The winter chill that has gripped much of the nation is also evident in some recent housing reports.
January Housing Starts fell by 2 percent from December to an annual rate of 1.065 million units. The weaker than expected numbers were due in part to a big decline in single-family homes, as student debt, tight credit conditions and rising prices have kept some first-time homebuyers from entering the market. On the positive side, in this latest report Housing Starts are up 19 percent from this time a year ago.
Existing Home Sales slipped in January, coming in below expectations. The annual rate of 4.82 million units was the lowest level since last April as tight inventories, seasonal weather and the ongoing rise in prices kept buyers out of the market. Despite the decline, sales are up by 3.2 percent from a year ago. And while New Home Sales in January were flat, the overall pace of sales hovers near a six-year high as the economy and job market continue to improve. Sales of new homes are up a solid 5.3 percent from a year ago.
Meanwhile, home prices around the nation rose by 4.5 percent from December 2013 to December 2014, as home price appreciation values are now near more normal sustainable levels.
Despite the chilly start to housing in 2015, there is a ray of sunshine. Home loan rates remain very attractive, making now a great time to consider a home purchase or refinance. Please let me know if you have any questions!