Christopher Rosacker
crosacker@theunion.com

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December 31, 2012
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Nevada County housing market tops 2011’s transactions

Even without December’s real estate transactions tallied, 2012 has already surpassed the previous year in total properties sold thanks to 98 properties purchased in November, providing further evidence of recovering real estate market.

That figure outpaced the more than the 86 properties sold in November 2011 at a 14 percent increase, according to figures tallied by the Nevada County Realtors Association.

December’s figures are expected to be released some time in January.

With December’s sales not included, there have been 1,269 residential properties sold in 2012, surpassing 2011’s 1,188 sales, according to the Realtor’s association.

The average price of a home sold in November was $265, 471, in line with the rest of the year’s $248,397 average but up slightly from the $243,931 average in the same month last year, according to the Realtor’s association.

Nationwide, confidence among U.S. homebuilders inched up in December to the highest level in more than six and a half years, as builders reported the best market for newly built homes since the housing boom.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Tuesday increased two points to 47 from a revised 45 in November. That’s the highest reading since April 2006, just before the housing bubble burst.

Nevada County’s housing market peaked prior to 2007. There were 1,169 residences sold in Nevada County in 2006 and 1,794 sold the previous year.

Sales of new U.S. homes rose 4.4 percent in November from October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 377,000, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That’s the fastest pace since April 2010, when a federal tax credit boosted sales.

New-home sales have also increased 15.3 percent over the past year, although the improvement comes from depressed levels. Sales remain below the 700,000 that economists consider healthy.

“While there is still much room for improvement, the consistent upward trend in builder confidence over the past year is indicative of the gradual recovery that has been taking place in housing markets nationwide and that we expect to continue in 2013,” said David Crowe, the NAHB’s chief economist.

A component of the latest builder confidence survey that measures current sales conditions rose two points to 51, the highest level since April 2006. Readings below 50 suggest negative sentiment about the housing market. The last time the index was at or above that level was in April 2006, with a reading of 51. It has been trending higher since October 2011, when it stood at 17.

However, the index tracking builders’ outlook for sales over the next six months slipped one point to 51, back to where it was two months ago.

More people have started looking to buy homes, encouraged by a gradually improving economy, a steady rise in home values and mortgage rates that have been low all year.

Homeowners will have increased protections from foreclosure under some of the hundreds of state laws taking effect with the new year as part of nearly 900 bills Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in 2012.

A legislative package pushed by Attorney General Kamala Harris made California the first state to write into law much of the national mortgage settlement that states negotiated with the nation’s top five banks.

Part of the settlement expands authorities’ ability to investigate mortgage fraud. Large lenders also must provide a single point of contact for homeowners who want to negotiate loan modifications and are prohibited from foreclosing while they evaluate homeowners’ requests for alternatives. Homeowners also can sue lenders to stop foreclosures or seek monetary damages if the lender violates state law.

Assuming Washington lawmakers can get past the “fiscal cliff,” many analysts say that the outlook for stocks next year is good, as a recovering housing market and an improving jobs outlook helps the economy maintain a slow but steady recovery.

The Associated Press’ Don Thompson, Steve Rothwell and Alex Veiga contributed to this report. To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4236.

“While there is still much room for improvement, the consistent upward trend in builder confidence over the past year is indicative of the gradual recovery that has been taking place …”

— David Crowe,
NAHB chief economist


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The Union Updated Dec 31, 2012 07:26AM Published Jan 7, 2013 07:34AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.