Friday, January 25, 2008

Real Estate: Still Gloomy

Housing has been a source of concern for regulators, bankers and consumers for more than a year now, and signs of improvement are nowhere to be seen. According to the latest NAR report, existing home sales dropped 2.2% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million units, compared to 5.00 million in November, down 22% year-over-year. Total existing home sales for 2007 came in at 5,652,000, down 12.8% when compared to 2006 results but still the fifth highest level on record. The inventory of unsold homes currently on the market is more than twice the normal supply. The December level was the highest in history for that month. The median price for a single-family home dropped 1.8% in 2007, the first decline since the NAR started tracking prices in 1968. Looks like it can only get better from now on but who knows, so many problems need to be solved first.

By the way, the latest Fed rate cut has helped bring down mortgage interest rates: on average, the 30-year fixed home loan carried an interest of 5.48% this week, the lowest level in almost 4 years. It stood at 5.69% last week. 15-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped to 4.95%, from 5.21% last week, 5-year adjustable-rate home loans averaged 5.13%, compared to 5.40% a week ago, and one-year ARMs stood at 4.99% this week, compared to 5.26% last week. Lenders are expecting a refinancing boom.

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