NAR predicts housing upturn in second half of 2008
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said its index of pending home sales — which measures signed purchase agreements in the United States — fell 1.9 percent month-over-month, though recovery is possible in the second half of 2008.
Pending home sales in February fell 4.9 percent month-over-month to 84.6, following an upwardly revised figure of 86.2 in January. The Pending Home Sales Index is a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed. The February figures still are 21.4 percent lower than the February 2007 index of 107.6.
“Existing-home sales could start to show a sustained increase within a few months, unless there are some additional economic problems or excessive inflationary pressure,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR. “We’re looking for essentially stable sales in the near term, before higher mortgage loan limits translate into more sales in high-cost markets. The wider access to affordable credit should increase sales activity notably this summer as pent-up demand begins to be met.”
Regionally, pending sales rose 3.2 percent in the Northeast and 2.1 percent in the West. The index fell 3.7 percent in the Midwest and 5.5 percent in the South.
Existing-home sales are likely to rise from an annual pace of 4.9 million in the first quarter to 5.9 million in the fourth quarter, according to predictions from the NAR. With relatively weak activity in the first part of the year, existing-home sales for all of 2008 are forecast at 5.39 million, increasing 6.6 percent to 5.74 million in 2009. The price of existing homes will probably ease by 1.4 percent to a median of $215,800 for all of 2008 before rising 3.7 percent to $223,800 next year, the group said.
“Exceptionally weak home sales related to jumbo loans problems will depress home prices in the first half of the year, but steady liquidity improvements in the conforming jumbo-loan market will help prices recover in the second half of the year,” Yun said.
CTI enters Atlanta market
Banking on the future of Atlanta’s housing market, HD Supply has opened a 20,000-square-foot warehouse to serve as the regional hub for Creative Touch Interiors (CTI), a division that caters to production builders. The Atlanta facility will serve the southeast market, the announcement said, encompassing Birmingham, Ala., and Macon, Ga.
In addition to entering the Atlanta market, CTI recently expanded into Texas and the Southwest and is evaluating future investments in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest regions. The company intends to establish a national footprint that will offer builders and their customers customized finish products, including flooring, cabinets, countertops and window coverings.
CTI operates more than 90 design centers and six countertop fabrication facilities. It is part of HD Supply, a wholesale distribution company that once belonged to Home Depot but was sold last year to a group of private investors.
True Value recognizes ‘13 best hardware stores’
True Value recently recognized 13 True Value hardware stores as winners of its inaugural “Best Hardware Store in Town”’ nationwide program, which aims to recognize high-performing stores.
The Chicago-based co-op recognized one store from each of its retail regions as “consistently delivering a superior shopping experience; providing a knowledgeable and helpful staff; offering a well-stocked, clean store; and providing a local market-focused product selection.”
“Our vision is to help every True Value be the ‘best hardware store in town,’ and these 13 stores represent what it takes to exceed customer expectations,” said Lyle Heidemann, president and CEO of True Value.
Stores were self-nominated and went through a series of selection processes until regional managers narrowed down the top candidates. Mystery shoppers then visited each store to gain a customer’s perspective. Store evaluation criteria included physical appearance, product selection, competitive pricing, promotional activity and customer assistance.
The 13 winning retailers and their store locations are:
• Jerry D. Bryant, True Value Home Center, Oakhurst, Calif.
• Erik Burkman, Brandon True Value, Brandon, S.D.
• Paul Cain, Cain True Value Hardware, Carthage, Texas
• Donald Keller, K&K True Value Hardware, Bettendorf, Iowa
• Jeff Lobb, Cameron’s True Value Hardware, Oxford, Pa.
• Max Merrick, Horns True Value Hardware, Portales, N.M.
• Shelley Moeller, Harpeth True Value Hardware, Franklin, Tenn.
• Thomas A. Morrow, Arthur’s True Value Hardware, Orchard Park, N.Y.
• Warren E. Sawyer, Sawyer’s True Value, The Dalles, Ore.
• Joseph J. Scapin Jr., Lee Hardware True Value, Lee, Mass.
• Robert Schmidt, Gasser True Value, Maquoketa, Iowa
• Bob Swanson, Swanson Hardware Supply, Vineland, N.J.
• Jim Waters, Waters True Value, Salina, Kan.