Home Sales Rise with Strong Increases – How to Get Your Piece of the Pie

Home sales are on their way up; Existing-home sales improved in May and remain solidly above a year ago, while the median price continued to rise by double-digit rates from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the recovery is strengthening and to expect limited housing supplies for the balance of the year in much of the country. “The housing numbers are overwhelmingly positive. However, the number of available homes is unlikely to grow, despite a nice gain in May, unless new home construction ramps up quickly by an additional 50 percent,” he says. “The home price growth is too fast, and only additional supply from new homebuilding can moderate future price growth.”

Total housing inventory at the end of May rose 3.3 percent to 2.22 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 5.2 months in April. Listed inventory is 10.1 percent below a year ago, when there was a 6.5-month supply.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $208,000 in May, up 15.4 percent from May 2012. This marks six straight months of double-digit increases and is the strongest price gain since October 2005, which jumped a record 16.6 percent from a year earlier. The last time there were 15 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases was from March 2005 to May 2006.

Forty-five percent of all homes sold in May were on the market for less than a month.  The median time on the market is the shortest since monthly tracking began in May 2011; on an annual basis, a separate NAR survey of home buyers and sellers shows the shortest selling time was 4 weeks in both 2004 and 2005.

First-time buyers accounted for 28 percent of purchases in May, compared with 29 percent in April and 34 percent in May 2012.

All-cash sales were at 33 percent of transactions in May, up from 32 percent in April and 28 percent in May 2012. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 18 percent of homes in May; they were 19 percent in April and 17 percent in May 2012.

NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty in Villa Park, Calif., says market conditions today are vastly different than during the housing boom. “The boom period was marked by easy credit and overbuilding, but today we have tight mortgage credit and widespread shortages of homes for sale,” he said.

“The issue now is pent-up demand and strong growth in the number of households, with buyer traffic 29 percent above a year ago, coinciding with several years of inadequate housing construction. These conditions are contributing to sustainable price growth,” Thomas said.

With buyer traffic increasing, and prices on the rise, how can you make sure you’re getting in the game? Below are a few tips for working with buyers and sellers in this market:

1. Be sure to connect on multiple platforms – have a winning website, social media plan, and lead generation strategy.

2. Be upfront and set their expectations right from the start. Tell buyers they have to act fast, and prep sellers for multiple offer scenarios.

3.Take time to truly understand their needs and wants. This will help find a home—or a buyer for their home—faster.

4.Stay connected. Today’s buyers and sellers expect to be able to reach their agent at any time.

5.Think outside the box. Buyers are getting more creative—and more personal—when it comes to appealing to sellers. Writing personal letters to sellers are just one of the ways many buyers are making connections and seeing success.



U.S. Housing Prices to Continue Stabilizing in 2013

BMO Economics commented recently that higher equity and home values must be providing some much-needed comfort to U.S. consumers, following the release of the S&P Case-Shiller home price index for June which showed a more-than-expected rise of 0.9 per cent, seasonally adjusted.

“This represented the fifth straight monthly gain, and lands the index 0.5 per cent above year-earlier levels – the first positive reading in nearly two years,” says Jennifer Lee, senior economist, BMO Capital Markets. “This report is very good news, and shows that prices are getting support from the pickup in demand for housing as well as fewer distressed homes on the market. It also represents a much-needed boost given the release of the consumer confidence index for August, which shows a drop of 4.8 points.”

A look at individual areas provided further encouragement, according to Lee. “Eighteen of the 20 metro areas saw home prices rise in June, the most since 2006. On a year-over-year-basis, 13 areas are now able to say that home prices have grown, including Phoenix, Miami and Minneapolis.”

Lee noted that U.S. housing prices are likely to stabilize further in 2013, with demand improving on firmer job growth and easier lending standards.



Mortgage Rates Change Little, Remain Near Record Lows

Freddie Mac recently released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing fixed mortgage rates declining or remaining the same from the previous week amid mixed economic data, and continuing to hover around their all-time record lows.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.55 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending September 6, 2012, down from last week when it averaged 3.59 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.12 percent.

Additionally, the 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.86 percent with an average 0.6 point, the same as last week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.33 percent.

Results showed that the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.75 percent this week with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.78 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.96 percent.

The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.61 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.63 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.84 percent.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following links for Regional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

“Mortgage rates were little changed over the holiday week amid mixed economic data releases,” says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Although consumer spending rose 0.4 percent in July, representing the largest gain in five months, the core price index was unchanged suggesting little threat of inflation. Consumer confidence picked up slightly in August according to the University of Michigan, but remained below this year’s peak in May. And the manufacturing industry contracted for the third consecutive month in August.”

For more information, visit


July Housing Scorecard Shows Continuing Signs of Recovery

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury recently released the July edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard – a comprehensive report on the nation’s housing market. Data in the Housing Scorecard show continued signs of recovery as foreclosure starts and completions declined in June, though officials expect activity to increase in the coming months as firms lift delays in foreclosure processing.

In addition, the inventory of houses for sale remained low; at current pace, it would take 6.6 months to sell the supply of existing homes on the market and 4.9 months to clear the new homes on the market. Experts consider a six month supply of homes to be a balanced market. Distressed sales remain a key factor, however, as the impact of serious delinquencies and underwater mortgages continue to temper market gains. The full report is available online at

HUD Acting Assistant Secretary Erika Poethig says, “This month’s indicators show momentum not seen since before the housing crisis as refinances through our enhanced Home Affordable Refinance Program continue to surge — HARP loans represented 20 percent of total refinance volume in May, the largest increase since the program was launched in 2009. But with so many households still struggling to make ends meet, it’s clear that we have more work ahead.” Poethig continued, “That is why we are asking the Congress to approve the President’s refinancing proposal so that more homeowners can receive assistance.”

“HAMP continues to offer the deepest and most sustainable assistance available to prevent foreclosure. Homeowners in the program have a high likelihood of successfully overcoming their financial hardship and maintaining their mortgage payments for the long term,” saysTreasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Tim Massad. “We remain committed to utilizing the tools we have available to help our country heal faster from an unprecedented crisis.”

The July Housing Scorecard features key data on the health of the housing market and the impact of the Administration’s foreclosure prevention programs.

The Administration’s foreclosure programs are providing relief for millions of homeowners as the housing market continues to recover from an unprecedented crisis. More than 1.2 million homeowner assistance actions have taken place through the Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program, while the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has offered more than 1.4 million loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions. The Administration’s programs continue to encourage improved standards and processes in the industry, with HOPE Now lenders offering families and individuals more than 2.9 million proprietary mortgage modifications through May.

Homeowners in HAMP continue to demonstrate long-term success in the program. As of June, more than one million homeowners have received a permanent HAMP modification, saving approximately $537 on their mortgage payments each month, and an estimated $13.9 billion to date. In June, 75 percent of homeowners with non-GSE mortgages benefitted from principal reduction with their HAMP modification. Eighty-six percent of homeowners starting the program in the last two years have received a permanent modification. HAMP modifications continue to exhibit lower delinquency and re-default rates than private industry modifications, with 94 percent of homeowners still current on their modified payments after six months.
Also featured this month is the Administration’s Housing Scorecard Regional Spotlight on market strength in Miami, Florida and surrounding communities. The Miami metro area was one of the hardest hit areas in the nation following the housing market downturn and an area where the Administration’s broad approach to stabilizing the housing market has been very active.

“The fragile signs of stability that the national data show for the broader housing market are even more delicate in the Miami market,” says Poethig. “The Administration is working hard to help all homeowners who have been hit hard during the crisis and, as this Regional Spotlight shows, our efforts have helped more than 147,000 Miami households to avoid foreclosure. A modest local economic recovery is underway, but we have much more to do to reach the many households who still face trouble and to help the Miami market recover.”

The bi-monthly Housing Scorecard Regional Spotlight features data on the health of the Miami housing market and impact of efforts to help homeowners at the local level including:

Economic conditions in Miami are improving, but the local housing market remains fragile – with high concentrations of distressed mortgages, large numbers of vacancies, and 45 percent of home mortgages underwater. Miami currently ranks first in the nation for mortgages 90 or more days delinquent or in the foreclosure process. In addition, the state has the third longest foreclosure processing time, as lender processing delays and a backlog in the courts extend the average stay in the foreclosure pipeline. However, a modest recovery is underway as unemployment rates have fallen from a high of 11.4 in September 2010 to 8.6 percent in May 2012, and home prices have been rising since early 2011.

More than 147,500 Miami households have received mortgage modifications, many directly through Administration programs. Since April 1, 2009 more than 147,500 mortgage assistance interventions have been offered to homeowners in the Miami metropolitan area. Nearly 66,900 interventions were offered through HAMP and the FHA loss mitigation and early delinquency intervention programs. An estimated additional 80,600 proprietary modifications have been offered through HOPE Now Alliance servicers. While some homeowners may have received help from more than one program, the number of times assistance has been offered in the Miami MSA is nearly 50 percent higher than the number of foreclosures completed during this period (100,000).

In addition, more than 287,000 Miami homeowners stand to benefit from the $8.5 billion in relief provided to the state under the landmark Mortgage Servicing Settlement announced in February 2012. Nationwide, the settlement will provide more than $37.8 billion in benefits that include payments to the participating states, payments to borrowers, refinance funding, fee reductions and homeowner benefits. Nearly 1.7 million Americans will benefit from the mortgage settlement.

The Administration’s Hardest Hit Fund and Neighborhood Stabilization Programs have fueled local foreclosure prevention efforts and market stability. At approximately $1.06 billion, Florida has received substantial support through the Hardest Hit Fund to implement local solutions to mitigate borrower mortgage defaults, particularly for homeowners struggling with unemployment. Moreover, approximately $427 million has been awarded to 26 jurisdictions through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to help purchase or redevelop residential properties and address the effects of abandoned and foreclosed housing. Both programs have helped provide increased stability to the Miami housing market.

For more information, visit


New Home vs. Old Home – Which Home Is Best for Your Buyer?

By Monica O’Neill
The real estate market is full of a great variety of homes for potential buyers to choose from. One of the first decisions a potential buyer must consider is their preference for finding an existing home or building a new one. Keeping clarity in this situation means focusing your clients on their needs, budget and lifestyle.

Consider the following:

Aggressive incentives are alluring. The common consumer urge to “never pass up a deal” can blur objective reasoning in this very important decision-making process. But, while many buyers would be good candidates for a brand new home, incentives are just gravy and shouldn’t be a major factor in weighing housing options. There can be more costs and stresses tied to acquiring a new home versus an existing one.

For example, a spike in driving can mean a drain on the wallet. Generally, existing homes are closer to town with better access to jobs, shopping and schools. New construction subdivisions tend to be on the outskirts of town, sometimes with very few of these necessities nearby.

Making a house a home. The feeling of a brand new house can be intoxicating. But once that feeling subsides and the new homeowner begins decorating, the need to start from scratch can be overwhelming. While interior design can be fun, it can turn expensive and stressful.

Buyers can often find an existing home to live in while accomplishing the decorating and/or remodeling changes. And many sellers have already neutralized and made the necessary repairs in order to sell more quickly.

Surprises on actual costs.
Existing homes usually cost less per square foot due to escalating land costs in new subdivisions. New homes are often built in outlying areas where the municipalities need to charge higher taxes, as there are fewer families to pay for basic services. Additionally, newer homes are often subject to assessment fees for amenities the family may or may not use.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Owners in a new construction subdivision must be prepared for the daily noise and dust of construction crews, trucks, neighbors moving in, streets changing and traffic increasing.
Home Warranty of America offers peace of mind with comprehensive home warranties for existing homes and even new construction. Offering an HWA home warranty can help homes sell faster. Ask about Green Plus, too, and help your clients become more energy efficient.

Monica O’Neill is marketing manager for Home Warranty of America.


Five Great Tips for Achieving a Work-Life Balance

Between your family, work, your exercise routine and your social life, finding time to relax may seem like a laughable notion. But while a busy schedule can make taking time out to relax difficult, it should still be a priority—right up there with making it to your son’s Little League games or your Monday morning meeting. Here are a few tips for achieving a work-life balance.

1) Manage your time well
On a Monday morning, jot down a list of tasks which need to be completed by the end of the week. Split this list into achievable ‘quick wins’ by writing down the amount of time needed to complete each task. Schedule each piece of work into your weekly calendar, checking everything you need to do can actually fit into your working hours. By allocating time for each task, you’re less likely to under-estimate how long each activity is going to take.

2) Leave your work at work!

Schedule 10 minutes at the end of each working day to make a list of outstanding projects, deadlines and anything else work-related which is bothering you. Make time in your diary to develop solutions to problems and ask managers and colleagues for help if you’re struggling with a heavy workload.

3) Schedule ‘personal time’ in your calendar

Schedule ‘personal time’ as well as ‘work time’ in your diary. Place as much importance on ‘personal time’ spent with friends and family, as you do on ‘work time.’ Manage time planning for personal activities as efficiently as your working day, to ensure that it’s achievable. Plan to leave work on time at least one evening a week, block this out in your diary and make sure nothing interrupts this arrangement.

4) Separate domestic chores and resting time

Don’t count domestic chores within your leisure time, schedule these separately, otherwise you could risk spending your free time doing laundry and running errands! Try to alternate chores with fun activities, or schedule half an evening for housework and half for relaxing.

5) Take a lunch break every day
No matter how busy your work schedule, take time out for a proper lunch break each day. Go outside, enjoy some fresh air and give yourself a break to re-charge for the afternoon ahead. Block out time for lunch breaks in your diary, even if it’s just a 10 minute walk and a quick bite to eat, this change of scenery may be just what you need for a productive afternoon.

Source: Filofax


Slowing but Still Improved: New-Home Sales Decline in June

Sales of newly built, single-family homes slowed 8.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 350,000 units in June following an upwardly revised, strong pace in the previous month, according to figures released today by HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“While we would have liked to see a third consecutive month of new-home sales gains in June, the fact remains that the sales numbers are up on both a quarterly and yearly basis, while builders continue to report that they are seeing more serious buyers in the market for a newly constructed home with all of the latest updates,” says Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla.

“The lower number of new-home sales in June represents an adjustment from a robust level of activity in May, yet overall results for the second quarter show we are still on track for continued improvement,” observed NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “That said, the very tight inventory of new homes for sale at this time poses a challenge to builders, who’d like to have a larger selection for buyers to choose from but continue to confront issues with obtaining credit to build viable new projects.”

On a regional basis, new-home sales gained 14.6 percent in the Midwest and 2.1 percent in the West, but fell 8.6 percent in the South and 60 percent in the Northeast in June. Meanwhile, the inventory of new homes for sale was virtually unchanged for the month at 144,000 units, which represents a relatively slim, 4.9-month supply at the current sales pace.

For more information, visit


Marketing Strategies: 5 Steps to Becoming a Success Magnet

Marketing Strategies: 5 Steps to Becoming a Success Magnet

By Maya Bailey
What would it mean for you to manifest the success you desire and the success you deserve? The following “5 Steps to becoming a Success Magnet” will give you a formula to manifest the success you desire and the success you deserve.

This five step formula comes from my direct experience of having been a psychologist for 20 years and a business coach for real estate agents for 15 years.

Step 1 – Getting Clear About What You Don’t Want

This is a very important step, because when you’re clear on what you don’t want, you have contrast, or a springboard to jump off into deciding what you do want.

It’s so easy to come up with the list of what you don’t want; it’s all those things you’ve been complaining about. Let’s get them out of your head and onto paper shall we?

Get out a piece of paper and about a half an inch from the top draw a horizontal line. Then down the center of the page draw a vertical line. You now have two columns.

For the heading of the left-hand column write, “What I Don’t Want.” Jot them down in your left hand column the things you don’t want. If you are like most of my clients, then your list would look something like this:

I Don’t Want:
• Flaky, difficult clients
• Transactions that fall through
• Inconsistent income
• Working long hours
• Having to generate leads
• Not being well received on the phone
• Negativity

The problem with having these “don’t wants” circulate around in your mind day after day is that they build a negative vortex and before you know it you end up attracting what you don’t want.

Step 2 – Notice What You Do Want

Now that you’ve made your list of “don’t wants,” it will be very easy to make your list of do wants. In the right-hand column, write down all the things that you do want.

If you’re like most of my clients your list will look something like this:

• I want motivated decisive qualified clients
• I want transactions that flow easily and effortlessly
• I want to magnetize my ideal clients
• I want (fill in the blank) amount of income each month
• I want to have fun and work reasonable hours

Not only is this a “wish list” but also this is a notice to the universe of your intentions.

Step 3 – Visualize and Feel

Visualizing is utilizing this body mind connection. We often think that it’s not good to daydream or that it’s a waste of time. But if it’s a directed daydream in which you are focusing your attention and imagining that you’ve achieved that result, you are really stepping into that visualization and experiencing what that feels like; then you are magnetizing that to you.

There is more to the process, obviously because action is always needed. It’s really a matter of balancing a success mindset with inspired action.

Step 4 – Clear Your Mind of Self-Limiting Beliefs

What if you wanted more money but had beliefs that were anti-money, such as, “there’s never enough money”? If we hold the belief “there’s never enough money” in our subconscious mind then that will become our experience.

You need to clear that belief.

If you have self-limiting beliefs, you can replace them with the empowered belief, “I have a valuable service to offer, and people are happy to hear from me.” I don’t want to imply that this is a quick fix, but I want to let you know that when you’ve done the reprogramming work on yourself that is what you will want to focus on.

Remember, when you’re radiating a positive attitude, you are magnetizing what you desire and what you deserve.

Step 5 – Take Inspired Action.

What does this mean? Take action that comes from your heart; take action that inspires you, take action that comes from your intuition. This is the difference between simply going through the motions, or really putting your heart into it.

I was working with a client the other day who was feeling a lot of resistance about prospecting. Even though she wanted to do it to build her business, she kept feeling bored with routine, and lacked the spark that was really on authentic part of her.

I guided her into a process to help her to get clear about what she needed to bring the spark back into her lead generation activities. It turns out that she needed three things:

1. Flexibility: she wanted to start her prospecting at different times in the morning, instead of a set “I have to start prospecting at 8:30 AM.”
2. Variety: she didn’t want to call the same categories of people day after day. She wanted to mix it up, to work with different categories until she could feel some excitement about calling these people.
3. A day off. For her to take inspired action, she found that it was necessary to give yourself permission to take a day off from prospecting each week.

When you got clear on what you need to take inspired action, your resistance will disappear.

Dr. Maya Bailey, Multiple 6 Figure Income Business Coach for Real Estate Professionals, integrates her 20 years of experience as a psychologist with 15 years of expertise in marketing.

For more information, visit


Builder Confidence in the 55+ Housing Market Shows Significant Improvement in the First Quarter

Builder Confidence in the 55+ Housing Market Shows Significant Improvement in the First Quarter
Builder confidence in the 55+ housing market for single-family homes had a significant increase in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period a year ago, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) 55+ Housing Market Index (HMI) released recently. The index increased 10 points to 27, and although 27 is relatively low for an index that lies on a scale of 0 to 100, it is nevertheless the highest reading since the inception of the index in 2008.

“We continue to see increased optimism from builders and developers in the 55+ housing segment,” says NAHB 50+ Housing Council Chairman W. Don Whyte. “We are servicing the largest growing group of buyers that we have ever seen in this age category, and it is a population that is dramatically different from what it was only a few years ago. This creates an opportunity for builders and developers in this market to create communities that address the specific needs of the 55+ consumer.”

The 55+ single-family HMI measures builder sentiment based on a survey that asks if current sales, prospective buyer traffic and anticipated six-month sales for that market are good, fair or poor (high, average or low for traffic). An index number below 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as poor than good. All index components remain well below 50, but increased considerably from a year ago, each reaching an all-time high: Present sales rose 12 points to 27, expected sales for the next six months increased eight points to 32 and traffic of prospective buyers rose nine points to 26.

The 55+ multifamily condo HMI remains the weakest of the 55+ housing market indices, but also recorded an all-time high at 15, up seven points from a year ago. All index components showed an increase compared to a year ago: Present sales rose five points to 14, expected sales for the next six months increased seven points to 20 and traffic of prospective buyers jumped nine points to 15.

The 55+ multifamily rentals continue to lead the way in the overall 55+ housing market. Present production climbed 11 points to 31, expected future production increased eight points to 35, current demand for existing units rose three points to 42 and expected future demand increased one point to 45.

“Like the overall single-family housing market, the 55+ housing segment is facing a slow but steady recovery,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Consumers are starting to see the resale market show some improvement, which allows them to start thinking about moving into 55+ housing.”

For more information, visit


First Quarter Metro Area Home Prices Stabilizing, Sales Up and Inventory Down

First Quarter Metro Area Home Prices Stabilizing, Sales Up and Inventory Down
Median existing single-family home prices are firming in many metropolitan areas, while improving sales and declining inventory are creating more balanced conditions, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors®.

The median existing single-family home price rose in 74 out of 146 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) based on closings in the first quarter from the same quarter in 2011, while 72 areas had price declines. In the fourth quarter of 2011 only 29 areas were showing gains from a year earlier. A new breakout of income requirements on a metro basis shows most buyers have the necessary income to buy a home in their area, assuming a favorable credit rating.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says there is some volatility in the price performance. “Home prices are more volatile than normal because of sudden upswings in buyer activity in some localities, and also are affected by the prevalence of distressed sales,” he says. “Home prices lag sales activity because the transactions were negotiated mostly in the previous quarter. Given the steadily dwindling supply of inventory and notably higher listing prices that are being negotiated today, prices are expected to show further improvements in the near future.”

Yun says a big part of the story is housing inventory. “We now have broad shortages of lower priced homes in much of the country, with very tight supply in Western states for homes through the middle price ranges. This is good news for many sellers who wish to list now, or for those waiting for prices to improve.”

At the end of the first quarter there were 2.37 million existing homes available for sale, which is 21.8 percent below the close of the first quarter of 2011 when there were 3.03 million homes on the market. There has been a sustained downtrend since inventories set a record of 4.04 million in the summer of 2007.

The national median existing single-family home price was $158,100 in the first quarter, which is 0.4 percent below $158,700 in the first quarter of 2011. The median is where half sold for more and half sold for less. Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales which sold at deep discounts – accounted for 32 percent of first quarter sales; they were 38 percent a year ago.

Total existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, increased 4.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million in the first quarter from a downwardly revised 4.37 million in the fourth quarter, and were 5.3 percent above the 4.34 million level during the first quarter of 2011 when sales spiked.

“This is the highest first quarter sales pace since 2007,” Yun says. “With strong market fundamentals, total home sales this year should rise 7 to 10 percent.”

NAR President Moe Veissi believes there are more opportunities in today’s market. “Historically favorable housing affordability conditions are making it easier for buyers to enter the market despite the unnecessarily tight credit conditions,” he says. “Housing supply and demand are roughly balanced with overall housing supply at the lowest level in six years, putting sellers on an even footing with buyers in most markets.”

Included with this report is a new breakout on qualifying incomes to purchase a median-priced existing single-family home on a metropolitan area basis, assuming downpayments of 5 percent, 10 percent or 20 percent, and an interest rate of 4 percent with 25 percent of gross income devoted to mortgage principal and interest.

“Qualifying incomes are well below median incomes in most of the country, which means home buyers generally can stay well within their means,” Yun says. “For example, a buyer in Indianapolis making a 10 percent downpayment would need an annual income of $24,000 to purchase a median-priced home, while in Seattle it would be $55,300. For now, buyers are facing an extraordinarily advantageous situation if they can obtain a mortgage.”

The national median family income was $61,000 in the first quarter. However, to purchase a home at the national median price, a buyer making a 5 percent downpayment would only need a $34,700 income. With a 10 percent downpayment the required income would be $32,900, while with 20 percent down, the income drops to $29,300.

First-time buyers purchased 33 percent of homes in the first quarter, unchanged from the fourth quarter; they were 32 percent in the first quarter of 2011.

The share of all-cash home purchases in the first quarter was 32 percent, up from 29 percent in the fourth quarter; they were 33 percent in the first quarter of 2011. Investors, drawn by bargain prices and who make up the bulk of cash purchasers, accounted for 22 percent of all transactions in the first quarter, up from 19 percent in the fourth quarter; they were 21 percent a year ago.

In the condo sector, metro area condominium and cooperative prices—covering changes in 52 metro areas—showed the national median existing-condo price was $157,200 in the first quarter, which is up 3.4 percent from the first quarter of 2011. Eighteen metros showed increases in their median condo price from a year ago and 34 areas had declines.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast jumped 8.6 percent in the first quarter and are 6.6 percent above the first quarter of 2011. The median existing single-family home price in the Northeast declined 3.2 percent to $226,300 in the first quarter from a year ago.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales rose 5.5 percent in the first quarter and are 11.7 percent higher than a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the Midwest increased 0.8 percent to $125,300 in the first quarter from the same quarter in 2011.

Existing-home sales in the South increased 2.1 percent in the first quarter and are 4.1 percent above the first quarter in 2011. The median existing single-family home price in the South rose 1.2 percent to $143,600 in the first quarter from a year earlier.

Existing-home sales in the West rose 5.9 percent in the first quarter and are 1.4 percent higher than a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the West slipped 0.9 percent to $196,200 in the first quarter from the first quarter of 2011.

For more information, visit