House prices show signs of slowing
The rise in US house prices rose in the second quarter of 2016 but gains in each month were at a slower pace.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency data shows a 1.2 per cent rise in prices compared to the previous quarter and a 5.6 per cent rise compared to the second quarter of 2015.
However, FHFA Supervisory Economist Andrew Leventis says that although the quarterly data is in line with that of recent years, it also reveals a change.
“Our monthly price index indicates that in each of the three months of the quarter, the increase was only 0.2 percent. This is a much more modest pace of appreciation than we’ve seen in some time and most likely reflects accumulated pressures from significantly reduced home affordability,” Leventis said.
Price rises in the second quarter of 2016 were strongest in Oregon (11.7 per cent), Washington (10.3), Colorado (10.2), Florida (10) and Nevada (9.6). Every state saw increases with the exception of Vermont.
Existing home sales slipped in July
While new home sales boomed in July, sales of existing homes slipped 3.2 per cent to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million. It was the first time since November 2015 that year-over-year sales declined.
The National Association of Realtors says that tight inventory is continuing to restrict sales with prices rising, despite low mortgage rates.
“Although home sales are still expected to finish the year at their strongest pace since the downturn, thanks to a very strong spring, the housing market is undershooting its full potential because of inadequate existing inventory combined with new home construction failing to catch up with underlying demand,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.
The median existing home price was up 5.3 per cent from July 2015 to $244,100.
First-time buyers made up 32 per cent of all buyers, lower than June’s 33 per cent but up from 28 per cent in July 2015.
Empire State Building stake bought by Qatar fund
The Qatar Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, has paid $622 million for a 9.9 per cent stake in The Empire State Realty Trust Inc, the company that owns New York’s most iconic tower.
The New York Post reports that the trust owns 14 buildings in New York while the Qatari fund has investments in redevelopment project Manhattan West.