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U.S. Home Sales Rise to 2nd Highest Pace in 3 Years


U.S. sales of previously occupied homes rose in January to the second-highest level in three years, a sign that the housing market is sustaining its recovery and helping bolster the economy.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales rose 0.4 percent in January compared with December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million. That was the second-highest sales pace since November 2009, when a temporary home buyer tax credit had boosted sales.

The median price for a home sold in January was $173,600, a 12.3 percent increase from a year ago.

Analysts say purchases would be higher if more homes were available. The supply of homes for sale dropped to nearly an eight-year low in January.

The 1.74 million previously owned homes for sale at the end of January represented a 4.2-month supply at Januarys sales pace. Thats the lowest supply since April 2008.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors, said sellers normally begin listing homes in February in advance of the spring buying season. But he said this increase might not be enough to alleviate the tight supply.

The inventory of homes for sale is 25.3 percent below the level a year ago, when there was a 6.2-month supply of unsold homes.

In December, sales declined to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.9 million from 4.96 million in November, according to revised figures released Thursday. The December drop was linked, in part, to the tight supply of homes.

Courtesy of Edge on the Net

Median sales price in Metro Detroit climbs by $22K


The median sales price of Metro Detroit of homes and condominiums jumped by $22,000 in the past year. One of the main reasons is troubling: The number of homes up for sale is plunging.

In February, the median sales price rose to $80,000 in Livingston, Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, a 37.9 percent improvement from the same period a year ago, according to the monthly report from Realcomp II Ltd., a Farmington Hills-based multiple listing service.

That median sales price remained flat from a month ago, but the number of homes for sale declined between January and February.

Many real estate agents say it is common to get multiple bids on properties in various parts of Metro Detroit.

"I've got brokers telling me they have buyers ready, willing and able to buy. More inventory would help," said Karen Kage, Realcomp CEO.

Areas such as downtown Detroit report steady climbs in price, said Sabra Sanzotta, owner and broker at The Loft Warehouse in Detroit.

"We believe the Book Cadillac effect has helped the rise in prices for all downtown Detroit property, because despite it being the most luxuryproperty in Detroit, it also steadily sells with one to fivesales per month," Sanzotta said. She was referring to The Residences at the Westin Book Cadillac, the landmark building that was renovated into a Westin hotel and upscale condominiums.

A two bedroom, 1,412-square-foot condo at the Book Cadillac is currently under contract for a $344,900 sale price.

Overall, prices are being pushed up in part because the number of properties for sale is going down. In February, Metro Detroit inventory dwindled to 14,544, a 24.8 percent drop compared with the same period a year ago. February inventory dropped by 993 units from January.

Sales have dropped 7.1 percent in the past year, according to Realcomp. February sales fell 8percent from Jan. to 3,559.

Last month, the trade group Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan forecast around 5,100 permits will be issued this year to build new homes in Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair and Wayne counties. That's a significant increase since the housing crash of 2008, but the pace remains at half the level of activity of the past four decades. The 40-year average is for about 10,000 new home permits a year in the region.

Coutesy of the Detroit News
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