Morning Briefing: Sellers' market says S&P/Case-Shiller

by Steve Randall27 Jan 2016
Sellers’ market says S&P/Case-Shiller
The latest National Home Price Index from S&P/Case-Shiller shows that prices continued to increase in November 2015. Year-over-year there was a 5.3 per cent rise, up slightly from the 5.1 per cent seen in October. Month-over-month home prices were up by 0.1 per cent before seasonal adjustment.

“Home prices extended their gains, supported by continued low mortgage rates, tight supplies and an improving labor market,” says David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Sales of existing homes were up 6.5 per cent in 2015 vs. 2014, and the number of homes on the market averaged about a 4.8 months’ supply during the year; both numbers suggest a seller’s market.”

Three cities – Dallas, Denver and Portland OR – have reached new all-time highs; San Francisco is even with its earlier peak and Charlotte NC is less than one percent below its previous peak.
December record tops strong year for Massachusetts closed sales
Realtors in Massachusetts reported record closed sales for the month of December 2015, topping off a year of strong gains for the market. Figures from the Massachusetts Association of Realtors show 4,708 sales of single-family homes (up 12.9 per cent from Dec. 2014) and 1,741 condo sales (up 9.4 per cent from Dec. 2014) making the highest closed sales for the month since 2004.

Seven straight months of gains saw year-end closed sales reach 53,014 for single-family houses (up 9.4 per cent year-over-year) and 20,688 (up 3.4 per cent year-over-year). Median prices in December were $345,000 for single-family homes (up 4.5 per cent year-over-year) and $319,450 for condos (up 0.02 per cent year-over-year).
This could push prices higher
Homes located near certain grocery stores appreciate in value faster than others according to analysis from Zillow. It found that homes near a Trader Joes or Whole Foods were consistently higher priced than the median between 1997 and 2014. By the end of 2014, homes within a mile of either store were worth more than twice as much as the median home in the rest of the country.

"Like Starbucks, the stores have become an amenity in their own right – a signal to the home-buying public that the neighborhood they're located in is desirable, perhaps up-and-coming, and definitely improving," said Zillow Group Chief Economist Stan Humphries. "Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the stores may actually drive home prices. Even if they open in neighborhoods where home prices have lagged those in the wider city, they start to outperform the city overall once the stores arrive."
AIG divests mortgage insurance division
American International Group is selling its mortgage insurance business to a Canadian pension fund and New York-based private equity firm. AIG Advisor Group which has around 5,200 independent brokers and around 800 full-time staff will transfer to new owners PSP Investments and Lightyear Capital.