This Week in Real Estate

We saw strong evidence last week that homebuilders are well on their way to recovery. Housing starts for November were UP 8.9%, to an annual rate of 574,000 units. Single-family starts were 35.0% higher than their January and February lows. The very volatile multi-units starts were UP 67.3% from the previous month’s cyclical low. And get this — starts were UP in every major region across the country!

Building permits are the future of homebuilding and guess what. They were UP 6.0% for November, to an annual rate of 584,000 units. This was above expectations and the fastest rise in a year. Single-family permits were UP 5.3%, registering their best pace since September 2008, when the economic mess began. Overall, homebuilding is UP in Q3 and many experts anticipate another gain in Q4 and even bigger increases in 2010-2011.

Mortgage rates continue at attractive levels, though they’re creeping up. Fannie Mae’s survey for the week ending last Thursday showed 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaging 4.94% with an average 0.7 point (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value (LTV) ratio loans. Last week the Fed confirmed they would end their purchase program for Mortgage Backed Securities on March 31, 2010. This is expected to cause mortgage rates to keep inching up. One more reason for buyers to act now!

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