South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 16, 2015

Posted in Market Outlook by southorangecounty on November 16, 2015

The Fibromyalgia Diet: Healthy Eating Ideas That Could Help You Feel BetterLast 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.

What’s Ahead

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.

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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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Case Shiller Price Index Continues To Rise, Plus A Local Forecast

Posted in Housing Analysis by southorangecounty on January 30, 2014

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Home Price Indices released Tuesday, the U.S. Housing Market is on a roll based on year-over-year increases in average home values, but month-to-month results were mixed.

prices-upThe 10 and 20-City Home Price Indices showed year-over-year growth of 13.80 and 13.70 percent respectively.

Highlights Include:

  • Dallas, Texas posted its highest rate of annual growth since 2000.
  • Chicago’s average home price rose by 11.00 percent, its highest annual gain since December 1988.
  • The 10 and 20-City Indices posted their best November home prices since 2005.

Top year-over-year gains in home prices included Las Vegas, Nevada at 27.30 percent, San Francisco, California at 23.20 percent, Los Angeles, California at 21.60 percent and San Diego, California at 18.70 percent. Atlanta, Georgia rounds out the top five cities with a year-over-year increase in home prices of 18.50 percent.

The annual readings for the S&P/Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Housing Market Indices in November suggests that U.S. markets are strong enough to sustain momentum in spite of rising mortgage rates. The month-to-month results show that both indices decreased by an incremental 0.10 percent in November, 2013.

Keeping in mind the traditional slump in home sales during the winter and holiday season, lower month-to-month readings were neither unexpected nor disappointing.

Eight of the nine top cities posting the highest month-to-month growth in home prices were located in the Sun Belt. San Diego, California and Minneapolis, Minnesota home prices remained nearly flat after decreasing in October.

Nine of the 20 cities surveyed posted positive month-to-month growth in home prices. Of the nine cities, only Boston, Massachusetts and Cleveland, Ohio were not located in the Sun Belt.

S&P/ Dow Jones Index Committee Chairman Expects Slower Growth In 2014

David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, noted that November’s month-to-month readings for the 10 and 20-city home price indices indicated that Phoenix, Arizona, Los Angeles, California and Las Vegas, Nevada, had each posted 20 or more consecutive months of rising home prices.

While positive in his remarks about increasing home prices, Mr. Blitzer also noted that indicators suggested a slower rate of growth during 2014.

This aligns with previously released economic news citing uncertainty about mortgage rates that may continue to rise as the Federal Reserve continues tapering its monthly asset purchases under its quantitative easing program.

The Fed’s FOMC meeting is scheduled to end Wednesday, January 29, at which time the committee’s customary statement will indicate whether or not the Fed’s monthly asset purchases will be reduced from their current level of $75 billion.

On the positive side, Chairman Blitzer said that the low inflation rate (1.50 percent in 2013) and rising home prices are helping homeowners accumulate home equity at a faster pace.

Locally, here in South Orange County, home selling activity has been a bit stronger than our typical Winter/Holiday season. In addition, our current inventory of available listings is considerably higher than it was at this time last year, which should make for a more normal market for the Spring season, for our area, which – believe it or not – starts in about a week and a half.

Once the Super Bowl activities evaporate, the following weekend is typically the start of our most active period of the year, gaining strength each week into and through Summer, before it starts to poop out, come September. Based on my 37+ years of local experience, I foresee a fairly normal buying season, good for both buyers and sellers. For sellers, I look for steady but slow appreciation, likely in the 5% range by the end of Summer, and for buyers, I look for plenty of inventory to choose from, meaning not so many “multiple offer” situations, except for just those few exceptional properties, that are also priced competitively.

If you’re going to be participating in this year’s local real estate market, it should be a “normal” one. It would be my great pleasure to assist you. Give me a call, or shoot me an email, and let’s talk about your real estate plans.

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Case Shiller Price Index Shows Highest Year-Over-Year Gains Since 2006

Case Shiller Price Index Shows Highest Year-Over-Year Gains Since 2006The Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Home Price Indices for October were released on December 31. Although home prices in most cities continued to show year-over-year gains, the pace of home price appreciation is expected to slow in 2014.

Year-over-year increases have been in double digit territory since March 2013, but month-to-month readings suggest that the rate of increasing home prices is slowing.

According to David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, “…the monthly numbers show that we are living on borrowed time and the boom is fading.”

The 10 and 20 city indices are showing that home prices some cities that were showing little or no growth in 2013 are posting higher rates of appreciation, while growth in cities that have shown very high increases in home prices are beginning to lose momentum.

Year-over-Year Growth In Double Digits

The 10-and 20-city indices each posted year-over year gains of 13.60 percent between October 2012and October 2013. These were the highest year-over-year gains since February of 2006.

Home prices recovered to mid-2004 levels in October, but remained 20 percent lower than peak home prices seen in June and July of 2006.

Here are figures for 10 cities showing the highest increases in home prices year-over-year in October 2013:

City                                                                        Y-O-Y Growth Rate

Las Vegas, NV                                              27.10 %

San Francisco, CA                                         24.60%

Los Angeles, CA                                           22.10%

San Diego, CA                                             19.70%

Atlanta, GA                                                  19.00%

Phoenix, AZ                                                 18.10%

Detroit, MI                                                   17.30%

Miami, FL                                                    15.80%

Tampa, FL                                                   15.20%

Seattle, WA                                                 13.10 %

Home prices in the 10 and 20-city indices have gained 23.10 percent and 23.70 percent since home prices reached their lowest points in March 2012.

Month-To-Month Readings Indicate Slower Growth

Month-to-month readings show a slowing trend in home price growth. 18 of 20 cities included in the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices showed slower growth in October as compared to September’s readings.

The Federal Reserve will begin tapering its asset purchases this month and will continue doing so unless economic conditions slow to a point where the Fed considers tapering counter-productive to economic growth.

Concerns over the tapering of “quantitative easing” and higher mortgage rates are seen as contributing to slower gains in home prices.

Although some analysts have identified indicators of economic growth, most seem to agree that home prices are likely to increase by single-digit percentages in 2014.

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Housing Market Index Shows Builder Confidence Remains Above 50

Posted in Financial Reports, Homebuilders, Housing Analysis, Housing Starts, Real Estate Trends, The Economy by southorangecounty on November 19, 2013

Housing Market Index Shows Builder Confidence Remains Above 50The National Association of Home Builders released its Housing Market Index  for November on Monday. This month’s HMI reading was 54 against expectations of a reading of 55. October’s reading was also 54 after being downwardly revised.

Readings over 50 generally indicate that a majority of builders surveyed are confident in current housing market conditions, but the current pause came after two months of decline in home builder confidence. While the short term index readings are lower than in past months, the HMI is currently 20 percent higher than last year.

David Crowe, chief economist for NAHB said that “the fact that builder confidence remains above 50 is an encouraging sign.” Mr. Crowe also cited federal debt and budget issues as factors that keep builders and consumers from building and buying homes.

Fluctuating Mortgage Rates Of Concern To Builders, Home Buyers

Home builders are also subject to the impact of volatile mortgage rates, which can create affordability issues for first time and moderate income home buyers. There is some good news concerning mortgage rates as the Federal Reserve announced its plant to keep its quantitative easing program in effect in the coming months.

QE was implemented in 2012 and consists of the Fed purchasing $85 billion per month is treasury and mortgage-backed securities with the goal of keeping long-term interest rates and mortgage rates low.

Home builder confidence readings are not in synch with construction rates, as builder confidence was rapidly driven by excessive demand for homes against minimal inventories of available homes in many areas.

Components of November’s HMI provide more precise indications of builder confidence. November’s reading for confidence in sales of single family homes within the next six months fell from 61 in October to 60 in November.

Builder sentiment for current home sales was unchanged at 58 and the November reading for builder confidence in buyer foot traffic fell by one point from 43 in October to 42.

Regional Home Builder Confidence Readings Mixed

Regional builder confidence readings for November were as follows:

Northeast: This region gained 14 points with a reading of 44 for November.

South: Builder confidence rose by one point to a reading of 55.

Midwest: November’s reading declined by eight points to 54.

West: The reading for November was one point lower at 58.

Home sales are typically slower during the holiday season and winter months.

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Case Shiller Price Index Shows An Annual Growth Rate Of Home Prices

Case Shiller Price Index Shows An Annual Growth Rate Of Home PricesHome prices were still gaining in July, but for 15 of 20 cities included the S&P Case-Shiller 10 and 20-city Home Price Indices, the pace of increasing home prices is slowing down. National home prices rose by 1.80 percent in July as compared to 2.20 percent in June.

Home prices grew by 0.60 percent from June to July on a seasonally-adjusted basis. This was the lowest month-to-month gain since September 2012.

David Blitzer, index committee chairman of S&P Dow Jones Indices, said that higher mortgage rates are hitting the housing market. Mr. Blitzer noted that mortgage rates rose by more than a percentage point between May and the Federal Reserve’s statement last week.

The Fed was widely expected to reduce its monthly bond purchases from $85 billion to $75 billion, but the Fed decided not to reduce its bond purchases as the economy has not recovered sufficiently.

Mortgage Rates Fall

High home prices and unemployment are making it difficult for first-time and moderate income buyers to compete; buyers sitting on the sidelines are eventually expected to add to the demand for homes.

Mortgage rates fell after the Fed’s announcement, but Mr. Blitzer said that the drop in mortgage rates would likely have a temporary impact on housing. He said that the rate of increase [in home prices] may have peaked.

Conditions contributing to the run-up in home prices include a shortage of available homes and pent-up demand among home buyers. As of July, home prices for the Case-Shiller 20-city index increased by 12.40 percent year-over-year; this was the highest annual rate of increase since home prices peaked in 2006.

Home prices in the Case-Shiller 10-city index increased by 12.30 percent annually. In spite of the rapid price gains, July home prices remained 21 percent below their pre-recession peak.

Home prices in all 20 cities included in the 10 and 20 city indices increased on a month-to-month basis, with home prices increasing by 1.80 percent for the 20 city index and by 1.80 percent for the 10 city index.

Home Prices Show Strong Recovery

Las Vegas, Nevada had the highest annual gain in home prices for July with a 28 percent increase. Las Vegas was one of the cities hardest hit by the recession. Annual home prices for San Francisco, California rose by 25 percent, and New York City had the lowest annual growth rate for home prices at 3.50 percent.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, released its home prices report for properties securing mortgage loans owned or backed by Fannie and Freddie. The annual growth rate for home prices was 8.80 percent as of July, but remains 9.60 percent lower than the peak growth rate reported in April 2007.

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Home Builder Confidence Highest Level In Nearly 8 Years

Posted in Homebuilders, Housing Analysis, Housing Starts, New Home Sales, Real Estate Trends, The Economy by southorangecounty on August 20, 2013

Home Builder Confidence Highest Level In Nearly 8 YearsThe National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported Thursday that its Housing Market Index rose three points to a reading of 59 for August.

Confidence among builders is likely growing in connection with stronger housing markets and high demand for homes. These conditions are being driven by short supplies of homes for sale in many markets.

Builder confidence in current market conditions rose by three points to a reading of 62, while builder confidence in market conditions within the next six months rose by one point to a reading of 68. Confidence in buyer foot traffic was unchanged from July’s reading of 45.

Readings above 50 indicate that more builders surveyed view housing market conditions as positive rather than negative; there was some concern that the high builders’ confidence reading could trigger the Fed to announce the tapering of its $85 billion monthly purchase of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities.

Housing Starts Driven By Apartment Construction

Housing starts rose in July, but were led by the volatile apartment sector rather than single- family homes.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported 896,000 housing starts on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. This reading fell short of expectations of 915,000 housing starts, but exceeded June’s reading of 846,000 housing starts.

Starts for residential buildings with five or more units rose by 20.90 percent year-over-year while construction of one of one-to-four family residential buildings fell by 2.20 percent. Demand for rental properties and a shortage of available single family homes was seen by economists as contributing to increasing multi-family housing construction.

Analysts said that some home builders may be holding back on single-family home construction due to increasing materials and labor costs, but this doesn’t reflect the record level of builder confidence reported in the NAHB Housing Market Index.

Building homes at less than optimum capacity isn’t good news for the shortage of available single-family homes. Rising mortgage rates are also a concern for home builders, as fewer borrowers may be able to qualify for mortgage loans needed for financing home purchases.

Building permits numbers were also released on Friday, and presented a more positive picture than housing starts. July’s reading for building permits issued rose by 2.70 percent in July to an annual reading of 943,000 permits against expectations of 953,000 permits issued and exceeded June’s reading of 918,000.

Building permits issued provide an indication of future housing starts.

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Home Builder Future Sales Confidence Rises To New Highs

Posted in Home buying, Home Selling, Housing Analysis, Housing Starts by southorangecounty on May 16, 2013

Home Builder Confidence Surges In May 2013Home builders are gaining confidence in current and future market conditions for new homes, but continue to see below-average foot traffic in new homes.

The reading for May’s National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) /Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) increased by three points to a reading of 44 as compared to April’s revised reading of 41. The HMI measures builder confidence in current sales conditions for newly built homes, buyer foot traffic in new homes and builder expectations for future sales conditions.

Builder Confidence In Future New Home Sales Highest Since February 2007

The HMI reading for current sales conditions for newly built homes rose from 44 to 48. The reading for buyer foot traffic in new homes rose from 30 to 33, and builder confidence in future sales of new homes rose from 52 to 53, which is the highest reading posted for builder expectations since February 2007.

A reading of more than 50 indicates that more builders consider housing markets good than bad.

NAHB Chairman Rick Judson noted that home builders are facing challenges including rising costs for building materials, lots and labor as supply chains recover from the recession. He also said that builders took note of “urgency” among home buyers wanting to take advantage of low mortgage rates, but who are facing a dwindling supply of available homes.

Regional Housing Market Index Unchanged Except In West

HMI readings for three of the four geographical regions used in the HMI survey of builders remained unchanged with the Northeast at 37, Midwest at 45 and South at 42.

The reading for the West declined by five points to 49, and likely reflects the shortage of building space and available new homes for sale. The regional HMI figures are calculated as a three-month rolling average.

In some areas of the West, home sellers are again receiving multiple offers for homes, a clear indication of diminishing inventories of homes for sale.

As an example, the Sacramento Bee recently reported the dilemma of builders faced with fewer available construction-ready lots alongside an increasing demand for homes. As inventories of both new and pre-owned homes shrink, demand for homes is growing as buyers take advantage of low mortgage rates.

With builders feeling confident about the future and poised to ramp up their home building efforts, it is a great time to consider buying or selling a home in South Orange County.

Shoot me an email, a text, or give me a call to discuss your options right away to take advantage of this exciting opportunity.

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Homebuilder Confidence Nearly Triples In 2 Years

Posted in Housing Analysis by southorangecounty on January 17, 2013

NAHB HMI January 2013The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) Housing Market Index ended its 8-month winning streak this month, posting a value of 47. The January 2013 reading is on level with last month, and remains at a near 7-year high.

The Housing Market Index (HMI) is a measure of home builder confidence. 

HMI readings below 50 indicate a “poor” new construction conditions for single-family homes nationwide; ratings above 50 signal “good” ones.

Not since April 2006 has the Housing Market Index crossed into “good” territory, but the past two years have witnessed the HMI nearly triple; and the index is up from a reading of 25 just twelve months ago.

Values would have likely increased this month, too, if not for builder uncertainty. The NAHB cites concern over prolonged legislative decisions as contributing factors to this month’s builder confidence reading. Specifically, the trade group expressed concern over the future of the federal income tax deduction for home mortgage interest and spending cuts related to the recent, so-called “fiscal cliff”.

As compared to the month prior, this month’s HMI showed the following :

  • Current housing conditions were mostly unchanged between December and January
  • Sales expectations the next six months dropped slightly between December and January
  • Prospective home buyer foot traffic increased slightly between December and January

January marks the tenth consecutive month through which buyer foot traffic has increased. Foot traffic is now at its highest level in nearly 7 years.

The NAHB Housing Market Index suggests a slow, steady rise in confidence among the nation’s home builders. This is occurring, in part, because of improving housing market conditions both nationally and regionally. Another factor is rising confidence among today’s home buyers.

Home sale prices South Orange County remain relatively low and mortgage rates sit below 4 percent. With demand for homes growing, prices are expected to rise. Home buyers this season may be more likely to get a good “deal” than the buyers of spring or summer.

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Homebuilder Confidence Rises For 9th Straight Month

Posted in Housing Analysis by southorangecounty on December 19, 2012

Housing Market Index December 2012The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released its Housing Market Index (HMI), showing another monthly gain — its ninth in a row.

The HMI — a gauge of homebuilder confidence — rose 1 point to 47 in December 2012, lifting the index to its highest levels since April 2006.

Readings under 50 indicate unfavorable housing conditions for builders. Readings over 50 signal “good” conditions. Coincidentally, the last time that the HMI read above 50 was April 2006, too.

The Housing Market Index is based on a survey which the NAHB sends to its members. The survey asks the nation’s builders to rate the current housing market conditions.

In December, home builders reported gains in two of the three areas surveyed:

  • Current Single-Family Sales: 51 (+2 from November 2012)
  • Projected Single-Family Sales: 51 (-1 from November 2012)
  • Buyer Foot Traffic: 36 (+1 from November 2012)

It’s noteworthy that buyer foot traffic has climbed over nine straight months and is now at it’s highest reported level in nearly 7 years. Low mortgage rates and rising home prices throughout South Orange County have compelled today’s renters and existing homeowners to consider their home buying options.

This was none more apparent that in the Northeast Region in which builder confidence grew twelve points to 42. The Midwest Region also showed a strong improvement, climbing 2 points to 53. The West and South regions fell slightly between November and December.

For today’s buyers, rising builder confidence may be a signal that home prices are headed higher. Confident home sellers — including the nation’s builders — are less likely to make price concessions into an improving market, or may be less likely to offer free upgrades to buyers.

Therefore, if you are in the market for a newly-built home, consider that you may get the best “deal” by acting sooner rather than later. Mortgage rates are rising and home prices are, too. Six months from now, your costs of homeownership may be higher.

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