Matrix Blog

Brokers, Agents, MLS, NAR

[Interview] Mark L. Stark, Owner/Broker/CEO, Prudential Americana Group, Las Vegas

September 1, 2010 | 12:35 pm | Podcasts |

Source: Las Vegas Sun

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[Interview] Erica Ferencik, Realtor, Novelist, Writer, Former Standup Comedienne

June 27, 2010 | 10:47 pm | Podcasts |

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[Interview] Ana Maria Sencovici, Blogger, “The Apple, Peeled”, Marketer, Change Agent

June 25, 2010 | 12:15 am | Podcasts |

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[NAR] Existing Home Sales Decline 2.2%, But a ‘Northeaster’ Weighed Down the Results

June 22, 2010 | 12:55 pm | |


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NAR released its May existing home sales report today. This was one of the most bizarre existing home sale reports I can recall.

First of all, the expectation of a drop in sales activity was widely expected due to the end of the federal tax credit, yet economists surveyed were anticipating an increase in sales in May? Real estate professionals were bracing themselves for a decline in sales in May.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expected existing-home sales to climb by 5.0%, to a rate of 6.06 million. The surprise decline followed two increases driven by a tax incentive for first-time buyers that the government enacted to spur a housing sector recovery.

I viewed the impact of the tax credit as “poaching” sales from the next 60-90 days rather than a vehicle to jump start the housing market. We really need jobs first.

But if you look closely at the data, M-O-M sales were up or flat in each of the 3 regions except the northeast, which posted an 18.3% seasonally adjusted decline.

The report headline was generally accurate “May Shows a Continued Strong Pace for Existing-Home Sales” if you remove the northeast from consideration.

Sales price showed the same pattern. While US prices were up 2.7% M-O-M, the northeast prices declined 2.2%.


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My interpretation of this “Northeaster” centers around foreclosures. The south and west posted significant foreclosure activity and price declines nearly 2 years ahead of the northeast. The midwest hasn’t seen the same volatility as the other regions. Perhaps the west and south have been pummeled enough that they are actually seeing a bottom in both sales and prices trends. Foreclosure activity is flowing freely while the northeast seems to be lagging in that regard.

Ok, I’m reaching through generalizations but why the disparity by region?

Here are this month’s metrics:

  • existing-home sales fell 2.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.66 million units in May down from a revised 5.790 million in April
  • existing-home sales are 19.2 percent higher than the 5.1 million-unit pace in May 2009.
  • housing inventory fell 3.4 percent to 3.89 million existing homes available for sale from April 10 but is 1.1% above last year
  • there is an 8.3-month supply down from an 8.4-month supply in April and down from a 9.7 month supply last year.
  • national median existing-home price was $179,600 in May, up 2.7 percent from May 2009.
  • distressed homes accounted for 31 percent of sales last month, compared with 33 percent in April 10 and 33 percent in May 09.


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[The Housing Helix Podcast] Travis Waller, CDPE, CRS, RE/MAX, Distressed Property Realtor

June 11, 2010 | 2:33 pm | | Podcasts |

Last January I moderated a distressed property panel at the Inman Real Estate conference in New York.  One of the panelists was Travis Waller, a sharp real estate agent from New Jersey who spoke with great clarity on his specialty, distressed real estate.  In this podcast we have a great conversation via Skype on what life will be like after the end of the federal tax credit for first time and existing home buyers, how banks are coming to grips with property disposition, differences between short sale and foreclosure transactions, marketing distressed property, to name a few.

It’s great insight from someone who deals with distressed property first hand.  Follow Travis on Twitter.

Check out the podcast.

The Housing Helix Podcast Interview List

You can subscribe on iTunes or simply listen to the podcast on my other blog The Housing Helix.


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[Interview] Travis Waller, CDPE, CRS, RE/MAX, Distressed Property Realtor

June 11, 2010 | 2:24 pm | | Podcasts |

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[NAR] Pending Home Sales Index

June 2, 2010 | 2:16 pm | |


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NAR released its PHSI today and there were no surprises. The expiration of the federal tax credit for first time buyers and existing home owners (signed contract by April 30, close by June 30) showed its impact on sales trends.

By the way, my above chart shows how ridiculous seasonal adjustments are – the non-seasonal adjusted line better reflects whats going on.

The pending sales data set is about 20% the size of existing homes and is comprised of existing single family and condo sales. Its dubbed a forward looking index but it really is a current looking index. The “meeting of the minds” between buyer and seller occurs just before contract signing. Its forward looking in the context of closing data but it is not forward looking on the condition of housing.

Consecutive M-O-M Gains

  • Sales were up 6% from March to April and up 22% from April 09 to April 10. Last month
  • Sales were up 7.9% from February to March and up 8.3% from March 09 to March 10.

Analysts have expressed fear the housing market will suffer with the end of the government subsidy. But the job market has been improving. The Labor Department is scheduled this week to release employment data for May, and economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires are expecting a gain of 515,000 non-farm payroll jobs.

The same thing happened last fall as the initial tax credit within the federal stimulus plan was set to expire on November 30 only to be renewed and expanded a few weeks later. No renewal this time.

Regionally things were not so consistent. Month over month gains in

  • Northeast +29.5%
  • Midwest +4.1%
  • South -0.6%
  • West +7.5%

Buyers they better close by June 30th. Not an automatic assumption in today’s mortgage environment.


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[In The Media] Bloomberg Radio The Hays Advantage 12:30pm

June 2, 2010 | 9:15 am | | Public |

Just a bit of house cleaning…err NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index being released at 10am this morning.

I’ll be on The Hays Advantage show with Kathleen Hays on Bloomberg Radio talkin’ pending home sales (contracts) today at 12:30 on AM1130, XM channel 129 or SIRIUS channel 130.

Always enjoy being on her program.


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[The Housing Helix Podcast] Dottie Herman, President and CEO, Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate

May 31, 2010 | 8:49 pm | | Podcasts |

I sat down with Dottie Herman, President and CEO of Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate to talk about her journey from certified financial planner to one of the most successful real estate brokers in the United States.  Dottie leads an organization of 3,800 real estate professionals and 675 employees in more than 60 offices.  Its a candid and insightful conversation, and of course, fun and energetic.

We spoke right after our live weekly radio show “Eye on Real Estate” on WOR710 that Dottie hosts on Saturdays from 10am to noon along with her team of experts (including moi).

Check out the podcast.

The Housing Helix Podcast Interview List

You can subscribe on iTunes or simply listen to the podcast on my other blog The Housing Helix.


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[Interview] Dottie Herman, President and CEO, Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate

May 31, 2010 | 8:40 pm | | Podcasts |

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[NAR] Existing Home Sales Jump Artificially

May 25, 2010 | 11:23 pm | |


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Last month NAR told us that this month would see another period of robust sales activity as buyers sought to beat the expiration of the first time buyers and existing hoimewoners tax credit on April 30th.

NAR was right about the jump in existing home sales this month.

Still, no real trend is apparent here.

The federal government provided a stimulus to buy homes to help jump start housing and the economy. Pure market forces didn’t deliver the buyers to the closing table this month on their own. What I love about sales stats over housing price stats is sales trends tend to lead price trends. So its a bit weird to say that prices are stabilizing when a key driver of demand was the tax credit – that fueled surge in sales which helped stabilize prices. Remove the stimulus and prices fall.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the gain was widely anticipated. “The upswing in April existing-home sales was expected because of the tax credit inducement, and no doubt there will be some temporary fallback in the months immediately after it expires, but other factors also are supporting the market,” he said. “For people who were on the sidelines, there’s been a return of buyer confidence with stabilizing home prices, an improving economy and mortgage interest rates that remain historically low.”

When sales drop over the next few months, it would be reasonable to expect sales prices to fall too as the artificial stimulus leaves the economy.

Here are this month’s metrics:

  • existing-home sales increased 7.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.77 million units in April from an upwardly revised 5.36 million in March
  • existing-home sales are 22.8 percent higher than the 4.70 million-unit pace in April 2009.
  • housing inventory rose 11.5 percent to 4.04 million existing homes available for sale, an 8.4-month supply up from an 8.1-month supply in March.
  • inventory is 2.7 percent above a year ago, but remains 11.6 percent below the record of 4.58 million in July 2008.
  • national median existing-home price was $173,100 in April, up 4.0 percent from April 2009.
  • distressed homes accounted for 33 percent of sales last month, compared with 35 percent in March.


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[Interview] Chris Meyers, COO, Houlihan Lawrence Real Estate

May 20, 2010 | 10:16 pm | Podcasts |

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