For the latest sign of a U.S. housing rebound, Toll Brothers Inc. Chief Executive Officer Douglas Yearley points to Hoboken, New Jersey: A couple torn between two condos last month at the sales office for its Hudson Tea complex decided to think about it over lunch. When they returned an hour later, both units were gone.
“People feel like now is the time to buy and they aren’t isolated to one building in Hoboken,” Yearley said in a May 23 conference call with analysts after the Horsham, Pennsylvania- based luxury homebuilder reported that quarterly orders for new homes surged 47 percent. “Confidence is up. The interest rates are there and they’ve been waiting so long to move on with their lives that they came out this spring.”
While demand for existing homes has been on the rise in recent months, the improvement in new home sales signals that the growing appetite for residential real estate goes beyond foreclosures and other distressed sales targeted by investors. Traditional homebuyers, including those who have to sell another property to upgrade, are coming off the fence, Stan Humphries, Zillow Inc.’s chief economist said.
Mortgage rates for 30-year loans fell to 3.78 percent in the week ended yesterday, the lowest in Freddie Mac records dating back to 1971. The Federal Reserve has pledged to hold interest rates near zero through the end of 2014 and has bought home-loan bonds to lower borrowing costs.
Rates for 30-year jumbo mortgages fell to 4.38 percent yesterday from 5.11 percent a year ago, according to data from Bankrate.com.
In Hoboken, Toll Brothers increased prices six times since it began selling apartments last spring in the 157-unit 1450 Washington at Hudson Tea, where prices now range from $450,000 to $1 million, said Todd Dumaresq, marketing manager for Toll’s City Living division. The company has sold 108 units in the building and is now selling about 12 homes a month, he said.