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Two new data reports issued this morning appear to bolster the belief that the U.S. housing market is finally showing signs of a solid recovery.
According to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), sales of new single-family houses were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 544,000 last month, a 10.8 percent increase above the revised November rate of 491,000 and a 9.9 percent increase above the December 2014 estimate of 495,000. An estimated 501,000 new homes were sold last year, 14.5 percent higher than the 2014 figure of 437,000.
The median sales price of new houses sold in December was $288,900, while the average sales price was $346,400. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of December was 237,000, which represents a supply of 5.2 months at the current sales rate.
More good news came in the latest Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). For the week ending Jan. 22, the Market Composite Index increased 8.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, however, the index only increased 0.3 percent. Likewise, the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased five percent from one week earlier, but the unadjusted index saw a much smaller 0.4 percent uptick. Still, this index is 22 percent higher than the same week one year ago.
The Refinance Index increased 11 percent from the previous week, but the refinance share of mortgage activity decreased very slightly from 59.1 percent to 59 percent of total applications. And there was mixed activity with the government loan programs: the FHA share of total applications decreased to 12.7 percent from 13.7 percent the week prior, while the VA share of total applications increased to 11.1 percent from 10.8 percent and the USDA share of total applications remained unchanged at 0.7 percent.
In other data news, CoreLogic reported that distressed sales accounted for 11.9 percent of total home sales nationally in November, down 1.9 percent year-over-year but up 1.4 percent from the previous month. CoreLogic explained the month-over-month increase was “expected due to seasonality, and the magnitude of the change was in line with previous Novembers.”
All but nine states saw a year-over-year drop in distressed sales in November. Maryland had the greatest share of distressed sales at 20.2 percent, followed by Connecticut (19.1 percent), Florida (19 percent), Michigan (18.9 percent) and Illinois (17.8 percent). North Dakota had the smallest distressed sales share at 2.7 percent. Among major metro areas, Florida’s Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. had the largest share of distressed sales at 21.2 percent.