Archive for July, 2010

USA Property Prices On The Up

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Home prices in 20 U.S. cities rose more than forecast in May from a year earlier as a government tax credit temporarily underpinned sales.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values increased 4.6 percent from May 2009, the biggest year-over-year gain since August 2006, the group said today in New York. Another report showed consumer confidence dropped this month to the lowest level since February.

A retreat in demand since the April 30 contract-signing deadline to be eligible for an incentive worth up to $8,000 raises the risk home prices will slacken in coming months. The lowest mortgage rates on record are making houses more affordable, which may help overcome some of the effect of the mounting foreclosures that are pressuring property values.

“We just are going to muddle through for a while,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York, who forecast the index would rise 4.5 percent, the closest of those surveyed. “I’m not looking for big movement from here either up or down.”

The Conference Board, a New York-based research group, said today its consumer confidence measure dropped to 50.4 in July from a revised 54.3 the prior month. Growing concern over the outlook for incomes and the economy over the next six months depressed the index.

Shares Rise

Stocks rose after the reports on improving corporate earnings. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 0.4 percent to 1,118.86 at 10:03 a.m. in New York. Treasury securities dropped, sending the yield on the benchmark 10-year note up to 3.04 percent from 2.99 percent late yesterday.

Economists forecast the home-price index would rise 3.9 percent after a 3.8 percent year-over-year increase in April, according to the median of 26 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. Estimates ranged from 2.9 percent to 5.1 percent. Year- over-year records began in 2001.

The gauge rose 0.5 percent in May from the prior month after adjusting for seasonal variations, following an April increase of 0.6 percent. Unadjusted prices climbed 1.3 percent from the prior month.

The year-over-year measure provides better indications of trends in prices, the group has said. The panel includes Karl Case and Robert Shiller, the economists who created the index.

California Rebounds

Thirteen of the 20 cities in the S&P/Case-Shiller index showed a year-over-year increase, led by an 18 percent gain in San Francisco and a 12 percent increase in San Diego.

Compared with the prior month, 19 of the 20 areas covered showed an increase on an unadjusted basis, led by a 2.8 percent gain in Minneapolis and a 2 percent advance in Atlanta. Las Vegas was the only city to show a month-over-month drop.

“There may still be some residual impact from the homebuyers’ tax credit,” David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P, said in a statement. “It still looks possible that the housing market might bounce along the bottom for the foreseeable future, before showing any real improvement that will filter through to the rest of the economy.”

Sales of existing houses reached an almost three-year high in November, the month the government’s tax incentive was originally due to expire. Since the extension lapsed on April 30, demand has again retreated.

Jobs Needed

With the April 30 deadline for signing a contract now past, it will be up to advances in the labor market to support home sales. Private U.S. companies added 83,000 jobs in June, fewer than economists had forecast, and initial jobless claims have averaged 449,700 this month, a sign firings remain elevated.

Another challenge to new home sales is the rising tide of foreclosures. Home seizures jumped 38 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, RealtyTrac Inc. said last week, putting lenders on pace to claim more than 1 million properties this year.

NVR Inc., based in Reston, Virginia, said last week the original June 30 closing deadline to qualify for the tax incentive resulted in a “surge in settlement activity” in the second quarter, with closings jumping 63 percent from the same time a year earlier. BY contracts, new orders fell six percent in the period.

A drop in borrowing costs is helping to mitigate the decrease in housing demand. The average rate on a fixed 30-year mortgage dropped to 4.56 percent last week, the lowest since data began in 1972, according to figures from Freddie Mac.

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               1-months 3-months 6-months  1-year  2-years
               earlier  earlier  earlier  earlier  earlier
============================================================
US Composite-20   1.27%    1.65%    0.17%    4.61%  -13.15%
------------------------------------------------------------
Minneapolis       2.83%    2.35%   -1.36%   11.61%  -12.55%
Atlanta           2.02%    2.05%   -1.35%    1.74%  -13.25%
San Francisco     1.71%    5.56%    4.05%   18.31%  -12.62%
Los Angeles       1.68%    1.66%    2.92%    9.73%  -12.02%
Boston            1.56%    2.98%    1.28%    4.83%   -2.74%
Dallas            1.50%    4.02%   -0.02%    2.94%   -1.38%
Washington DC     1.45%    3.17%    1.62%    7.44%   -8.62%
Chicago           1.22%   -0.55%   -5.77%   -1.48%  -18.70%
Portland          1.18%    2.99%   -1.60%    0.69%  -15.70%
Seattle           1.16%    2.27%   -1.17%   -1.44%  -17.83%
San Diego         1.07%    3.29%    4.52%   12.44%   -8.38%
Cleveland         1.03%    4.25%    1.05%    3.66%   -2.78%
Miami             0.89%   -0.81%   -1.84%    1.20%  -24.26%
Tampa             0.88%    1.28%   -0.98%   -1.47%  -21.93%
Phoenix           0.85%    0.81%   -0.86%    7.18%  -29.44%
New York          0.82%   -0.08%   -1.29%   -0.42%  -12.24%
Detroit           0.71%   -3.20%   -5.69%   -2.51%  -26.38%
Denver            0.58%    2.97%   -0.04%    3.60%   -1.15%
Charlotte         0.29%    0.35%   -1.91%   -2.85%  -12.59%
Las Vegas        -0.46%   -1.02%   -1.79%   -6.53%  -36.47%