(7/27/2012) Housing market numbers come out almost every day. The sheer volume of these numbers can sometimes lead to confusion. What are the main housing market figures to pay attention to? By knowing the key figures and their sources, you can make better appraisals of the status of the housing market.
Housing price indexes are figures developed by government and industry organizations to provide insight into overall home prices. The Federal Housing Finance Agency provides quarterly house price indexes for the country as a whole, and for specific states and metropolitan areas. The Census Bureau creates a quarterly house price index for new homes. And S&P/Case-Shiller prepares monthly house price indexes for twenty metropolitan areas and a quarterly home price index for the United States.
In addition, reports on home prices are offered in terms of mean (average) and median (middle values). The National Association of Realtors crafts monthly reports on nationwide mean and median prices for existing homes and for single-family and condo homes. It also prepares quarterly research/production/repeats/reports by metropolitan area.
Several regular reports on home sales are developed by government and industry agencies to provide a gauge on general housing market activity. The Census Bureau delivers monthly sales estimates for new homes, as well as monthly new home sales inventories. The National Association of Realtors offers monthly reports on sales volumes by region and across the country, as well as sales inventories of existing homes.
Keeping tabs on how many new homes are started and finished also helps determine the state of the housing market. The Census Bureau provides monthly estimates of building permits, housing starts, and housing completions by region and overall.
Compiling statistics on how many people apply for mortgages shows how robust housing market activity is. The Mortgage Bankers Association collects weekly volume measures of mortgage applications.
In addition to applications, watching the changes in interest rates can help predict where the market is headed. The Federal Housing Finance Agency compiles monthly average mortgage rates reports. Freddie Mac has a weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey with movement in interest rates. And the Mortgage Bankers Association provides a weekly average mortgage committment rate report.