New home sales rose 11 percent in March from February to a seasonally adjusted rate of 300,000 homes. It was the first monthly increase since December. — Alex Veiga, Forbes
The ULI reports that home sales, "remain below pre-recession levels in more than 95 percent of metropolitan areas, major markets in Texas and North Carolina lead the nation in new construction activity." Here are the top ten major metropolitan areas for new housing permits with figures from February 2010 to February 2011:
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that, according to Home Builder Research, sales of Las Vegas homes rose in March but prices declined 5.2% to $200,000 for new construction and 6.2% to $113,000 for existing homes. There were 4480 total sales for March.
Despite a good month last month, North Jersey tells us that builder confidence has slipped back one notch to "16" on the National Association of Home Builders Wells Fargo Housing Market Index where it has been for five of the last six months. The index gauging sales expectations declined three points to its previous October 2010 low of 23.
Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies, via Housing Wire, reports, "Following the 2001 downturn real renter incomes failed to rebound and now remain below their 1980 level. At the same time, real contract rents have climbed by more than 15% since 1980." Essentially, one-in-four renters now spend more than 50% of their income on housing and utilities. The report also found that more than 28% of all affordable housing stock in 1999 was lost by 2009.
The Wall Street Journal cuts to the chase with Fannie Mae's Economics & Mortgage Market Analysis Groups latest predictions— the expected 2011 growth of the U.S. economy has dropped from 3.5% to 3.1%. Fannie Mae highlights a number of unsurprising issues: lack of peace in the Middle East [and Africa], Japan's ongoing crisis, rising oil prices and declining prices on overstock of homes no one wants to buy.
Fulton Homes Corporation, of Tempe, Arizona, has finally been ordered to go through mediation with its creditors 28 months after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy according to AZCentral. Even though Fulton Homes never missed a payment, it failed to meet the conditions of its loan used for speculative home building and land acquisitions due to declining home prices and sales.
Major homebuilder company, Maronda Homes, filed for Chapter 11 reorganization on Monday according to Cincinnati. The Pennsylvania company, with properties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Kentucky and Florida, was $98,000,000 behind on a $210,000,000 line of credit from 14 financial institutions.
The 9th largest homebuilder in the U.S., the Ryland Group, posted a $19,500,000 loss due to 17% decline in new home orders and a 30% decline in home closings. Forbes reports that the turbulent time the Calabasas-based company has faced has sunk its revenue to $174,900,000 million from $250,000,000.
The largest U.S. homebuilder, PulteGroup, is expected to release its quarterly report soon. While a pleasant surprise is hopeful, it's likely that PulteGroup will be reporting a loss. CNBC reports that analysts expect a 6% decline in new home orders and a 21% in delivered homes. Its Moody's credit rating was also recently downgraded to a B- because the company, despite its leverage, has only been able to post a profit once since 2009.