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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray and National Association of Realtors® 2015 First Vice President-Elect Elizabeth Mendenhall

WASHINGTON (September 17, 2015) — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray today joined National Association of Realtors® 2015 First Vice President-Elect Elizabeth Mendenhall to highlight the agency's Know Before You Owe initiative in advance of upcoming changes to the mortgage closing process.

At the event, the CFPB rolled out a set of online tools to help consumers get better acquainted with what the Know Before You Owe initiative means for them. As part of this initiative, the Truth in Lending Act - Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act Integrated Disclosure rule, or TRID, will integrate existing closing disclosures with new requirements from the Dodd-Frank Act. The new tools released today are intended to improve consumers understanding of the mortgage process, aid in comparison shopping and help prevent surprises at the closing table. Rule changes associated with Know Before You Owe go into effect October 3.

 "Realtors® play an important role in keeping consumers educated about changes in the home buying process, and that includes rules related to the Know Before You Owe initiative," said Mendenhall. "The journey to homeownership begins with Realtors®, and CFPB's new online tools are a great resource for agents to help clients shop for a mortgage and prepare for the changes coming their way."

The CFPB's online tools are directed at consumers who may still be unaware of the Know Before You Owe initiative. "Our new mortgage forms reduce the information gap between lenders and consumers, shedding light on a process that often feels like a mystery," said Cordray. "It is time consumers have more power in the mortgage process, and our new forms and online tools will help make that a reality."

The toolkit offers a guide to the new mortgage closing forms, a closing factsheet, a disclosure timeline and educational videos to assist consumers. Realtors® across the country have worked through the summer to educate themselves on rule changes related to Know Before You Owe so they can continue providing expert advice to clients when the new rules go into effect.

The event also featured a panel of industry experts, including Patricia McClung, CFPB assistant director for Mortgage Markets; Nick D'Ambrosia, senior vice president and managing broker at Long & Foster Real Estate; Joe Gormley, assistant vice president, regulatory counsel at the Independent Community Bankers Association; and attorney Andrew Pizor, National Consumer Law Center.

NAR has worked closely with the CFPB to address Realtor® concerns related to Know Before You Owe rule changes. In May, NAR President Chris Polychron testified before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee that a proposed August 1 TRID implementation date presented a challenge to the industry during the busy summer buying and selling season. The CFPB later moved implementation to October 3, in recognition of those challenges.

The CFPB also responded to concerns from NAR and others in the industry by announcing it would be "sensitive" to companies making a good-faith effort to comply with the new rules. When the new rule goes into effect, Realtors® and their clients will encounter new forms and procedures at the closing table.

"NAR is pleased that CFPB Director Richard Cordray could join us for this important event," said Mendenhall. "CFPB's cooperation is important to ensuring Realtors® have what they need to educate clients on what's ahead. We look forward to working with CFPB in the months ahead to ensure Realtor® concerns are considered throughout implementation and thank them for their continued attention to our issues."

The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing over 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

# # #

Video: CFPB Director Richard Cordray's Remarks

Video: Elizabeth Mendenhall's Interview with Richard Cordray

Read more: Realtors® Help CFPB Director Cordray Unveil New Know Before You Owe Online Tools

WASHINGTON (September 17, 2015) — Even though more consumers are using the Internet as a tool during their home search, buyers are increasingly utilizing the knowledge and expertise of a real estate agent,  according to the National Association of Realtors®' Real Estate in a Digital Age report.

"Consumers have the ability to do more home buying research online and be more connected during the home search process than ever before, but research proves they are still seeing the value a Realtor® brings to the transaction, from the initial search to well after the closing," said NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Arkansas. "Realtors® bring great value to buyers from every generation, demographic and location as well as in every financial and familial situation. So while consumers have more technological tools available at their fingertips, Realtors® are now more than ever a part of the home buying and selling equation."

The report found that finding the right property was ranked as the most difficult step in the home buying process. Since the Internet is now the first place many people go for information, it's not surprising that 4 in 10 buyers looked for properties online as a first step in the home buying process (up from 36 percent in 2010). However, 88 percent of buyers in 2014 purchased their home with assistance from a real estate agent, up from 83 percent in 2010.

While 94 percent of millennials and 84 percent of baby boomers used online websites in their home search, only 65 percent of the Silent Generation - those ages 69 to 89 years - did the same. Older boomers, those aged 60 to 68 years, used a mobile device to search for properties at less than half the rate of millennials (30 percent versus 66 percent).

When it comes to website listing features, photos and online property information were more important to millennials, while virtual tours and direct contact with a real estate agent were more important to baby boomers. Despite visual content growing in popularity and importance, older homebuyers found virtual tours more useful than younger buyers (45 percent among the Silent Generation and baby boomers compared to 36 percent among millennials).

As for the length of time it takes for consumers to find a home, millennials typically looked for about 11 weeks, while baby boomers and members of the Silent Generation searched for 8 weeks. Internet use also impacted the length of a home search; those who used the Internet to search homes visited more homes and searched for longer, looking at 10 homes over a 10-week period (versus four homes in four weeks for those not looking on the web). 

While not all consumers use the Internet in their home search, a growing number are first finding their future home online. Forty-three percent of buyers first found the home they ended up purchasing on the web; that number was just 8 percent in 2001. In 2001, nearly half (48 percent) of buyers found the home they purchased from a real estate agent; today that number is 33 percent.                         

The Real Estate in a Digital Age report also found greater technology use by Realtors® and real estate firms to better meet the needs of clients. Realtors® prefer to communicate with their clients via email (at 93 percent) as well as text messages (85 percent) and instant messaging (31 percent).  

Social media is also popular with Realtors®, though 70 percent of female Realtors® are active on social media compared to only 58 percent of male Realtors®. Some social media platforms are more popular than others among Realtors®: Facebook and LinkedIn are most utilized by Realtors® (at 80 percent and 71 percent). Realtors® that are active on social media do so for visibility/exposure/marketing (81 percent), building relationships and networking (66 percent), advertising (59 percent) and promoting listings (51 percent).

Realtors® and firms know that they must adapt to technology to better work with and understand their clients; however, it is not always an easy feat. In fact, 46 percent of all real estate firms cite keeping up with technology as one of the biggest challenges they face over the next two years. That number is even higher for commercial real estate firms, at 53 percent.

"Realtors® constantly strive to find ways to make the home buying and selling process easier for and more accessible to their clients," Polychron said. "There is nothing more important than helping people find and land their dream home, and since technology helps Realtors® do that, it will continue to be a priority."

The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.


Read more: Home Buying Process Involves Greater Technology, Realtor® Use

WASHINGTON (September 28, 2015) — Pending home sales retreated in August but remained at a healthy level of activity and have now risen year–over–year for 12 consecutive months, according to the National Association of Realtors®. A modest increase in the West was offset by declines in all other regions.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward–looking indicator based on contract signings, decreased 1.4 percent to 109.4 in August from 110.9 in July but is still 6.1 percent above August 2014 (103.1).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says even with the modest decline in contract signings, demand continues to outpace housing supply and elevate price growth in numerous markets. "Pending sales have leveled off since mid–summer, with buyers being bounded by rising prices and few available and affordable properties within their budget," he said. "Even with existing–housing supply barely budging all summer and no relief coming from new construction, contract activity is still higher than earlier this year and a year ago."

According to Yun, sales in the coming months should be able to roughly maintain their current pace. However, he warns that there are looming speed bumps that have the potential to impact housing.

"The possibility of a government shutdown and any ongoing instability in the equity markets could cause some households to put off buying for the time being," adds Yun. "Furthermore, adapting to the changes being implemented next month in the mortgage closing process could delay some sales."

The national median existing–home price is expected to increase 5.8 percent in 2015 to $220,300. Yun forecasts total existing–home sales this year to increase 7.0 percent to around 5.28 million, about 25 percent below the prior peak set in 2005 (7.08 million).

The PHSI in the Northeast fell 5.6 percent to 93.3 in August, but is still 8.9 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index inched down 0.4 percent to 107.4 in August, and is now 6.5 percent above August 2014.

Pending home sales in the South declined 2.2 percent to an index of 121.5 in August but are still 4.1 percent above last August. The index in the West rose 1.8 percent in August to 104.9, and is now 7.6 percent above a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

# # #

*The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing–home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales–contract activity parallels the level of closed existing–home sales in the following two months.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing–home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.

NOTE: Existing–home Sales for September will be reported October 22, and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be October 29; release times are 10:00 a.m. EDT.

Read more: Pending Home Sales Retreat Again in August but Remain at Healthy Level

WASHINGTON (September 21, 2015) — Following three straight months of gains, existing–home sales dipped in August despite slowing price growth and a positive turnaround in the share of sales to first–time buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors®. None of the four major regions experienced sales increases in August.

Total existing–home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single–family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co–ops, fell 4.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.31 million in August from a slight downward revision of 5.58 million in July. Despite last month's decline, sales have risen year–over–year for 11 consecutive months and are 6.2 percent above a year ago (5.00 million).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says home sales in August lost some momentum to close out the summer. "Sales activity was down in many parts of the country last month — especially in the South and West — as the persistent summer theme of tight inventory levels likely deterred some buyers," he said. "The good news for the housing market is that price appreciation the last two months has started to moderate from the unhealthier rate of growth seen earlier this year."

The median existing–home price2 for all housing types in August was $228,700, which is 4.7 percent above August 2014 ($218,400). August's price increase marks the 42nd consecutive month of year–over–year gains.

Total housing inventory3 at the end of August rose 1.3 percent to 2.29 million existing homes available for sale, but is 1.7 percent lower than a year ago (2.33 million). Unsold inventory is at a 5.2–month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.9 months in July.

"With sales and overall demand higher than a year ago and supply mostly unchanged, low inventories will likely continue to limit options for those looking to buy this fall even with the overall pool of buyers shrinking because of seasonal factors," adds Yun.

The percent share of first–time buyers rebounded to 32 percent in August, up from 28 percent in July and matching the highest share of the year set in May. A year ago, first–time buyers represented 29 percent of all buyers.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30–year, conventional, fixed–rate mortgage declined to 3.91 percent in August after climbing above 4 percent in July (4.05 percent) for the first time since November 2014 (4.00 percent).

"When the Federal Reserve decides to lift short–term rates — likely later this year — the impact on mortgage rates and overall housing demand will likely not be pronounced," says Yun. "With job growth holding steady, prospective buyers can handle any gradual rise in mortgage rates — especially if today's stronger labor market finally leads to a boost in wages and homebuilding accelerates to alleviate supply shortages and slow price growth in some markets."

NAR released a study earlier this month that examined new home construction in relation to job gains. The findings revealed that homebuilding activity is currently insufficient in a majority of metro areas and is contributing to the ongoing housing shortages and unhealthy price growth in many markets.

Properties typically stayed on the market for 47 days in August, an increase from 42 days in July but below the 53 days in August 2014. Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 124 days in August, while foreclosures sold in 66 days and non–distressed homes took 45 days. Forty percent of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a month.

All–cash sales decreased slightly to 22 percent of transactions in August (23 percent in July) and are down from 23 percent a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 12 percent of homes in August, down from 13 percent in July and unchanged from a year ago. Sixty percent of investors paid cash in August.

Matching the lowest share since NAR began tracking in October 2008, distressed sales4 — foreclosures and short sales — remained at 7 percent in August for the second consecutive month; they were 8 percent a year ago. Five percent of August sales were foreclosures and 2 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 18 percent below market value in August (17 percent in July), while short sales were discounted 12 percent (unchanged from July).

NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark., says Realtors® worked hard over the summer to prepare for the Oct. 3 implementation of Know Before You Owe, also known as the TILA–RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule. "A large majority of Realtors® have taken some form of training5 to prepare for the new disclosure requirements," he said. "As the ruling goes into effect next month, communication is crucial between all parties involved in a real estate transaction to ensure consumers get to closing seamlessly and without delay. NAR will monitor the progress of the rule in the weeks ahead and will share any concerns that arise as part of our continued partnership with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."

Single–family and Condo/Co–op Sales

Single–family home sales declined 5.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.69 million in August from 4.95 million in July, but are still 6.1 percent above the 4.42 million pace a year ago. The median existing single–family home price was $230,200 in August, up 5.1 percent from August 2014.

Existing condominium and co–op sales declined 1.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 620,000 units in August from 630,000 units in July, but are still up 6.9 percent from August 2014 (580,000 units). The median existing condo price was $217,400 in August, which is 2.2 percent above a year ago.

Regional Breakdown

August existing–home sales in the Northeast were at an annual rate of 700,000, unchanged from July and 6.1 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $271,600, which is 2.4 percent above August 2014.

In the Midwest, existing–home sales declined 1.5 percent to an annual rate of 1.28 million in August, but remain 5.8 percent above August 2014. The median price in the Midwest was $181,100, up 4.0 percent from a year ago.

Existing–home sales in the South fell 6.6 percent to an annual rate of 2.14 million in August, but are still 5.9 percent above August 2014. The median price in the South was $196,300, up 6.0 percent from a year ago.

Existing–home sales in the West dropped 7.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.19 million in August, but remain 7.2 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $321,300, which is 7.1 percent above August 2014.

# # #

NOTE: For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services. Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.

1Existing–home sales, which include single–family, townhomes, condominiums and co–ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR rebenchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.

Existing–home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau's series on new single–family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing–home sales, which account for more than 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample — about 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month — and typically are not subject to large prior–month revisions.

The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.

Single–family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single–family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single–family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

2The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper–end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month–to–month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year–ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.

The national median condo/co–op price often is higher than the median single–family home price because condos are concentrated in higher–cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single–family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR's quarterly metro area price reports.

3Total inventory and month's supply data are available back through 1999, while single–family inventory and month's supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single–family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).

4Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first–time buyers, all–cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR's Realtors® Confidence Index, posted at Realtor.org.

5According to a NAR survey conducted in August, more than 80 percent of respondents indicated they had taken some sort of training (webinar, class, etc.) to prepare for the TILA–RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule.

NOTE: The Pending Home Sales Index for August will be released September 28, and Existing-Home Sales for September will be released October 22; release times are 10:00 a.m. EDT.

Read more: Existing-Home Sales Stall in August, Prices Moderate

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