Cindi Andrews reports:
The good news keeps rolling in for the housing market, both locally and nationally, as several new reports on early 2013 numbers show last year’s momentum continuing.
January pending sales were up 24.4 percent in Southwest Ohio compared to January 2012, the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors reported Wednesday – likely foreshadowing continuing sales increases in February and March.
The Northern Kentucky Association of Realtors saw a 13.4 percent increase in pending sales compared with last January. National numbers will be released today.
“Knowing that we have a decline in inventory since last year and we’re still seeing these numbers is a good sign,” said Kevin Kelly, CABR president. “There is a little bit more confidence out there from the consumer. We’re seeing new people enter the market for the first time in four years.”
The CABR reported 1,801 pending sales – the most in a January since 2007. Northern Kentucky reported 474. A pending sale is one that hasn’t closed yet, but the buyer and seller have agreed to terms. Sales are typically finalized within four to six weeks, although the time can be shorter or much longer. Also, not all pending sales go through because of inspections, loans and other conditions that aren’t met.
The new data follows reports last week of the best January existing-home sales for six years in Greater Cincinnati and for five years in Northern Kentucky. Realtors groups also reported lower inventory last week – a potential concern for would-be buyers who’ll find fewer homes to choose from. Greater Cincinnati has 14.1 percent fewer active listings than in January 2012, while Northern Kentucky is down 7.4 percent.
Several other reports released Tuesday also held promising signs for the local and national housing markets:
• The foreclosure rate in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky metro area remained near its lowest point in more than two years, creeping up to 2.65 percent in December from 2.64 percent in November, according to the national information provider CoreLogic. Area foreclosures peaked at 3.23 percent of all mortgages in April 2012.
“This data is consistent with the improving unemployment picture,” said Shaun Bond, director of the University of Cincinnati Real Estate Center. “We didn’t necessarily have a housing-market problem, we had a job problem.”
The Cincinnati foreclosure rate is better than the national rate of 2.96 percent and Ohio’s statewide rate of 3.06 percent, CoreLogic reported.
• National new-home sales reached their highest levels in 41/2 years last month, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Sales of newly built homes rose nearly 16 percent nationally, to a seasonally adjusted rate of 437,000 – the largest percentage increase in nearly two decades after dropping to a record low in 2011.
The jump was greatest in the West, where sales soared 45.3 percent. Sales rose a more moderate 11.1 percent in the Midwest; metro-level data was not available.
Home prices are rising: The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price index showed a 6.8 percent increase in December compared with the same month a year earlier. That’s up from a 5.5 percent gain in November. The index is based on prices in 20 cities nationwide. (Cincinnati is not on the list.)
The Associated Press contributed.