Increasing Home Prices Good For Sellers
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported lower sales of pre-owned homes in February. Would-be buyers were discouraged by rapidly rising home prices. Short supplies of available homes sidelined potential buyers as higher home prices and cash buyers squeeze out buyers who need mortgages to buy homes. Multiple offers resulting in bidding wars have also deterred buyers in high demand markets. According to NAR’s February report, sales of existing homes fell 7.10 percent to their lowest level since November.
NAR has predicted that rapidly rising home prices would eventually damage housing markets. While analysts weren’t certain whether February’s report indicated a temporary lull due to weather and anomalies related to new closing regulations and seasonal influences, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said, “The main issue continues to be a supply and affordability problem. Finding the right property at an affordable price is burdening many potential buyers.”
During the housing bubble, buyers jumped into the market as speculators or to buy before home prices increased beyond their reach. NAR surveyed renters last week and found that the percentage of renters who believed that it’s currently a good time to buy a home decreased.
Respondents to Fannie Mae’s February Home Purchase Sentiment Index forecasted a 1.70 percent increase in home prices year-over-year. One year ago, respondents expected home prices to increase by 2.50 percent year-over-year. This may suggest that home prices are cooling. This can be expected as the number of buyers declines as home prices become increasingly unaffordable.
New Home Sales Up in February
New home rose in February according to the Commerce Department. Based on a revised reading of 502,000 new home sales in January, February’s reading was 2.00 percent higher than January’s reading, but was 6.10 percent lower than for February 2015.
Builders have held back on increasing construction due to concerns about ups and downs in the economic recovery. Short supplies of labor and available land have also kept home builders from meeting current demand.
Mortgage Rates Trend Lower
According to Freddie Mac, average mortgage rates fell across the board last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.71 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell three basis points to 2.96 percent and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell four basis points to 2.89 percent.
New jobless claims rose to 265,000 from the prior week’s reading of 259,000 new claims. Last week’s reading matched analyst expectations.
What‘s Ahead This Week
This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on inflation, pending home sales, Case-Shiller’s Home Price Index reports and government and private sector employment data. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims are also scheduled.
Last week’s economic news included Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. The City of Detroit also announced a program to help would-be buyers purchase homes that do not qualify for mortgage loans due to severe damage.
Fannie Mae: Home Buyer Sentiment Index Rises
Fannie Mae’s Home Buyer Sentiment Index (HBSI) gained 1.20 percent for an overall reading of 82.70 percent for February. The index reading is calculated using responses to several questions contained in Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey. HBSI components include consumer responses to questions about whether it’s a good or bad time to sell or buy a home, consumer expectations concerning whether home prices and mortgage rates will rise, whether respondents expected to keep or lose their jobs, and consumer outlook for their income to significantly increase year-over-year.
The HBSI is designed to assess consumer attitudes about housing markets and their decisions about buying a home.
Mortgage Rates Rise, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose across the board last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.68 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage rose two basis points to 2.96 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was eight basis points higher at 2.92 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims dropped to a five-month low last week with a reading of 259,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 275,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 277,000 new claims. New claims readings under 300,000 new claims indicate a healthy labor market; new claims readings have held below the 300,000 benchmark for more than a year. The lowest reading of 256,000 new jobless claims occurred in October 2015.
City of Detroit Addresses Problems with Ravaged Homes
The City of Detroit announced a program designed to facilitate the purchase and rehabilitation of vacant and damaged homes that do not meet appraisal requirements for traditional home loans. While many markets have recovered from the Great Recession, housing markets such as Detroit have languished due to the lack of financing options. The program offers mortgages to cover the home purchase and second mortgages up to $75,000 for repairs and renovation. Program administrators say they plan to issue 1000 loans over the next three years. This type of program may help struggling housing markets recover while providing homeownership opportunities to those who could not otherwise afford to buy a home.
What’s Ahead This Week
This week’s scheduled economic events include the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, federal reports on housing starts and building permits issued. The Federal Reserve will release its usual post-meeting statement after its Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Fed Chair Janet Yellen will also hold a press conference.
Week in Review
Last week’s scheduled economic news included reports on pending home sales, construction spending and several jobs related readings including ADP Payrolls, the government’s Non-Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate.
Mortgage Rates, Weekly Unemployment Claims Rise
Mortgage rates rose across the board according to Freddie Mac’s weekly report. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.64 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 2.94 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose five basis points to 2.84 percent. Discount points were consistent at 0.50 percent for all three types of home loans.
Weekly jobless claims also rose to 278,000 new claims as compared to expectations of 270,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of $272,000 new jobless claims. While an increase in new unemployment claims may seem discouraging, new claims for unemployment remain near pre-recession lows.
The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims dropped by 1750 claims to 270,250 and reached its lowest reading in three months. Analysts view the four-week reading as more reliable than week-to-week readings that can be volatile.
Pending Home Sales and Construction Spending
In other news, pending home sales fell by 2.50 percent as compared to December’s reading. Analysts expected an increase in pending sales of 0.50 percent; December’s reading was 0.10 percent higher than for November. Pending home sales represent sales contracts that have not yet closed and are considered an indicator of future closings and mortgage activity.
Home sales have been impacted in recent months by a shortage of available homes; this creates a backlog of would-be buyers who can’t find homes they want to buy and also causes rapidly escalating home prices in desirable areas. Bidding wars and cash sales can sideline buyers who can’t pay cash or are whose offers are outbid.
Analysts say that new home construction is a key component of easing the housing shortage. Construction spending increased by 1.50 percent in January, but month-to-month spending for residential projects was flat in January. Spending for residential projects was 7.60 percent higher year-over-year.
Labor Reports Reflect Stronger Economy
Federal and private sector reports on jobs indicate that job growth continues. The Department of Commerce reported that Non-Farm Payrolls grew by 242,000 jobs in February, which was higher than expectations of 195,000 new jobs and January’s reading of 172,000 new jobs. According to ADP, which tracks private sector payrolls, 214,000 new jobs were created in February as compared to expectations of 185,000 new jobs and January’s reading of 193,000 new jobs.
Improving jobs markets are a positive indicator for housing markets as stable employment is important to home buyers’ ability to qualify for mortgages. The National Unemployment Rate remained stable in February with a reading of 4.90 percent; the expected reading and prior month’s reading were also 4.90 percent.
Next week’s scheduled economic reports include the NFIB Small Business Index and February’s Federal Budget along with regularly scheduled weekly reports on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims.
From Jonathan Lansner of the Orange County Register, 3/1/2016
“Orange County’s housing inventory maven, Steve Thomas, isn’t mincing words: “Seller Drought” is how he titled his latest biweekly newsletter.
ReportsOnHousing.com notes the number of homes listed on local brokers’ networks increased by 298 homes, or 6 percent, in two weeks to 5,271 on Feb. 25. Thomas notes this was the largest jump in supply since May 2014.
So why does Thomas think inventory is so slim, a shortage that frustrates house hunters?
Well, supply growth in January was 9 percent below 2015 levels and even with the recent burst in listing activity, inventory is still 3 percent off a year ago and far below the historic average supply of 9,200 homes for sale.
“Essentially, the low inventory is preventing would-be sellers from coming on the market, which only exasperates the problem,” Thomas wrote.
ReportsOnHousing.com notes that demand, the number of new pending sales over the prior month, increased by 242 homes in two weeks to 2,584 on Feb. 25, the highest since September 2015. Still, demand is down 11 percent in a year, partly due to limited selection for house hunters.
Thomas calculated “expected market time” – how long it would take current inventory to sell at pace of demand – 61 days on Feb. 25. That’s up from 56 days a year ago but better than 66 days two years ago.” ( End of Jonathan’s article.)
From Bob Phillips: We are now one month into this year’s “Spring selling season” when the number of homebuyers starts to grow with a vengeance. That growing number of buyers needs something to buy, and if the local housing inventory doesn’t start to grow soon, there will be an increasing likelihood of multiple buyers for each nice house to come upon the market, which translates to increasing prices.
In 2013, local home prices went up more than 15% between February 1st, and July 31st, our typical “buying season”. That’s the LAST thing today’s homebuyers need, so hopefully the number of homes available will start increasing, to match the number of buyers.
Keep your fingers crossed and watch this space.
A new article from Brena Swanson, of HousingWire.com, dated 2/22/2016
Bank of America unveiled a new affordable mortgage program that offers consumers the option of putting as little as 3% down and requires no mortgage insurance. The program does not involve the Federal Housing Administration, whose program has recently undergone a lot of scrutiny from big banks.
Bank of America announced a partnership on Monday with Self-Help Ventures Fund andFreddie Mac for its new “Affordable Loan Solution” mortgage, a conforming loan that provides low- and moderate-income homebuyers access to a responsible lending product with counseling at affordable entry prices.
To make the program function, the three companies will work together to help ensure the loan is properly originated and backed in case the loan goes delinquent, the companies said Monday.
For starters, Bank of America said the mortgage will be available through all of its mortgage sales channels.
Self-Help, which is based in Durham, North Carolina, will then buy the loans and servicing rights, along with providing post-closing counseling for any borrowers who might be experiencing payment difficulties.
Since Self-Help is taking the first-loss position, the loans require no mortgage insurance.
Freddie Mac will purchase all of the eligible affordable mortgages originated via the Self-Help and Bank of America partnership, having recently approving Self-Help as a seller/servicer to facilitate the rollout of this offering to borrowers.
The program allows down payments as low as 3% on the purchase of a primary, single-family residence, with no reserve funds required in most situations.
The loan also requires a minimum FICO score of 660, and first-time buyers will need to participate in homebuyer education.
“There is a need in today’s marketplace for more responsible mortgage products that enable creditworthy homebuyers, who meet certain income limits and other requirements, to become homeowners at an affordable entry point with comprehensive counseling,” said D. Steve Boland, consumer lending executive, Bank of America.
“Affordable Loan Solution combines Bank of America’s wide distribution network of mortgage professionals with the borrower support expertise of Self-Help and market liquidity provided by Freddie Mac to provide a new affordable loan option,” said Boland.
The news comes amid a pushback against the FHA, which offers similar style loans, from lenders for its loan requirements.
The FHA, unlike Bank of America’s new program, offers loan options with as little as 3.5% down mortgages, along with 520 FICO score. It’s important to note that the two are not offered together.
As a result, major lenders have pulled away due to the heightened risk of possible enforcement actions on the high-risk loans.
John Shrewsberry, Wells Fargo’s chief financial officer, said last September that the San Francisco bank will not make loans to FHA borrowers with low credit scores because of their higher rates of default.
In addition, Kevin Watters, CEO of Chase Mortgage Banking, said in an interview with CNBC shortly after that the FHA’s loan requirements look an awful lot like subprime lending.
“FHA requirements are down to a 520 FICO (credit score) and you only have to put 3.5% down; that’s subprime lending, and we’re not in the subprime lending business,” CNBC quotes Watters saying.
Quicken Loans is already in the middle of legal battle with the Department of Justice over its FHA loans, which is pushing the nonbank to consider ending its participation in FHA lending entirely, citing the government’s aggressive enforcement policies as the main reason for potentially dropping FHA lending.
Meanwhile, although Bank of America’s loans require no down payment, the loss is covered by Self-Help and borrowers are required to a FICO score of 660.
Self-Help added in a statement to HousingWire that research by the UNC Center for Community Capital has continually proven that, given sound underwriting, low down payments are not a significant factor in mortgage performance. Shutting out borrowers with lower down payments is a missed opportunity for lenders and borrowers alike, Self-Help said.
The research from the UNC Center for Community Capital found that losses on these loans remained relatively low, even during the housing crisis triggered by mass marketing of unaffordable subprime loans.
Bank of America has upped it mortgage lending lately. In its fourth-quarter earnings, the bank reported that total mortgage production grew 13% to $17 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $15 billion last year. This is slightly up from $16.9 billion last quarter.
And during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, when Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, was asked what his outlook for continuing to take share in the mortgage business was, Moynihan said that the bank is focused on originating prime and sort of non-conforming loans.
Back in November, Freddie Mac CEO Donald Layton asked for mortgage lenders to consider writing more low down payment mortgages in order for the government-sponsored enterprise to help increase access to credit to potential homeowners.
The GSE also announced a partnership with Quicken Loans for more low-down payment mortgages.
“The strength of the Affordable Loan Solution program is how it brings each partner’s special expertise together to address the barriers faced by aspiring homebuyers with limited savings,” said Danny Gardner, vice president, affordable lending and access to credit, Freddie Mac. “Freddie Mac is committed to working with industry and community leaders like Bank of America and Self- Help to find better ways for helping eligible borrowers overcome the obstacles that stand between them and successful long-term homeownership.” ( End of Brena’s article.)
Last week’s economic news included the NAHB Housing Market Index, Commerce Department releases on housing starts and building permits and minutes of the most recent meeting of the Fed’s FOMC meeting.
Home Builder Confidence Falls in February
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), home builders had less confidence in market conditions for newly built homes. The reading for February was three points lower at 58 than the upwardly adjusted reading for January. Analysts had expected a reading of 59; any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident about conditions than those who are not.
Builder confidence was mixed for the three components used to calculate the NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reading. Confidence in current market conditions was lower by three points to 65, but builder confidence in future market conditions rose one point to 65. The reading for buyer foot traffic in new housing developments hasn’t topped the benchmark of 50 since the peak of the housing bubble; in February, the reading for buyer foot traffic dropped five points to 39.
NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said that builder confidence is likely to improve in 2016 due to low mortgage rates, stable job markets and pent-up demand for homes. Mr. Crowe also said that shortages of available land and labor were concerns for builders.
Housing Starts,Building Permits Issued Lower
Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued also showed lower readings for January than for December. Housing starts reached 1.099 million starts in January as compared to an expected reading of 1.165 million starts and December’s reading of 1.145 million starts. Winter weather likely contributed to fewer housing starts.
Fewer building permits were issued in January than in December. January’s reading was 1.202 million permits issued as compared to December’s reading of 1.143 million building permits issued. Building permits issued for single family homes dropped by 1.60 percent to 731,000 permits issued. While lower month-to-month readings for current conditions may seem discouraging, the pace of single-family home building grew steadily during 2015 and is expected to do likewise in 2016.
FOMC Minutes: Policy Makers Eye Economic Developments
Minutes of January’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting indicate that members will closely monitor developing economic conditions as part of any future decision to raise the target federal funds rate from its current range of 0.250 to 0.500 percent. The Fed raised this rate in December, but did not increase the federal funds rate at its January meeting. Fed Chair Janet Yellen emphasized that decisions to raise the federal funds rate were not on a pre-determined course and that developing economic trends would continue to inform FOMC decisions.
Mortgage Rates and Weekly Jobless Claims
Average rates for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.65 percent and the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 2.95 percent with Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for both types of fixed rate mortgages. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 2.85 percent with average discount points at 0.40 percent.
Analysts have consistently cited stronger labor markets as a factor driving U.S. housing markets. New weekly jobless claims dropped last week and added evidence of expanding job markets. 262,000 new jobless claims were filed last week; the reading was lower than expectations of 275,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 269,000 new jobless claims. Stable job markets are important to would-be home buyers; as labor conditions improve more buyers are likely to enter the housing market.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on sales of new and pre-owned homes and the Case-Shiller 10 and 20 City Home Price Indices. Reports on consumer sentiment and inflation will also be released.
In addition to weekly reports on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims, last week’s economic news included the Fed’s Beige Book report, retail sales and consumer sentiment. January’s Empire State Index showed an unexpected dip and Consumer Sentiment increased for January.
Fed’s Beige Book Shows Diverse Economic Trends
According to the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report for January, the central bank’s business contacts reported strength in housing, while agriculture, energy and manufacturing sectors were struggling. New York’s Empire State Manufacturing Index for January supported this trend with a sharp drop. New York manufacturing has hit its lowest level since the recession and has stayed in negative territory since March 2009. Two analysts said that the Fed’s recent rate hike and subsequent hikes could slow housing markets. Consumer lending rates, including mortgage rates, typically follow suit when the Fed increases its target federal funds rate.
In other news, retail sales posted negative growth of -0.10 percent in December against an expected reading of -0.20 percent and November’s reading of +0.40 percent. December retail sales not including auto motive also posted a reading of -0.10 percent as compared to expectations of +0.20 percent and November’s reading of 0.30 percent.
Mortgage Rates Fall, New Unemployment Claims Rise
Last week’s average mortgage rates fell across the board according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by five basis points to 3.92 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage rate also fell by five basis points to 3.19 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was eight basis points lower at 3.01 percent. Average discount points were 0.60, 0.50 and 0.40 percent respectively.
New unemployment claims rose to 284,000 against expectations of 275,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 277,000 new claims. Analysts said that the jump in claims resulted from job losses related to temporary holiday positions, but noted that last year’s momentum of falling jobless claims has slowed.
Last week’s economic news ended on a positive note; consumer sentiment rose according to the University of Michigan. Lower prices were credited for the boost in consumer confidence in current economic conditions.
This week’s scheduled economic events include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, Consumer Price Index and Core Consumer Price Index. No news will be released on Monday due to the Martin Luther King holiday.
Last week’s scheduled economic reports included the NAHB Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, FOMC statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s press conference. In addition to weekly reports on jobless claims and mortgage rates, inflation reports were also released.
Builder Confidence Slips, Housing Starts Increase
According to the NAHB / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for December, home builder confidence slipped by one point to a reading of 61 as compared to an expected reading of 63 and November’s reading of 62. December’s reading was three points higher year-over-year. Readings over 50 indicate that more builders than fewer are confident about housing market conditions. December’s confidence reading remained higher than 2015’s average reading of 59.
Components used in comprising the NAHB HMI also slipped in December. Builder confidence in current market conditions fell one point to a reading of 66; the six months sales outlook fell two points to 67 and the reading for buyer foot traffic in new developments also decreased by two points to a reading of 46. The reading for buyer foot traffic has consistently remained below the neutral benchmark of 50 since the housing bubble ended.
While builder confidence eased, housing starts rose in November with 1.17 million starts reported. Analysts expected a reading of 1.14 million starts based on October’s reading of 1.06 million housing starts. During much of 2015, demand for homes accelerated due to slim inventories of available homes; new construction is seen as essential to easing demand.
Fed Raises Interest Rates, Mortgage Rates Higher
The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve raised its target federal funds rate from a range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent to a range of 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent. While the Fed’s increase is expected to affect consumer lending rates for auto loans and credit cards more than mortgages, Freddie Mac reported that rates for fixed rate home loans rose last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 3.95 percent and the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage increased by three basis points to 3.22 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.03 percent. Discount points were unchanged for fixed rate mortgages at 0.60 percent and 0.50 percent respectively while average points for a 5//1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped to an average of 0.40 percent.
Weekly jobless claims fell to 271,000 new claims against expectations of 275,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 282,000 new claims.
Next week’s economic reports include reports on new and existing home sales, consumer spending and consumer sentiment. Weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates report will also be released as scheduled. No reports will be released on Friday due to the Christmas holiday.
Last week’s economic events included reports the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and the release of minutes for the most recent meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. The details:
NAHB: Builder Confidence in Housing Markets Dips
The National Association of Home Builders reported that builder confidence dropped to a reading of 62 as compared to October’s revised reading of 65. Any NAHB reading above 50 indicates that more builders are positive about market conditions than not. NAHB’s assessment of housing market conditions is based on readings for three aspects of current and future market conditions. November’s reading of 67 for current housing market conditions was three points lower than October’s reading of 70. Expectations for market conditions for sales of single family homes over the next six months fell by five points in November to a reading of 70. Builders’ sentiment about prospective buyer foot traffic in new single family developments rose by one point to 48.
Home builders started more new homes than at any time since September 2007; analysts cited wage growth and low unemployment figures along with high demand for homes as driving builder confidence in housing markets. Demand for homes continued to exceed homes available for purchase, which is a driving force for builder confidence.
NAHB Regional Builder Confidence Readings
Regional readings provide a snapshot of regional housing market conditions on a month-to-month bases and on a three month rolling average. The monthly readings for November were lower except for the Western region, which gained one point for a reading of 77. The Northeastern region held steady with a reading of 52; the Midwest’s reading also decreased by one point to 59 and builder confidence in the Southern region fell by five points to 62.
Monthly regional readings for home builder confidence can be volatile due to regional economic conditions; the NAHB provides a three-month rolling average for its four U.S. regions. In November, the Northeast region reported a reading of 50 which was three points higher than October’s reading. The Midwest region was unchanged from October’s reading of 60; the South also reported no change from its October reading of 65. The Western region posted an increase of 69 to 73 over the three months between August and November.
Housing Starts Lowest Since Spring Floods
According to the Commerce Department, housing starts fell by 11 percent to an annualized reading of 1.06 million in October. This was the lowest reading since last spring, when construction was adversely impacted by flooding. September’s reading was adjusted to 1.19 million starts. Meanwhile, building permits issued rose by 4.10 percent to an annual rate of 1.15 million starts in October.
While housing starts fell by 18.60 percent in the South, permits issued rose to their highest level since 2007. The South is the most active region for home construction and accounts for half of all new home construction in the U.S.
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower
Mortgage rates fell across the board last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.97 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell two basis points to 3.18 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was five basis points lower at 3.03 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims also fell last week to a reading of 271,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 270,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 276,000 new claims filed. Lower jobless claims indicate further strengthening of labor markets, but seasonal hiring may have positively impacted the reading for new jobless claims.
Next week’s scheduled economic news releases include several housing reports. Existing Home Sales, the S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Index, FHFA House Prices and New Home Sales will be posted along with regularly scheduled reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. There will be no economic reports released on Thursday or Friday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Last week’s scheduled economic news was sparse due to no scheduled releases on Monday and the Veterans Day Holiday on Wednesday. A report on job openings was released on Thursday along with regularly scheduled weekly reports on jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s report on mortgage rates.
Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Rise
Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 3.98 percent from last week’s reading of 3.87 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 3.20 percent from the prior week’s reading of 3.09 percent; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was also higher at an average of 3.03 percent as compared to the prior week’s average rate of 2.96 percent. Discount points were unchanged for all three types of mortgages at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims rose last week to 276,000 claims filed against the expected reading of 268,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 276,000 new jobless claims filed. The Labor department reported 5.53 million job openings on September, which was the second highest reading since the inception of the job openings report in 2000.
The Labor Department also reported that the quits rate held steady at 1.90 percent for the sixth consecutive month. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said that the Fed considers the quits rate an indicator of economic strength; if workers have enough confidence to quit their jobs for new jobs, this a strong economy. The quits rate has held steady for six months, which could signal to the Fed that the economy is not yet ready for a rise in interest rates that analysts expect to occur in December.
U.S. News recently cautioned that a combination of rising home prices and interest rates could quickly cool housing markets as first-time and moderate income buyers are priced out of the market and other would-be buyers find it difficult to qualify for the mortgages they need to finance home purchases. Recent hikes in mortgage rates are a likely response to the anticipated Fed rate hike in December.
Next week’s scheduled economic reports include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and minutes from the most recent meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. The minutes may provide additional insight into how Fed policymakers are approaching the decision about raising the target federal funds rate.