Minnesota Real Estate Today News!
The NAR provided great year-end news as existing home sales in December pushed 2013 sales of existing homes to a 7 year high. December's reading of 4.86 sales of pre-owned homes came in at 4.87 million on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.
Although projections had been for 4.89 million sales, the December reading topped November's revised sales of 4.82 million pre-owned homes.
December's reading showed the first gain in existing home sales in three months. NAR reported that existing home sales for 2013 reached 5.09 million, which represented a 9.10 percent increase over 2012.
More Good News: Median Price Of Existing Homes Rises
NAR reported that the national median price for pre-owned homes increased to $198,000, a year-over-year increase of 9.90 percent. The average price of an existing home for all of 2013 was $197,100. This was the strongest growth in existing home prices since 2005 and represented an increase of 11.50 percent.
There were 1.86 million pre-owned homes for sale in December. At current sales rates, this represents a 4.60 month inventory. Real estate pros like to see a minimum of a six-month supply of available homes, so existing homes remain in short supply.
Analysts attributed rising home prices to improving economic conditions and a persistent shortage of homes for sale.
FHFA: Slower Gain for Home Prices In November
FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that November prices of homes financed with mortgages owned or guaranteed by the two agencies rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.10 percent as compared to October's increase of 0.50 percent and an expected growth rate of 0.40 percent.
November's reading brought year-over-year home sales to an increase of 7.60 percent, but is still 8.90 percent below their April 2007 peak.
Analysts noted that recent reports of increasing new home construction and rising new home sales as reasons why prices of existing homes are seeing slower growth.
The first post-holiday week of 2014 brought mixed economic and housing-related news. CoreLogic reported via its Housing Market Index that November home prices grew by 11.80 percent year-over-year.
This was just shy of October’s year-over-year reading of 11.90 percent. As with Case-Shiller’s recently reported Home Price Indices, a slower rate of home price growth suggested to analysts that the housing market is cooling down.
The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee released the minutes from its December meeting. The minutes reiterated the Committee’s decision to begin tapering its asset purchases this month.
The Fed announced that it would reduce its monthly asset purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion. As always, the Fed indicated that it would continue monitoring economic data for determining future actions concerning monetary policy.
Mortgage Rates Mixed
Freddie Mac’s Primary Market Survey reported mixed results for average mortgage rates last week. The rate for a 30-yer fixed rate mortgage dropped to 4.51 percent from 4.53 percent with discount points lower at 0.70 percent; the rate for a15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.56; this was one basis point higher than for last week.
Discount fell from 0.70 to 0.60 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage jumped by 10 basis points to 3.15 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.
Employment, Unemployment Data Mixed
The week’s jobs-related readings provided mixed readings for the labor sector. The ADP Employment report for December showed 238,000 private sector jobs added and matched expectations of 215,000 new private sector jobs. December’s reading also exceeded November’s reading of 229,000 jobs added.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Non-Farm Payrolls report for December; it reported 74,000 jobs added in December against expectations of 193,000 new jobs and November’s reading of 241,000 jobs added.
The sharp drop in new jobs during December was partially blamed on poor weather, but analysts also said that it could be a sign of further ups and downs in the U.S. economy.
In a statement given in connection with the December Non-Farm Payrolls report, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard, a member of the FOMC, said that he did not expect the Fed to stop tapering its asset purchases due to December’s sharp drop in new jobs.
The national unemployment rate improved to a reading of 6.70 percent. This was the lowest reading in five years and only two-tenths of a percent above the FOMC’s targeted unemployment rate of 6.50 percent. 347,000 workers left the workforce, which helps to explain the discrepancy between the lower number of new jobs and the lower unemployment rate.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes retail sales and retail sales except autos, the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report, Weekly Jobless Claims, Freddie Mac’s PMMS. The NAHB Home Builders HMI and the Housing Starts report will also be released. Friday’s release of the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rounds out the week.
Your home is your castle and its decor is a unique artistic expression of your tastes and aesthetic. In order to keep your home decor looking fresh and up to date rather than stale, it's important to pay attention to the trends as they shift and change.
This is especially important if you are selling your home, because outdated decor can make a negative first impression on the buyer. If you are planning to redecorate this year, what are the hottest trends when it comes to home decor in 2014?
A Breath Of Fresh Air
Benjamin Moore Paints has announced their 2014 Color of the Year, which is a powdery sky blue hue called "Breath of Fresh Air". It's a gentle pastel color that works well with neutrals such as brown, grey and white and can also complement other blue and green hues in the same color family.
It looks sweet and modern and it is vibrant enough to make an impact while being pale enough not to draw too much attention to itself. Why not consider incorporating this light blue, or other shades like it, into your decor?
Pattern Trends For 2014
Last year, the trend of the moment was color blocking. However, these days the hottest thing at the moment is patterns that have a white background and a historic themed repeating print. For example, this might include wallpaper, drapes or fabrics with a floral print or a vintage design on white.
Another popular trend is geometric shapes, especially triangles and chevrons. These are often seen in bright and vibrant colors, sometimes also with a white background.
A Touch Of Handmade Elegance
Another interesting home decor trend of the moment is incorporating hand-made items into the room. This could include a hand-knit throw that is draped over a sofa, or an embroidered cushion.
If you are crafty, you could make these items yourself. Otherwise, you could purchase these one-of-a-kind pieces from your local artisans or only at shops such as Etsy.com.
These are just a few hot 2014 home decor trends to get you started on your decorating project. Be creative and have fun while decorating your home, so that you can create a unique and original place where you will feel happy and inspired.
For more tips and information, contact your trusted real estate professional.
The last week of 2013 brought relatively good news in view of the economic roller coaster rides caused by legislative impasse. A brief shutdown of federal government agencies, and nail-biting suspense over if and when the FOMC of the Federal Reserve would taper its quantitative easing program.
Last week's news was not high in volume due to the New Year holiday, but it does suggest that a general economic recovery is progressing and that housing markets are leading the "charge!". Here are the details:
The NAR's data of month-to-month reading of 0.20 percent showed an increase of 0.20 percent over October's reading of -1.20 percent, which was the lowest reading for pending home sales in five months.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, said that "...the positive fundamentals of job creation and household formation are likely to foster a fairly stable level of contract activity in 2014."
November's year-over-year reading for pending home sales was 101.7 against a reading of 103.3 for November 2013. The good news is that November's reading exceeded a 10-month low of 101.50 for October 2013.
Rapid Rises In Home Prices May Have Peaked
The S&P Case-Shiller 10 and 20- city home price indices for October was released Tuesday with positive results for both indices showing year-over-year gains in average home prices at 13.60 percent.
On an un-adjusted basis, the 10 and 20 city indices each gained 0.20 percent between September and October. The indices each showed a 1.00 percent gain in home prices on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Case-Shiller cautioned that home prices are expected to rise at single-digit rates during 2014.
Consumer Confidence Rises, Housing And Manufacturing Sectors Improve
December's consumer confidence reading gained 6.1 points for a reading of 78.1. This also exceeded the expected reading of 76.2.
The prior two months had shown decreased in readings thought to have been caused by the government shutdown in October. Consumers indicated that they are more confident about the economy than they have been in five and a half years.
Housing and manufacturing are leading the recovery, which reflects stronger housing, production and possibly manufacturing jobs, which have lagged behind increased production.
The national unemployment rate stood at 7.00 percent last week, which remains 0.50 percent above the Federal Reserve's targeted rate of 6.50 percent.
Weekly jobless claims came in lower than expectations of 342,000 jobless claims at 339,000 new jobless claims. The prior week's reading showed 341,000 new jobless claims.
Although a small decrease in new claims, last week's reading further suggested that the economic recovery is on track.
Thursday's mortgage interest rate survey showed incremental increases in mortgage rates; concerns over continued tapering of the Fed's QE program may have been a factor in the slight uptick in last week's rates.
Average rates for mortgage loans rose as follows. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased from 4.48 to 4.53 percent with discount points rising from 0.70 percent to 0.80 percent.
The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.55 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by five basis points to 3.05 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.
Economists seem to agree on continued improvement in the economy for 2014, however rising mortgage rates and high unemployment remain as obstacles for faster economic recovery.
According to December's NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, home builder confidence rose by four points to a reading of 58; this surpassed the consensus of 56 and November's reading of 56.
November Housing Starts were released Wednesday and also exceeded expectations and the prior month's reading. 1.09 million housing starts were reported for November against expectations of 963,000 and October's reading of 889,000 housing starts.
Building permits issued in November came in at 1.01 million and fell short of October's reading of 1.04 million permits issued. November's reading exceeded expectations of 990,000 permits issued.
The week's big news emerged after the conclusion of the Federal Reserve's FOMC meeting. The committee announced that it would begin tapering the Fed’s $85 billion purchases of securities. The taper was modest; the Fed will reduce its rate of purchases to $75 billion monthly, with a split of $40 billion in Treasury securities and $35 billion in mortgage-backed securities.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke gave his final press conference as Fed chair. He noted that the FOMC was confident that the economy would continue to improve at a moderate rate and that the Fed would continue monitoring economic and financial developments to guide future adjustments in its monthly purchase of securities.
Mortgage rates were expected to rise after news of the Fed's tapering of its quantitative easing program, as the program was intended to hold down long-term interest rates and mortgage rates.
Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey confirmed expectations of higher mortgage rates. Average mortgage rates ticked upward by five basis points to 4.47 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by eight basis points to 3.51 percent.
Discount points for a 30-year mortgage were unchanged at 0.70 percent for a 30-year mortgage and dropped from 0.70 to 0.60 percent for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose from 2.94 percent last to 2.96 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.
Weekly Jobless Claims came in at 379,000 and were higher than projections of 338,000 and the prior reading of 369,000 new jobless claims. Although the reading was the highest since March, analysts attributed the higher reading to changes in work schedules during the holidays.
Sales of existing homes slipped to their lowest levels in close to a year. The NAR reported that existing home sales fell from 5.12 million in October to 4.90 million in November.
Projections were set at 5.00 million sales for November, but a shortage of available homes and rising mortgage rates were seen as reasons for fewer sales. The approaching holiday season and cold weather typically contribute to a lull in home sales during the winter months.
This week's scheduled economic news is light due to the Christmas holiday, but Monday's releases include consumer spending, personal spending and the University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index.
New Home Sales for November will be released Tuesday. The week's scheduled news will conclude with Weekly Jobless Reports on Thursday, as no further economic news is scheduled for Friday.
Housing Starts exceeded expectations and also beat October's reading of 889,000. November housing starts were posted at 1.09 million against a consensus of 963,000.
This reading is more in line with the NAHB/Wells Fargo Home builder Market Index, which reached a four month high with December's reading.
With that threat resolved and a new federal budget passed, builders can now proceed without worrying about setbacks caused by government shutdowns and legislative gridlock.
Building permits issued in November were slightly lower at 1.01 million than October's reading of 1.04 million. Viewed as an indicator of future construction, and ultimately, available homes, it is not unusual for construction and permits to slow during the winter months.
FOMC Statement And Chairman Bernanke's Last Press Conference
Throughout 2013, strong signs of economic recovery have led to predictions of the Federal Reserve tapering its quantitative easing program.
As each FOMC meeting approached, analysts predicted that the Fed would start reducing its $85 billion purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities.
The asset purchases are part of the government's quantitative easing program that was implemented to keep long-term interest rates and mortgage rates low.
The cut finally came on Wednesday as the FOMC made its customary post-meeting statement. Effective in January 2014, the Fed will reduce its monthly purchases by $10 billion.
The QE purchase will be split between $40 billion in Treasury securities and $35 billion in MBS. The Fed expects that the economy will continue recovering at a moderate pace.
The FOMC statement noted that the Fed will continue monitoring inflation, which remains below the Fed's target rate of 2.00 percent, and the national unemployment rate, which remains above the Fed's target rate of 6.50 percent.
The statement noted that asset purchases are not on a predetermined course, and that the Fed will continue to closely monitor labor market conditions, inflation pressure and economic developments in the U.S. and globally.
The Fed did not change its target federal funds rate of 0.00 to 0.25 percent, and would not do so at least until unemployment falls to 6.50 percent. Changes to policy accommodation are made with the Fed's dual goal of achieving an inflation rate of 2.00 percent and achieving maximum national employment goals.
Bernanke Press Conference
Mr. Bernanke repeated key points of the FOMC statement, and noted that "highly accommodative monetary policy and waning fiscal drag" is helping with the economic recovery, but that the economy has much farther to go before it can be considered fully recovered.
Mr. Bernanke said that FOMC members saw the unemployment rate dropping from 7.00 percent in November 2013 to 6.30 to 6.60 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014. Improving labor markets and rising household spending were cited as signs of economic recovery.
Mr. Bernanke mentioned concerns about the high unemployment and underemployment rates and said that the Fed's benchmarks for unemployment and inflation would not automatically trigger reductions in its QE asset purchases.
He also said that the committee did not expect to adjust the target federal funds rate immediately after the national unemployment rate reaches 6.50 percent.
Mr. Bernanke repeated that the Fed's actions regarding monetary policy and QE would be dependent on in-depth review of ongoing financial and economic developments, but said that further tapering of QE purchases is likely if the economy stays on its present course of moderate improvement.
According to the National Association of Homebuilders/Wells Fargo Homebuilders Market Index for December, builder confidence recovered in with a reading of 58. This surpassed both expectations of 56 and last month's reading of 54.
Analysts noted that builder confidence has steadied after the government shutdown. December's reading was the highest in four months. Dave Crowe, NAHB chief economist, said that his organization was expecting a "gradual improvement in the housing recovery" in 2014.
Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders are confident about overall housing market conditions than not.
Builder Confidence - Highest Reading Since 2005
Pent-up demand for housing is driving housing markets in spite of higher mortgage rates. Three components of builder confidence used to calculate the overall reading also rose in December. Builder confidence in current home sales rose to 64 from a reading of 58 in November; this is the highest reading since 2005.
Confidence levels in housing markets over the next six months rose to 62 from last month's reading of 60. Builder confidence also grew in the area of buyer foot traffic in new developments and gained three points to a reading of 44.
All of this is good news, but the NAHB said that a gap remains between higher home builder confidence and the rate of new home construction. A seasonal lull in home construction is not unusual especially in areas experiencing harsh weather.
More Jobs, Low Refinance Numbers Could Mean More Mortgages Available
MarketWatch analysts suggest that if the economy continues to add jobs "at a brisk pace" and mortgage lenders ease lending requirements next year, the demand for homes could further strengthen the U.S. housing market next year.
Low numbers of refinance mortgages in 2013 may cause some lenders to loosen mortgage credit requirements, which were tightened after the housing bubble burst.
Economic News scheduled for today may provide a broader picture of economic health and likely trends for 2015. The Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee will provide its expected statement after its meeting, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will give his last press conference as Fed chair as well.
Any indication of plans to reduce the Fed's current quantitative easing program could upset financial and mortgage markets, but most economic analysts don't expect an announcement of tapering the Fed's asset purchases before next year.
Data on November Housing Starts and Building Permits will also offer clues as to how housing markets and the general economy are doing.
Mortgage Debt Rises For First Time Since Recession
Last week was relatively quiet concerning scheduled housing-related news, but the Federal Reserve's financial accounts report, released on Monday, indicated that mortgage debt in the U.S. had increased for the first time since the first quarter (Q1) of 2008.
Mortgage debt increased by a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $87.4 billion, or 0.90 percent. Mortgage debt remains approximately 12.00 percent below pre-recession levels.
Increasing debt is not often considered good news, but in the case of mortgage debt in today's economy, it suggests economic recovery in the form of higher home prices and fewer foreclosures.
Another instance of counter-intuitive economic results was released Tuesday. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report for October.
JOLTS indicated that 2.39 million workers quit their jobs in October. This was the highest number of jobs quit since 2008. While this may appear counter-productive to a growing economy, it indicates that workers are leaving their jobs for better positions.
Mortgage Rates Fall, Federal Budget Deficit Shrinks
On Wednesday the U.S. Treasury announced that November's federal budget deficit had shrunk to -$135 billion from November 2012's deficit reading of -$172 billion. This represents a year-over-year deficit decrease of 21 percent.
Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) report provided good news as average mortgage rates fell last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 4.46 percent to 4.42 percent. Discount points rose from the previous week's reading of 0.50 percent to 0.70 percent.
15-year fixed rate mortgage rates fell from 3.47 percent to an average reading of 3.43 percent, with discount points rising from the prior week's reading of 0.40 percent to 0.70 percent.
The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped from 2.99 percent to 2.94 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.
Lower mortgage rates are good news for home buyers facing higher home prices.
Weekly jobless claims rose last week. The previous week's reading of 300,000 new jobless claims was short-lived as the reading for new jobless claims rose to 368,000 last week and surpassed a consensus of 335,000 new jobless claims.
Financial analysts cautioned that employment data can be volatile during the holidays, and noted that the four-week average of new unemployment claims rose by 6000 to 328,750.
What's Coming Up
There are several significant releases set for housing-related news. The NAHB housing market index, Housing Starts, and Building permits indicate how current builder confidence and new construction may impact the supply of available homes.
On Wednesday, the FOMC will issue its usual statement at the conclusion of its two-day meeting. Some analysts expect an announcement concerning the Fed's quantitative easing policy; Outgoing Fed Chair Ben Bernanke is set to give a press conference after the FOMC statement.
In addition to the weekly jobless claims report and Freddie Mac's PMMS, Reports on Existing Home Sales and Leading Economic Indicators will also be released.
Last week brought several indicators of a strengthening economy. New home sales, private and federal employment and mortgage rates rose.
The Department of Commerce released construction spending numbers for October with mixed results. Although public projects fueled an 0.80 percent increase in month-to-month construction spending, residential construction fell by 0.60 percent.
Analysts had expected an increase of 0.50 percent and also noted that the negative effect of the government shutdown was a "blip." October's reading for construction spending was the highest since 2004.
CoreLogic released data that home prices rose by 0.20 percent, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 12.50 percent for home prices. Pending home sales were suggested that November sales are expected to hold steady as compared to October, and projected year-over-year sales for November at 12.20 percent.
Slower growth in home prices was attributed to higher mortgage rates and a fear of a housing bubble in the West, where demand for homes far exceeds the number of available homes.
Not wanting to buy at the top of the current housing market, some potential buyers may be waiting for the talk of another housing bubble to subside before buying. Robert Shiller, co-author of the Case-Shiller Housing Market Index, noted that home buyers may not be "psychologically ready" for another housing bubble.
New home sales for October were higher than expectations of 419,000 homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. October's reading of 444,000 new home sales was 21.60 percent higher than September's reading of 354,000 new homes sold. The national median home price fell by 4.50 percent to $245,800 in October; this was the lowest month-to-month reading since November 2012.
The number of available homes fell to a 4.90 month supply in October. This may cause buyers to put their home searches on hold as they wait out the winter months and hope for supplies of available homes to increase.
U.S. Employment Improving, Mortgage Rates Rise
ADP a private-sector provider of payroll services reported 215,000 new jobs added in November as compared to October's reading of 184,000 jobs added. Weekly jobless claims supported the ADP reading as new jobless claims fell to 298,000 against expectations of 325,000 new claims and a prior reading of 321,000 new claims.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics brought more good news with its Non-Farm Payrolls report and Unemployment Rate for November. Non-Farm payrolls added 203,000 jobs in November against expectations of 180,000 jobs added and October's reading of 200,000 jobs added.
The National Unemployment rate dipped to 7.00 percent in November against expectations of a 7.20 percent reading and October's reading of 7.30 percent. The Federal Reserve has set a benchmark unemployment rate of 6.50 percent as an indicator of economic recovery.
Last week's strong economic news boosted mortgage rates; Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by 17 basis points to 4.46 percent with discount points lower at 0.50 percent.
The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also gained 17 basis points at 3.47 percent with discount points at 0.40 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by 5 basis points to 2.99 percent with discount points at 0.4 percent.
What's Coming Up
This week's scheduled economic news includes Retail Sales, Weekly Jobless Claims and Freddie Mac's report of average mortgage rates.
According to the S&P Case-Shiller 10-and 20-City Housing Market Indices for September, home prices grew at an average of 13.30 percent year-over-year and achieved the highest growth rate for home prices since February 2006.
On a month-to month basis, home prices are slowing in most areas with 19 cities included in the S&P 20-City Housing Market Index showing lower rates of growth in home prices. September's average month-to-month growth rate was 1.0 percent for the 20-City HMI as compared to 0.90 percent in August, and 1.90 percent posted earlier in 2013.
Home prices increased by 0.70 percent in September for the combined 20-City and 10-City Housing Market Indices tracked by Case-Shiller.
Rapidly Rising Home Prices In The West: Another Housing Bubble On Tap?
Home prices continued rising in the West, with Las Vegas leading the pack with a 29.10 percent gain year-over-year although average home price in Las Vegas, Nevada remains 46 percent than its peak in February of 2006.
California also showed double-digit year-over-year growth for home prices with San Francisco at 25.70 percent, Los Angeles at 21.80 percent and San Diego posting 20.90 percent growth in home prices year-over-year.
Rapidly increasing home prices in the West are largely due to demand exceeding supply, but buyers may be sitting on the sidelines due to concerns over another housing bubble in the making.
Buyers in this scenario are aware of increasing home prices, but aren't buying now to avoid higher prices later. Instead they are waiting to see what happens with current home prices and housing market conditions in the longer term.
Chicago, Illinois posted its highest year-over-year growth rate since 2005 while Cleveland, Ohio posted a growth rate of 5.00 percent for September as compared to a month-to-month growth rate of 3.70 percent.
This was the second lowest month-to-month growth rate for home prices, with New York City posting a month-to-month home price growth rate of 4.00 percent from August to September.
FHFA Reports Slight Gain In Home Prices
The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported stronger gains in home prices for properties financed with mortgages owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. In September, home prices reported by FHFA rose by 0.30 percent as compared to August's growth rate of 0.40 percent.
On a year-over-year basis, FHFA reported a gain of 8.40 percent between the third quarter of 2012 and the third quarter of 2013. Adjusted for inflation, home prices as reported by FHFA have risen approximately 7.20 percent. FHFA noted that home prices are growing at a rate far above the rate of 1.20 percent reported for other "goods and services."
The short holiday week brought a flurry of economic reports last week. Highlights included pending home sales, the S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Indices and the FHFA home price index. No reports were released on Thursday and Friday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.
The NAR released its Pending Home Sales report for October. Although pending home sales dropped by -0.60 percent, the decline was less than September’s reading of -4.60 percent.
NAR cited higher home prices and mortgage rates along with concerns over the then-pending government shutdown as factors that contributed to fewer pending sales. Pending sales are determined by signed purchase contracts and are considered an indication of future completed home sales and mortgage loan closings.
Department of Commerce reported that building permits issued increased from 974,000 in September to 1.03 million for October. Permits for multi-family dwellings rose by 17 percent from September, but permits for single-family homes rose by 1.00 percent.
A lagging supply of available single-family homes has been driving home prices up as demand also increases. The multi-family reading reflected the sector’s volatile nature and was largely concentrated in the West.
Case-Shiller And FHFA Report Higher Year-Over-Year Average Home Prices
The S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Housing Market Index for September reported its highest year-over-year gain in seven years, but the month-to-month reading was lower. The year-over-year reading was 13.30 percent in September and the month-to-month reading showed lackluster growth at 0.70 percent.
When seasonally adjusted, September’s reading was 1.00 percent against the seasonally-adjusted August reading of 1.90 percent.
In addition to the then-looming government shutdown, concerns over rapidly rising home prices in the West may have caused would-be buyers to sit on the sidelines as fears of another “housing bubble” gained traction.
Rising home prices also impact affordability and impact the ability of buyers depending on mortgage loans to compete with cash buyers.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, issued its housing market index report for September. Based on sales of homes financed with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac-owned mortgages, FHFA’s report indicated that year-over-year home prices at an annual rate of 8.50 percent in September as compared to August’s year-over-year reading of 8.40 percent.
Economists noted that the increase of home prices is slowing due to a number of factors including higher mortgage rates and restrictive lending policies that are making it more difficult for buyers to purchase homes.
Analysts said that next year could bring a more sustainable rate of home appreciation with year-over-year readings averaging between five and eight percent.
Freddie Mac issued its weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey on Wednesday; average mortgage rates for 30 and 15 year mortgages rose to 4.29 percent and 3.30 percent respectively.
Discount points for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by one basis point to 2.94 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include Construction Spending, ADP Employment, New Home Sales and the Fed’s Beige Book. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its Non-farm Payrolls report and the national unemployment rate.
Weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey will be released as usual on Thursday.
The National Association of REALTORS reported Monday that pending home sales dropped by -0.60 percent in October after falling at a revised rate of -4.60 percent in September. According to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, 17 percent of real estate agents reported delays in loan closings due to the government shutdown in early October.
Lenders were unable to verify borrower income through the IRS, which was closed during the shutdown. October was the fifth consecutive month with fewer pending home sales reported.
Homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are waiting to sell, and recent spikes in mortgage rates were cited as factors contributing to fewer pending sales.
Pending home sales are defined as homes for which signed purchase offers have been received and are considered an indicator of future home sales. The NAR notes that most pending sales close within 30 to 60 days of an offer being signed.
High Demand And Low Supply Of Homes Thwarts Buyers
Would-be homebuyers may be including their dream homes on their wish lists for the holidays as many areas continue to experience a short supply of homes against high demand. In desirable areas this can lead to bidding wars and homes being sold before they are listed for sale.
Cash buyers are benefitting from these situations, while first-time and moderate income buyers may be sidelined due to affordability issues and the inability to compete with cash buyers.
Mortgage rates fell last week and the previous week. While a recovering housing market has been causing home prices to rise, economists described current readings for pending sales as a "pause" in the housing market recovery and said that a significant decline in home sales could adversely impact overall economic recovery.
Regional Pending Sales Mixed
Pending sales for the Northeast and Midwestern regions increased slightly and declined in the South and West. This suggested to some economists and analysts that the formerly hot housing market is cooling off along with the weather. Some decline in home sales is expected during fall and winter months.
Sales Of Existing Homes Better Than Expected
October sales of existing homes surpassed expectations of 5.10 million sales with a reading of 5.12 million existing homes sold. Again, the government shutdown and related concerns of consumers and home builders were cited as reasons for sales falling shy of September's reading of 5.29 million existing homes sold.
Last week's scheduled economic news was varied, but mortgage rates fell and jobless claims were significantly lower than expected. The minutes for last month's FOMC meeting were released, and confirmed the Federal Reserve's intention to leave its quantitative easing program unchanged at least for the near term.
The National Association of Homebuilders Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for November indicated that builder confidence, while still positive, dipped by one point to a reading of 54 as compared to an anticipated reading of 55, and October's revised reading of 54.
Retail Sales for October Rose By 0.4 Percent
NAHB noted that uncertainty over the federal budget and political gridlock may have kept builder and consumer confidence levels from achieving further gains in November.
The Consumer Price Index for October contracted by -0.10 percent against expectations of 0.00 percent growth and September's reading of 0.20 percent growth. The Core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, rose by 0.10 percent against expectations of 0.20 percent and was unchanged from September's reading.
The National Association of REALTORS reported that Existing Home Sales for October were lower than for September's reading of 5.29 million, but slightly exceeded the expected reading of 5.10 million. October's reading came in at 5.12 million sales of existing homes.
Analysts attributed the lower reading to tight supplies of available homes in many areas and higher home prices and mortgage rates that impacted affordability.
The FOMC minutes indicated that the committee has ongoing concerns over national unemployment rate of 7.20 percent against the committee's target unemployment rate of 6.50 percent.
Weekly Jobless Claims were notably lower at 323,000 new jobless claims as compared to the prior week's reading of 344,000 new jobless claims. Analysts and investors had expected a reading of 334,000 new jobs. Analysts noted the Veterans Day holiday as a likely contributor to the lower reading for new jobless claims.
Freddie Mac provided good news in its weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 4.35 percent to 4.22 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. The rate for a 15-year mortgage fell from 3.35 percent to 3.27 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent.
The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage remained unchanged at 2.61 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent. This was encouraging news for home buyers and homeowners who have recently faced rising mortgage rates and home prices.
What's Coming Up
This week's schedule for economic reports includes several of interest to mortgage and housing professionals. Pending Home Sales will be out on Monday; Tuesday's calendar is full with Housing Starts and Building Permits, the Case-Shiller Housing Market Index, the FHFA Home Price Index and the Consumer Confidence Index.
Wednesday's news includes Weekly Jobless Claims, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index and Leading Economic Indicators. No economic news is scheduled for Thursday or Friday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.
The 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.
Last week's economic news came from a variety of sources. Most significant was the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee statement after its meeting ended Wednesday. The statement indicated that the Fed saw moderate economic growth. FOMC did not taper its purchase of MBS and Treasury securities.
The FOMC statement announced the committee's intention to closely monitor economic and financial developments "in the coming months," which suggested that the FOMC is taking a wait-and-see position on reducing its $85 billion monthly asset purchases.
Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall
The Fed's asset purchase program, also known as quantitative easing, was implanted in 2012 with a goal of stabilizing mortgage rates and other long-term interest rates.
The National Association of REALTORS® reported that pending home sales fell by 5.60 percent in September. Uncertainty over the FOMC's decision concerning tapering its asset purchases during its September meeting and concerns over a then potential government shutdown.
These were noted as primary reasons for the drop in pending home sales, which are measured by signed real estate contracts. Pending Home Sales are used for estimating future closings and mortgage loan activity.
Tuesday's economic reports included the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for August. Home prices increased by 12.80 percent year-over-year in August as compared to 12.30 percent year-over-year for August 2012. August's reading shows a dampened pace of rising home prices.
The Conference Board, a research organization, reported that consumer confidence fell from a reading of 80.2 in September to 71.2 in October. A reading of 75.00 was expected, but consumer confidence crashed as the government shutdown and its consequences diminished consumer and investor confidence.
According to ADP, a payroll administration firm, private-sector payrolls came in well shy of the expected 150,000 new jobs with a reading of 130,000 jobs. October's reading was also lower than September's reading of 145,000 new jobs.
Weekly jobless claims brought good news; new jobless claims came in at 340,000 and fell by 10,000 new claims from the previous week's 350,000 new jobless claims. Expectations had been for 335,000 new jobless claims.
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by three basis points to 4.10 percent, with discount points down from 0.80 percent to 0.70 percent.
The average rate for a 15-year mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.20 percent, with an uptick in discount points from 0.60 percent to 0.70 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by four basis points to 2.96 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.
What's Coming Up
There is no housing or mortgage economic news scheduled this week other than Freddie Mac's PMMS due on Thursday.
Reporting for this week includes Leading Economic Indicators, Weekly Jobless Claims, Non-farm Payrolls and the National Unemployment Rate will be posted. The University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index will be released Friday.
This week's economic reports are expected provide a general gauge of the economy and information about how consumers are responding to recent economic events and news.