By Cal Haupt
After a sensational winter for the Atlanta residential real estate industry, the market has ended its record streak of two months consecutively reaching 6.0 and has declined to a 5.6 in 2014’s first spring month. Declining new, pending and existing home sales combined with negative home price gains contributed to the weakened Cal-Culator this month.
The U.S. Department of Commerce released its U.S. Census Bureau News for February, which showed that sales of new single-family homes in February were 3.3 percent below January. Though new home sales are only a small portion of homes purchased in the U.S., the sales represents a lot more.
“They [new home sales] provide a more current gauge of market conditions than some other indicators because they are tallied at the moment a contract is signed rather than at its closing,” said The Wall Street Journal in ‘New-Home Sales Fell 3.3% in February.’
The article also found that existing home sales, 90 percent of all home purchases, fell for the second consecutive month.
Pending home sales also fell 0.8 percent in February, marking the eighth straight month of decline, according to Bloomberg data. Pending home sales can be used to predict future home sales’ activity, as most pending home sales become existing home sales in a few months.
The latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices indicated that a majority of the cities in the 20-City Composite saw declines in home prices gains, including Atlanta, which posted a 0.1 percent decline.
“The housing recovery may have taken a breather due to the cold weather,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Twelve cities reported declining prices in January vs. December; eight of those were worse than the month before.”
The National Association of Realtors’ 2014 Investment Home Buyers Survey conducted in March found that investment sales, a necessary part of the recovery, fell to 20 percent of all transactions in 2013, a drop of 8.5 percent.
“Investment buyers slowed their purchasing in 2013 because prices were rising quickly along with a declining availability of discounted foreclosures over the course of the year,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.
Despite the setbacks, the month did have a few bright spots. Nation-wide inventory is continuing to rise and now is at a 5.2-month supply, up from a 4.7-monthly supply last month. Though month-over-month home price gains declined, Atlanta experienced a 16.8 percent year-over-year change in home prices.
“Expectations and recent data point to continued home price gains for 2014. Although most analysts do not expect the same rapid increases we saw law year, the consensus is for moderating gains,” said Blitzer.
The next Cal-Culator will be released May 13 and will hopefully follow normal spring strides in the housing industry.
-Cal Haupt is the president of Southeast Mortgage, a regional HUD lender with 10 branches doing business in Georgia, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina.
About The Cal-CulatorThe Cal-Culator is the brainchild of Haupt. To compile the index, Haupt consults a number of professional publications and indexes, such as the Mortgage Bankers Association’s commentary, Metrostudy’s market information and the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. After constantly being asked to predict what was next for the Atlanta housing market, Haupt realized stakeholders had no other credible, easy-to-understand resource to help understand Atlanta’s real estate market conditions, so in September 2013, he launched The Cal-Culator.