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Southeast housing update: Recent Atlanta Fed poll shows home sales up in January

The Federal Reserve of Atlanta's monthly poll of regional residential real estate brokers indicated that home sales continued to improve in January. Southeastern broker reports indicated that sales in January rose slightly ahead of the year-earlier level. The majority of brokers reported that sales were flat to slightly up in January. Some contacts in Alabama and Tennessee reported that winter storms dampened January sales.

Gains among Southeastern brokers were largely driven by Florida brokers—more than half in that state reported year-over-year gains.

Some early reports on January sales activity from around the region confirm gains among Florida markets while reports from Tennessee contacts were mixed.

January 2011 Home Sales, Year-Over-Year Percent Change
Northeast Florida Association of Realtors     7.8
Orlando Regional Realtors Association     7.1
Greater Nashville Association of Realtors     6.6
Knoxville Area Association of Realtors –13.6
Source: FRBA business contact poll

Contacts from across the region continue to report downward pressure on home prices from short-sales, real-estate-owned sales, and pending foreclosures. Two-thirds of brokers and nearly half of builders reported annual home price declines in January. Distressed property sales appear to be a driver of home sales in Florida markets, particularly in the condominium market. The Orlando Regional Realtors Association reported that 75 percent of January home sales were distressed sales. Orlando condominium sales increased 26 percent from a year earlier, with condos priced under $50,000 accounting for more than half of sales. Similarly, the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors reported that lender-mediated or distressed sales accounted for 59 percent of sales in January, a new high.

Southeastern homebuilders reported that they were unable to raise home prices despite rising material costs.

Despite the absence of a housing stimulus that was in place last year, the overall outlook among Southeastern brokers continued to improve in January, while close to half of builders expect flat sales over the next several months.

Note: January poll results are based on responses from 105 residential brokers and 49 homebuilders and were collected February 7–16, 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

February 23, 2011 in Florida , Housing , Tennessee | Permalink


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