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Data

New Home Sales in Steepest Drop in Two Years

New home sales fell 4.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 411,000 in February, the sharpest drop in two years, the Census Bureau and HUD reported Tuesday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected a smaller drop to 425,000 from January's originally reported sales of 437,000. January sales were revised down to 431,000. The sharp drop in sales combined with a steep price increase suggests builders are facing some price pushback from buyers for new homes even as supplies of existing single-family homes remain at historic lows.

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February Case-Shiller Indices Post Strongest Gain Since 2006

Home prices posted their strongest yearly gain in almost seven years in January, according to the Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city Home Price Indices released Tuesday. Home prices rose year-over-year in all 20 of the cities in the Case-Shiller survey. Prices rose in nine cities in January over December while falling in eight. Prices were unchanged in the remaining three. December data were revised, showing prices rose month-over-month in 10 cities compared with nine in the original report. The report showed a steady improvement in prices in the West.

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LPS: Average Home Price Up to $208K in January

In January, national home prices averaged $208,000, up 0.3 percent from December and 6.7 percent year-over-year. However, prices were still 21.4 percent below their June 2006 peak. Among metro areas, Atlanta experienced the biggest monthly increase at 1.7 percent, while Phoenix followed with a 1.2 percent gain. Three other metros in the top five were San Jose (+1.2 percent); Hilton Head, South Carolina (1.1 percent); and Baltimore (1.1 percent).

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360 Mortgage Group Announces New Wholesale Account Executives

New

360 Mortgage Group, a privately owned mortgage banker based in Austin, Texas, announced the hiring of Kim Bessette and Jennifer Warthen. The two new wholesale account executives will focus their efforts on supporting the mortgage broker communities in Florida and California, respectively.

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FHFAOIG: Freddie Mac Servicers Failed to Report Escalated Complaints

According to a report from the FHFA Office of Inspector General (OIG), Freddie Mac and eight of its largest servicers, which service 70 percent of the GSE's mortgages, received over 34,000 complaints that became escalated cases during a 14-month time period ending November 30, 2012. In examining those cases, FHFAOIG says it found a failure to implement guidelines for escalated complaints. For example, seven out of the eight servicers did not resolve all escalated cases within the 30-day requirement.

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FHFA: Prices Rise 0.6% from December to January

The Federal Housing Finance Agency's (FHFA) Home Price Index rose 0.6 percent in January, the agency reported. The monthly increase recorded in January is just slightly above December's downwardly-revised increase of 0.5 percent. While prices continue their upward trend nationally, one-third of the nine U.S. Census Divisions recorded price declines in January--the East South Central Division, the New England Division, and the Middle Atlantic Division.

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Commentary: Headlines and Bottom Lines

One of the most interesting results of poring through economic data reports is that the details often tell a different story than the headline. Coverage of the recent report on housing permits and starts, for example, was dominated by the increases in both metrics, suggesting a revival of the housing sector, a response some analysts suggested is due to tight inventories of existing-single family homes on the market. However, a closer look revealed a more important phenomenon.

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