6 percent in 2009. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, is estimated at 4.0 percent for 2008 and 2.0 percent next year. Inflation-adjusted disposable personal income is forecast to grow 1.7 percent this year and 1.0 percent in 2009.


Foreclosure Assistance Available

$3,500 Grants Available to Stave Off Foreclosure

A $400,000 grant announced recently might give Kentucky homeowners in danger of foreclosure the opportunity to stay in their homes.
The Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati said residents who meet certain income requirements can receive up to $3,500. Those who qualify must apply through Lexington’s Community Ventures Corp. and take a credit counseling class. The program, Preserving the American Dream, will be available to homeowners in 52 Kentucky counties, including Fayette and Jefferson.
The program is a voluntary program where the FHLB of Cincinnati will set aside $2 million in private money for grants. Republic Bank & Trust of Louisville, Central Bank of Lexington, Farmers Bank & Trust in Georgetown, Kentucky Bank of Paris, Liberty Alliance Federal Credit Union in Lexington will help identify homeowners who need assistance.
To apply, homeowners should call Community Ventures at (859) 231-0054.

This Weeks Stats



LISTINGS Residential (Single Family & Condo)
September 29 – October 5, 2008 581
Last Year 681
September 21 – 27, 2008 260
Last Year 281