The National Association of Realtors reported
this week that pending home sales -- homes that
are in the escrow process -- rose by 1.0 percent
in December. Doesn't sound like much, right? Well,
it is a big improvement from November when pending
sales fell by 16.4 percent after a surge in
activity leading up to the expected end to the
$8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit.
According to The Wall Street Journal's
quarterly housing survey, inventories of homes
listed for sale are down sharply across the U.S.
and have reached very low levels in some areas,
including San Diego. The decrease in supplies has
sparked a return of bidding wars on
properties in some neighborhoods.
One reason for such bidding wars is that many
buyers can qualify for tax credits of as much as
$8,000 if they agree on a home purchase by April
30. Meanwhile, economists say mortgage
rates-currently around 5% for standard 30-year
fixed-rate loans-are likely to be at least
modestly higher later this year as the Federal
Reserve withdraws support for the market.
Analysts at Credit Suisse in New York say
that rate could end the year at 5.10% to 5.25%.
Mark Zandi of Moody's Economy.com predicts
The number of homes listed for sale is down
sharply across the U.S., according to the survey.
The supply would last four months or less at the
current sales rate in the Boston, Sacramento, San
Diego and San Francisco areas. A six-month supply
is considered roughly balanced between buyers and
Today's employment reports shows that the
unemployment rate fell from 10+ percent in
December to 9.7 percent in January.
A new report from the Conference Board finds
that online advertised job vacancies rose by
382,000 to more than 4 million in January. This
follows an increase in December and November. Here
in California, online job postings rose by 67,600
in January, the biggest increase since the
Conference Board started tracking these numbers in
2005. "This is very good news since the seasonally
adjusted increases come in two months when we
normally see employers cut back on advertising for
workers," said spokesman Gad Levanon.
A new survey of Southern California
technology executives who now believe that the
worst of the economic decline has passed. And, 75
percent of companies surveyed plan to hire new
employees in 2010. "Southern California is one of
the top locations for technology companies and I
think it will be reassuring to the industry as a
whole to see these executives entering 2010 with a
greater sense of confidence," said Ben Kuo,
founder of SoCal Tech.
The Commerce Department reported that
personal income rose for the sixth month in a row,
up 0.4 percent. And, spending rose by 0.1 percent,
the third straight monthly increase. As a result,
the U.S. savings rate rose to 4.8