Existing-Home Sales Down

Existing-home sales fell in January but are above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Existing-home sales — including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops — dropped 7.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million units in January from a revised 5.44 million in December, but remain 11.5 percent above the 4.53 million-unit level in January 2009.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said there is still some delay between shopping and closing that affected current sales. “Most of the completed deals in January were based on contracts in November and December. People who got into the market after the home buyer tax credit was extended in November have only recently started to offer contracts, so it will take a couple months to close those sales,” he said. “Still, the latest monthly sales decline is not encouraging, and raises concern about the strength of a recovery.”

Total housing inventory at the end of January fell 0.5 percent to 3.27 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 7.8-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 7.2-month supply in December. Raw unsold inventory is 9.6 percent below a year ago, and is at the lowest level since March 2006.

“Activity should be picking up strongly in late spring as buyers take advantage of the tax credit, which is critical to absorb distressed properties reaching the market and to continually chip away at inventory,” Yun said. “With a downtrend in the number of homes on the market, especially in the lower price ranges, values are beginning to firm but with great variance around the country.”

Home Prices

Annual Rate of Return Improves

Data through December 2009, released by Standard & Poor’s for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices show that the U.S. National Home Price Index fell in the fourth quarter of 2009 but has improved in its annual rate of return, as compared to what was reported in the third quarter.

The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 2.5 percent decline in the fourth quarter of 2009 vs. the fourth quarter of 2008. This is a significant improvement over the annual rates reported in the first, second and third quarters of the year, at -19.0 percent, -14.7 percent and -8.7 percent, respectively. In December, the 10-City and 20-City Composites recorded annual declines of 2.4 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively. These two indices, which are reported at a monthly frequency, have seen improvements in their annual rates of return every month since the beginning of the year.

Remodeling Index

Down in Fourth Quarter

Market conditions for residential remodeling tumbled downward during the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Remodeling Market Index (RMI). The current market conditions index fell to 36.4 from 39.8 in the third quarter. The index of future indicators dropped to 31.4 from 38.7 in the previous quarter.

Education

Pella Expo Slated for 30 Cities

Pella Windows and Doors announced a schedule of industry events in U.S. and Canadian sports venues Feb. 2 through May 13 as The Pro Expo presented by Pella takes place in 30 cities. During the free events, attendees can obtain continuing education credits, learn about the latest products, services and tips to help build their business and support local food banks in partnership with The Salvation Army.

Events will be held every Tuesday and Thursday, Feb. 2 through May 13, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Brands like Kohler, James Hardie, Schluter Systems, AZEK, DuPont and Contractors.com will join Pella in showcasing products, services and the latest building practices.

Sessions will be held in notable stadiums like Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Soldier Field in Chicago, Gillette Stadium in Boston, Chase Field in Phoenix and more.

Attendees may preregister online at TheProExpo.com or by calling 888-644-EXPO.

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