South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 14, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week September 14 2015A short week after the Labor Day Holiday provided a slack schedule for economic news. Bloomberg reported that residential investment for the second quarter of 2015 represented 3.34 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Compared to the long-term average reading of 4.56 percent, analysts said that the Q2 15 reading suggested pent-up demand in the housing market that could help propel the economy through any setbacks that could occur when the Fed raises rates.

Pent-Up Housing Demand a Plus when Fed Raises Rates

Job openings rose in July to 5.75 million as compared to June’s reading of 5.32 million. This is a positive indicator for the economy and for the housing sector, as consumer confidence in terms of buying a home typically relies on stable employment and a strong labor sector.

While economic indicators are looking good for housing construction, analysts note that a shortage of construction workers could affect construction of new residential units. Analysts said that children born during the 1980’s will lead the next wave of first-time home buyers, with millennials following. This trend could last for the next 10 to 15 years and is expected to bolster housing markets.

More lenient mortgage lending requirements and rising confidence among home builders were also cited as positive indicators for housing.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that average fixed mortgage rates rose by one basis point to 3.90 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 3.10 percent for 15-year mortgages. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 2.91 percent. Average discount points for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage were unchanged at 0.60 percent and rose to 0.70 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and to 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Job Openings Rise as Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

July job openings rose to 5.75 million from June’s reading of 5.32 million; this was the highest number of available jobs since records have been kept. Analysts said that the high number of job openings clearly indicate that the labor force is not able to supply the workers needed by employers. Jobs available range from professional to service related work; this suggests a universal trend rather than hiring challenges within specific job areas.

Hiring activity fell in July to 4.98 million from June’s reading of 5.18 million. July separations also fell, which suggests that employers are having problems finding skilled workers and are holding on to experienced workers.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 275,000 from the prior week’s reading of 281,000 new jobless claims.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include Retail Sales, Consumer Price Index and Core CSI along with the NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits. The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee will issue its customary statement on Wednesday, followed by highly-anticipated press conference by Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

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Orange County Housing Report: Here We Grow Again!

Part of the normal summer housing cycle, the active inventory continues to grow without pause.

Increase of inventoryA Growing Inventory: the active inventory has grown by 42% since the beginning of the year.

Quietly, one house at a time, the active inventory has been growing. In order for the inventory to rise, homes have to come on the market faster than they are coming off. Homes come off the market for one of two reasons: either they are placed into escrow or a seller opts to pull their home off of the market. So, in order for the inventory to blossom from 5,000 homes at the beginning of 2015 to 7,116 homes today, homes have to sit on the market without success.

But how can that occur when we have heard so much about the extremely hot market this year? Quite simply, too many overzealous homeowners inaccurately priced their homes outside of reality and sat on the market until they came to their senses. It’s no wonder that 10% of the housing inventory in Orange County reduces their asking price each and every week.

Don’t get me wrong; the market is a lot stronger this year compared to last year. There were a similar number of homes placed on the market so far this year compared to last year, but the active inventory last year was 6% higher. The inventory was higher because demand was not as strong during the Spring Market. When fewer homes are placed into escrow, the inventory rises.

In spite of the robust market, the inventory is still rising. A hotter market is not a free pass to price a home wherever a seller wishes. Those sellers realize the error in their ways after sitting on the market without reviewing a single offer. Now that summer is almost over, the Orange County housing market is beginning its annual transition into the Autumn Market. Have you seen more Open House directional arrows at busy cross streets? That’s a definitive sign that there are fewer buyers in the marketplace, that homes are not selling as quickly, and that too many homes are not priced accurately.

April 9th of this year was the absolute peak of the spring selling season.  The expected market time was at 1.81 months, or 54 days. The market was a very hot seller’s market and prices were rising, homes were flying off of the market, and offers were coming in above the listing price. Since then, the inventory has grown by 27%, 1,792 homes, and demand has dropped by 13%, or 409 pending sales. When supply rises and demand drops in housing, the expected market time that it would take for the average home to be placed into escrow rises, the higher the expected market time, the slower the overall market. It has climbed to 2.64 months, or 79 days, moving from a deep seller’s market to a slight seller’s market.

The expected market time is marching its way to three months. When it is between three and four months, it is a balanced market, one that does not favor a buyer or seller. At its current level, sellers are able to call the shots, but appreciation has slowed to a crawl. Without appreciation, proper pricing is vital in order to succeed. At this point, sellers wishing to stretch the price will simply sit on the market until they finally wake up to the reality that they are overpriced and will attract no offers.

Success today can be achieved a lot swifter with the sound strategy of pricing a home as close to its Fair Market Value. This cannot be determined by any online tool or valuation calculator, as they can be off by 20%, or even more. Instead, it is best to utilize the expertise of a seasoned REALTOR®, an expert who is able to take into consideration location, condition, upgrades and amenities, carefully comparing a home to the most recent pending and closed sales activity to determine the price.

The bottom line: price is the determining factor in successfully selling and stretching the price is a strategy that will not work for the remainder of 2015.

Active InventoryThe inventory increased by 7% in the last month.

The active inventory increased by 469 homes in the past month and now totals 7,116. October of 2014 was the last time the inventory was above the 7,000 home mark. Last year at this time the inventory totaled 8,057 homes, 941 more than today, with an expected market time of 3.16 months, or 95 days. That’s 16 additional days compared to today.

From here we can expect the listing inventory to continue to grow through the end of the summer before turning lower in September as fewer homes come on the market and sellers start to throw in the towel with both the Spring and Summer Markets in the rearview mirror.

DemandDemand decreased by 9% in the past month.

Demand, the number of new pending sales over the prior month, decreased by 271 homes in the past month and now totals 2,698 homes, its lowest level since February. Demand will remain at these levels for the remainder of summer before it downshifts again after the kids go back to school.

Last year at this time there were 149 fewer pending sales, totaling 2,549. The year over year difference has diminished substantially. On July 2nd there were 492 more pending sales compared to 2014, 20% more. The current difference is the smallest since February, just 5%. 

Distressed Breakdown: The distressed inventory increased by 12 home in the past couple of weeks.

The distressed inventory, foreclosures and short sales combined, increased by 12 homes in the past two weeks, but for the month it is actually down by nine. Year over year, there are 31% fewer distressed homes today. With a sharp turnaround in prices in the past few years the number of distressed homes has fallen appreciably. Only a few percent of all mortgaged homes are upside down. During the Great Recession, the number was as high as 25% of all mortgage homes. The distressed market has been reduced to an asterisk of the current Orange County housing scene.

In the past two weeks, the foreclosure inventory increased by 10 homes and now totals 68. Less than 1% of the inventory is a foreclosure. The expected market time for foreclosures is 51 days. The short sale inventory increased by 1 homes in the past two weeks and now totals 139. The expected market time is 48 days. Short sales represent just 2% of the total active inventory. ( End of Report.)

This report is from my longtime friend, Steven Thomas, Orange County’s own real estate market guru, and the above is his latest “Orange County Housing Report” which can be found at ReportsOnHousing.com

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What’s Your Outlook on the Real Estate Market?

An article by Colin Robertson, of TheTruthAboutMortgage.com, 7/23/2015

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So here’s a true story. Yesterday, a good friend of mine asked the following question via text message: “What’s your outlook on the real estate market…we are looking to buy a place soon.”

That’s the exact message he sent over last night; there weren’t any emoticons by the way, sadly.

I saw the message but did my best to avoid answering it for about half an hour. Then I finally cracked and responded with the following:

“In a word, overpriced. But if you really want to buy a home that’s your deal. It’s not always about the investment.”

Now in the past I may have just left it at “overpriced,” but I’ve learned that such remarks are often met with resistance. I also don’t want to ruin anyone’s grand plans.

And it’s true, buying a home isn’t just about the investment. It’s not simply about timing the market and making a killer profit, that is, unless you’re a real estate investor.

For most people it’s a home. It’s a place to live. There are reasons to buy other than turning a profit.

So my outlook has changed, or perhaps broadened, to include benefits beyond making money.

But my point was basically that it’s not an ideal time to buy in terms of investment, but it could be a great time to buy a home if there’s one you really like and want to own.

At the end of the day, if he gets the home he wants, he’ll probably be happy, even if it doesn’t double in value in five years. Even if it flat lines or drops, he’ll probably still be happy if he truly loves the home.

And over time, he’ll surely build equity and come out ahead as home prices reach new heights.

National Median Sales Price Reaches All-Time High

Yesterday, the National Association of Realtors reported that the national median sales price reached an all-time high.

The price of a median existing home climbed to $236,400 in June, a 6.5% increase from a year earlier, enough to surpass the previous peak median sales price reached in July 2006 ($230,400).

For the record, the median sales price has increased year-over-year for 40 consecutive months, so yes, home prices have been on a tear.

Home sales have also been white-hot, with existing sales hitting their highest level in over eight years (February 2007).

Properties are also being scooped up faster than ever, with the average time on market only 34 days in June, down from 40 days in May, making it the shortest amount of time since NAR began tracking in 2011.

I also got word from a real estate agent friend that new home sales are picking up again. Recently, builders were offering discounts, but now that inventory is so low, they’re increasing prices and slashing discounts.

This is basically a testament to the supply/demand imbalance that is causing home prices to keep rising, and making bidding wars a common situation.

It’s for these reasons that I don’t love the current market as a buyer. At the same time, selling isn’t ideal either because there’s a good chance home prices will continue to increase.

In fact, if you look at real prices adjusted for inflation, home prices aren’t really at new all-time highs. In today’s dollars, the median would have to be closer to $260,000.

So buying because you love a home still makes sense today, as it always will. And you’ll probably do just fine if you can afford the home and stay in it for several years.

But if I had to take a side, I’d say that home prices are bloated and the competition is fierce. That certainly makes it a lot less attractive to buy today than in the very recent past. I’m taking a wait and see approach. ( End of Colin’s article.)

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Orange County Real Estate Update for 6/9/2015

Orange County Housing Report:  Data Can Lie   

June 7, 2015  From Steven Thomas, of Reports On Housing

Truth = liesSometimes we rely on data that just does not paint the correct picture.

Housing Data: so many people rely on the “Days on Market” statistic and “Sold Data Indices” even though they often misrepresent what is truly going on in the marketplace today.

The average days on market for the current active inventory in all of Orange County is 79 days. For homes below $250,000 it is 80 days, over 11 weeks. Who in their right mind would sit down with a potential seller today and set an expectation of selling in 11 weeks for homes priced below $250,000? Clearly, any sound strategy to market a home will not include Average Days on Market.

The true expected Market Time for Orange County as a whole is 62 days. For homes priced below $250,000 it is 48 days. That is more like it. Sitting down with that same seller and outlining expectations between a sign in the ground to entering escrow of less than 7 weeks is a market reality. So, what’s with the huge disparity between the Market Time and Average Days on Market?

First, let’s take a closer look at how we arrive at Market Time. Market time answers how many months it will take to exhaust the current supply of active, listed homes based upon demand, the past month’s pending activity. For example, Gotham City has 100 homes currently on the market and 25 were placed into escrow within the prior 30 days. To ascertain the market time, divide 100 by 25, which is 4. So, given the most recent activity, the market time for Gotham City is 4 months.

The market can and will change and so will the Market Time; but, it is a pretty precise barometer for what everybody is experiencing in the real estate trenches today. This chart is like taking a pulse of the market. If there were suddenly a flood of listings and demand remained the same, the Market Time would increase. When demand increases, Market Time drops. However, Average Days on Market does not move as quickly and cannot accurately identify market changes and new trends.

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For homes priced above $1 million, the Expected Market Time tells a completely different story compared to the Average Days on Market. The higher the price range, the larger the discrepancy. Often, luxury sellers read how the housing market is hot and mistakenly expect their home to fly off the market too. They may be encouraged by the Average Days on Market, but that is far from a market reality. For example, homes priced between $2 million and $4 million have an expected market time of nearly 7 months, not even close to the average days on market of only 85 days.

The argument against emphasizing pending sales is that many homes fall out of escrow. It happens, but not an alarming rate. Even though some pending sales do not go together, the Expected Market Time is extremely accurate and a powerful gauge of the current market. Yet, sold data is not a reliable gauge of demand TODAY. Sold data is tracked by most widely publicized housing indices, but it tells us a story of what happened about 45 to 60 days back. The market does not adhere to following what happened in the past. Instead, it does whatever it pleases today. Using pending sales over the prior month tells us what buyers are willing to do right now.

As the market slows a bit during the summer months, pending sales are going to drop slightly and the inventory will climb. As a result, the Expected Market Time will climb throughout the summer, slowing any appreciation considerably. Relying on this data is like looking out the windshield of your car, the best way to determine where you are headed. Yet, during the summer months Sold Data Indices will be elevated and indicate rising values; but, remember, this data will be a reflection of late spring, a completely different market compared to the summer. Relying on this data is like driving a car while looking out the rearview mirror.

Days on Market and Sold Data Indices often does not paint an accurate picture of what is truly going on in the housing market right NOW. Alternatively, the Expected Market Time encompasses the twists and turns as real estate evolves from season to season or responds to changes in the economy, interest rate changes, or local and global events.

Active InventoryThe inventory increased by 3% in the past two weeks.

The active inventory increased by 172 homes in the past two weeks and now totals 6,276, a 3% gain. Since the end of March, the inventory has continued to increase without pause. It looks like that trend will continue through the end of summer. The expected market time is on the rise and is currently at 62 days.

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End of Steven’s report for 6/7/2015

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 8, 2015

Whats-Ahead-Mortgage-Rates-5Last week’s economic news included reports on construction spending, Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey and several employment related reports. The details:

Construction Spending Jumps

The Commerce Department reported that construction spending reached its fastest annual pace since November 2008. Most  of the momentum was caused by construction of apartments, commercial projects and roads, and construction of single  family homes. Builders spent 2.20 percent more in April than they did in March, which equated to an annual outlay of $1.01 trillion for all types of construction spending. Analysts said that increased spending in construction indicated that the    housing sector could see improvement as construction provides more jobs.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage rates reported that average mortgage rates were mixed last week. Average rates were reported as follows: 30-year fixed rates were unchanged at 3.87 percent with discount points also unchanged at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 3.11 percent to 3.08 percent with discount points unchanged at an average of 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by six basis points to 2.96 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

Employment Reports Suggest Stronger Labor Market

Several labor-related reports released last week suggest that job markets are gaining strength as they continue to improve. ADP, a private-sector payrolls company, reported 201,000 new jobs in May against April’s reading of 165,000 new jobs. The Labor Department released its Nonfarm Payrolls report for May and reported 280,000 new jobs against expectations of 210,000 new jobs and April’s reading of 221,000 new jobs.

Average hourly wages rose by 0.30 percent and surpassed expectations of a 0.20 percent increase and April’s reading of 0.10 percent. Although incremental, this suggests that labor markets are strengthening to a point where employers are comfortable with increasing wages.

Weekly Jobless claims were reported at 276,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 278,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 284,000 new jobless claims filed. The national unemployment rate for May ticked up to 5.50 percent from the prior month’s reading of 5.40 percent, but this reading remains below the Federal Reserve’s original benchmark of 6.50 percent for potentially raising the target federal funds rate. The Fed has not moved to change the rate, but analysts expect that this could occur by Fall if economic conditions hold steady.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include job openings, retail sales, consumer sentiment along with the usual weekly reports on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 5, 2015

Whats-Ahead-Template-252Case-Shiller reported that home prices hit their lowest pace in two years. According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for October, home prices fell in 10 cities, rose in eight cities and were unchanged in two cities.

In other news, pending home sales increased and weekly jobless claims rose. The details:

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Lowest in Two Years

According to its 20-City Home Price Index, Case-Shiller said that home prices dropped by 0.10 percent to a reading of 4.50 percent year-over-year as compared to September’s reading of 4.80 percent year-over-year. Analysts expected home price growth to drop to 4.70 percent in October.

David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said that 2014 could finish on a strong note with price growth accelerating in 2015. Home price growth hasn’t hit double digits since April, but there is encouraging news on the horizon.

More than half of states’ average home prices are set to surpass housing bubble peaks in 2015. Through October, home prices were approximately 15 percent below a 2006 peak. Higher inventories of available homes and lower mortgage rates are seen as stabilizing influences on housing markets, and could also encourage more buyers into the market.

Pending Home Sales Up, Mortgage Rates Mixed

The National Association of Realtors® reported that November pending home sales rose to a reading of 0.80 percent from October’s reading of -1.10 percent. The seasonally-adjusted index reading for November was 104.8.

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist noted that steady economic growth and hiring contributed to home buyer confidence. Regional readings for pending home sales were +1.40 percent in the Northeast, +1.30 percent in the South and +0.40 percent in the South. Pending home sales declined by -0.40 percent in the Midwest.

Fixed mortgage rates rose last week. Freddie Mac reported that average rates for 30-year and 15-year mortgages rose to 3.87 percent and 3.15 percent respectively; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.01 percent.

Discount points for all types of mortgages were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Jobless Claims Up

Weekly jobless claims rose to 298,000 new claims against expectations of 290,000 new claims and 281,000 new claims filed the previous week. This was the highest reading since Thanksgiving.

Analysts said that seasonal hiring fluctuations and the volatility of week-to-week claims cause weekly reports to be less reliable than the four-week rolling average of jobless claims, which fell by 250 claims to a reading of 290,750.

Continuing claims fell by 53,000 to a reading of 2.35 million in the week ending December 20. This reading was close to a 14 year low.

Overall, analysts viewed stronger labor markets and economic growth as positive signs for 2015.

What’s Ahead

Next week will resume a full schedule of economic events including construction spending, ADP employment, Non-Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate. The Federal Reserve will release the minutes from the most recent meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 29, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week December 29 2014Last week’s economic news included several housing related reports. Housing markets continue to cool as November reports on existing and new home sales fell below expectations. New Jobless claims were lower than expected by 10,000 claims. The details:

Existing and New Home Sales Down, FHFA House Price Index Up

The National Association of Realtors® reported that November sales of existing homes fell to 4.93 million sales against expectations of 5.18 million sales. October’s reading was revised from 5.25 million sales to 5.26 million. This was seen as an anomaly that may have occurred during uncertainty caused by volatile stock markets. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen slow housing markets to tight lending standards in a recent statement.

FHFA reported that October home prices connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages increased incrementally year-over-year. October house prices increased to 4.50 percent year-over-year as compared to September’s year-over-year house price increase of 4.40 percent.

November sales of new homes fell short of expectations according to the Commerce Department. 438,000 new homes were sold as compared to expectations of 450 new home sales and September’s reading of 445,000 new homes sold. This was the slowest rate of growth in four months.

New home sales declined in three of four regions. Readings for November were -12.00 percent in the Northeast, -6.40 percent in the Southeast, -6.30 percent in the Midwest. Sales of new homes rose by 14.80 percent in the West. Analysts typically caution against reading too much into volatile month-to-month figures, but they are concerned about longer-term sales trends too. Sales of new homes were 1.60 percent lower year-over-year.

The median sale price of new homes was $280,900 in November, which was 1.40 percent higher year-over-year.

Mortgage Rates Up, New Jobless Claims Down

Mortgage rates rose across the board according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of average mortgage rates. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased three basis points to 3.83 percent. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage rose one basis point to 3.10 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was six basis points higher at 3.01 percent. Discount points were 0.60 for 30 and 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

280,000 new jobless claims were filed last week, a seven-week low. Analysts expected 290,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 289,000 new claims. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims also showed improvement with 8500 fewer claims at 290,250 new jobless claims filed. Stronger labor markets are considered good news for housing markets as more consumers can afford to buy homes.

No economic reports were scheduled Thursday or Friday due to the Christmas holiday.

What’s Ahead

This week brings Case-Shiller Home Price reports, Pending Home Sales and Construction Spending. Freddie Mac mortgage rates and Weekly Jobless Claims will be released on Wednesday due to the New Year’s Day holiday on Thursday.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 1, 2014

Whats-Ahead-Mortgage-Rates-7Last week’s scheduled economic events were packed into Tuesday and Wednesday, but several housing-related reports were released including the Case-Shiller National and 10-and 20-City Home Price Indices for September, The FHFA House Price Index also for September, and New and Pending Home Sales for October.

Case-Shiller, FHFA Report Slower Growth in Home Prices

According to Case-Shiller home price indices released Tuesday, the national rate of home price growth has slowed from August’s year-over-year reading of 5.60 percent to September’s reading of 4.90 percent. This was the lowest rate of home price growth in two years and was seen by analysts as a positive development in terms of sustainable price growth.

Double-digit percentage gains in home price growth in 2013 and earlier this year drove many would-be home buyers to the sidelines as narrow inventories of homes caused bidding wars in high-demand areas. 20 cities tracked by Case-Shiller had mixed results, with home prices falling in nine cities, rising in nine cities and prices were unchanged in two cities.

FHFA, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported year-over-year price growth of 4.30 percent in September against August’s reading of 4.80 percent. Lower price gains for September were expected as the prime period of summer sales wound down. FHFA reports on home prices related to mortgages and properties held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Pending and New Home Sales Show Mixed Results

The National Association of Realtors® reported that the Pending Home Sales Index dipped to 104.3 in October as compared to September’s reading of 105.1.Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®, said that lagging wage growth and tight mortgage credit conditions were stalling demand for homes. Pending home sales usually close within two months and serve as a gauge for upcoming home sales and mortgage activity. A reading of 100 for the Pending Home Sales Index is equivalent to pending home sales performance in 2001.

Better news came from the Department of Commerce New Home Sales report for October. New home sales achieved a five month high with a reading of 458,000 new homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. October’s reading was 0.70 percent higher than September’s reading of 455,000 new homes sold, but missed analysts’ expectations of 469,000 new homes sold. New home sales increased by 1.80 percent year-over-year with regional rates as follows:

  • Midwest: +15.8 percent
  • Northeast +7.1 percent
  • West -2.7 percent
  • South -1.9 percent

The median price of new homes rose to a record high of $305,000 in October. The supply of new homes rose to a 5.60 month supply from September’s reading of a 5.50 month supply of new homes.

Mortgage Rates Fall or Flat, Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 3.99 percent to 3.97 percent; the average rates for 15 year mortgages and 5/1 mortgages were unchanged at 3.17 percent and 3.01 percent respectively. Average discount points were unchanged for all loan types at 0.50 percent.

New Jobless Claims rose to 313,000 last week and surpassed 300,000 for the first time in several weeks. Analysts had expected a seasonally-adjusted reading of 288,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that a rise in claims could indicate a slower pace in hiring, but said that weekly readings are too volatile to indicate a trend. The four-week average of jobless claims was 294,000 new claims, which was near an eight-year low.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic events include Construction Spending, the Fed’s Beige Book Report, Non-Farm Payrolls and the National Unemployment Rate. Freddie Mac’s PMMS report on mortgage rates and Weekly Jobless claims will also be released as usual.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 24, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week November 24 2014Last week’s scheduled economic news included the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and Existing Home Sales. FOMC meeting minutes were released along with weekly Freddie Mac mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims.

In addition, the National Association of Realtors® suggested that FHA should lower its mutual mortgage insurance premiums (MMI) as its fund for paying claims has normalized since recession.

Homebuilder Confidence Nears Nine-Year High

The National Association of Home Builders/ Wells Fargo Housing Market Index achieved a reading of 58 for November. This was two points higher than the expected reading of 56 and four points above September’s reading. This was the fifth consecutive month of readings above 50.

Readings above 50 indicate that more builders are confident about housing market conditions than not. Components of the index improved with builder confidence in present sales of new homes up 5 points to a reading of 62, confidence in sales over the next six months rose by two points to 66, and the reading for prospective buyer traffic rose four points to 45.

Housing Starts Slow, Existing Home Sales Suggest Stronger Housing Market

Housing starts were lower by 2.80 percent in October at a seasonally-adjusted rate of 1.01 million against an expected reading of 1.03 million and September’s reading of 1.04 million homes started. October’s reading was affected by a 15.50 percent drop in multi-family construction, but single-family home construction increased by 4.20 percent. Analysts noted that the multi-family sector is notoriously volatile.

The National Association of Realtors® reported that the seasonally-adjusted annual rate of existing home sales for October exceeded the expected reading of 5.15 million with 5.26 million existing homes sold. October’s reading also surpassed September’s reading of 5.17 million previously-owned homes sold. October’s reading represented a 1.50 percent increase over September sales of existing homes, and was the highest reading since September 2013.

The median price of previously-owned homes rose to $208,500 in October, which represented a 5.50 percent increase year-over-year. The inventory of homes for sale is higher with a 5.1 month supply of homes available, which was a year-over-year increase of 5.20 percent. Higher inventories of homes available and low mortgage rates were seen as factors contributing to more home sales.

Builders, Realtors® Call for Lower FHA Premiums

Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors® called for the FHA to lower its mortgage insurance premiums. The cost of FHA loans, which require borrowers to pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium and annual premiums that are pro-rated and added to monthly mortgage payments, were seen as an obstacle to first-time and moderate income homebuyers. This request was based on a report that indicated the FHA fund for paying mortgage insurance claims is in the black for the first time since 2011.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell across the board on Thursday with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage lower by two basis points at 3.99 percent, and the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage lower by three basis points at 3.17 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by one basis point to 3.01 percent. Average discount points remained the same for all loan types at 0.50 percent.

The Commerce Department reported that new jobless claims fell to 291,000 from the prior week’s reading of 293,000. Analysts expected a reading of 280.000 new jobless claims, but this was the tenth consecutive week of readings for fewer than 300,000 new jobless claims. The four-week rolling average of new claims rose by 1750 to a reading of 287,500. The four week average reduces the volatility of weekly jobless claims and provides a more accurate reading of unemployment trends.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled events include the Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Home Price Indices, FHFA’s House Price Index and New and Pending Home Sales reports. There are no reports set for Thursday or Friday due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 20, 2014

WhatsAheadThisWeekLast week’s economic highlights included the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index for October. The Commerce Department also released Housing Starts for September. Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped below four percent. The Fed released its Beige Book report, and Weekly jobless claims came in lower than expected. Here are the details:

Homebuilder Confidence Slips in Spite of Lower Mortgage Rates

U.S. Homebuilder confidence in housing market conditions slipped by 5 points to October’s reading of 54 as compared to September’s reading; this was   also lower than the expected reading of 59. Builders are concerned over strict mortgage credit rules, but the NAHB’s chief economist noted that pent-up demand, lower mortgage rates and improved labor markets are expected to drive builder confidence in the near term. Readings of 50 and above indicate   that more builders are confident about market conditions than not.

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates across the board with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 3.97 percent, a drop of 15 basis points from the prior reading. 15-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.18 percent from the prior week’s reading of 3.30 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by 13 basis points to 2.92 percent. Average discount points remained at 0.50 for all mortgage types.

If 30-year fixed rate mortgages can stay below the four percent mark, this could mean additional incentive for fence-sitters to become active home buyers.

Surprise: New Jobless Claims Hit 14-Year Low

Concerns over job markets and employment stability have consistently been of concern to home buyers in the aftermath of the recession. Last week’s jobless claims report brought encouraging news as it came in at 264,000 new jobless claims filed against predictions of 289,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 287,000 new jobless claims filed. This was the lowest number of new jobless claims filed in more than 14 years. Analysts said that lower numbers of weekly jobless claims indicate fewer layoffs, which should help boost prospective home buyers’ confidence in job stability.

Fed: Economy Growing at “Modest to Moderate Pace”

The Federal Reserve released its Beige Book report on Wednesday. This report contains anecdotes from business sources within the 12 Federal Reserve districts. The report said that the economy continues to grow at a modest to moderate pace and noted that potential concerns over the stronger U.S. dollar causing increases in export costs did not concern the Fed’s business sources.

Housing Starts, Consumer Confidence Up

September’s housing starts were above both expectations and August’s reading. 1.02 million starts were reported with the majority being multi-family homes. The expected reading was 1.015 million housing starts; this was based on August’s reading of 956,000 starts. This news is consistent with the drop in builder confidence for sales of new single-family homes.

The University of Michigan/Thompson-Reuters Consumer Sentiment Index for October rose to 86.4 against an expected reading of 83.5 and September’s reading of 84.6. This was the highest consumer sentiment reading in seven years. Analysts rained on the consumer sentiment parade by noting that recent jitters over Wall Street and concerns about Ebola outbreaks could cause the Consumer Sentiment Index to lose ground.

What’s Ahead:

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include the National Association of REALTORS® Existing Home Sales report, FHFA’s Home Price Index and New Home Sales. Leading Economic Indicators will also be released.

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