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Southeast housing update: Recent Atlanta Fed polls show December home sales improved

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's monthly poll of regional residential real estate brokers in December indicated that home sales were slightly below the year-earlier level and in line with figures released by the National Association of Realtors.

December 2010 Existing Home Sales
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Overall, Southeastern responses were mixed. A third of respondents noted increasing sales on a year-over-year basis, 40 percent reported declines, and the remainder indicated no change. The most positive reports came from Florida brokers, which were in line with local market reports.

December 2010 Home Sales, Year-Over-Year Percent Change
Northeast Florida Association of Realtors   10.9
Orlando Regional Realtors Association   -1.74
Greater Tampa Association of Realtors   3.9
Greater Nashville Association of Realtors   -6.9
Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors   -11.3
New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors   -7.3
Source: FRBA business contact poll

In addition to our usual poll questions, we asked brokers what factor had most prevented buyers from purchasing homes during the fourth quarter. Most indicated that the inability to sell their current home was the biggest hindrance, followed by the buyers' inability to secure financing. Chiefly mentioned by those who marked "other" was uncertainty. Also noteworthy, in December Florida brokers no longer reported stalled sales related to the moratorium by several banks surrounding legal problems with foreclosure paperwork. Brokers also noted in a separate question that homeowners were forgoing jobs elsewhere because they were unable to sell their current home.

What factor has most prevented buers from purchasing homes during the fourth quarter?
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Southeastern homebuilders reported that new home sales remained weak in December on a year-over-year basis. Close to 60 percent reported that sales were down from a year earlier. However, a look at monthly comparisons indicated that sales improved slightly on an unadjusted basis from November to December. A quarter of respondents reported a monthly increase in sales during December compared with just 15 percent in November.

December 2010 New Home Sales
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Reports from Southeastern builders, which indicated further slowing, were similar to the U.S. Census report on December single-family housing starts.

December 2010 New Home Construction
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The outlook among Southeastern contacts continued to improve in December among both brokers and builders despite noted concerns about job growth and foreclosures. The improvement was generally broad-based, with Florida contacts the most positive.

December 2010 New Home Construction
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Note: The December poll results are based on responses from 111 residential brokers and 41 homebuilders and were collected January 3–12, 2011.

The housing poll's diffusion indexes are calculated as the percentage of total respondents reporting increases minus the percentage reporting declines. Positive values in the index indicate increased activity while negative values indicate decreased activity.

By Whitney Mancuso, a senior analyst in the Atlanta Fed’s research department

January 21, 2011 in Construction , Florida , Housing | Permalink


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