Data Update: Is There Good Economic News for Real Estate Today?

Some encouraging leading indicators from the U.S. Commerce Department today as well as a Standard & Poor's home pricing index. 

These stand in contrast with this morning's Zillow home price numbers, which showed flattening.

The Commerce Department report says that privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,034,000. This is 6.2% above the September rate of 974,000 and is 13.9% above the October 2012 estimate of 908,000.

Single-family authorizations also increased in October to 620,000, a 0.8 % increase from September.

These, however, aren't the big numbers.  Those would be the U.S. housing starts, which are temporary casualties of the federal government shutdown.  The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development note that the full survey of construction on units started and completed couldn't be completed in time for today's housing release, and the data for September, October, and November will be released on Dec. 18.

Meantime, S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, which measure U.S. home prices, showed that its U.S. National Home Price Index rose 3.2% in 2013's third quarter, and 11.2% over the past four quarters.

The report says that 13 of 20 cities posted higher year-over-year growth rates, but 19 cities had lower monthly returns in September than August.

The report cites strong growth in the West--even fears of another housing pricing bubble--but "suggest a market beginning to shift to slower growth rather than one about to accelerate. Existing home sales weakened in the most recent report, home construction remains far below the boom levels of six or seven years ago and interest rates are expected to be higher a year from now."

The S&P/Case-Shiller index showed a 1.1% gain in New York-area prices, in contrast to this morning's no-growth Zillow report, but there's a but.  The S&P/Case-Shiller is September's, with the increase back to summer activity from August and July.  Zillow's 0% change in New York prices are numbers for October, and reflect a more-current market portrait.

You can see the data release here. And from late last night, we previewed today's Bloomberg News story on declining foreclosures, here.  The Washington Post had an advance of these numbers this AM, and tries to make sense of it all on its blog, here.

Update:  Financial Times has posted an analysis here.


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