When headlines imply things are better than they feel, it is always good to take a closer look. January home sales headlines are a good example.
The Latest Headlines
In the most recent headlines for the home sales number in January, you could be forgiven for thinking that things are looking up. Sadly, that is not the case. At least, it is not giving the right overall impression as they focus on month to month numbers instead of year over year numbers. So today, we are going to look at the real numbers, but also compare those national and regional numbers to what we are seeing right here in Santa Clara County.
New Home Sales
The U.S. new-home sales rose 7.2% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 670,000 in January, up from a revised 625,000 in the prior month, the Commerce Department reported on Friday. However, the year-over-year new-home sales are still down by 19.4%, which indicates a decline in the housing market. Regionally, the South led the U.S. in the number of new homes sold, with the figure surging by 17.1%, while sales of new homes dropped across the rest of the country—most sharply in the Northeast, by 19.4%.
Despite the overall decline in home sales, home builders are offering incentives like mortgage-rate buydowns to entice buyers, and it’s working. However, mortgage rates crept back up this month, which is prompting more buyers and sellers to back off. Home-purchase applications dropped to the lowest level since 1995 last week as mortgage rates jumped on expectations that the Federal Reserve will need to raise interest rates again to combat inflation. The average 30-year-fixed mortgage rate is now 6.5%, up from an average of 6.27% in January and 3.89% a year ago. That has caused the typical home buyer’s monthly payment to rise more than $500 year over year.
Some Existing Home Sales Numbers
Closed home sales fell 1.4% from a month earlier in January and slumped a record 36.6% from a year earlier. Many homeowners are reluctant to sell because they don’t want to give up their relatively low mortgage rates. About 85% of mortgage holders have a rate far below today’s level of roughly 6%. The median sale price of homes nationwide was $383,249 in January, down 1.4% from December and 11.5% below the May all-time high. Still, prices were up 1.5% from a year earlier, in part because low supply kept prices afloat.
Mortgage Rates And New Home Incentives
The housing market is facing challenges due to rising mortgage rates and inflation. Many home buyers are now hesitant to make a purchase due to the increased cost of borrowing. In addition, many homeowners are holding onto their properties because they have low mortgage rates, which is creating a shortage of homes for sale. This supply-demand imbalance is leading to higher prices for the homes that are available on the market.
Despite the challenges, home builders are continuing to offer incentives to buyers to entice them into the market. These incentives may include mortgage-rate buydowns, cash-back offers, or other perks. The incentives are helping to keep the market afloat, but they may not be enough to reverse the overall decline in home sales.
Different Regions, Different Results
The decline in home sales is not uniform across the country. The South, which is the largest region in the U.S., saw a surge in new-home sales, while the Northeast saw the sharpest decline in sales. The regional disparities in the housing market may be attributed to a variety of factors, such as job growth, affordability, and population growth.
The housing market is facing significant challenges due to rising mortgage rates and inflation. Home buyers are now more cautious about making purchases due to the higher cost of borrowing. In addition, many homeowners are reluctant to sell because they have low mortgage rates, which is creating a shortage of homes for sale. While home builders are offering incentives to entice buyers, the market is likely to remain weak until there is more stability in the economy and interest rates.
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