The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released its latest Pending Home Sales monthly report Thursday which showed a recovery in the domestic real estate market. For the month of March, the Pending Home Sales Index increased 4.1 percent to 101.4 which is well above the same monthly period from 2011, which was 89.9 according to the report. The index is now at its highest level since April 2010.
NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun stated Thursday that he expects the 2012 calendar year to mark a recovery in the U.S. market. “First quarter sales closings were the highest first quarter sales in five years. The latest contract signing activity suggests the second quarter will be equally good. The housing market has clearly turned the corner. Rising sales are bringing down inventory and creating much more balanced conditions around the county, which means home prices will be rising in more areas as the year progresses,” Yun said.
Home building company PulteGroup Inc. (NYSE:PHM) reported its First Quarter Fiscal Year 2012 Earnings Thursday, which came in at a Net Loss of -$0.03 per share compared to a -$0.10 quarter loss from the previous year. Home sale revenue for the firm increased 4% to $814 million thanks to a 5 percent jump in the average selling price for the quarter.
PulteGroup Chairman, President and CEO Richard J. Dugas, Jr. told investors Thursday that the home builder’s “first quarter financial results demonstrate further success in our efforts to reposition the business and drive better long term financial returns. For the quarter, improved gross margins and excellent control of overhead costs within our operations, along with better results from our financial services operations, helped to drive a $32 million increase in pretax operating results. Our first quarter results reflect the benefit of initiatives launched in 2011 which are expected to deliver additional gains as we move through the remainder of 2012 and beyond.”
The CEO added that while “overall industry volumes remain well below normal levels, our first quarter sales and traffic patterns suggest a positive shift in buyer sentiment during the period. The 15% increase in our reported signups reflects broad based gains as we experienced improved signups from all of our brands and across the vast majority of our markets.”
Pulte Homes Stock Price
As of the 4:00pm Eastern Time closing bell Thursday, shares for PulteGroup Inc. were trading at $9.57; up 10 percent from Wednesday’s closing price of $8.70. Year To Date, the stock has enjoyed a 51.82% surge. Its annualized Earnings Per Share currently stands at a Net Loss of -$0.55, but with Thursday’s real estate news the company could be on its way to posting earnings in the next quarter. Pulte’s market capitalization is $3.66 billion. PulteGroup owns three major brands: Pulte Homes, Centex and Del Webb.
Real Estate Market for 2012
If the trend of rising housing prices and new contract signings continues, the U.S. real estate market could rebound significantly in certain major market sectors. During the 2008 financial crisis, homes and properties in many areas were reduced in value by more than 50 percent as a record number of American citizens faced foreclosures related to sub-prime mortgages.
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