• Remodeling activity — Permits for residential remodeling projects increased 10 percent in March from 2011. Permits were issued at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2,781,000, compared with 2,522,000 in March 2011. On a year-over-year basis remodeling was up in the Midwest (15 percent), West (12 percent) and South (10 percent), while the Northeast dropped 9 percent.
• Housing starts — Housing starts in April were nearly 30 percent higher than the year before, with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 717,000 new homes beginning construction, according to the Census Bureau. In addition to the 29.9 percent year-over-year increase, starts were up 2.6 percent from March’s upwardly revised totals.
• Asking prices — A 0.7 percent increase in median home prices in 146 metropolitan areas in April brought them to their highest point in almost a year, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors. Simultaneously, the national inventory of homes for sale was down 19 percent year-over-year.
Median home prices rose from April 2011 levels in 72 of the 146 markets surveyed, or nearly half. They remained stable in 14 markets while falling in the remaining 60. Among individual metros, Phoenix saw the biggest increase, with prices jumping 25 percent year-over-year. Miami (15 percent) and Washington, D.C. (10 percent) were the other big gainers.
• Home sales and prices — Sales of existing homes were up 10 percent year-over-year in April and up 3.4 percent from March, according to the National Association of Realtors. The national median existing-home price increased 10.1 percent from April 2011 to $177,400 — the largest year-over-year increase since January 2006. It was also the first time since June and July of 2010 with consecutive months of year-over-year prices increases, following March’s 3.1 percent improvement.
Meanwhile, new home sales were up 9.9 percent from 2011 and 3.3 percent above March’s numbers.
• Builder confidence — Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes gained five points in May from a downwardly revised reading in the previous month to reach a level of 29 on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).
This was the index’s strongest reading since May of 2007. PR