Existing-home sales decline in February
After three consecutive months of existing-home sales increases, the National Association of Realtors reported a 9.6% drop in completed transactions for February.
The NAR’s existing-home sales figure fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million, compared to 5.40 million in January. The February pace is 2.8% below the February 2010 pace of 5.03 million.
“Housing affordability conditions have been at record levels and the economy has been improving, but home sales are being constrained by the twin problems of unnecessarily tight credit, and a measurable level of contract cancellations from some appraisals not supporting prices negotiated between buyers and sellers,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “This tug and pull is causing a gradual but uneven recovery. Existing-home sales remain 26.4% above the cyclical low last July.”
The NAR also reported that the national median existing-home price for all housing types was $156,100 in February, down 5.2% from February 2010.
Australian home builder entering U.S. market
Backed by Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo Forestry Group, one of Australia’s largest home builders, Henley, has announced its intention to enter the U.S. market. Henley/Sumitomo began purchasing land in the Seattle area in advance of construction this summer.
Backed by more than $100 million in investment, the company owns property in King, Pierce and Sammamish Counties and continues to aggressively acquire land throughout the Puget Sound region. Henley/Sumitomo plans initial construction of 500 homes in 2011/2012 within the region. Seattle’s low unemployment rate, large population of highly paid workers and presence of major companies made it an attractive target for the international builder, according to the announcement.
Henley/Sumitomo has home-building operations in Asia. Construction in Washington State marks its first activity in the U.S. market. The group has taken over the existing Sumitomo operations of Bennett Homes, an established Seattle home-building company.
"Seattle is the ideal place for a U.S. market entry. The region is projected to grow by half a million people over the next 10 years, and our global experience will give us an edge over local home builders competing to build new homes," said Henley managing director Peter Hayes. "Washington State weathered the housing collapse better than other major U.S. cities, and Henley is making a bet the region is poised for recovery. Our business model is based on innovative design and upgraded inclusions with efficiencies gained from the Japanese and Australian operations, enabling highly competitive pricing to the home buyer."
Cedar Creek to buy Epperson Lumber
Oklahoma City-based distributor Cedar Creek will purchase distribution company Epperson Lumber of Statesville, N.C.
The two companies signed a "letter of intent" for the deal, expected to close in about 60 days.
Located near Charlotte, N.C., Epperson Lumber’s sales coverage area ranges East along the coast of the Carolinas; South to Charleston, S.C.; North to Richmond, Va.; and West to Knoxville, Tenn.
Bill Adams, CEO of Cedar Creek, said, “This acquisition underscores our commitment to growing the footprint of Cedar Creek and opening new markets. We view this as a great opportunity to increase our presence outside of our traditional mid-South markets and enter what’s forecasted to be one of the best growth areas in the country.”
Cedar Creek is a wholesale building material distribution company with 11 locations covering 12 states in the mid-South and Midwest. In May 2010, it was recapitalized by Boston-based Charlesbank Capital Partners, with the goal of providing flexible capital for the company to grow beyond its current trade areas.