Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fewer Phoenix-area homes for sale; prices up

A surge in buyers and a drop in foreclosures have left a shortage of houses for sale in metro Phoenix, according to a newly released report on the state of the housing market.

The shrinking inventory has prompted bidding wars and pushed up home prices in many communities.

At the end of February, the supply of homes for sale was just under 24,000, down 42 percent from a year earlier, mostly because of a 52 percent drop in foreclosures during the past year, according to the latest monthly real-estate report from Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business.

As banks take back fewer homes through foreclosure, fewer homes go to auction or back on the market.

Tuesday's report, which said that home prices could keep climbing if the inventory of homes for sale remains low, was the most optimistic from ASU since the beginning of the region's housing crash in 2007.

"Supply is tight, in a pretty extreme way, and it looks like it will stay that way for months," said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at ASU.

Orr said that as long as supply is tight and there are more buyers than sellers, Phoenix-area home prices will continue to climb.

Metro Phoenix's median home price has steadily been increasing since last August, when it fell to a 12-year low of $113,000. The region's median for February was $124,500, up 8 percent from a year earlier.

Climbing home prices could entice more homeowners who bought before the boom to try to sell their homes.

More sellers would increase supply, balancing the market and aiding many frustrated buyers who are currently being outbid on foreclosures and short-sale homes.

"Now, I have a ton of buyers and no properties to sell them," said Diane Brennan of Scottsdale-based Keller Williams Integrity First Realty.

"I warned buyers for months they should act quickly. Many didn't pull the trigger before because they were waiting for the bottom," she said.

There is a potential problem lurking in the recent trend: Some appraisals aren't keeping pace with the increases in home prices.

Orr said appraisers are still looking at prices from three months ago.

In some parts of metro Phoenix, though, home prices have climbed 5 percent or more since the beginning of the year.

by Catherine Reagor - Mar. 27, 2012 10:48 PM The Republic | azcentral.com




Fewer Phoenix-area homes for sale; prices up

Fewer Phoenix-area homes for sale; prices up

A surge in buyers and a drop in foreclosures have left a shortage of houses for sale in metro Phoenix, according to a newly released report on the state of the housing market.

The shrinking inventory has prompted bidding wars and pushed up home prices in many communities.

At the end of February, the supply of homes for sale was just under 24,000, down 42 percent from a year earlier, mostly because of a 52 percent drop in foreclosures during the past year, according to the latest monthly real-estate report from Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business.

As banks take back fewer homes through foreclosure, fewer homes go to auction or back on the market.

Tuesday's report, which said that home prices could keep climbing if the inventory of homes for sale remains low, was the most optimistic from ASU since the beginning of the region's housing crash in 2007.

"Supply is tight, in a pretty extreme way, and it looks like it will stay that way for months," said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at ASU.

Orr said that as long as supply is tight and there are more buyers than sellers, Phoenix-area home prices will continue to climb.

Metro Phoenix's median home price has steadily been increasing since last August, when it fell to a 12-year low of $113,000. The region's median for February was $124,500, up 8 percent from a year earlier.

Climbing home prices could entice more homeowners who bought before the boom to try to sell their homes.

More sellers would increase supply, balancing the market and aiding many frustrated buyers who are currently being outbid on foreclosures and short-sale homes.

"Now, I have a ton of buyers and no properties to sell them," said Diane Brennan of Scottsdale-based Keller Williams Integrity First Realty.

"I warned buyers for months they should act quickly. Many didn't pull the trigger before because they were waiting for the bottom," she said.

There is a potential problem lurking in the recent trend: Some appraisals aren't keeping pace with the increases in home prices.

Orr said appraisers are still looking at prices from three months ago.

In some parts of metro Phoenix, though, home prices have climbed 5 percent or more since the beginning of the year.

by Catherine Reagor - Mar. 27, 2012 10:48 PM The Republic | azcentral.com



Fewer Phoenix-area homes for sale; prices up

Fewer Phoenix-area homes for sale; prices up

A surge in buyers and a drop in foreclosures have left a shortage of houses for sale in metro Phoenix, according to a newly released report on the state of the housing market.

The shrinking inventory has prompted bidding wars and pushed up home prices in many communities.

At the end of February, the supply of homes for sale was just under 24,000, down 42 percent from a year earlier, mostly because of a 52 percent drop in foreclosures during the past year, according to the latest monthly real-estate report from Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business.

As banks take back fewer homes through foreclosure, fewer homes go to auction or back on the market.

Tuesday's report, which said that home prices could keep climbing if the inventory of homes for sale remains low, was the most optimistic from ASU since the beginning of the region's housing crash in 2007.

"Supply is tight, in a pretty extreme way, and it looks like it will stay that way for months," said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at ASU.

Orr said that as long as supply is tight and there are more buyers than sellers, Phoenix-area home prices will continue to climb.

Metro Phoenix's median home price has steadily been increasing since last August, when it fell to a 12-year low of $113,000. The region's median for February was $124,500, up 8 percent from a year earlier.

Climbing home prices could entice more homeowners who bought before the boom to try to sell their homes.

More sellers would increase supply, balancing the market and aiding many frustrated buyers who are currently being outbid on foreclosures and short-sale homes.

"Now, I have a ton of buyers and no properties to sell them," said Diane Brennan of Scottsdale-based Keller Williams Integrity First Realty.

"I warned buyers for months they should act quickly. Many didn't pull the trigger before because they were waiting for the bottom," she said.

There is a potential problem lurking in the recent trend: Some appraisals aren't keeping pace with the increases in home prices.

Orr said appraisers are still looking at prices from three months ago.

In some parts of metro Phoenix, though, home prices have climbed 5 percent or more since the beginning of the year.

by Catherine Reagor - Mar. 27, 2012 10:48 PM The Republic | azcentral.com



Fewer Phoenix-area homes for sale; prices up

Fewer Phoenix-area homes for sale; prices up

A surge in buyers and a drop in foreclosures have left a shortage of houses for sale in metro Phoenix, according to a newly released report on the state of the housing market.

The shrinking inventory has prompted bidding wars and pushed up home prices in many communities.

At the end of February, the supply of homes for sale was just under 24,000, down 42 percent from a year earlier, mostly because of a 52 percent drop in foreclosures during the past year, according to the latest monthly real-estate report from Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business.

As banks take back fewer homes through foreclosure, fewer homes go to auction or back on the market.

Tuesday's report, which said that home prices could keep climbing if the inventory of homes for sale remains low, was the most optimistic from ASU since the beginning of the region's housing crash in 2007.

"Supply is tight, in a pretty extreme way, and it looks like it will stay that way for months," said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at ASU.

Orr said that as long as supply is tight and there are more buyers than sellers, Phoenix-area home prices will continue to climb.

Metro Phoenix's median home price has steadily been increasing since last August, when it fell to a 12-year low of $113,000. The region's median for February was $124,500, up 8 percent from a year earlier.

Climbing home prices could entice more homeowners who bought before the boom to try to sell their homes.

More sellers would increase supply, balancing the market and aiding many frustrated buyers who are currently being outbid on foreclosures and short-sale homes.

"Now, I have a ton of buyers and no properties to sell them," said Diane Brennan of Scottsdale-based Keller Williams Integrity First Realty.

"I warned buyers for months they should act quickly. Many didn't pull the trigger before because they were waiting for the bottom," she said.

There is a potential problem lurking in the recent trend: Some appraisals aren't keeping pace with the increases in home prices.

Orr said appraisers are still looking at prices from three months ago.

In some parts of metro Phoenix, though, home prices have climbed 5 percent or more since the beginning of the year.

by Catherine Reagor - Mar. 27, 2012 10:48 PM The Republic | azcentral.com



Fewer Phoenix-area homes for sale; prices up

Fewer Phoenix-area homes for sale; prices up

A surge in buyers and a drop in foreclosures have left a shortage of houses for sale in metro Phoenix, according to a newly released report on the state of the housing market.

The shrinking inventory has prompted bidding wars and pushed up home prices in many communities.

At the end of February, the supply of homes for sale was just under 24,000, down 42 percent from a year earlier, mostly because of a 52 percent drop in foreclosures during the past year, according to the latest monthly real-estate report from Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business.

As banks take back fewer homes through foreclosure, fewer homes go to auction or back on the market.

Tuesday's report, which said that home prices could keep climbing if the inventory of homes for sale remains low, was the most optimistic from ASU since the beginning of the region's housing crash in 2007.

"Supply is tight, in a pretty extreme way, and it looks like it will stay that way for months," said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at ASU.

Orr said that as long as supply is tight and there are more buyers than sellers, Phoenix-area home prices will continue to climb.

Metro Phoenix's median home price has steadily been increasing since last August, when it fell to a 12-year low of $113,000. The region's median for February was $124,500, up 8 percent from a year earlier.

Climbing home prices could entice more homeowners who bought before the boom to try to sell their homes.

More sellers would increase supply, balancing the market and aiding many frustrated buyers who are currently being outbid on foreclosures and short-sale homes.

"Now, I have a ton of buyers and no properties to sell them," said Diane Brennan of Scottsdale-based Keller Williams Integrity First Realty.

"I warned buyers for months they should act quickly. Many didn't pull the trigger before because they were waiting for the bottom," she said.

There is a potential problem lurking in the recent trend: Some appraisals aren't keeping pace with the increases in home prices.

Orr said appraisers are still looking at prices from three months ago.

In some parts of metro Phoenix, though, home prices have climbed 5 percent or more since the beginning of the year.

by Catherine Reagor - Mar. 27, 2012 10:48 PM The Republic | azcentral.com



Fewer Phoenix-area homes for sale; prices up

Fewer Phoenix-area homes for sale; prices up

A surge in buyers and a drop in foreclosures have left a shortage of houses for sale in metro Phoenix, according to a newly released report on the state of the housing market.

The shrinking inventory has prompted bidding wars and pushed up home prices in many communities.

At the end of February, the supply of homes for sale was just under 24,000, down 42 percent from a year earlier, mostly because of a 52 percent drop in foreclosures during the past year, according to the latest monthly real-estate report from Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business.

As banks take back fewer homes through foreclosure, fewer homes go to auction or back on the market.

Tuesday's report, which said that home prices could keep climbing if the inventory of homes for sale remains low, was the most optimistic from ASU since the beginning of the region's housing crash in 2007.

"Supply is tight, in a pretty extreme way, and it looks like it will stay that way for months," said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at ASU.

Orr said that as long as supply is tight and there are more buyers than sellers, Phoenix-area home prices will continue to climb.

Metro Phoenix's median home price has steadily been increasing since last August, when it fell to a 12-year low of $113,000. The region's median for February was $124,500, up 8 percent from a year earlier.

Climbing home prices could entice more homeowners who bought before the boom to try to sell their homes.

More sellers would increase supply, balancing the market and aiding many frustrated buyers who are currently being outbid on foreclosures and short-sale homes.

"Now, I have a ton of buyers and no properties to sell them," said Diane Brennan of Scottsdale-based Keller Williams Integrity First Realty.

"I warned buyers for months they should act quickly. Many didn't pull the trigger before because they were waiting for the bottom," she said.

There is a potential problem lurking in the recent trend: Some appraisals aren't keeping pace with the increases in home prices.

Orr said appraisers are still looking at prices from three months ago.

In some parts of metro Phoenix, though, home prices have climbed 5 percent or more since the beginning of the year.

by Catherine Reagor - Mar. 27, 2012 10:48 PM The Republic | azcentral.com



Fewer Phoenix-area homes for sale; prices up

Fewer Phoenix-area homes for sale; prices up

A surge in buyers and a drop in foreclosures have left a shortage of houses for sale in metro Phoenix, according to a newly released report on the state of the housing market.

The shrinking inventory has prompted bidding wars and pushed up home prices in many communities.

At the end of February, the supply of homes for sale was just under 24,000, down 42 percent from a year earlier, mostly because of a 52 percent drop in foreclosures during the past year, according to the latest monthly real-estate report from Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business.

As banks take back fewer homes through foreclosure, fewer homes go to auction or back on the market.

Tuesday's report, which said that home prices could keep climbing if the inventory of homes for sale remains low, was the most optimistic from ASU since the beginning of the region's housing crash in 2007.

"Supply is tight, in a pretty extreme way, and it looks like it will stay that way for months," said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at ASU.

Orr said that as long as supply is tight and there are more buyers than sellers, Phoenix-area home prices will continue to climb.

Metro Phoenix's median home price has steadily been increasing since last August, when it fell to a 12-year low of $113,000. The region's median for February was $124,500, up 8 percent from a year earlier.

Climbing home prices could entice more homeowners who bought before the boom to try to sell their homes.

More sellers would increase supply, balancing the market and aiding many frustrated buyers who are currently being outbid on foreclosures and short-sale homes.

"Now, I have a ton of buyers and no properties to sell them," said Diane Brennan of Scottsdale-based Keller Williams Integrity First Realty.

"I warned buyers for months they should act quickly. Many didn't pull the trigger before because they were waiting for the bottom," she said.

There is a potential problem lurking in the recent trend: Some appraisals aren't keeping pace with the increases in home prices.

Orr said appraisers are still looking at prices from three months ago.

In some parts of metro Phoenix, though, home prices have climbed 5 percent or more since the beginning of the year.

by Catherine Reagor - Mar. 27, 2012 10:48 PM The Republic | azcentral.com



Fewer Phoenix-area homes for sale; prices up

Demand For Homes Continues To Show Recovery - WSJ.com

The number of contracts signed to buy homes in February eased slightly from January but posted another strong gain from a year ago—the latest sign that demand for homes is up from the depressed levels of the previous 18 months.

A report Monday by the National Association of Realtors showed the index of pending home sales, reflecting deals that have gone into contract but haven't yet closed, rose 9.2% last month from a year earlier, continuing a rise largely fueled by investors' purchases of foreclosed properties. The index fell by 0.5% from January.

While buyers are starting to step forward, however, home builders and real-estate agents report an elevated level of contracts falling apart, as buyers run into trouble qualifying for mortgages amid tough lending standards.

Another common complaint: low appraisals that come in below a negotiated value, requiring sellers to cut their price or buyers to put more money down in order to keep a deal from collapsing. As a result, the pending sales figures could be overstating actual sales as buyers sign multiple contracts over the course of several months.

The number of contracts signed to purchase homes in February posted another strong gain in the latest sign that housing demand is up from the depressed levels of the previous 18 months. Nick Timiraos has details on The News Hub. Photo: Bloomberg News

Still, analysts say that housing demand appears to be stronger than at any point in the past year. Low prices are luring investors who can convert properties into rental units and make double-digit returns. More first-time buyers could face added urgency to move as landlords begin to raise rents and mortgage rates rise from record lows.

"We are seeing very strong activity out there," said Ivy Zelman, chief executive of research firm Zelman & Associates. Buyers are tired of deferring moves, and rising rents "have really pushed people off the fence," she said. "We're not ready yet to wave the victory flag and say home prices are going up, but we're confident they're stabilizing."

Monday's report showed that purchase activity was up 18.4% and 19% from a year ago in the Northeast and Midwest, respectively, after an unseasonably warm winter. Contract activity fell by 1.8% in the West.

Real-estate agents in many parts of the country say inventories of homes for sale are declining, leaving more buyers competing for less supply. Shrinking inventories could be a consequence of the decline in home prices, which has left more sellers unable or unwilling to sell their homes at a loss.

In Orange County, Calif., the number of homes listed for sale is down by 36% from a year ago. Meanwhile, the number of homes under contract is up 25% to its highest level in four years, according to Steven Thomas, a local housing-market analyst.

So far this year, nearly one in six homes listed for sale have gone under contract within their first three days across the 18 markets covered by Redfin Corp., a Seattle-based brokerage, said Glenn Kelman, the firm's chief executive.

by Nick Timiraos The Wall Street Journal Mar 28, 2012




Demand For Homes Continues To Show Recovery - WSJ.com

Demand For Homes Continues To Show Recovery - WSJ.com

The number of contracts signed to buy homes in February eased slightly from January but posted another strong gain from a year ago—the latest sign that demand for homes is up from the depressed levels of the previous 18 months.

A report Monday by the National Association of Realtors showed the index of pending home sales, reflecting deals that have gone into contract but haven't yet closed, rose 9.2% last month from a year earlier, continuing a rise largely fueled by investors' purchases of foreclosed properties. The index fell by 0.5% from January.

While buyers are starting to step forward, however, home builders and real-estate agents report an elevated level of contracts falling apart, as buyers run into trouble qualifying for mortgages amid tough lending standards.

Another common complaint: low appraisals that come in below a negotiated value, requiring sellers to cut their price or buyers to put more money down in order to keep a deal from collapsing. As a result, the pending sales figures could be overstating actual sales as buyers sign multiple contracts over the course of several months.

The number of contracts signed to purchase homes in February posted another strong gain in the latest sign that housing demand is up from the depressed levels of the previous 18 months. Nick Timiraos has details on The News Hub. Photo: Bloomberg News

Still, analysts say that housing demand appears to be stronger than at any point in the past year. Low prices are luring investors who can convert properties into rental units and make double-digit returns. More first-time buyers could face added urgency to move as landlords begin to raise rents and mortgage rates rise from record lows.

"We are seeing very strong activity out there," said Ivy Zelman, chief executive of research firm Zelman & Associates. Buyers are tired of deferring moves, and rising rents "have really pushed people off the fence," she said. "We're not ready yet to wave the victory flag and say home prices are going up, but we're confident they're stabilizing."

Monday's report showed that purchase activity was up 18.4% and 19% from a year ago in the Northeast and Midwest, respectively, after an unseasonably warm winter. Contract activity fell by 1.8% in the West.

Real-estate agents in many parts of the country say inventories of homes for sale are declining, leaving more buyers competing for less supply. Shrinking inventories could be a consequence of the decline in home prices, which has left more sellers unable or unwilling to sell their homes at a loss.

In Orange County, Calif., the number of homes listed for sale is down by 36% from a year ago. Meanwhile, the number of homes under contract is up 25% to its highest level in four years, according to Steven Thomas, a local housing-market analyst.

So far this year, nearly one in six homes listed for sale have gone under contract within their first three days across the 18 markets covered by Redfin Corp., a Seattle-based brokerage, said Glenn Kelman, the firm's chief executive.

by Nick Timiraos The Wall Street Journal Mar 28, 2012


Demand For Homes Continues To Show Recovery - WSJ.com

Demand For Homes Continues To Show Recovery - WSJ.com

The number of contracts signed to buy homes in February eased slightly from January but posted another strong gain from a year ago—the latest sign that demand for homes is up from the depressed levels of the previous 18 months.

A report Monday by the National Association of Realtors showed the index of pending home sales, reflecting deals that have gone into contract but haven't yet closed, rose 9.2% last month from a year earlier, continuing a rise largely fueled by investors' purchases of foreclosed properties. The index fell by 0.5% from January.

While buyers are starting to step forward, however, home builders and real-estate agents report an elevated level of contracts falling apart, as buyers run into trouble qualifying for mortgages amid tough lending standards.

Another common complaint: low appraisals that come in below a negotiated value, requiring sellers to cut their price or buyers to put more money down in order to keep a deal from collapsing. As a result, the pending sales figures could be overstating actual sales as buyers sign multiple contracts over the course of several months.

The number of contracts signed to purchase homes in February posted another strong gain in the latest sign that housing demand is up from the depressed levels of the previous 18 months. Nick Timiraos has details on The News Hub. Photo: Bloomberg News

Still, analysts say that housing demand appears to be stronger than at any point in the past year. Low prices are luring investors who can convert properties into rental units and make double-digit returns. More first-time buyers could face added urgency to move as landlords begin to raise rents and mortgage rates rise from record lows.

"We are seeing very strong activity out there," said Ivy Zelman, chief executive of research firm Zelman & Associates. Buyers are tired of deferring moves, and rising rents "have really pushed people off the fence," she said. "We're not ready yet to wave the victory flag and say home prices are going up, but we're confident they're stabilizing."

Monday's report showed that purchase activity was up 18.4% and 19% from a year ago in the Northeast and Midwest, respectively, after an unseasonably warm winter. Contract activity fell by 1.8% in the West.

Real-estate agents in many parts of the country say inventories of homes for sale are declining, leaving more buyers competing for less supply. Shrinking inventories could be a consequence of the decline in home prices, which has left more sellers unable or unwilling to sell their homes at a loss.

In Orange County, Calif., the number of homes listed for sale is down by 36% from a year ago. Meanwhile, the number of homes under contract is up 25% to its highest level in four years, according to Steven Thomas, a local housing-market analyst.

So far this year, nearly one in six homes listed for sale have gone under contract within their first three days across the 18 markets covered by Redfin Corp., a Seattle-based brokerage, said Glenn Kelman, the firm's chief executive.

by Nick Timiraos The Wall Street Journal Mar 28, 2012


Demand For Homes Continues To Show Recovery - WSJ.com

Demand For Homes Continues To Show Recovery - WSJ.com

The number of contracts signed to buy homes in February eased slightly from January but posted another strong gain from a year ago—the latest sign that demand for homes is up from the depressed levels of the previous 18 months.

A report Monday by the National Association of Realtors showed the index of pending home sales, reflecting deals that have gone into contract but haven't yet closed, rose 9.2% last month from a year earlier, continuing a rise largely fueled by investors' purchases of foreclosed properties. The index fell by 0.5% from January.

While buyers are starting to step forward, however, home builders and real-estate agents report an elevated level of contracts falling apart, as buyers run into trouble qualifying for mortgages amid tough lending standards.

Another common complaint: low appraisals that come in below a negotiated value, requiring sellers to cut their price or buyers to put more money down in order to keep a deal from collapsing. As a result, the pending sales figures could be overstating actual sales as buyers sign multiple contracts over the course of several months.

The number of contracts signed to purchase homes in February posted another strong gain in the latest sign that housing demand is up from the depressed levels of the previous 18 months. Nick Timiraos has details on The News Hub. Photo: Bloomberg News

Still, analysts say that housing demand appears to be stronger than at any point in the past year. Low prices are luring investors who can convert properties into rental units and make double-digit returns. More first-time buyers could face added urgency to move as landlords begin to raise rents and mortgage rates rise from record lows.

"We are seeing very strong activity out there," said Ivy Zelman, chief executive of research firm Zelman & Associates. Buyers are tired of deferring moves, and rising rents "have really pushed people off the fence," she said. "We're not ready yet to wave the victory flag and say home prices are going up, but we're confident they're stabilizing."

Monday's report showed that purchase activity was up 18.4% and 19% from a year ago in the Northeast and Midwest, respectively, after an unseasonably warm winter. Contract activity fell by 1.8% in the West.

Real-estate agents in many parts of the country say inventories of homes for sale are declining, leaving more buyers competing for less supply. Shrinking inventories could be a consequence of the decline in home prices, which has left more sellers unable or unwilling to sell their homes at a loss.

In Orange County, Calif., the number of homes listed for sale is down by 36% from a year ago. Meanwhile, the number of homes under contract is up 25% to its highest level in four years, according to Steven Thomas, a local housing-market analyst.

So far this year, nearly one in six homes listed for sale have gone under contract within their first three days across the 18 markets covered by Redfin Corp., a Seattle-based brokerage, said Glenn Kelman, the firm's chief executive.

by Nick Timiraos The Wall Street Journal Mar 28, 2012


Demand For Homes Continues To Show Recovery - WSJ.com

Demand For Homes Continues To Show Recovery - WSJ.com

The number of contracts signed to buy homes in February eased slightly from January but posted another strong gain from a year ago—the latest sign that demand for homes is up from the depressed levels of the previous 18 months.

A report Monday by the National Association of Realtors showed the index of pending home sales, reflecting deals that have gone into contract but haven't yet closed, rose 9.2% last month from a year earlier, continuing a rise largely fueled by investors' purchases of foreclosed properties. The index fell by 0.5% from January.

While buyers are starting to step forward, however, home builders and real-estate agents report an elevated level of contracts falling apart, as buyers run into trouble qualifying for mortgages amid tough lending standards.

Another common complaint: low appraisals that come in below a negotiated value, requiring sellers to cut their price or buyers to put more money down in order to keep a deal from collapsing. As a result, the pending sales figures could be overstating actual sales as buyers sign multiple contracts over the course of several months.

The number of contracts signed to purchase homes in February posted another strong gain in the latest sign that housing demand is up from the depressed levels of the previous 18 months. Nick Timiraos has details on The News Hub. Photo: Bloomberg News

Still, analysts say that housing demand appears to be stronger than at any point in the past year. Low prices are luring investors who can convert properties into rental units and make double-digit returns. More first-time buyers could face added urgency to move as landlords begin to raise rents and mortgage rates rise from record lows.

"We are seeing very strong activity out there," said Ivy Zelman, chief executive of research firm Zelman & Associates. Buyers are tired of deferring moves, and rising rents "have really pushed people off the fence," she said. "We're not ready yet to wave the victory flag and say home prices are going up, but we're confident they're stabilizing."

Monday's report showed that purchase activity was up 18.4% and 19% from a year ago in the Northeast and Midwest, respectively, after an unseasonably warm winter. Contract activity fell by 1.8% in the West.

Real-estate agents in many parts of the country say inventories of homes for sale are declining, leaving more buyers competing for less supply. Shrinking inventories could be a consequence of the decline in home prices, which has left more sellers unable or unwilling to sell their homes at a loss.

In Orange County, Calif., the number of homes listed for sale is down by 36% from a year ago. Meanwhile, the number of homes under contract is up 25% to its highest level in four years, according to Steven Thomas, a local housing-market analyst.

So far this year, nearly one in six homes listed for sale have gone under contract within their first three days across the 18 markets covered by Redfin Corp., a Seattle-based brokerage, said Glenn Kelman, the firm's chief executive.

by Nick Timiraos The Wall Street Journal Mar 28, 2012


Demand For Homes Continues To Show Recovery - WSJ.com

Demand For Homes Continues To Show Recovery - WSJ.com

The number of contracts signed to buy homes in February eased slightly from January but posted another strong gain from a year ago—the latest sign that demand for homes is up from the depressed levels of the previous 18 months.

A report Monday by the National Association of Realtors showed the index of pending home sales, reflecting deals that have gone into contract but haven't yet closed, rose 9.2% last month from a year earlier, continuing a rise largely fueled by investors' purchases of foreclosed properties. The index fell by 0.5% from January.

While buyers are starting to step forward, however, home builders and real-estate agents report an elevated level of contracts falling apart, as buyers run into trouble qualifying for mortgages amid tough lending standards.

Another common complaint: low appraisals that come in below a negotiated value, requiring sellers to cut their price or buyers to put more money down in order to keep a deal from collapsing. As a result, the pending sales figures could be overstating actual sales as buyers sign multiple contracts over the course of several months.

The number of contracts signed to purchase homes in February posted another strong gain in the latest sign that housing demand is up from the depressed levels of the previous 18 months. Nick Timiraos has details on The News Hub. Photo: Bloomberg News

Still, analysts say that housing demand appears to be stronger than at any point in the past year. Low prices are luring investors who can convert properties into rental units and make double-digit returns. More first-time buyers could face added urgency to move as landlords begin to raise rents and mortgage rates rise from record lows.

"We are seeing very strong activity out there," said Ivy Zelman, chief executive of research firm Zelman & Associates. Buyers are tired of deferring moves, and rising rents "have really pushed people off the fence," she said. "We're not ready yet to wave the victory flag and say home prices are going up, but we're confident they're stabilizing."

Monday's report showed that purchase activity was up 18.4% and 19% from a year ago in the Northeast and Midwest, respectively, after an unseasonably warm winter. Contract activity fell by 1.8% in the West.

Real-estate agents in many parts of the country say inventories of homes for sale are declining, leaving more buyers competing for less supply. Shrinking inventories could be a consequence of the decline in home prices, which has left more sellers unable or unwilling to sell their homes at a loss.

In Orange County, Calif., the number of homes listed for sale is down by 36% from a year ago. Meanwhile, the number of homes under contract is up 25% to its highest level in four years, according to Steven Thomas, a local housing-market analyst.

So far this year, nearly one in six homes listed for sale have gone under contract within their first three days across the 18 markets covered by Redfin Corp., a Seattle-based brokerage, said Glenn Kelman, the firm's chief executive.

by Nick Timiraos The Wall Street Journal Mar 28, 2012


Demand For Homes Continues To Show Recovery - WSJ.com

Demand For Homes Continues To Show Recovery - WSJ.com

The number of contracts signed to buy homes in February eased slightly from January but posted another strong gain from a year ago—the latest sign that demand for homes is up from the depressed levels of the previous 18 months.

A report Monday by the National Association of Realtors showed the index of pending home sales, reflecting deals that have gone into contract but haven't yet closed, rose 9.2% last month from a year earlier, continuing a rise largely fueled by investors' purchases of foreclosed properties. The index fell by 0.5% from January.

While buyers are starting to step forward, however, home builders and real-estate agents report an elevated level of contracts falling apart, as buyers run into trouble qualifying for mortgages amid tough lending standards.

Another common complaint: low appraisals that come in below a negotiated value, requiring sellers to cut their price or buyers to put more money down in order to keep a deal from collapsing. As a result, the pending sales figures could be overstating actual sales as buyers sign multiple contracts over the course of several months.

The number of contracts signed to purchase homes in February posted another strong gain in the latest sign that housing demand is up from the depressed levels of the previous 18 months. Nick Timiraos has details on The News Hub. Photo: Bloomberg News

Still, analysts say that housing demand appears to be stronger than at any point in the past year. Low prices are luring investors who can convert properties into rental units and make double-digit returns. More first-time buyers could face added urgency to move as landlords begin to raise rents and mortgage rates rise from record lows.

"We are seeing very strong activity out there," said Ivy Zelman, chief executive of research firm Zelman & Associates. Buyers are tired of deferring moves, and rising rents "have really pushed people off the fence," she said. "We're not ready yet to wave the victory flag and say home prices are going up, but we're confident they're stabilizing."

Monday's report showed that purchase activity was up 18.4% and 19% from a year ago in the Northeast and Midwest, respectively, after an unseasonably warm winter. Contract activity fell by 1.8% in the West.

Real-estate agents in many parts of the country say inventories of homes for sale are declining, leaving more buyers competing for less supply. Shrinking inventories could be a consequence of the decline in home prices, which has left more sellers unable or unwilling to sell their homes at a loss.

In Orange County, Calif., the number of homes listed for sale is down by 36% from a year ago. Meanwhile, the number of homes under contract is up 25% to its highest level in four years, according to Steven Thomas, a local housing-market analyst.

So far this year, nearly one in six homes listed for sale have gone under contract within their first three days across the 18 markets covered by Redfin Corp., a Seattle-based brokerage, said Glenn Kelman, the firm's chief executive.

by Nick Timiraos The Wall Street Journal Mar 28, 2012


Demand For Homes Continues To Show Recovery - WSJ.com

Housing availability plummets 42% as prices rebound - Local News - Phoenix, AZ - msnbc.com


A dramatic housing turnaround is taking hold, with the glut of homes for sale in the Valley plummeting 42 percent in the last year.

This has put housing in short supply and helped to boost homes prices by nearly 16 percent since values bottomed out in September 2011, according to an Arizona State University report.

The findings are probably a shock to Valley residents used to gloomy housing news, said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU.

“They think we have a glut but we have a shortage, and it’s almost as stressful as having a glut as to have a shortage,” Orr said.

Many buyers have become dispirited after making multiple offers and not getting a home. That problem will likely get worse in the next few months because spring is the most active time for home buying, Orr said.

The shortage is made worse because new home construction had fallen so dramatically.

Builders completed about 4,000 homes a month at the peak of the housing boom, but that’s fallen to about 400 a month now. Orr expects builders can double production but he said they face limits because so many construction workers left the state when the housing market crashed.

“I can’t see them building enough to change a shortage into an adequate supply, at least not in the short term,” he said.

The February housing report includes Maricopa and Pinal counties. Its findings include:

• Median sale prices rose 8.3 percent from February, from $115,000 to $124,500. That includes new homes.

• The average price per square foot rose 4.1 percent, from $81.07 to $84.36.

• Monthly foreclosures are up from February but down 9 percent from February 2011.

• Foreclosure completions were down 52 percent in the last year.

• Bank-owned sales dropped 40 percent.

Low-end and moderately priced homes are in the highest demand, Orr said.
Housing wasn’t hurt by gas prices of nearly $4 a gallon, Orr said. But it has affected where people want to buy and made central locations more desirable.

Orr said the improving housing news doesn’t indicate the market is healthy or normal yet. Prices need to rise about 33 percent based on trends of long-term average pricing, Orr said. That would place values at $120 per square foot. Prices had fallen to $78 but are now at $90.

“I don’t know when we’ll get back to normal,” Orr said. “Arizona, housing prices in particular, seems to be a very volatile market.”

by East Valley Tribune msnbc.com Mar 28, 2012



Housing availability plummets 42% as prices rebound - Local News - Phoenix, AZ - msnbc.com

Housing availability plummets 42% as prices rebound - Local News - Phoenix, AZ - msnbc.com


A dramatic housing turnaround is taking hold, with the glut of homes for sale in the Valley plummeting 42 percent in the last year.

This has put housing in short supply and helped to boost homes prices by nearly 16 percent since values bottomed out in September 2011, according to an Arizona State University report.

The findings are probably a shock to Valley residents used to gloomy housing news, said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU.

“They think we have a glut but we have a shortage, and it’s almost as stressful as having a glut as to have a shortage,” Orr said.

Many buyers have become dispirited after making multiple offers and not getting a home. That problem will likely get worse in the next few months because spring is the most active time for home buying, Orr said.

The shortage is made worse because new home construction had fallen so dramatically.

Builders completed about 4,000 homes a month at the peak of the housing boom, but that’s fallen to about 400 a month now. Orr expects builders can double production but he said they face limits because so many construction workers left the state when the housing market crashed.

“I can’t see them building enough to change a shortage into an adequate supply, at least not in the short term,” he said.

The February housing report includes Maricopa and Pinal counties. Its findings include:

• Median sale prices rose 8.3 percent from February, from $115,000 to $124,500. That includes new homes.

• The average price per square foot rose 4.1 percent, from $81.07 to $84.36.

• Monthly foreclosures are up from February but down 9 percent from February 2011.

• Foreclosure completions were down 52 percent in the last year.

• Bank-owned sales dropped 40 percent.

Low-end and moderately priced homes are in the highest demand, Orr said.
Housing wasn’t hurt by gas prices of nearly $4 a gallon, Orr said. But it has affected where people want to buy and made central locations more desirable.

Orr said the improving housing news doesn’t indicate the market is healthy or normal yet. Prices need to rise about 33 percent based on trends of long-term average pricing, Orr said. That would place values at $120 per square foot. Prices had fallen to $78 but are now at $90.

“I don’t know when we’ll get back to normal,” Orr said. “Arizona, housing prices in particular, seems to be a very volatile market.”

by East Valley Tribune msnbc.com Mar 28, 2012


Housing availability plummets 42% as prices rebound - Local News - Phoenix, AZ - msnbc.com

Housing availability plummets 42% as prices rebound - Local News - Phoenix, AZ - msnbc.com


A dramatic housing turnaround is taking hold, with the glut of homes for sale in the Valley plummeting 42 percent in the last year.

This has put housing in short supply and helped to boost homes prices by nearly 16 percent since values bottomed out in September 2011, according to an Arizona State University report.

The findings are probably a shock to Valley residents used to gloomy housing news, said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU.

“They think we have a glut but we have a shortage, and it’s almost as stressful as having a glut as to have a shortage,” Orr said.

Many buyers have become dispirited after making multiple offers and not getting a home. That problem will likely get worse in the next few months because spring is the most active time for home buying, Orr said.

The shortage is made worse because new home construction had fallen so dramatically.

Builders completed about 4,000 homes a month at the peak of the housing boom, but that’s fallen to about 400 a month now. Orr expects builders can double production but he said they face limits because so many construction workers left the state when the housing market crashed.

“I can’t see them building enough to change a shortage into an adequate supply, at least not in the short term,” he said.

The February housing report includes Maricopa and Pinal counties. Its findings include:

• Median sale prices rose 8.3 percent from February, from $115,000 to $124,500. That includes new homes.

• The average price per square foot rose 4.1 percent, from $81.07 to $84.36.

• Monthly foreclosures are up from February but down 9 percent from February 2011.

• Foreclosure completions were down 52 percent in the last year.

• Bank-owned sales dropped 40 percent.

Low-end and moderately priced homes are in the highest demand, Orr said.
Housing wasn’t hurt by gas prices of nearly $4 a gallon, Orr said. But it has affected where people want to buy and made central locations more desirable.

Orr said the improving housing news doesn’t indicate the market is healthy or normal yet. Prices need to rise about 33 percent based on trends of long-term average pricing, Orr said. That would place values at $120 per square foot. Prices had fallen to $78 but are now at $90.

“I don’t know when we’ll get back to normal,” Orr said. “Arizona, housing prices in particular, seems to be a very volatile market.”

by East Valley Tribune msnbc.com Mar 28, 2012


Housing availability plummets 42% as prices rebound - Local News - Phoenix, AZ - msnbc.com

Housing availability plummets 42% as prices rebound - Local News - Phoenix, AZ - msnbc.com


A dramatic housing turnaround is taking hold, with the glut of homes for sale in the Valley plummeting 42 percent in the last year.

This has put housing in short supply and helped to boost homes prices by nearly 16 percent since values bottomed out in September 2011, according to an Arizona State University report.

The findings are probably a shock to Valley residents used to gloomy housing news, said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU.

“They think we have a glut but we have a shortage, and it’s almost as stressful as having a glut as to have a shortage,” Orr said.

Many buyers have become dispirited after making multiple offers and not getting a home. That problem will likely get worse in the next few months because spring is the most active time for home buying, Orr said.

The shortage is made worse because new home construction had fallen so dramatically.

Builders completed about 4,000 homes a month at the peak of the housing boom, but that’s fallen to about 400 a month now. Orr expects builders can double production but he said they face limits because so many construction workers left the state when the housing market crashed.

“I can’t see them building enough to change a shortage into an adequate supply, at least not in the short term,” he said.

The February housing report includes Maricopa and Pinal counties. Its findings include:

• Median sale prices rose 8.3 percent from February, from $115,000 to $124,500. That includes new homes.

• The average price per square foot rose 4.1 percent, from $81.07 to $84.36.

• Monthly foreclosures are up from February but down 9 percent from February 2011.

• Foreclosure completions were down 52 percent in the last year.

• Bank-owned sales dropped 40 percent.

Low-end and moderately priced homes are in the highest demand, Orr said.
Housing wasn’t hurt by gas prices of nearly $4 a gallon, Orr said. But it has affected where people want to buy and made central locations more desirable.

Orr said the improving housing news doesn’t indicate the market is healthy or normal yet. Prices need to rise about 33 percent based on trends of long-term average pricing, Orr said. That would place values at $120 per square foot. Prices had fallen to $78 but are now at $90.

“I don’t know when we’ll get back to normal,” Orr said. “Arizona, housing prices in particular, seems to be a very volatile market.”

by East Valley Tribune msnbc.com Mar 28, 2012


Housing availability plummets 42% as prices rebound - Local News - Phoenix, AZ - msnbc.com

Housing availability plummets 42% as prices rebound - Local News - Phoenix, AZ - msnbc.com


A dramatic housing turnaround is taking hold, with the glut of homes for sale in the Valley plummeting 42 percent in the last year.

This has put housing in short supply and helped to boost homes prices by nearly 16 percent since values bottomed out in September 2011, according to an Arizona State University report.

The findings are probably a shock to Valley residents used to gloomy housing news, said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU.

“They think we have a glut but we have a shortage, and it’s almost as stressful as having a glut as to have a shortage,” Orr said.

Many buyers have become dispirited after making multiple offers and not getting a home. That problem will likely get worse in the next few months because spring is the most active time for home buying, Orr said.

The shortage is made worse because new home construction had fallen so dramatically.

Builders completed about 4,000 homes a month at the peak of the housing boom, but that’s fallen to about 400 a month now. Orr expects builders can double production but he said they face limits because so many construction workers left the state when the housing market crashed.

“I can’t see them building enough to change a shortage into an adequate supply, at least not in the short term,” he said.

The February housing report includes Maricopa and Pinal counties. Its findings include:

• Median sale prices rose 8.3 percent from February, from $115,000 to $124,500. That includes new homes.

• The average price per square foot rose 4.1 percent, from $81.07 to $84.36.

• Monthly foreclosures are up from February but down 9 percent from February 2011.

• Foreclosure completions were down 52 percent in the last year.

• Bank-owned sales dropped 40 percent.

Low-end and moderately priced homes are in the highest demand, Orr said.
Housing wasn’t hurt by gas prices of nearly $4 a gallon, Orr said. But it has affected where people want to buy and made central locations more desirable.

Orr said the improving housing news doesn’t indicate the market is healthy or normal yet. Prices need to rise about 33 percent based on trends of long-term average pricing, Orr said. That would place values at $120 per square foot. Prices had fallen to $78 but are now at $90.

“I don’t know when we’ll get back to normal,” Orr said. “Arizona, housing prices in particular, seems to be a very volatile market.”

by East Valley Tribune msnbc.com Mar 28, 2012


Housing availability plummets 42% as prices rebound - Local News - Phoenix, AZ - msnbc.com

Housing availability plummets 42% as prices rebound - Local News - Phoenix, AZ - msnbc.com


A dramatic housing turnaround is taking hold, with the glut of homes for sale in the Valley plummeting 42 percent in the last year.

This has put housing in short supply and helped to boost homes prices by nearly 16 percent since values bottomed out in September 2011, according to an Arizona State University report.

The findings are probably a shock to Valley residents used to gloomy housing news, said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU.

“They think we have a glut but we have a shortage, and it’s almost as stressful as having a glut as to have a shortage,” Orr said.

Many buyers have become dispirited after making multiple offers and not getting a home. That problem will likely get worse in the next few months because spring is the most active time for home buying, Orr said.

The shortage is made worse because new home construction had fallen so dramatically.

Builders completed about 4,000 homes a month at the peak of the housing boom, but that’s fallen to about 400 a month now. Orr expects builders can double production but he said they face limits because so many construction workers left the state when the housing market crashed.

“I can’t see them building enough to change a shortage into an adequate supply, at least not in the short term,” he said.

The February housing report includes Maricopa and Pinal counties. Its findings include:

• Median sale prices rose 8.3 percent from February, from $115,000 to $124,500. That includes new homes.

• The average price per square foot rose 4.1 percent, from $81.07 to $84.36.

• Monthly foreclosures are up from February but down 9 percent from February 2011.

• Foreclosure completions were down 52 percent in the last year.

• Bank-owned sales dropped 40 percent.

Low-end and moderately priced homes are in the highest demand, Orr said.
Housing wasn’t hurt by gas prices of nearly $4 a gallon, Orr said. But it has affected where people want to buy and made central locations more desirable.

Orr said the improving housing news doesn’t indicate the market is healthy or normal yet. Prices need to rise about 33 percent based on trends of long-term average pricing, Orr said. That would place values at $120 per square foot. Prices had fallen to $78 but are now at $90.

“I don’t know when we’ll get back to normal,” Orr said. “Arizona, housing prices in particular, seems to be a very volatile market.”

by East Valley Tribune msnbc.com Mar 28, 2012


Housing availability plummets 42% as prices rebound - Local News - Phoenix, AZ - msnbc.com

Housing availability plummets 42% as prices rebound - Local News - Phoenix, AZ - msnbc.com


A dramatic housing turnaround is taking hold, with the glut of homes for sale in the Valley plummeting 42 percent in the last year.

This has put housing in short supply and helped to boost homes prices by nearly 16 percent since values bottomed out in September 2011, according to an Arizona State University report.

The findings are probably a shock to Valley residents used to gloomy housing news, said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU.

“They think we have a glut but we have a shortage, and it’s almost as stressful as having a glut as to have a shortage,” Orr said.

Many buyers have become dispirited after making multiple offers and not getting a home. That problem will likely get worse in the next few months because spring is the most active time for home buying, Orr said.

The shortage is made worse because new home construction had fallen so dramatically.

Builders completed about 4,000 homes a month at the peak of the housing boom, but that’s fallen to about 400 a month now. Orr expects builders can double production but he said they face limits because so many construction workers left the state when the housing market crashed.

“I can’t see them building enough to change a shortage into an adequate supply, at least not in the short term,” he said.

The February housing report includes Maricopa and Pinal counties. Its findings include:

• Median sale prices rose 8.3 percent from February, from $115,000 to $124,500. That includes new homes.

• The average price per square foot rose 4.1 percent, from $81.07 to $84.36.

• Monthly foreclosures are up from February but down 9 percent from February 2011.

• Foreclosure completions were down 52 percent in the last year.

• Bank-owned sales dropped 40 percent.

Low-end and moderately priced homes are in the highest demand, Orr said.
Housing wasn’t hurt by gas prices of nearly $4 a gallon, Orr said. But it has affected where people want to buy and made central locations more desirable.

Orr said the improving housing news doesn’t indicate the market is healthy or normal yet. Prices need to rise about 33 percent based on trends of long-term average pricing, Orr said. That would place values at $120 per square foot. Prices had fallen to $78 but are now at $90.

“I don’t know when we’ll get back to normal,” Orr said. “Arizona, housing prices in particular, seems to be a very volatile market.”

by East Valley Tribune msnbc.com Mar 28, 2012


Housing availability plummets 42% as prices rebound - Local News - Phoenix, AZ - msnbc.com

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bernanke says US job market weak despite gains

Is this a precipice for more QE3?

WASHINGTON - Fed chairman Ben Bernanke says that the U.S. job market remains weak despite three months of strong hiring and that the Federal Reserve's existing policies will help boost economic growth.

Bernanke's comments Monday to a group of economists in Arlington, Va., drove stocks higher. Many took his cautious words about the economy to mean the Fed is likely to stick to its plan to hold short-term interest rates at record lows through 2014.

Though the hiring has helped support consumer confidence and incomes, "we have not seen that in a persuasive way yet," Bernanke said. The Fed needs to "remain cautious" in deciding what its next moves should be, he said.

Further job gains will likely require stronger consumer and business demand, Bernanke said in a speech to the National Association for Business Economics' spring conference.

The association has 2,500 member economists who work for corporations, universities, the government and trade associations. Bernanke was addressing the group for the first time since 2008.

After Bernanke spoke, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 160 points, its third-biggest gain of the year. Broader indexes also increased.

The surge in hiring since December had led some economists to predict that the Fed might consider raising rates earlier than planned. But many took Bernanke's cautious tone as a firmer commitment to the late-2014 timetable.

And some viewed the speech as a signal that the Fed might take further steps, if the economy falters, to try to further drive down long-term borrowing rates. The goal would be to encourage more spending by consumers and businesses.

Robert Dye, chief economist at Dallas-based Comerica bank, said the Fed might extend a program of shuffling its investment portfolio to shift more of its holdings into long-term Treasuries. That could help lower long-term rates. Or the Fed could launch another round of bond buying.

"The chairman is very much keeping additional monetary-policy options on the table," said Dye, who attended the NABE conference.

Employers added an average of 245,000 jobs a month from December through February. The unemployment rate has fallen nearly a full percentage point since summer, to 8.3percent.

Still, the economy grew at an annual pace of just 3 percent in the October-December quarter. Economists think growth has slowed in the January-March quarter to around a 2 percent annual rate.

Bernanke said the combination of modest economic growth and rapid declines in unemployment is something of a puzzle. Normally, it takes roughly 4 percent annual growth to lower the rate by 1 percentage point over a year.

He offered some reasons for the unexpected decline in unemployment. Employers may be hiring rapidly because they cut too many jobs during the recession. He also said that government revisions may later show stronger economic growth over the past year.

But Bernanke cautioned that he doesn't expect the unemployment rate to keep falling at its current pace without much stronger growth and more robust hiring. He noted that the rate is still roughly 3 percentage points higher than its average over the 20 years preceding the recession.

"Despite the recent improvement, the job market remains far from normal," Bernanke said. "The number of people working and total hours worked are still significantly below pre-crisis peaks."

Bernanke also expressed concerns about the millions who have been out of work for more than six months. Those long-term unemployed Americans have made up more than 40 percent of the unemployed since December, he said. In the severe 1981-82 recession, long-term unemployment never exceeded 25 percent.

"Long-term unemployment is particularly costly to those directly affected, of course," Bernanke said. "But in addition, because of its negative effects on workers' skills and attachment to the labor force, long-term unemployment may ultimately reduce the productive capacity of our economy."

The Fed is concerned that the recovery could falter, as it did last year. Americans aren't seeing big pay increases. Gas prices are high. And Europe's debt crisis could weigh on the U.S. economy.

As long as inflation remains tame, analysts think the Fed will likely hold interest rates down to give the economy more support. Most economists don't think Fed officials will change their interest-rate policy at their next meeting on April 24-25 and will ease credit only if the economy slows further. While the recent job-market gains may continue, analysts think the record-low rates will continue as well, at least through this year. The Fed could reconsider the timetable next year, if the job gains prove more enduring.

But for now, most economists sense the Fed is committed to its plan.

"The clear tone of Chairman Bernanke's statement is that he is defending the Fed's current highly accommodative position," said David Jones, chief economist at DMJ Advisors.

by Martin Crutsinger - Mar. 26, 2012 06:27 PM AP Economics Writer



Bernanke says US job market weak despite gains

Bernanke says US job market weak despite gains

Is this a precipice for more QE3?

WASHINGTON - Fed chairman Ben Bernanke says that the U.S. job market remains weak despite three months of strong hiring and that the Federal Reserve's existing policies will help boost economic growth.

Bernanke's comments Monday to a group of economists in Arlington, Va., drove stocks higher. Many took his cautious words about the economy to mean the Fed is likely to stick to its plan to hold short-term interest rates at record lows through 2014.

Though the hiring has helped support consumer confidence and incomes, "we have not seen that in a persuasive way yet," Bernanke said. The Fed needs to "remain cautious" in deciding what its next moves should be, he said.

Further job gains will likely require stronger consumer and business demand, Bernanke said in a speech to the National Association for Business Economics' spring conference.

The association has 2,500 member economists who work for corporations, universities, the government and trade associations. Bernanke was addressing the group for the first time since 2008.

After Bernanke spoke, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 160 points, its third-biggest gain of the year. Broader indexes also increased.

The surge in hiring since December had led some economists to predict that the Fed might consider raising rates earlier than planned. But many took Bernanke's cautious tone as a firmer commitment to the late-2014 timetable.

And some viewed the speech as a signal that the Fed might take further steps, if the economy falters, to try to further drive down long-term borrowing rates. The goal would be to encourage more spending by consumers and businesses.

Robert Dye, chief economist at Dallas-based Comerica bank, said the Fed might extend a program of shuffling its investment portfolio to shift more of its holdings into long-term Treasuries. That could help lower long-term rates. Or the Fed could launch another round of bond buying.

"The chairman is very much keeping additional monetary-policy options on the table," said Dye, who attended the NABE conference.

Employers added an average of 245,000 jobs a month from December through February. The unemployment rate has fallen nearly a full percentage point since summer, to 8.3percent.

Still, the economy grew at an annual pace of just 3 percent in the October-December quarter. Economists think growth has slowed in the January-March quarter to around a 2 percent annual rate.

Bernanke said the combination of modest economic growth and rapid declines in unemployment is something of a puzzle. Normally, it takes roughly 4 percent annual growth to lower the rate by 1 percentage point over a year.

He offered some reasons for the unexpected decline in unemployment. Employers may be hiring rapidly because they cut too many jobs during the recession. He also said that government revisions may later show stronger economic growth over the past year.

But Bernanke cautioned that he doesn't expect the unemployment rate to keep falling at its current pace without much stronger growth and more robust hiring. He noted that the rate is still roughly 3 percentage points higher than its average over the 20 years preceding the recession.

"Despite the recent improvement, the job market remains far from normal," Bernanke said. "The number of people working and total hours worked are still significantly below pre-crisis peaks."

Bernanke also expressed concerns about the millions who have been out of work for more than six months. Those long-term unemployed Americans have made up more than 40 percent of the unemployed since December, he said. In the severe 1981-82 recession, long-term unemployment never exceeded 25 percent.

"Long-term unemployment is particularly costly to those directly affected, of course," Bernanke said. "But in addition, because of its negative effects on workers' skills and attachment to the labor force, long-term unemployment may ultimately reduce the productive capacity of our economy."

The Fed is concerned that the recovery could falter, as it did last year. Americans aren't seeing big pay increases. Gas prices are high. And Europe's debt crisis could weigh on the U.S. economy.

As long as inflation remains tame, analysts think the Fed will likely hold interest rates down to give the economy more support. Most economists don't think Fed officials will change their interest-rate policy at their next meeting on April 24-25 and will ease credit only if the economy slows further. While the recent job-market gains may continue, analysts think the record-low rates will continue as well, at least through this year. The Fed could reconsider the timetable next year, if the job gains prove more enduring.

But for now, most economists sense the Fed is committed to its plan.

"The clear tone of Chairman Bernanke's statement is that he is defending the Fed's current highly accommodative position," said David Jones, chief economist at DMJ Advisors.

by Martin Crutsinger - Mar. 26, 2012 06:27 PM AP Economics Writer




Bernanke says US job market weak despite gains

Bernanke says US job market weak despite gains

Is this a precipice for more QE3?

WASHINGTON - Fed chairman Ben Bernanke says that the U.S. job market remains weak despite three months of strong hiring and that the Federal Reserve's existing policies will help boost economic growth.

Bernanke's comments Monday to a group of economists in Arlington, Va., drove stocks higher. Many took his cautious words about the economy to mean the Fed is likely to stick to its plan to hold short-term interest rates at record lows through 2014.

Though the hiring has helped support consumer confidence and incomes, "we have not seen that in a persuasive way yet," Bernanke said. The Fed needs to "remain cautious" in deciding what its next moves should be, he said.

Further job gains will likely require stronger consumer and business demand, Bernanke said in a speech to the National Association for Business Economics' spring conference.

The association has 2,500 member economists who work for corporations, universities, the government and trade associations. Bernanke was addressing the group for the first time since 2008.

After Bernanke spoke, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 160 points, its third-biggest gain of the year. Broader indexes also increased.

The surge in hiring since December had led some economists to predict that the Fed might consider raising rates earlier than planned. But many took Bernanke's cautious tone as a firmer commitment to the late-2014 timetable.

And some viewed the speech as a signal that the Fed might take further steps, if the economy falters, to try to further drive down long-term borrowing rates. The goal would be to encourage more spending by consumers and businesses.

Robert Dye, chief economist at Dallas-based Comerica bank, said the Fed might extend a program of shuffling its investment portfolio to shift more of its holdings into long-term Treasuries. That could help lower long-term rates. Or the Fed could launch another round of bond buying.

"The chairman is very much keeping additional monetary-policy options on the table," said Dye, who attended the NABE conference.

Employers added an average of 245,000 jobs a month from December through February. The unemployment rate has fallen nearly a full percentage point since summer, to 8.3percent.

Still, the economy grew at an annual pace of just 3 percent in the October-December quarter. Economists think growth has slowed in the January-March quarter to around a 2 percent annual rate.

Bernanke said the combination of modest economic growth and rapid declines in unemployment is something of a puzzle. Normally, it takes roughly 4 percent annual growth to lower the rate by 1 percentage point over a year.

He offered some reasons for the unexpected decline in unemployment. Employers may be hiring rapidly because they cut too many jobs during the recession. He also said that government revisions may later show stronger economic growth over the past year.

But Bernanke cautioned that he doesn't expect the unemployment rate to keep falling at its current pace without much stronger growth and more robust hiring. He noted that the rate is still roughly 3 percentage points higher than its average over the 20 years preceding the recession.

"Despite the recent improvement, the job market remains far from normal," Bernanke said. "The number of people working and total hours worked are still significantly below pre-crisis peaks."

Bernanke also expressed concerns about the millions who have been out of work for more than six months. Those long-term unemployed Americans have made up more than 40 percent of the unemployed since December, he said. In the severe 1981-82 recession, long-term unemployment never exceeded 25 percent.

"Long-term unemployment is particularly costly to those directly affected, of course," Bernanke said. "But in addition, because of its negative effects on workers' skills and attachment to the labor force, long-term unemployment may ultimately reduce the productive capacity of our economy."

The Fed is concerned that the recovery could falter, as it did last year. Americans aren't seeing big pay increases. Gas prices are high. And Europe's debt crisis could weigh on the U.S. economy.

As long as inflation remains tame, analysts think the Fed will likely hold interest rates down to give the economy more support. Most economists don't think Fed officials will change their interest-rate policy at their next meeting on April 24-25 and will ease credit only if the economy slows further. While the recent job-market gains may continue, analysts think the record-low rates will continue as well, at least through this year. The Fed could reconsider the timetable next year, if the job gains prove more enduring.

But for now, most economists sense the Fed is committed to its plan.

"The clear tone of Chairman Bernanke's statement is that he is defending the Fed's current highly accommodative position," said David Jones, chief economist at DMJ Advisors.

by Martin Crutsinger - Mar. 26, 2012 06:27 PM AP Economics Writer




Bernanke says US job market weak despite gains

Bernanke says US job market weak despite gains

Is this a precipice for more QE3?

WASHINGTON - Fed chairman Ben Bernanke says that the U.S. job market remains weak despite three months of strong hiring and that the Federal Reserve's existing policies will help boost economic growth.

Bernanke's comments Monday to a group of economists in Arlington, Va., drove stocks higher. Many took his cautious words about the economy to mean the Fed is likely to stick to its plan to hold short-term interest rates at record lows through 2014.

Though the hiring has helped support consumer confidence and incomes, "we have not seen that in a persuasive way yet," Bernanke said. The Fed needs to "remain cautious" in deciding what its next moves should be, he said.

Further job gains will likely require stronger consumer and business demand, Bernanke said in a speech to the National Association for Business Economics' spring conference.

The association has 2,500 member economists who work for corporations, universities, the government and trade associations. Bernanke was addressing the group for the first time since 2008.

After Bernanke spoke, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 160 points, its third-biggest gain of the year. Broader indexes also increased.

The surge in hiring since December had led some economists to predict that the Fed might consider raising rates earlier than planned. But many took Bernanke's cautious tone as a firmer commitment to the late-2014 timetable.

And some viewed the speech as a signal that the Fed might take further steps, if the economy falters, to try to further drive down long-term borrowing rates. The goal would be to encourage more spending by consumers and businesses.

Robert Dye, chief economist at Dallas-based Comerica bank, said the Fed might extend a program of shuffling its investment portfolio to shift more of its holdings into long-term Treasuries. That could help lower long-term rates. Or the Fed could launch another round of bond buying.

"The chairman is very much keeping additional monetary-policy options on the table," said Dye, who attended the NABE conference.

Employers added an average of 245,000 jobs a month from December through February. The unemployment rate has fallen nearly a full percentage point since summer, to 8.3percent.

Still, the economy grew at an annual pace of just 3 percent in the October-December quarter. Economists think growth has slowed in the January-March quarter to around a 2 percent annual rate.

Bernanke said the combination of modest economic growth and rapid declines in unemployment is something of a puzzle. Normally, it takes roughly 4 percent annual growth to lower the rate by 1 percentage point over a year.

He offered some reasons for the unexpected decline in unemployment. Employers may be hiring rapidly because they cut too many jobs during the recession. He also said that government revisions may later show stronger economic growth over the past year.

But Bernanke cautioned that he doesn't expect the unemployment rate to keep falling at its current pace without much stronger growth and more robust hiring. He noted that the rate is still roughly 3 percentage points higher than its average over the 20 years preceding the recession.

"Despite the recent improvement, the job market remains far from normal," Bernanke said. "The number of people working and total hours worked are still significantly below pre-crisis peaks."

Bernanke also expressed concerns about the millions who have been out of work for more than six months. Those long-term unemployed Americans have made up more than 40 percent of the unemployed since December, he said. In the severe 1981-82 recession, long-term unemployment never exceeded 25 percent.

"Long-term unemployment is particularly costly to those directly affected, of course," Bernanke said. "But in addition, because of its negative effects on workers' skills and attachment to the labor force, long-term unemployment may ultimately reduce the productive capacity of our economy."

The Fed is concerned that the recovery could falter, as it did last year. Americans aren't seeing big pay increases. Gas prices are high. And Europe's debt crisis could weigh on the U.S. economy.

As long as inflation remains tame, analysts think the Fed will likely hold interest rates down to give the economy more support. Most economists don't think Fed officials will change their interest-rate policy at their next meeting on April 24-25 and will ease credit only if the economy slows further. While the recent job-market gains may continue, analysts think the record-low rates will continue as well, at least through this year. The Fed could reconsider the timetable next year, if the job gains prove more enduring.

But for now, most economists sense the Fed is committed to its plan.

"The clear tone of Chairman Bernanke's statement is that he is defending the Fed's current highly accommodative position," said David Jones, chief economist at DMJ Advisors.

by Martin Crutsinger - Mar. 26, 2012 06:27 PM AP Economics Writer




Bernanke says US job market weak despite gains

Bernanke says US job market weak despite gains

Is this a precipice for more QE3?

WASHINGTON - Fed chairman Ben Bernanke says that the U.S. job market remains weak despite three months of strong hiring and that the Federal Reserve's existing policies will help boost economic growth.

Bernanke's comments Monday to a group of economists in Arlington, Va., drove stocks higher. Many took his cautious words about the economy to mean the Fed is likely to stick to its plan to hold short-term interest rates at record lows through 2014.

Though the hiring has helped support consumer confidence and incomes, "we have not seen that in a persuasive way yet," Bernanke said. The Fed needs to "remain cautious" in deciding what its next moves should be, he said.

Further job gains will likely require stronger consumer and business demand, Bernanke said in a speech to the National Association for Business Economics' spring conference.

The association has 2,500 member economists who work for corporations, universities, the government and trade associations. Bernanke was addressing the group for the first time since 2008.

After Bernanke spoke, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 160 points, its third-biggest gain of the year. Broader indexes also increased.

The surge in hiring since December had led some economists to predict that the Fed might consider raising rates earlier than planned. But many took Bernanke's cautious tone as a firmer commitment to the late-2014 timetable.

And some viewed the speech as a signal that the Fed might take further steps, if the economy falters, to try to further drive down long-term borrowing rates. The goal would be to encourage more spending by consumers and businesses.

Robert Dye, chief economist at Dallas-based Comerica bank, said the Fed might extend a program of shuffling its investment portfolio to shift more of its holdings into long-term Treasuries. That could help lower long-term rates. Or the Fed could launch another round of bond buying.

"The chairman is very much keeping additional monetary-policy options on the table," said Dye, who attended the NABE conference.

Employers added an average of 245,000 jobs a month from December through February. The unemployment rate has fallen nearly a full percentage point since summer, to 8.3percent.

Still, the economy grew at an annual pace of just 3 percent in the October-December quarter. Economists think growth has slowed in the January-March quarter to around a 2 percent annual rate.

Bernanke said the combination of modest economic growth and rapid declines in unemployment is something of a puzzle. Normally, it takes roughly 4 percent annual growth to lower the rate by 1 percentage point over a year.

He offered some reasons for the unexpected decline in unemployment. Employers may be hiring rapidly because they cut too many jobs during the recession. He also said that government revisions may later show stronger economic growth over the past year.

But Bernanke cautioned that he doesn't expect the unemployment rate to keep falling at its current pace without much stronger growth and more robust hiring. He noted that the rate is still roughly 3 percentage points higher than its average over the 20 years preceding the recession.

"Despite the recent improvement, the job market remains far from normal," Bernanke said. "The number of people working and total hours worked are still significantly below pre-crisis peaks."

Bernanke also expressed concerns about the millions who have been out of work for more than six months. Those long-term unemployed Americans have made up more than 40 percent of the unemployed since December, he said. In the severe 1981-82 recession, long-term unemployment never exceeded 25 percent.

"Long-term unemployment is particularly costly to those directly affected, of course," Bernanke said. "But in addition, because of its negative effects on workers' skills and attachment to the labor force, long-term unemployment may ultimately reduce the productive capacity of our economy."

The Fed is concerned that the recovery could falter, as it did last year. Americans aren't seeing big pay increases. Gas prices are high. And Europe's debt crisis could weigh on the U.S. economy.

As long as inflation remains tame, analysts think the Fed will likely hold interest rates down to give the economy more support. Most economists don't think Fed officials will change their interest-rate policy at their next meeting on April 24-25 and will ease credit only if the economy slows further. While the recent job-market gains may continue, analysts think the record-low rates will continue as well, at least through this year. The Fed could reconsider the timetable next year, if the job gains prove more enduring.

But for now, most economists sense the Fed is committed to its plan.

"The clear tone of Chairman Bernanke's statement is that he is defending the Fed's current highly accommodative position," said David Jones, chief economist at DMJ Advisors.

by Martin Crutsinger - Mar. 26, 2012 06:27 PM AP Economics Writer




Bernanke says US job market weak despite gains

Bernanke says US job market weak despite gains

Is this a precipice for more QE3?

WASHINGTON - Fed chairman Ben Bernanke says that the U.S. job market remains weak despite three months of strong hiring and that the Federal Reserve's existing policies will help boost economic growth.

Bernanke's comments Monday to a group of economists in Arlington, Va., drove stocks higher. Many took his cautious words about the economy to mean the Fed is likely to stick to its plan to hold short-term interest rates at record lows through 2014.

Though the hiring has helped support consumer confidence and incomes, "we have not seen that in a persuasive way yet," Bernanke said. The Fed needs to "remain cautious" in deciding what its next moves should be, he said.

Further job gains will likely require stronger consumer and business demand, Bernanke said in a speech to the National Association for Business Economics' spring conference.

The association has 2,500 member economists who work for corporations, universities, the government and trade associations. Bernanke was addressing the group for the first time since 2008.

After Bernanke spoke, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 160 points, its third-biggest gain of the year. Broader indexes also increased.

The surge in hiring since December had led some economists to predict that the Fed might consider raising rates earlier than planned. But many took Bernanke's cautious tone as a firmer commitment to the late-2014 timetable.

And some viewed the speech as a signal that the Fed might take further steps, if the economy falters, to try to further drive down long-term borrowing rates. The goal would be to encourage more spending by consumers and businesses.

Robert Dye, chief economist at Dallas-based Comerica bank, said the Fed might extend a program of shuffling its investment portfolio to shift more of its holdings into long-term Treasuries. That could help lower long-term rates. Or the Fed could launch another round of bond buying.

"The chairman is very much keeping additional monetary-policy options on the table," said Dye, who attended the NABE conference.

Employers added an average of 245,000 jobs a month from December through February. The unemployment rate has fallen nearly a full percentage point since summer, to 8.3percent.

Still, the economy grew at an annual pace of just 3 percent in the October-December quarter. Economists think growth has slowed in the January-March quarter to around a 2 percent annual rate.

Bernanke said the combination of modest economic growth and rapid declines in unemployment is something of a puzzle. Normally, it takes roughly 4 percent annual growth to lower the rate by 1 percentage point over a year.

He offered some reasons for the unexpected decline in unemployment. Employers may be hiring rapidly because they cut too many jobs during the recession. He also said that government revisions may later show stronger economic growth over the past year.

But Bernanke cautioned that he doesn't expect the unemployment rate to keep falling at its current pace without much stronger growth and more robust hiring. He noted that the rate is still roughly 3 percentage points higher than its average over the 20 years preceding the recession.

"Despite the recent improvement, the job market remains far from normal," Bernanke said. "The number of people working and total hours worked are still significantly below pre-crisis peaks."

Bernanke also expressed concerns about the millions who have been out of work for more than six months. Those long-term unemployed Americans have made up more than 40 percent of the unemployed since December, he said. In the severe 1981-82 recession, long-term unemployment never exceeded 25 percent.

"Long-term unemployment is particularly costly to those directly affected, of course," Bernanke said. "But in addition, because of its negative effects on workers' skills and attachment to the labor force, long-term unemployment may ultimately reduce the productive capacity of our economy."

The Fed is concerned that the recovery could falter, as it did last year. Americans aren't seeing big pay increases. Gas prices are high. And Europe's debt crisis could weigh on the U.S. economy.

As long as inflation remains tame, analysts think the Fed will likely hold interest rates down to give the economy more support. Most economists don't think Fed officials will change their interest-rate policy at their next meeting on April 24-25 and will ease credit only if the economy slows further. While the recent job-market gains may continue, analysts think the record-low rates will continue as well, at least through this year. The Fed could reconsider the timetable next year, if the job gains prove more enduring.

But for now, most economists sense the Fed is committed to its plan.

"The clear tone of Chairman Bernanke's statement is that he is defending the Fed's current highly accommodative position," said David Jones, chief economist at DMJ Advisors.

by Martin Crutsinger - Mar. 26, 2012 06:27 PM AP Economics Writer




Bernanke says US job market weak despite gains

Bernanke says US job market weak despite gains

Is this a precipice for more QE3?

WASHINGTON - Fed chairman Ben Bernanke says that the U.S. job market remains weak despite three months of strong hiring and that the Federal Reserve's existing policies will help boost economic growth.

Bernanke's comments Monday to a group of economists in Arlington, Va., drove stocks higher. Many took his cautious words about the economy to mean the Fed is likely to stick to its plan to hold short-term interest rates at record lows through 2014.

Though the hiring has helped support consumer confidence and incomes, "we have not seen that in a persuasive way yet," Bernanke said. The Fed needs to "remain cautious" in deciding what its next moves should be, he said.

Further job gains will likely require stronger consumer and business demand, Bernanke said in a speech to the National Association for Business Economics' spring conference.

The association has 2,500 member economists who work for corporations, universities, the government and trade associations. Bernanke was addressing the group for the first time since 2008.

After Bernanke spoke, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 160 points, its third-biggest gain of the year. Broader indexes also increased.

The surge in hiring since December had led some economists to predict that the Fed might consider raising rates earlier than planned. But many took Bernanke's cautious tone as a firmer commitment to the late-2014 timetable.

And some viewed the speech as a signal that the Fed might take further steps, if the economy falters, to try to further drive down long-term borrowing rates. The goal would be to encourage more spending by consumers and businesses.

Robert Dye, chief economist at Dallas-based Comerica bank, said the Fed might extend a program of shuffling its investment portfolio to shift more of its holdings into long-term Treasuries. That could help lower long-term rates. Or the Fed could launch another round of bond buying.

"The chairman is very much keeping additional monetary-policy options on the table," said Dye, who attended the NABE conference.

Employers added an average of 245,000 jobs a month from December through February. The unemployment rate has fallen nearly a full percentage point since summer, to 8.3percent.

Still, the economy grew at an annual pace of just 3 percent in the October-December quarter. Economists think growth has slowed in the January-March quarter to around a 2 percent annual rate.

Bernanke said the combination of modest economic growth and rapid declines in unemployment is something of a puzzle. Normally, it takes roughly 4 percent annual growth to lower the rate by 1 percentage point over a year.

He offered some reasons for the unexpected decline in unemployment. Employers may be hiring rapidly because they cut too many jobs during the recession. He also said that government revisions may later show stronger economic growth over the past year.

But Bernanke cautioned that he doesn't expect the unemployment rate to keep falling at its current pace without much stronger growth and more robust hiring. He noted that the rate is still roughly 3 percentage points higher than its average over the 20 years preceding the recession.

"Despite the recent improvement, the job market remains far from normal," Bernanke said. "The number of people working and total hours worked are still significantly below pre-crisis peaks."

Bernanke also expressed concerns about the millions who have been out of work for more than six months. Those long-term unemployed Americans have made up more than 40 percent of the unemployed since December, he said. In the severe 1981-82 recession, long-term unemployment never exceeded 25 percent.

"Long-term unemployment is particularly costly to those directly affected, of course," Bernanke said. "But in addition, because of its negative effects on workers' skills and attachment to the labor force, long-term unemployment may ultimately reduce the productive capacity of our economy."

The Fed is concerned that the recovery could falter, as it did last year. Americans aren't seeing big pay increases. Gas prices are high. And Europe's debt crisis could weigh on the U.S. economy.

As long as inflation remains tame, analysts think the Fed will likely hold interest rates down to give the economy more support. Most economists don't think Fed officials will change their interest-rate policy at their next meeting on April 24-25 and will ease credit only if the economy slows further. While the recent job-market gains may continue, analysts think the record-low rates will continue as well, at least through this year. The Fed could reconsider the timetable next year, if the job gains prove more enduring.

But for now, most economists sense the Fed is committed to its plan.

"The clear tone of Chairman Bernanke's statement is that he is defending the Fed's current highly accommodative position," said David Jones, chief economist at DMJ Advisors.

by Martin Crutsinger - Mar. 26, 2012 06:27 PM AP Economics Writer




Bernanke says US job market weak despite gains

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