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Welcome to our blog! Check back here often to get the latest in local and national real estate news, statistics, and discussions. Click here to subscribe to our RSS Feed.

US Existing Home Sales, on a Seasonally Adjusted Basis, have increased for 11 straight months. If you exclude the increase caused by the government tax credit, this is the first time since late 2005 for the US to experience a similar sustained increase in sales.

Other highlights:

  • April existing home sales rose 3.4 percent from March 2012 and were up 10 percent from April 2011, now at a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate (SAAR) of 4.62 million
  • Median home prices increased 3.1 percent from March 2012 and 10.1 percent from April 2011 (12 month moving average was up 1.1 percent year-over-year
  • Inventory is down 28.4 percent in the past 12 months, though it rose slightly sequentially from March, and currently rests at 2.54 million units for sale

There are positive signs spanning the spectrum indicating a turning real estate market despite some weak spots across the country.

Just a few days ago, USA Today reported that the number of existing homes for sales had dropped 22 percent from a year ago and now totals just 2.37 million units.  This is down 41 percent from the peak reached in mid 2007. That said, the National Association of Realtors ® reported rising prices in 74 of the 146 markets they track in the first quarter of 2012 versus declines in 72 locales. Even more significant is the dramatic decline in some of the hardest hit markets:

  • March inventory in Phoenix declined 64 percent from a year ago according to Arizona State University real estate expert.
  • NAR reports very tight inventories in Phoenix, Orange County, California, Naples, Florida, Seattle, suburban Washington, DC and North Dakota (driven by the energy boom being experienced in that state).
  • While mortgage delinquency rates remain above average (with average being 2 percent), they dropped from 6.19 percent in Q4 2011 to 5.78 percent in Q1 2012 according to TransUnion  (based on a sample of 10 percent of US mortgage holders) and are down from a 7 percent peak in Q4 2009. Click here for article.
  • All-cash transactions in Q1 2012 made up 31 of all sales—and I doubt these people would be buying and paying cash if they thought property values would decline further
  • 22 percent of all buyers were investors
  • Condominium prices rose 3.4 percent when compared to Q1 2011
  • Q1 2012 existing home sales were up 5.3 percent from the same period in 2011 and are now running at annualized rate of 4.57 million
  • Total existing home sales in Q1 2012 were at the highest level since 2007
  • reports that many of the hardest hit markets are now among the top recovering markets

Great article from Dr. Ted Jones on the increasing demand for second homes. Although we are not a “bargain price” market, this is a trend that will still impact Austin as our rents continue to rise and more people hear about Austin’s strong job market and interesting culture.  This trend also continues to support the downtown condo market with its declining number of units left to sell (or rent!). Read the full article here. 

Forbes includes Gracy's parent company, Stewart Information Services, in top 100 of 8,000 NYSE-Listed Firms

Investor’s trust had greatly diminished over the last few years with economically distressful headlines filled with corporate scandals, bailouts and bankruptcies about some of the country’s largest public companies. Forbes turns to GMIRATINGS (GMI) who assigns each company an accounting and governance risk score, or AGR, every three months based on proprietary modeling designed to identify practices that historically have had a high correlation with increasing shareholder risk. Trustworthy companies of the GMI Ratings (GMI) are ones that do not have elevated risks and are models of openness and integrity.

GMI Rating for Stewart Information Services

  • Current AGR Score (as of 3/13/12): 97
  • Average AGR Score (last four quarters):84
  • Market Value ($M): 266

GMI examined more than 8,000 companies traded on U.S. exchanges where Stewart Title is recognized within the Small Cap. category. See a full list of honorees.

Qualifications include: market caps of $250 million or more, “conservative” or “average” ratings over the last four quarters and having no amended filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, no SEC enforcement actions, and no material restatements. Honorees had to also Rank high in GMI’s Equity Risk Ranking, which indicates a positive forecast for equity returns, and have minimal likelihood of financial distress as measured by GMI’s Bankruptcy Risk model.

Read full story from

Read Stewart Press Release

Be Sure to Use Gracy Relocation Tools.

Austin is the No. 6 U.S. destination city for relocation according to a report from U-Haul International Inc.  The report, titled "The 2011 Top 50 U.S. Destination Cities," ranks destinations for movers traveling more than 50 miles. Data was compiled from more than 1.6 million U-Haul truck transactions in 2011.

Austin 360 BridgeThe top 10 cities are:

  1. Houston
  2. Orlando, Fla.
  3. Las Vegas
  4. Chicago
  5. San Antonio
  6. Austin
  7. Atlanta
  8. Sacramento, Calif.
  9. Kansas City, Mo.
  10. Denver

If you are working with Relocation clients, be sure to use the Gracy Relocation Tools

  • Gracy Relocation Guide (Printed copies can be provided for a fee)
  • MLS Area Profiles (Online profile of most MLS areas including zip codes, school districts, and neighborhood lists)
  • MLS Statistics (Gracy Title compiles statistics by MLS Area each month and makes them available on the web and through our exclusive iPhone App)
  • Net Sheet App (Create a Buyer’s or Seller’s Net Sheet with this great tool for the iPhone or Android)
  • Market Overview (This is a 30 minute, or one hour if MCE, overview of the Austin Market presented by Gracy’s CEO.  Learn what makes Austin such a Relocation magnet)
  • Work with your favorite Gracy Closer and your favorite Sales Executive

As a bonus, here’s a great Cost of Living Wizard from Home Fair. You will be surprised how often the combination of housing costs and average incomes shows Austin to be more affordable than the city your relocation clients are moving from.