(iStock/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)The spike in home prices may have finally caught up to eager buyers.Existing home sales fell 6.6 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted rate of 6.22 million from January’s rate of 6.69 million, according to the National Association of Realtors’ monthly report. It’s the first month-over-month decline since November, and it affected every region NAR tracks except the west.Analysts expected last month’s rate of sales to drop, but forecasted only a 2.8 percent decrease compared to January’s levels.Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, attributed February’s results to historically low inventory, unchanged from January’s 1.03 million units on the market. Meanwhile, home prices continued to rise: The median sales price increased for the 108th consecutive month to $313,000. That’s up nearly 16 percent from a year ago.ADVERTISEMENTRead moreHome sales, prices rose in January as inventory hit new loExisting home sales fall for the first time in 5 monthsHomebuilder sentiment falls as lumber costs soar “Home affordability is weakening,” Yun said in a statement. “Various stimulus packages are expected and they will indeed help, but an increase in inventory is the best way to address surging home costs.”At February’s pace of sales, there is two months’ worth of supply on the market, a dip from the 3.1 months’ worth of inventory available at the same time last year.Homebuilders appear to be on a different page from buyers: Housing starts dropped 10.3 percent in January and market sentiment among builders dropped for the third time in four months in February. Soaring lumber prices are partly to blame for the decrease.Despite the drop-off in buyer activity, last month’s rate of sales was still up 9.1 percent from a year ago.Yun pointed to the year-over-year gains, which occurred in every regional market, to back up his view that home sales will be higher in 2021 than in 2020.“The nation is on the cusp of returning to a sense of normalcy,” he said. “Many Americans have been saving money and there’s a strong possibility that once the country fully reopens, those reserves will be unleashed on the economy.”At the same time, mortgage rates have begun to increase and prices remain elevated, lowering the likelihood that lower-income buyers will be able to purchase homes — particularly as many were increasingly shut out of the housing market last year.Contact Erin Hudson Email Address* Full Name* Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Housing MarketNational Association of RealtorsResidential Real Estate Share via Shortlink Tags Message*
While the US has been slow to introduce chip and pin, there have been developments in smartphone payments. The bank JP Morgan Chase and retailer Walmart have both launched rivals to Apple Pay, which shows how retailers, banks and regulators are innovating to bring about faster payments and a potential cashless society. continue reading » Have you heard? Some retail establishments, in countries like the Netherlands, don’t accept cash anymore. As I mentioned in a previous post, digital money is making big waves – everywhere. While it’s starting to make a serious dent in the United States, the use of mobile payments are much more widespread in other countries.Below are 10 interesting tidbits from an article in The Conversation, which discusses the use of mobile payments in financial services around the world: One in ten card payments were contactless for the first time in 2015 in the UK. 9SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Next summer Copenhagen will host Money 20/20, the world’s major annual event for emerging payment technology. It will be the first time the forum convenes outside the US, bearing witness to the increasing importance of Europe when it comes to innovation in payments and financial technology. Many have pointed to the slow death of cash in Scandinavia, but cash is unlikely to completely die out – few may develop a mobile app suited to the needs of refugee migrants there, for example.