MGIC Finds Housing Market Stable in Second Quarter

July 16, 2002

Southern California Housing Markets Rank Among the Nation's Strongest

MILWAUKEE, /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ The national Market Trends Index (MTI) compiled by was Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (MGIC) 6.85 in the second quarter, versus 6.81 in the first quarter and 7.22 a year ago. The rating suggests the nation's single-family housing markets are stable and that there are few areas of noteworthy strength or softness.

According to MGIC's individual market ratings released today, the nation's strongest single-family housing markets are Nassau-Suffolk, Orange County, Orlando, San Diego, Riverside-San Bernardino, Tampa, and Washington, D.C.

MGIC's MTI is based on the Market Trend Analysis Report produced quarterly by MGIC's Credit Policy Department using lagging three-month market data from 73 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The index is a barometer of single- family real estate market conditions with readings ranging from 1.00 to 10.00. A reading of 1.00 indicates a weak market showing no signs of improvement; a reading of 10.00, a strong market with no signs of deterioration. A reading of 6.00 to 8.00 indicates a stable market.

Neil Siegel, Senior Market Analyst at MGIC, said the MTI indicates that housing conditions across the nation remain stable as the majority of the 73 MSAs studied continue to have a balance between home buyers and sellers. This stability is amplified by the fact that 60 of the 73 MSAs studied had a "stable" MTI rating in the second quarter, leaving few MSAs experiencing either strength or softness.

"Though unemployment is higher than it was 12 months ago in most markets, home sales and home prices continue to exhibit strength in all but a handful of single-family markets," said Siegel. "After rising slightly in March and April, the nation's months-supply of new and existing homes fell sharply in May to 3.8 and 4.5, respectively. This underscores the continued balance of buyers and sellers that is vital to maintaining healthy housing markets."

Regional MTIs

The South Region had an MTI of 7.11, giving it the highest rating of the nation's four regions for the fifth successive quarter. The South Region's South Atlantic Division (Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia) was the nation's strongest Census division with an MTI of 7.47.

The West Region has an MTI of 6.82, giving it the second-best rating of the nation's four regions. Of specific note, Southern California markets had an average MTI of 9.25, versus 5.00 for Northern California markets.

The Midwest Region had an MTI of 6.75 for the second successive quarter. This rating followed a rise in the first quarter which ended a period of eight straight quarters in which the Midwest MTI declined in lockstep with the slowdown in manufacturing.

The Northeast had an MTI of 6.46, its highest since the fourth quarter of 1999, and has maintained the lowest rating of the nation's four regions every quarter since the fourth quarter of 1994. The region's Mid-Atlantic Division, which includes New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, witnessed a significant increase in its MTI in the second quarter (from 5.78 to 6.88).

Strong Markets

Of the 73 MSAs covered in the Market Trend Analysis, seven scored "strong" market ratings in the second quarter. The high was set in the fourth quarter of 1997 when 26 markets had strong MTIs; and the low was set in the first quarter of 2002 when six markets had strong MTIs.

Soft-to-Weak Markets

Of the 73 MSAs covered in the Market Trend Analysis, six scored "soft" or "weak" market ratings in the second quarter. The high was set in the second quarter of 1995 when 21 markets had "soft" or "weak" MTIs. The low of five markets was reached many times. MSAs rated as "soft" or "weak" in the latest Market Trend Analysis are Buffalo, NY; Louisville, KY; Philadelphia, PA; Rochester, NY; San Jose, CA; and Syracuse, NY.

Source: Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation

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