Low interest rates and early signs of economic recovery boosted sales by 3.5% in November.
Even though 2010 is on track to win the top spot as the worst year for home sales in more than a decade, there’s a bit of a silver lining as we head into the new year.
The National Association of Realtors said Thursday its index of sales agreements for previously occupied homes rose 3.5% to 92.2 in November. Even though the surge is not as dramatic as last month’s double-digit growth of 10.4%, it surpassed the 2% rise that experts were predicting.
Lawrence Yun, the NAR's chief economist, said, “Historically high housing affordability and steady improvements in the economy boosted sales, but further gains were needed to reach normal levels of sales activity.” (Bing: Should I buy a house now?)
Even though the numbers seem to indicate recovery, the index is still almost 5% below the November 2009 reading of 97.0 and pales in comparison to the May 2006 peak of 112.6. (An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001.)
Pending home sales in November improved the most in the West, where the index surged 18.2% over October, to 123.3, but was 0.4% below a year ago. In the Midwest, the index declined 4.2% in November to 78.3 and was 7.7% below a year ago.
Meanwhile, pending home sales in the South slipped 1.8% to an index of 91.4, 7.2% below November 2009. (Bing: State-by-state median home prices)
Although Yun says that “all the indicator trends are pointing to a gradual housing recovery,” future home prices will depend largely upon the availability of local jobs and on market conditions.
“If we add 2 million jobs as expected in 2011, and mortgage rates rise only moderately, we should see existing-home sales rise to a higher, sustainable volume,” Yun says.
Part of the problem this year has clearly been high unemployment, but the ongoing foreclosure crisis also added to the misery.
Zillow’s annual survey ranks ‘The Blind Side’ actress as the celebrity most Americans would want to borrow a cup of sugar from. But which stars would inspire a hasty call to the moving company?
Sandra Bullock has had quite a year of ups and downs. After taking home the less-than-coveted Worst Actress Razzie for her role in the nominal comedy “All About Steve,” America’s sweetheart bounced back by winning the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of the ultimate football mom in “The Blind Side.”
But before she could even find a place on the mantel for Oscar, Bullock was hit with the news that her husband, Jesse James, had been cavorting with tattoo model Michelle “Bombshell” McGhee. The couple split. Bullock shortly followed this heartbreak with a heartwarming announcement: She was the proud adoptive mother of a newborn named Lewis.
What could top an Academy Award and motherhood in the same year? Why, being named Most Desirable Neighbor in the fourth annual Zillow Celebrity Neighbor Survey.
All 20 cities in the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index logged housing-price decreases in October, with six hitting record lows. More could be in sight in 2011.
Selling your home in the winter can be risky — and Americans know it, with 85% of respondents in a recent Fannie Mae survey saying now might not be a good time to put your house on the market.
They may be onto something: Home prices in October decreased 1.3% from September and were down 0.8% compared with October 2009, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which reported price slides in all 20 large cities tracked. For the year, prices have slipped in 18 of the 20 cities.
The news gets worse for Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Miami; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and Tampa, Fla.: All reached a new home-price low since their markets peaked in 2006 and 2007. Atlanta showed the biggest decline, while Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Portland and Tampa continued a four-month price downturn. (Bing: When did your housing market peak?)
In other words, if you didn’t get a heavy dose of coal in your stocking last weekend, hang that boy back out there.
"The double dip is almost here … There is no good news in October’s report. Home prices across the country continue to fall," said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee, in a statement.
Is selling your home on your 2011 to-do list? Start planning now with these home-selling resolutions.
If you want to sell your home this coming year, you have your work cut out for you. It is, of course, a buyers market, and there are plenty of homes to compete with yours for the attention of house hunters. But you can use the few remaining days of 2010 for some home-selling prep work to give yourself – and your home – an edge.
MarketWatch's Amy Hoak shares some New Year's resolutions for home sellers, the first of which is to list early.
Louis Cammarosano, general manager of HomeGain.com, a real-estate website, reminds sellers that some potential buyers will start looking in the winter, so they can be moved in to their new place before school starts in the fall.
“If you hit the ground running and you’re a fresh listing that has done everything right, you’ve got the best shot,” Cammarosano said.
Before you list your home, though, be sure to do a reality check when it comes to price. Your memories and attachments to your abode don't play into what a potential buyer will be willing to pay.
Despite higher mortgage rates and no government prodding, home resales rose 5.6% in November.
Could 2010’s moribund year in housing end on a positive note? If November’s existing-home sales trends continue through the end of the year, there may be hope for 2011.
Without the artificial stimulus of the government’s first-time homebuyer tax credit, existing-home sales still rose 5.6% in November, according to the National Association of Realtors. October home resales had fallen 2.2% after two consecutive months of gains, as buyers rushed to take advantage of the credit that had been extended until Sept. 30.
The year-over-year numbers are less encouraging, with a 27.9% decrease in sales compared with November 2009, although last year’s initial tax-credit deadline spurred sales substantially. There were 4.68 million home resales this year, compared with 6.49 million for the same period last year.
Forget Macaulay Culkin. Whatever happened to the home from 'Home Alone'? Here's a look at the houses that have starred in the top holiday films.
With each year, it seems the 1983 film "A Christmas Story" creeps closer to classics such as "It's a Wonderful Life" and the original "A Miracle on 34th Street" as the holiday movie du jour. Thanks to marathon TV showings, it'll be darn near ubiquitous by the end of this week. Heck, even knockoffs of its infamous leg lamp pop up in bars and "funny furniture" shops across the country.
But there's only one house where little Ralphie just about shoots his eye out. And as Zillow's Lauren Riefflin writes, it's one of a handful of homes made famous by holiday movies that happen to be actual houses — or in the case of "A Christmas Story," a tourist attraction.
Sorry, "Wonderful Life" fans: Shortly after that angel got its wings, much of Bedford Falls made its way into storage, along with sets from many other beloved holiday movies, as Riefflin writes:
The Griswolds' home in 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation,' for example, was filmed on a Warner Brothers back-lot set called Blondie Street' in Burbank, Calif. The set consists of 12 suburban homes on a curving street with a centralized park and paved sidewalks — a complete neighborhood replica (take a virtual tour here).
Hollywood worked in reverse for the "Christmas Story" house, however. In 2005, a Californian bought the Cleveland duplex – on eBay, according to the Chicago Tribune — that was used in exterior shots of Ralphie's Hammond, Ind., home; its living room also was used for filming most leg-lamp scenes. After the home's restoration, a museum dedicated to the movie opened across the street. Today, tours are hosted four days a week, with guest appearances by the actors who played Ralphie and his brother, Randy.
If you want your home to stand out, you're going to need to be creative. Try hosting an event in your empty home, writing a letter to buyers or relying on superstitions.
"With big empty houses for sale, people can't help but walk through them quickly," says Priscilla Garston, a real-estate associate broker who owned the Hamptons home. "Photos make them hang out and pause."
It's been a fun year and a half working for the MSN Real Estate 'Listed' blog, with topics ranging from foreclosures and home prices to tiny homes and celebrity sales, not to mention a little rescue by Superman.
Just before I started writing for the MSN Real Estate "Listed" blog, I was both a new homeowner and recently unemployed, a dangerous combination that was repeating itself around the nation as the recession took its toll. (Bing: Is this the Great Recession?)
At first, real-estate experts were pointing the finger at subprime mortgages for getting us into this mess, but eventually the nation's rising unemployment rate changed the face of foreclosures, as more homeowners with traditional mortgages but suddenly without work also became the victims of foreclosures.
Even now the foreclosure mess continues to morph, with all 50 states and the federal government investigating whether lenders have been fraudulently processing foreclosures, an allegation that banks also have reviewed, which led to a 21% decline in foreclosure activity in November.
But it hasn't been all bad news for the past year and a half in the world of real estate.