Housing starts hit lowest level since January 1991
Single-family housing starts in July slipped to the lowest rate since January 1991, the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported today. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of single-family starts was 641,000 in July, down about 39.2 percent compared to the same month last year. The rate of total starts, at 965,000, was down 29.6 percent year-over-year in July.

The rate of building-permit authorizations was 937,000 in July, down 32.4 percent compared to July 2007, while the rate of single-family permit authorizations was 584,000, down 41.4 percent. The rate of housing completions dropped 31.7 percent in July compared to the same month last year.

MDA DataQuick reports record price drop in San Francisco region
San Francisco Bay Area home sales increased 2.2 percent in July compared to the same month last year — it was the first time since January 2005 that the region has seen a year-over-year increase in sales, real estate data company MDA DataQuick reported today. Sales of new and resale houses and condos in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area region rose from 7,423 in July 2007 to 7,586 in July 2008.

Foreclosure resales had a lot to do with those sales numbers, according to DataQuick — homes sold in July that had been foreclosed upon in the prior 12 months accounted for 33 percent of all resales, up from 29.9 percent in June and 4.2 percent in July 2007. Foreclosure resales accounted for 65.9 percent of sales in Solano County, DataQuick reported.

The median price of homes in the region hit its lowest point since March 2005, when it was $469,500, and suffered a 29.3 percent year-over-year drop in July, to $470,000. That compares to $665,000 in July 2007 and is a record in the history of DataQuick’s statistics, which date back to 1988. Year-over-year price drops ranged from 41.6 percent in Contra Costa County to 6.3 percent in San Francisco.

Jumbo loans made up 32.3 percent of all home purchase loans in July, compared to 63.1 percent in the same month last year. The typical monthly mortgage payment amount for buyers in the region was $2,218 in July, down from $3,222 in July 2007.

Indianapolis most affordable major market for 12th straight quarter
Indianapolis maintained its standing as the most affordable major U.S. housing market for the 12th consecutive time in the second quarter of 2008, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) released today.Some 91.6 percent of Indianapolis homes sold in the second quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median household income of $65,100. Also near the top of the list for affordable major metros were Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.; Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich.; Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich.; and Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich., in that order.

Nationwide, homes became more affordable for the third consecutive quarter, with the HOI rising to and almost matching the highest level since the second quarter of 2004.

"Today’s HOI reading shows that 55 percent of all new and existing homes that were sold during the second quarter were affordable to families earning the national median income of $61,500," said NAHB President Sandy Dunn, a builder from Point Pleasant, W.Va. "Several factors combined to increase housing affordability nationwide. There was a marginal rise in mortgage rates, which still remain near the historically low levels of a few years ago, family income nationwide held steady and lower house prices."

One smaller metro market (fewer than 500,000 people) outranked all others in terms of housing affordability during the second quarter: Canton-Massillon, Ohio, where 96.7 percent of all homes sold in the period were affordable to families earning that area’s median household income of $54,600.

New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J., was the nation’s least affordable major housing market, with just 11.4 percent of new and existing homes sold during the second quarter affordable to those earning the area’s median family income of $63,000.


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