Home values fell for the first time in nine months, declining 0.1 percent from July to August, according to the Zillow’s August Real Estate Market Reports, which were released today.
But that shouldn’t be too worrisome, said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries.
“Home values took a small hit in August, but this shouldn’t be cause for alarm,” he said. “The back half of the year is always softer than the front half, and this year is no exception. We’ve been encouraging folks to focus on the longer term trends and not monthly blips. Home values will rise a little and fall a little, month by month, in the near future, but we believe the overall trend will remain positive albeit still below normal rates of appreciation.”
Major markets that saw home values edge downward from July to August after experiencing prior increases included the Chicago (-0.7 percent), New York (-0.3 percent) and Boston (-0.2 percent) metros. Home values continued to climb in the Phoenix (1.6 percent) and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (1 percent) metros, although the rate of increase was smaller in August.
On the rental side, U.S. rents continue to rise, climbing 0.2 percent month-over-month and 5.9 percent annually. For more information on August’s report, head to the Zillow Research page.
What are home values and rents doing where you live? Dive into Zillow’s data, available all the way down to ZIP code and neighborhood levels, here.
Lawsuit claims ‘Trulia Estimates’ infringe on 2011 patent
BY INMAN NEWS.
The battle between the two most popular real estate portals has reached a boiling point. Property search and valuation company Zillow Inc. is suing rival Trulia Inc., alleging the latter’s automated property valuations infringe on a patent issued to Zillow last year. The suit comes on the heels of Trulia publicly filing for an initial public offering of 5 million shares of the company’s stock. Zillow went public last year.
In a complaint filed Wednesday in a U.S. district court in Seattle, Zillow alleges Trulia has infringed on U.S. Patent 7,970,674 B2. The patent’s title, “Automatically determining a current value for a real estate property, such as a home, that is tailored to input from a human user, such as its owner,” describes Zillow’s process for using information supplied by homeowners and real estate professionals to refine Zillow’s automatic home valuations, called “Zestimates.” Zillow applied for the patent on Feb. 3, 2006 and it was issued to the company June 28, 2011.
Zestimates have made the site popular with consumers and “have played a major role in Zillow’s success and growth,” Zillow said in the complaint. The valuations made waves in the real estate industry when the portal first debuted in 2006 and were a key differentiator for the company at launch.
Last September, Trulia rolled out its Trulia Estimates tool in beta, providing consumers with an assessment of a home’s worth. Trulia Estimates use an automated valuation model (AVM) that takes into account recent sales information for other homes in the area, and property characteristics taken from public records including the number of bedrooms and square footage as well as information provided by homeowners. Trulia Estimates launched nationally in March.
Zillow and Trulia both declined to comment for this story. Trulia is also in a “quiet period” during which the company is subject to a ban on discussing itself while in registration to go public.
WASHINGTON — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages ticked up for the third straight week, staying slightly above record lows. Cheap mortgages have helped fuel a modest housing recovery this year.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 3.62 percent, up from 3.59 percent last week. Three weeks ago, the rate fell to 3.49 percent, the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.
The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinancing option, rose to 2.88 percent. That’s up from 2.84 percent last week and record low of 2.80 percent three weeks ago.
The availability of low rates has lifted home sales higher this year. Home prices have also increased, largely because the supply of homes has shrunk while sales have risen. And builder confidence is at its highest level since March 2007, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders.
Homebuilders broke ground on slightly fewer homes in July, down from June when they started homes at the fastest pace since October 2008. Single-family homes and apartments started in July dipped 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 746,000, the government said Thursday.
Still, builders in July requested the most building permits since August 2008, suggesting many expect demand for newly built homes to rise in the months ahead.
The pace of home sales remains well below healthy levels, however. Many people are still having difficulty qualifying for home loans or can’t afford larger down payments required by banks.
Mortgage rates are low because they tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. A weaker U.S. economy and uncertainty about how Europe will resolve its debt crisis have led investors to buy more Treasury securities, which are considered safe investments. As demand for Treasury’s increase, the yield falls.
To calculate average rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week.
The average does not include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.
The average fee for 30-year loans was 0.6 point, unchanged from last week. The fee for 15-year loans also held steady at 0.6 point.
The average rate on one-year adjustable rate mortgages rose to 2.69 percent from 2.65 percent last week. The fee for one-year adjustable rate loans was unchanged at 0.4 point.
The average rate on five-year adjustable rate mortgages declined to 2.76 percent from 2.77 percent. The fee was steady at 0.6 point.
The 10 markets, ranked by highest share of foreign buyers, according to public records data, are:
- Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.
- Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.
- Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla.
- North Point-Bradenton-Sarasota, Fla.
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.
- Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, Ariz.
- New York County, N.Y. (Manhattan)
- Honolulu, Hawaii.
- Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.
- Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.
By Les Christie@CNNMoney March 23, 2012: 11:00 AM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — New home sales fell in February, dashing construction industry hopes that the long-overdue housing recovery may be finally arriving.
The Census Bureau reported Friday that new homes sold at an annualized pace of 313,000 during the month, adjusted for seasonal factors. That was a 1.6% decline compared with January’s 318,000 sales but 11.4% above last February’s 281,000.
Sales fell short of the 323,000 that analysts had expected.
There was a bit of good news for home builders in the report. The median price of new houses sold jumped to $233,700, well above the $217,000 median recorded in January.
The supply of new homes available for sale dropped slightly during the month to 150,000, a 5.8-month supply.
New home sales remain very depressed compared with the mid-2000 boom years. In July. 2005, new homes sold at a 1.389 million annual pace.
New home sales data is eagerly anticipated because increases in construction translates into broad economic gains. All sorts of jobs, in construction, trucking, and furniture, appliance and carpet manufacturing, rise along with new home construction.
Each new home built during a year supports about three jobs, according to David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
The decline came as somewhat of a surprise to Crowe. He said NAHB members have reported a boost in shoppers looking for new homes as abnormally warm weather brought out more house hunters than usual this winter.
The increase in shoppers has not led to a rise in actual buying, he said, and tight credit has been one factor hurting sales.
“Many people come in pre-approved for mortgages but, ultimately, can’t pass the underwriting process,” he said. “They’re qualified but they can’t get a high-enough appraisal on a house.”
If the appraisal comes in low, mortgage banks won’t provide all the funds needed for buyers to complete their purchases. That has short-circuited many new home sales recently.