Friday, June 27, 2014

Thank You!

The HBA of Greenville would like to thank the Community Service Committee for their hard work this past weekend on a recently acquired Habitat for Humanity home. The volunteer group included Eddie Howard of Howard Custom Builders, John Wolfrom of Providence Realty, Jon Statom of Palmetto Exterminators, and Amy Torlay of Hughes Supply. They painted the interior of the home, replaced the back deck, and also replaced windows along with many other smaller projects. The committee has also received gifts in kind to complete this home and get the family into the home by the end of summer. Some of those gifts in kind include a new roof furnished by Allcon Roofing, new plumbing and fixtures provided by Hughes Supply, and Crawlspace Incapsulation provided by Palmetto Exterminators. However, we are still in need of several other items!
For more information or if you would like to help please call or email Crystal Yanes at the HBA Office. 864-254-0133 or

Thursday, June 26, 2014

FHFA Index Shows Mortgage Interest Rates Decrease in May

National data show interest rates on mortgages decreased from April to May, according to an index of new mortgage contracts.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the National Average Contract Mortgage Rate for the Purchase of Previously Occupied Homes by Combined Lenders index was 4.18 percent for loans closed in late May. The index is calculated using FHFA's Monthly Interest Rate Survey. The contract rate on the composite of all mortgage loans was 4.13 percent, a decrease from 4.23 percent in April.

Interest rates are typically locked in 30-45 days before a loan is closed. Consequently, May data reflect market rates from mid- to late-April. The effective interest rate was 4.28 percent, down 10 basis points from 4.38 percent in April. The effective interest rate accounts for the addition of initial fees and charges over the life of the mortgage.

FHFA's interest rate survey shows the average interest rate on conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages of $417,000 or less was 4.37 in May, a decrease of 16 basis points. The average loan amount for all loans was $282,600 in May down $1,200 from $283,800 in April.

Builder Confidence and Home Sales on the Rise

Housing news turned positive this week as spring gave way to summer. Future data will confirm whether the recent turn in momentum reflects a return to the improving trend that was in place before the end of 2013, but early signs are encouraging.

New single-family home sales reached their highest pace in six years in May. According to estimates from the Census Bureau and HUD, new home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000 in May, a gain of 18.6% over a slightly downwardly revised April (425,000). This rate is the highest since May 2008 and is a significant increase from the winter low point for sales in March (410,000).

The May pace of sales was certainly an improvement over the soft patch experienced from February through April. The most recent gains are likely due to a payback for weather-related declines during the winter, so future months will indicate whether a better trend has taken hold. But encouraging signs like better jobs numbers are consistent with this outcome.

Another improved indicator is the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), which rose four points in June to 49. This is just shy of the 50 mark, indicating at least as much optimism as pessimism among single-family home builders. The index dipped 10 points to 46 in February from a sustained above-50 mark for eight months and remained near there for four months. The June gains were experienced in all the components of the HMI: current sales, expected sales and traffic.

Alongside the positive new home sales report was the May existing home sales measure. The National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales were up 4.9% from April to May. While still 5% lower year over year, the 4.89 million seasonally adjusted annual rate confirmed a turn in the decline that had been in place since the middle of 2013. Year-over-year declines in existing home sales, which distinguish this market from the growing new home market, are likely due to recent drops in distressed and investor purchases, as well as the 2014 expiration of a tax rule connected to short sales.

The one negative housing report in recent weeks was construction starts. The Census Bureau and HUD estimated that total housing starts declined 6.5% in May. Single-family starts were down 5.9%, while multifamily construction in properties with five or more units was down a larger 8.3%. The declines were a result, in part, to April’s numbers, where were among the highest since the end of the recession. On a year-over-year basis, the May pace of single-family construction was 4.7% higher and 19.2% higher for five-plus multifamily building.

Home price appreciation appears to be slowing after the strong gains of the past year or two, propelled by increases in areas that experienced some of the largest price declines during the recession. House prices grew by 10.8% between April 2013 and 2014, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index, which was less than the 12-month growth rate of 12.4% seen in March. Similarly, the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Purchase-Only Index rose 6% compared to 6.4% in March. Both indices show that annual house appreciation slowed from December to April and suggest the housing market may be returning to its long-run growth trend.

Consistent with the weak housing reports from the winter and early spring, the final estimate of first-quarter GDP indicated that the economy contracted as a 2.9% rate, the worst quarter in five years. Besides disappointing investment numbers, personal consumption growth was anemic and exports displayed particular weakness. Part of the poor performance was weather related and other one-off factors. Second-quarter GDP growth should reflect some payback for deferred economic activity and post a growth rate higher than 3%.

Common measures of general prices and inflation, moved in opposite directions in May. Producer prices declined 0.2%, after notable increases of 0.5% and 0.6% for March and April respectively. Among building materials, softwood lumber prices rose 1% in May from April. Prices are 28% above the average level over 2011. OSB prices have flattened out in 2014, declining 0.7% in May. Prices are 23% above the average level over 2011. Gypsum prices declined 0.7% in May, 41% above the average 2011 mark.

In contrast, consumer prices in May experienced the largest monthly increase since February 2013, rising 0.4% on a seasonally adjusted month-over-month basis and 2.1% year over year. The increase was broad, affecting many items found in the consumer basket such as energy, food and shelter. The NAHB constructed real rent index increased nominally in May. Over the past year, real rental prices rose by 1.1%.

The Federal Open Market Committee, the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy committee, announced this week that the pace of asset purchases (quantitative easing) will be reduced by another $10 billion to $35 billion per month. The federal funds rate will continue to remain at the current near zero level for a “considerable time” after asset purchases have concluded.

In analysis news, economists at NAHB mapped the change in county-level housing permit activity for 2013. Overall, 1,807 counties and county equivalents saw an increase in the number of single-family permits issued over the prior year while 858 saw a decrease. According to data from Hanley-Wood, there was some movement among the rankings of the top 10 publicly traded home builders in 2013, although D.R. Horton maintained the top spot with more than 25,000 closings.

Additionally, NAHB economists discussed land banking and new mortgage application data for new homes. Lastly, data for the first quarter of 2014 revealed that property taxes, the top revenue source for state and local government, made up 40.3% of receipts from major sources over the last four quarters – an important reminder of the role real estate plays in local economies.

D.R. Horton acquires Crown Communities for $210 million

Crown Communities, a member of the Home Builders Association of Greenville, has been acquired by  D.R. Horton, Inc.  Crown Communities builds in Georgia, South Carolina and eastern Alabama and is a top-five builder in the Upstate.  The purchase price for Crown is reported to be approximately $210 million.

Crown will reportedly operate as a separate division within D.R. Horton.  Crown is ranked as the 28th largest builder in the United States by Builder Magazine.  The homebuilding assets acquired include a sales order backlog of approximately 420 homes sold, 640 homes in inventory and 2,350 lots.

D.R Horton also acquired control of approximately 3,400 lots through option contracts. In calendar 2013, Crown closed 1,540 homes ($375 million in revenue) with an average home size of approximately 3,500 square feet and an average sales price of $244,000.

NAHB: New Home Sales Surge in May

New single-family home sales reached the highest pace in six years in May.

New-home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000 in May, a gain of 18.6% over a slightly downwardly revised April (425,000), according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the highest rate since May 2008 and is a significant increase from the winter low point for sales in March (410,000).

“These numbers are in line with our recent builder surveys, which indicate that more consumers are getting off the fence and coming back into the marketplace,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly.

NAHB is forecasting that single-family new home sales will total 515,000 in 2014, a nearly 20% year-over-year gain.

Regionally, new-home sales were up across the board. Sales rose 54.5% in the Northeast, 34% in the West, 14.2% in the South and 1.4% in the Midwest.

The inventory of new homes for sale held steady at 189,000 units in May. This is a 4.5-month supply at the current sales pace. Total inventory levels have remained in the 183,000 to 190,000 range since September 2013.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Great Offers Available For Your Business from Verizon

Don’t forget about all the Verizon promotions available to NPP members, including:

The latest Smartphone offers, starting at $0.99 when you activate a two-year voice with data plan:
  • Casio G'zOne Commando for $0.99
  • Windows Phone 8X by HTC for $0.99
  • DROID MAXX for $99.99
  • Over 10 other Smartphones between $0.99 and $149.99
$100 Bill Incentive Credit (BIC) per line when activating a Smartphone. (New activations only, two-year contract is required, $34.99 price plan or higher.)
  • $50/line credit for basic phone service and $25/line credit for Jetpacks, 4G LTE USB Modems, and 4G LTE Tablets
Get the latest, comprehensive multimedia Tablet from Verizon starting as low as $49, powered by Verizon’s 4G LTE connectivity to keep you more productive and connected whether in the office and on the go.

For more details on these offers, take a look at the promotional flyer links included in this e-mail. These promos are available through June 30, 2014.

If you are interested in purchasing equipment or accessing discounts, contact your local Verizon representative. If you don't know who your representative is, visit or call 800.922.0204.

If you would like to further discuss your NPP membership, feel free to contact us directly at 800.810.3909 or e-mail

U.S. House Prices Flat in April

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) today reported that its monthly House Price Index (HPI) showed no change (0.0 percent) in U.S. house prices for April from the prior month. The monthly change in the FHFA HPI for March remained at 0.7 percent as previously reported.

The FHFA HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages either sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. From April 2013 to April 2014, house prices were up 5.9 percent. The U.S. index is 6.9 percent below its April 2007 peak and is roughly the same as the July 2005 index level.

For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from March 2014 to April 2014 ranged from -1.3 percent in the New England division to +0.6 percent in the East South Central division. The 12-month changes were all positive ranging from +1.7 percent in the Middle Atlantic division to +10.7 percent in the Pacific division.

Monthly house price index complete historical data are available on the Downloadable HPI Data page.