There's no sign of weakness yet in local home prices, according to research firm CoreLogic. In fact, we may be getting slightly frothy for a market that supposedly doesn't see the extremes of cities such as Miami or Vegas. February prices of non-distressed properties clocked in 9.2 percent higher than the mark of the year before, up from 6.3 percent in January. Throw in distressed homes and the increase was 'only' 7 percent. The national numbers are equally impressive.
Kathryn Thompson of locally based Thompson Research Group was a guest Monday on the Bloomberg Surveillance radio show where she discussed trends affecting the construction sector. Some of the big ones, she said, are the pricing power building products manufacturers now have — something Louisiana-Pacific has benefited from — and emerging signs of shortages both in materials and labor. But the market isn't overcooking like 2006, she added, in part because of greater regulation and the reach of the booming energy sector into other parts of the economy.
Thompson, whose team is headquartered in the 2525 West End Building, also spoke about the Nashville market for a bit and answered one of the big cocktail party questions of the moment. The apartment building boom the area has seen in recent years will end in the next 18 months or so.
"We're in a cycle and I think that we're 50 to 60 percent or more through that cycle," she said. "That will taper off, particularly as home prices continue to march up."
Research firm CoreLogic says the number of Nashville-area homeowners delinquent on their mortgages fell below 4.5 percent in January, the first time since June 2009 they were that low. The region's foreclosure rate held steady in the first month of the new year.
Middle Tennessee home sales have rebounded nicely and prices have started to rise at a decent clip, but there's one housing market statistic that hasn't budged much at all in the past year and change. At the end of 2012, CoreLogic says 13.4 percent of local homes with a mortgage were worth less than that mortgage. That was actually up slightly from September of 2011. Another 6.6 percent of mortgaged homes were in near-negative equity, which is about a point better than 15 months prior.
Here's CoreLogic's national release, which shows a number of cities with negative equity ratios still well above 30 percent.
Nashville-area home prices ended January 6 percent higher than a year earlier and up 0.7 percent from December, according to research firm CoreLogic. Taking out distressed sales, prices rose 6.3 percent year over year. Those numbers are a nice bump from the sub-3 percent gains from last fall but they do lag the U.S. average by several points. It should be noted, though, that the national number is distorted by some gaudy numbers from several states in the West.
SEE ALSO: CoreLogic's national data release
BMO Capital Markets analyst Stephen Atkinson kicked off his week by lifting his price target for shares of Louisiana-Pacific to $25 from $24. While it's not a huge move, it has helped the stock (Ticker: LPX) stay ahead of a lackluster market today. As of 1:35 p.m., the shares were up 1 percent to $22.52, putting them within 3 percent of their highest levels since the first few weeks of 2007. They've climbed 170 percent in the past year as housing market optimism has risen.