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Homebuyers are on the move

The January S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city Home Price Index rose 5.7 percent over the January 2016 reading. Of the nation's 20 largest cities, three reached all-time highs in January: Seattle, Portland and Denver. And 12 cities reported greater price increases in the 12-month period ending January 2017 versus the year ending in December 2016. New Home Sales hit a seven-month high in February, the Commerce Department reported, up a whopping 12.8 percent above the reading from February 2016. However, Existing Home Sales showed some restraint after starting 2017 at the fastest pace in almost a decade in January, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. February's numbers slid 3.7 percent from January but are still 5.4 percent above the prior year. Total housing inventory of existing homes for sale is around 6.4 percent lower than a year ago and has fallen year over year for 21 straight months. On this, Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, said "foot traffic" is up from a year ago, but low supply and home prices are "pressuring the budgets of prospective buyers." Despite limited inventory in much of the country, there may be good news on the horizon for prospective homebuyers. Housing Starts, which measure new home excavations, hit a four-month high, rising 3 percent from January to February. Single-family starts led the charge as they rose to a near 10-year high in February. And Homebuilder Sentiment, as measured by the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, also jumped 6 points in March to its highest level in 12 years, a positive sign for what's ahead in housing. For the time being, home loan rates remain in attractive territory and provide great opportunities for those in the market for a home.

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