Southeast Housing Update: May Home Sales Remain Upbeat
Once again, the Atlanta Fed's monthly poll of regional brokers indicates that home sales in May remained ahead of the year-earlier level (see the chart). Half of brokers reported that recent sales had exceeded their expectations.
Reports from southeastern builders also continued to indicate sales gains on a year-over-year basis in May; however, builders noted that growth moderated somewhat from April to May (see the chart). Most indicated that activity met or exceeded their plan for May.
Once again, shortages of home inventory were a theme that repeated among May's reports. Brokers in particular complained that the lack of inventory was restraining home sales, while builders remained frustrated at their inability to secure construction financing, which they felt was holding back the new home market as well. Contacts continued to report upward pressure on home prices. Most reported that home prices were ahead of the year-earlier level. At the same time, builders noted rising labor and material costs. Most indicated that labor costs were up between 1 percent and 4 percent on a year-over-year basis.
Buyer traffic remained robust in May by most accounts. The outlook among housing contacts remained upbeat as well. The outlook for sales over the next several months among brokers was much more positive than a year earlier (see the chart) while the builders' outlook is similar to views expressed last May (see the chart).
Note: May poll results are based on responses from 49 residential brokers and 24 homebuilders and were collected June 3–12, 2013. 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, and negative values indicate decreased activity.
If you are a real estate broker or homebuilder and would like to participate in this poll, please send an e-mail to RealEstateCenter@atl.frb.org.
By Whitney Mancuso, a senior economic analyst in the Atlanta Fed's Research Department
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