CHICAGO — MEDIAN HOME PRICES continue to rise, with the National Association of Realtors reporting a national gain that is the best performance in seven years. The price of a single-family home increased in 133 out of 150 metropolitan areas. In the last quarter of 2012, the industry reported improvement from earlier in the year and from the previous year.
THE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURE inventory was down in the first quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s National Delinquency Survey, while the mortgage delinquency rate rose to 7.25%, up 16 points from the previous quarter. The industry typically shows a decrease in delinquency rates from the fourth to the first quarter, and it includes loans that are one payment past due but not loans in the process of foreclosure.
New foreclosures in April were down 5.06% from March, according to Realty Trac, with 144,790 reported. Foreclosures sold stood at 57,039, down 4.56% between February and March, and the average foreclosure sale price was $180,968, up 5.93% in April from the March number.
APRIL EMPLOYMENT FIGURES increased by 165,000, maintaining the unemployment rate at 7.5%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. While the rate has remained steady the last two months, it is down 0.4% from January, and the number of unemployed stands at around 11.7 million, down 673,000 since January.
THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL of Shopping Centers reported a 2.7% gain in U.S. chain-store sales in April. It anticipates May’s pace to go up by 2-3% as seasonal spending increases.
MEMBERS OF THE National Association for Business Economics, in the April Industry Survey, suggest that business activity advanced at a strong pace for the first quarter of 2013, with expectations of an improved second quarter as well. Members reported their firms showed increased sales early in the year, even though many firms are operating under a streamlined fiscal policy.
The latest report from the Institute for Supply Management shows slight growth in economic activity for the non-manufacturing sector. The Non-Manufacturing ISM Report on Business indicates that the industry’s April index registered 53.1%, which is 1.3 percentage points below the March figures. According to Anthony Nieves, chair of the Institute’s Business Survey Committee, the lower figures indicate growth at a slightly slower rate. Fourteen industries reported growth in April.
THE CONSUMER CONFIDENCE level took a hit in April, down from March but exactly the same as the April 2012 level. According to the Surveys of Consumers from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan, consumers view future economic prospects as being lower than they previously believed. Consumers are particularly pessimistic about the economy’s ability to continue to expand. In sharp contrast are gains in household wealth, reduced debts, and favorable attitudes toward buying conditions for larger ticket items such as vehicles and homes.