NAR lowers sales forecast for resale homes
The National Association of Realtors, in its latest housing market forecast, has lowered expectations for total sales of resale homes this year and is projecting an 8.9 percent drop in sales compared to 2007.

In its previous forecast, released last month, the trade group projected that sales of resale homes would fall about 6 percent this year and rise 5 percent in 2009. The forecast released today calls for a 7 percent increase next year.

NAR expects the median resale home price to fall 5.6 percent this year compared to 2007 and then rise 4.4 percent in 2009. Single-family housing starts are expected to drop 39.6 percent this year and 21.1 percent next year, following a 14.6 percent drop in 2006 and a 28.6 percent drop in 2007. Single-family new-home sales are expected to drop 34.3 percent this year and 8.8 percent next year, following an 18.1 percent drop in 2006 and a 26.3 percent drop in 2007.

Resale home prices are expected to fall 5.6 percent this year and rise 4.4 percent in 2009, with new-home prices projected to drop 3 percent this year and rise 5.5 percent next year, according to the forecast report.

Pending Home Sales Index drops 12.3% year-over-year in June
An index that gauges pending sales of resale homes, based on contracts signed in June, dropped 12.3 percent compared to the same month last year, the National Association of Realtors reported today. The Pending Home Sales Index fell 16.6 percent in the South, 15.4 percent in the Northeast, 13.3 percent in the Midwest and 1.7 percent in the West year-over-year in June, the trade group reported.

The index rose 5.3 percent from May to June to the highest level since October 2007. The index was 89 in June — a score of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined for the index and the first of several record years of resale home sales.

Mortgage apps up from last week
The Mortgage Bankers Association on Wednesday reported a 2.8 percent seasonally adjusted increase in total home loan applications last week compared to the week before. Despite the gain, the MBA’s market composite index is down 33.7 percent compared to a year ago.

Leading the increase was a 4.4 percent rise in the index that tracks refinancings, followed by a 1.8 percent gain in purchase loans. As a result, the refinance share of applications edged up from 35.2 percent to 35.9 percent, while the adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share dipped from 7.3 percent to 6.9 percent.

Interest rates were scattered last week, according to the MBA survey, which saw the 30-year fixed-rate average drop from 6.46 percent to 6.41 percent with 1.13 points, while the average 15-year fixed-rate inched up from 5.98 percent to 6.02 percent with 1.02 points. For one-year ARMs, the average rate fell from 7.25 percent to 7.17 percent with 0.36 point.

Century 21 moves into Brazil
Century 21 signed a master franchise agreement to expand the brand in Brazil. Century 21 has a growing presence in South America, opening offices in Colombia in 2003 and Venezuela in 1999. In April, Century 21 signed a franchise agreement to open new offices in five regions of Greater India, including Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai. Century 21 has franchised broker offices in more than 60 countries and territories.

Los Angeles brokerage company reports global interest
A survey of agents at a Los Angeles-area brokerage company found that about 42 percent worked with a buyer or seller in the past year who originated from outside of the United States. The client’s country of origin was most commonly in Continental Europe (30 percent), followed by Asia (28 percent), the United Kingdom (26 percent) and the Middle East (11 percent).

Also among those agents who reported transactions with foreign buyers, 54 percent were involved in one to three transactions in the past year while 22 percent were involved in four to seven and 13 percent reported that they were involved in eight or more transactions, Coldwell Banker’s Greater Los Angeles Co. reported.

Sixteen percent of these transactions are occurring in the zero to $500,000 range, 43 percent in the $500,001 to $1 million range, and 50 percent were above $1 million and at or below $5 million, according to the survey, which featured 298 agent participants and was conducted in July 2008.


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