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Nunziata: What Shape Is the Housing Market Really In?

Joe Nunziata|Co-CEO, FBC Mortgage and CNBC-YPO Chief Executive Network Member
Ed Bock | UpperCut Images | Getty Images

Is the housing market as bad as some may lead us to believe?

Two key components in analyzing the health of the housing market are home prices and the amount of housing inventory. Mortgage companies frequently review the Case-Shiller Home Price Index to follow trends in the housing market. This week’s Case-Shiller reportreveals that home prices in 20 metropolitan areas increased 0.5% from June 2011, the first year-over-year gain since September 2010.

Many of us in the industry are starting to see some other very promising statistics. In fact at FBC Mortgage, we prepare a monthly report on housing and mortgage data specifically for Florida, our largest lending market. In the July edition of the FBC Mortgage Report we noticed some significant Florida trends. Florida home prices for financed properties in July of 2012 were up 13.5% over July of 2011. FBC’s Florida average loan amount in July (excluding condominiums) was $180,000. This equates to a 6% rise over June of 2012. (Read More: Pending Home Sales Beat Expectations in July)

Surprisingly, the average down payment for conventional loans was $55,000 and $8,000 for FHA insured loans. The gap between average mortgage payments and rental payments has also narrowed and is currently at $1,200 for a mortgage payment and $1,050 for someone paying rent. The narrowing is due in large part to interest rates being at 50 year lows. With only a $150 difference, more home buyers are looking to own a home instead of renting.

The Orlando Regional Realtor Association publishes a monthly report as well and in July of 2012, the average mortgage interest rate they tracked was 3.78%, down .75% from July of 2011. During the same period, housing inventory in Central Florida was down over 2,200 units (homes on the market). In addition the Association tracks average days homes are on the market and in July that number decreased nearly 20 days from last year. Needless to say, demand has been increasing and housing supply has continued to decline. (Read More: How Investors Are Skewing Home Price Recovery)

When we visit with builders and realtors, there is a renewed sense of optimism. With the decline in inventory, builders are starting to move dirt again. Many people are still sitting on the fence and may miss the greatest home buying opportunity ever. With inventory shrinking and rates as low as they are, now is the time to take the leap and buy a home. Contrary to some reports, many mortgage bankers and banks are aggressively lending in the residential space and mortgage lenders are experiencing record lending levels.

Sal A. “Joe” Nunziata is currently the Chairman and Co-CEO of FBC Mortgage, LLC. Prior to co-founding FBC Mortgage, LLC, Mr. Nunziata was the SVP/ District Manager for First Horizon Home Loans, a New York Stock Exchange listed company, from October 2003 until November 2005.

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