Archive for the ‘Market Outlook’ Category

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Growth Slows in March

August 1, 2019

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Growth Slows in MarchHome price growth slowed again in May according to Case-Shiller home price indices. Home price growth slowed for the 14th consecutive month to its lowest rate in 12 years. Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index showed 3.40 percent growth year-over-year in May as compared to April’s year-over-year reading of 3.50 percent.

Las Vegas, Nevada held its first place position in the 20-City Home Price Index for highest year-over-year home price growth rate at 6.40 percent; Phoenix, Arizona held second place with a year-over-year home price growth reading of 5.70 percent. Tampa, Florida home prices grew by 5.10 percent year-over-year in May.

Home Price Growth Rates Fall In West Coast Cities

West coast cities that posted double-digit annual home price gains in recent years posted less than two percent growth in home prices in May. Seattle, Washington was the first city to post negative home price growth with a negative year-over-year reading of -1.20 percent in May. San Francisco, California home prices rose by 1.00 percent year-over-year and home prices in San Diego, California grew 1.30 percent year-over-year.

This trend suggests that home prices were topped out in terms of affordability as buyers looked elsewhere for larger selections of homes at affordable prices.

Analysts predicted a plateau in home price growth and did not expect steep declines in home prices. Steady growth in wages and jobs could help to ease affordability challenges for home buyers. Lower mortgage rates provided additional opportunity for first-time and moderate income home buyers, but home price growth needs to ease further to help would-be buyers conquer affordability concerns. Shortages of homes for sale are most pronounced for lower-priced homes, where demand is largest. Higher demand for homes during the peak selling season could boost prices in popular metro areas.

If you’re in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, please contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

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NAHB: Housing Market Index Rises 1 Point in July

July 17, 2019

NAHB Housing Market Index Rises 1 Point in JulyHome Builder sentiment rose one point in July according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. 2019 builder confidence in housing market condition continued to fall short of 2018 levels. July’s Housing Market Index reading of 65 was one point higher than June’s reading.

Component readings also rose one point each. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose to 72; the reading for builder confidence in market conditions for the next six months rose to 71. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments rose to an index reading of 48; buyer traffic readings seldom exceed the neutral reading of reading of 50.

2019 Builder Confidence Is Lagging Behind 2018 Readings

Year to date, builder confidence index readings averaged 63 as compared to a reading of 67 in 2018 and 68 in 2017. Ongoing headwinds affecting builders were familiar concerns over materials prices and shortages of buildable lots and labor. Analysts said that builders remain leery of building to many homes after having large inventories of unsold homes after the Great Recession.

Builders also noted that increasing regulation and local building codes are impacting some areas. Builders are under pressure to produce affordable homes, but are log-jammed by “not in my backyard” zoning restrictions when they apply to build mixed developments of single and multi-family homes.

There may be good news on the horizon. Oregon passed state legislation banning exclusively single-family zoning. Depending on population, local jurisdictions will be allowed to build duplexes and larger multi-family units. If other states and communities follow Oregon’s lead, builders may find new options for building multiple units on lots formerly zoned for single family homes. Building affordable homes would help to ease housing shortages and ease demand for homes.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in listing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage and real estate professionals. 

Case-Shiller: Annual Home Price Growth Slows for 13th Consecutive Month

June 27, 2019

Case-Shiller Annual Home Price Growth Slows for 13th Consecutive MonthCase-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index for April showed further declines in home price growth with 2.50 percent year-over-year home price growth as compared to March home price growth of 2.60 percent. New York City home prices held steady month-to-month and Seattle, Washington’s home prices were unchanged year-over-year after posting 13 percent home price growth in 2018.

The top three cities with the highest rates of year-over-year home price growth were Las Vegas, Nevada with 7.10 percent growth; Phoenix, Arizona followed with 6.0 percent growth and Tampa, Florida reported 5.60 percent home price growth. All three cities were hard-hit during the recession. While U.S. home prices are rising, they aren’t rising as fast as in prior years. The fastest home price growth rates remained in single digits as compared to double digit home price growth rates posted in recent years.

Changing geography played a role in this year’s home price growth as San Francisco, California, Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington fell to sun-belt cities east of the west coast. Astronomical home prices and pronounced shortages of homes in many west coast cities caused home buyers to seek affordable homes elsewhere.

The Case-Shiller 10-City Home Price Index posted a year-over-year gain of 2.30 percent in April as compared to its March reading of 2.20 percent. Analysts said that slower gains for home prices indicated more normalized price conditions, but noted that home price growth remains about 1.50 percent ahead of inflation.

Buyers Benefit from Slower Home Price Growth, More Available Homes

First-time and moderate income home buyers were sidelined by competing investors and cash buyers as home prices rose quickly, but may find it easier to compete as market conditions achieve a balance of advantages to home buyers and sellers.

The flip side of easing home price growth may be that prospective buyers who are leery of buying at peak market prices will put off buying homes. Low mortgage rates continued to boost affordability and decreasing shortages of homes provided buyers with more options. Homebuyer sentiment is likely to vary according to economic trends, regional and personal circumstances.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

 

Fed Holds Key Rate Steady As It Watches Economic Trends

June 25, 2019

Fed Holds Key Rate Steady As It Watches Economic TrendsFederal Reserve policymakers held the federal funds rate at its current range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent. Analysts speculated that the Fed may lower its key rate based on signs of slowing economic growth and the President’s encouragement to lower the Fed rate.

Federal Open Market Committee members cited “uncertainties” in support of their decision not to change the Fed’s key lending rate. A stiff month-to-month drop in jobs growth and worries over trade problems associated with recent tariffs assessed against China contributed to the Committee’s decision to hold rates steady and closely watch domestic and global economic trends.

Signs of slowing economic growth caused the Fed to adjust its forecast for achieving the benchmark inflation rate of 2.00 percent to 2021 and lowered expectations for inflationary growth from 1.80 percent to 1.50 percent.

Fed Chair: Fed Closely Monitoring Economic Developments

After the FOMC statement, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave a press conference in which he further addressed the Fed’s response to slowing economic growth and current developments in global affairs. Chairman Powell said that it is important for policymakers to respond based on emerging economic trends rather than reacting to quickly shifting data.

Chairman Powell identified trade concerns and slowing global economic growth as factors impacting slowing domestic economic growth. Due to recent economic changes, Chairman Powell said that a “somewhat accommodative” policy stance was indicated. Uncertainty over supply chains due to tariffs was an example of factors causing concern over economic growth. Positive indicators centered around labor as job growth continued and employers reported a shortage of workers for available jobs.

Manufacturing declined globally and domestically as service-related-jobs expanded. When asked about Fed oversight over banks’ risk exposure due to lending policies, Chairman Powell said that large institutional holdings presented the greatest risk for banks, but did not say such risk was currently problematic. The chairman re-emphasized that FOMC members constantly assess economic data and global events to determine the Fed’s economic policies.

 

NAHB: Builder Confidence Slips in June

June 20, 2019

NAHB Builder Confidence Slips in JuneHomebuilder confidence dropped two points in June according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. June’s index reading was 64, which indicates strong sentiment among home builders for current housing market conditions.

NAHB component readings also dropped in June with builder confidence in current home sales one point lower at an index reading of 71. Home builder confidence in home sales conditions over the next six months dropped two points to 70 and builder confidence in buyer traffic was one point lower at 48. Buyer traffic readings seldom exceed the NAHB benchmark reading of 50. Index readings over 50 indicate that most builders have positive sentiment toward conditions surveyed.

Home Builders Cite Ongoing Concerns and Growing Worry Over Tariffs

Home builders surveyed for June’s Housing Market Index cited continued concerns over shortages of labor and buildable lots, but also worried over increased materials costs resulting from recent tariffs. Analysts said that high demand for homes is driven by a current shortage of several million available homes; demand should be driving builder sentiment and housing starts much higher than current levels. Builder sentiment reported in the Housing Market Index typically drove housing starts, but this hasn’t been the case in the aftermath of the housing crisis. Severe shortages of homes for sale drive home prices up; this creates competition between buyers and sidelines first-time and moderate income home buyers.

While buyer traffic is robust, headwinds including high home prices and concerns about general economic conditions could be keeping would-be buyers on the fence. Low mortgage rates, which may drop further if the Federal Reserve lowers its key lending rate, could prompt more buyers to enter the market, but rapidly rising home prices in recent years have caused would-be buyers to hold off on buying homes. Faced with few options and high home prices, buyers may be waiting until more homes come on the market. Industry leaders have long said that building more homes is the only way to resolve the shortage of homes and high demand from home buyers.

Faced with rising materials costs and strict zoning rules, builders are tasked to find affordable housing solutions when fewer buildable lots and zoning rules discourage higher density affordable housing developments.

 

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slows in March

May 29, 2019

Case-Shiller Home Price Growth Slows in MarchCase-Shiller Indices reported slower home price growth in March with a 3.70 percent gain year-over-year as compared to 3.90 percent home price growth for the year-over-year period in 2018. This was the slowest pace of home price growth in seven years.

The 20-City Home Price Index showed Las Vegas, Nevada as having the top year-over-year home price growth rate of 8.20 percent; Phoenix, Arizona had year-over-year home price growth of 6.10 percent. Tampa, Florida had the third highest growth rate for home prices at 5.30 percent. Analysts said that all three cities continue their recoveries from deep home price declines during the recession.

Did Home Prices Grow Too Fast?

David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Index Committee, said that given strong economic signs in other sectors, housing should be doing better. He said that too-high home price gains may have caused slowing growth in home prices as fewer prospective buyers can afford skyrocketing home prices in many metro areas.

The 20-City Home Price Index showed New York City was the only metro area posting a negative growth rate in March; this was attributed to the region’s already high home prices. Fluctuating mortgage rates likely sidelined some prospective home buyers, especially first-time and moderate income buyers.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that home affordability reached a ten-year low in the end of 2018. Coupled with short supplies of affordable homes and builders focusing on high end housing development, shortages of affordable homes are expected to continue, particularly in high demand metro areas.

Slower home price growth indicates that the rapid rise in home prices in recent years aren’t sustainable as fewer prospective buyers can afford to buy homes or cannot qualify for purchase money mortgages. When home prices rise faster than inflation and wages, home buyers encounter more challenges in their searches for affordable homes.

 

NAHB: May Home Builder Confidence Hits Highest Level in 7 Months

May 16, 2019

NAHB May Home Builder Confidence Hits Highest Level in 7 MonthsThe National Association of Home Builders reported the highest builder confidence reading in seven months for May. May’s reading exceeded expectations for an index reading of 64 and rose three points to 67.

Component readings for the main NAHB reading were also higher. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose three points to 72; confidence in housing market conditions for the next six months rose one point to 72 and the reading for buyer traffic in single-family housing developments rose two points to 49.

Any reading over 50 indicates most builders are positive about housing market conditions, but the reading for buyer traffic is often lower than 50. May’s reading suggests that builders were expecting solid buyer traffic as the peak home buying season started. The average NAHB Housing Market Index reading for 2018 was 67; 2019’s average reading is 62.

March housing starts were the lowest in two years. Lower mortgage rates could increase demand for homes and possibly compel builders to ratchet up construction, but there are no guarantees that low mortgage rates will hold steady over the long run.

Builders Cite Ongoing Obstacles Including Tariffs And Labor Costs

Home builders continued to experience higher materials and labor costs. Tariffs were cited as a cause of higher materials costs that are passed on to buyers by raising home prices. While would-be buyers may enter the market due to lower mortgage rates, higher home prices are likely to sideline first-time and moderate income buyers who are concerned with affordability and strict mortgage qualification requirements.

Freddie Mac reported that based on its survey of recent buyers, about 16 percent of recent home buyers relied on seller assistance. While seller contributions to home buyers are carefully regulated, this type of transaction can help buyers get into a home without spending their last dollar.

Rapidly rising home prices and buyer competition have skewed housing markets in favor of sellers in high-demand markets, but slower growth of home prices in recent months could help more renters buy homes. Continued trade negotiations and increased tariffs on China could impact housing costs depending on terms of negotiations and tariffs imposed.

 

FOMC Statement: No Changes to Key Fed Rate

May 2, 2019

FOMC Statement No Changes to Key Fed RateThe meeting of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee ended Wednesday with the Committee’s customary post-meeting statement recapping monetary policy matters considered by the Committee. Members voted not to change the current target rate range of the federal funds rate. The current rate range of 2.25 percent to 2.50 percent.

Federal Funds Target Rate Range: Monetary Policymakers Remain Patient

FOMC members cited low inflation pressures, global and domestic economic and financial developments as supporting the Committee’s decision to leave the Federal funds rate unchanged despite recent political pressures to lower the rate and increase the Fed’s accommodative stance toward boosting the economy.

FOMC members evaluated actual and expected economic conditions, labor markets and readings on global and domestic current events and economic news. Based on their assessments, FOMC members again asserted their willingness to be patient concerning Committee decisions to change the federal funds rate range.

The Fed’s dual mandate of supporting maximum employment and stable pricing as indicated by low national unemployment rates and the benchmark inflation rate of two percent are foundational influences on any decision about changing the Fed’s key interest rate range; the national unemployment rate has hovered near a historically low rate of 3.80 percent in recent months and inflation is also below the Fed’s benchmark of two percent.

Fed Chair: No Strong Case for Moving Federal Funds Rate in Either Direction

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said during his post-meeting press conference that FOMC members did not see a strong case for moving the federal funds rate in either direction. Mr. Powell cited improvements in global economic conditions within Europe and China and said that trade negotiations with China and Japan were also improved.

When asked about lowering the Federal funds rate based on lower inflation rates, Chairman Powell said that maintaining inflation near two percent was important, but viewed lower inflation during the first quarter of 2019 as a result of transitory influences. He reassured his audience that short-term fluctuations in the inflation were not considered a problem.

Chairman Powell said that the Fed is not influenced by political pressure and that the Fed’s monetary policy is not based in any way on political commentary or pressures. Mr. Powell said the outlook for domestic economic growth was good based on consumer spending and business investments. He said that resolution of trade issues would likely improve consumer sentiment.

 

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Rises in April

April 18, 2019

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Rises in AprilHome builder confidence increased in April to an index reading of 63, which was one point higher than for March and the highest reading in six months. Analysts said that April’s reading revealed more about housing market conditions in the past six months than it was an indicator of future market conditions.

November’s builder confidence reading was the lowest since housing markets tanked in 2008, Builder confidence recovered over the past few months despite headwinds including higher materials costs and shortages of labor and buildable lots.

Home Builder Confidence Holds Steady Despite Headwinds

NAHB Housing Market Index readings over 50 indicate that most home builders are confident about housing market conditions. While April’s reading was comfortably above the benchmark, the average reading so far in 2019 is 61 as compared to 2018’s annual average reading of 67.

Component readings of the Housing Market Index were mixed in April. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose one point to 69; confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months dropped one point to 71 and the reading for builder confidence in buyer traffic rose three points to an index reading of 47. Readings for builder confidence in buyer traffic seldom exceeds 50.

Market Conditions Expected to Improve, but Obstacles Persist

Improving weather conditions and the peak home-buying season should boost builder confidence and housing market conditions, but rapidly rising home prices and affordability concerns could dampen housing markets and builder enthusiasm. Analysts report that no major changes are expected to mortgage rates in 2019. If this holds true, potential homebuyers are likely to take advantage of lower rates to buy homes. Analysts also said that initial impact of new tax laws has faded; more home buyers are expected to enter the market.

Market conditions depend on buyers and sellers; their motivations, resources and ability to “stay put” impact individual home sales. Buyers who depend on financing their home purchases are competing with increasing numbers of cash buyers; the National Association of Realtors ® traditionally reported about 10 percent of home sales were cash transactions, in recent years cash sales have increased to approximately 20 percent of home sales.

Homeowners are more likely to accept cash offers rather than accepting offers from buyers who must qualify for mortgages under a lengthy and precise approval process. Trends indicate that more homeowners are choosing to stay in their homes; this and exclusionary zoning laws in some areas are reducing the number of homes available.

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 26th, 2018

February 26, 2018

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 26th 2018Last week’s economic releases included minutes from the most recent FOMC meeting, a report on January sales of pre-owned homes and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

FOMC Minutes: Economic Strength Hints at More Rate Hikes

Minutes of the January 30-31 meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee indicated that most Committee members believe that inflation will reach the Fed’s goal of 2.00 percent. Members found that the economy was stronger since 2017 and expected “a gradual upward trajectory of the federal funds rate would be appropriate.”

While analysts expect three rate hikes in 2018, the FOMC voted to hold the federal funds rate at 1.25 to 1.50 percent. Most FOMC members expected that the goal of 2 percent inflation was within reach in 2018.

Analysts were not as confident about reaching to Fed’s inflation goal. Instead, the said that in response to tax cuts, the labor market could exceed full employment and lead to higher wages and surging inflation.

A minority of FOMC members said that inflation could fall short of the Fed’s goal as retailers would compete by lowering prices.

Existing Home Sales Drop in January

According to the National Association of Realtors®, sales of previously-owned homes dipped from a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.56 million sales to 5.38 million sales in January. This reading was the lowest in more than three years; it could indicate that the shortage of homes for sale has reached critical mass.

Months of short supplies of homes for sale have caused rapidly rising home prices, buyer competition and fewer choices of homes for would-be buyers. Real estate pros have repeatedly said the only solution to shortages of available homes is that builders must build more homes but increasing materials costs and labor shortages have caused construction pace to lag demand for homes. Affordability continued to weigh on moderate-income and first-time buyers.

Mortgage Rates Rise for 7th Consecutive Week

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates on average last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was two basis points higher at 4.40 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged one basis point higher at 3.85 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was two basis points higher at 3.65 percent.

New jobless claims dropped by 7000 first-time claims and regained a 45-year low. 222,000 new claims were filed last week as compared to expectations of 229,000 new claims and 230,000 new claims filed the prior week. Real estate pros and analysts cite strong labor markets as driving housing markets and high demand for homes. Workers with job security and options for advancement in their careers are more likely to consider investing in a home than paying rising rents.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, readings on new and pending home sales and construction spending. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released along with a report on consumer sentiment.