Home prices rise in August: CoreLogic

NEW YORK, Tue Oct 2, 2012 – Home prices rose in August as the housing market continued to gain traction, but recent gains could start to wane as the summer comes to an end, data analysis firm CoreLogic said on Tuesday.

CoreLogic’s home price index rose 0.3 percent from July and was up 4.6 percent compared with a year ago. It was the biggest year-over-year increase since July 2006.

Excluding distressed sales, price gains were even larger. Home values rose 1 percent compared with the month before and were up 4.9 percent on a yearly basis.

Homes that have been seized by banks or are in danger of being foreclosed are often sold at significantly reduced prices.

Many economists believe the battered housing market has finally turned a corner this year as prices have stabilized.

Still, the report forecast prices will fall 0.3 percent in September as the traditional summer buying boost wears off. Prices are expected to be up 5 percent compared with a year before.

Stripping out distressed sales, prices are seen up 0.6 percent in September and up 6.3 percent from a year ago.

Of the top 100 statistical areas measured by population, 20 showed year-over-year declines, down from 26 in July.

Housing starts rise, multifamily projects weak

WASHINGTON, Wed Sep 19, 2012 – Housing starts rose less than expected in August as groundbreaking on multifamily home projects fell, but the trend continued to point to a turnaround in the housing market.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday housing starts increased 2.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 750,000 units. July’s starts were revised to show a 733,000-unit pace instead of the previously reported 746,000.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast residential construction rising to a 765,000-unit rate. Compared to August last year, residential construction was up 29.1 percent.

Housing starts are now a third of their 2.27 million-unit peak in January 2006. The housing market, the Achilles heel of the recovery from the 2007-09 recession, is slowly healing.

Sales have been creeping up and the house price decline has bottomed, with a tightening supply of properties on the market raising prices in some metropolitan areas. In addition, homebuilder sentiment touched a six-year high in September.

Home building is expected to add to gross domestic product growth this year for the first time since 2005.

Though residential construction accounts for about 2.5 percent of GDP, economists estimate that for every new house built, at least three new jobs are created.

The Federal Reserve moved last week to bolster the economy, announcing it would buy $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities per month until the outlook for employment improved significantly.

Last month, groundbreaking for single-family homes, the largest segment of the market, rose 5.5 percent to a 535,000-unit pace – the highest level since April 2010. Starts for multi-family homes fell 4.9 percent.

U.S. March personal incomes rise, consumers save more

WASHINGTON, Mon Apr 30, 2012 – U.S. household income rose in March by the most in three months but consumers socked away part of the extra cash and only modestly increased spending, suggesting economic growth ended the first quarter on a soft note.

The Commerce Department said on Monday consumer income rose 0.4 percent last month. Analysts had expected a gain of 0.3 percent. After-tax income climbed 0.2 percent in March when accounting for higher prices.

Consumer spending rose 0.3 percent last month, also just below the median forecast in a Reuters poll of 0.4 percent.

When taking into account inflation, which has been fed in recent months by higher gasoline prices, spending was up 0.1 percent.

“The spending number is an indication that the higher gas prices we saw last month are taking their toll,” said Todd Schoenberger, managing principal at the Black Bay Group in New York.

U.S. economic growth cooled in the first quarter as businesses cut back on investment and restocked shelves at a slower pace. The economy grew at an annualized pace of 2.2 percent in the first three months of the year, data on Friday showed, a slowdown from the fourth quarter’s 3.0 percent rate.

Stronger consumer spending over the entire quarter cushioned the blow, but Monday’s data suggested consumers ended the quarter spending less freely.

With consumption rising less quickly than income, the saving rate edged higher to 3.8 percent.

Prices for U.S. government debt held steady at higher levels, while U.S. stock index futures were slightly lo