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NAHB: Builder Sentiment Dips in April

According to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for April, Builder Confidence dropped three points to an index reading of 68 in April. While any reading over 50 indicates positive builder confidence, home builders said that they continue to face obstacles including higher costs for materials and elevated costs associated with regulatory issues. Builders have repeatedly cited concerns including a lack of buildable lots and labor shortages in past months.

Home Builder Component Readings Fall But Remain in Positive Territory

Component readings of the Housing Market Index include builder confidence in current market conditions for newly built homes, which dropped three points to 73. Builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months fell three points to 75. Home builder confidence in buyer traffic volume for new housing developments dropped one point to an April reading of 52.

Regional Readings for Builder Sentiment Vary

Regional readings for April were included in the three-month rolling average in four U.S. regions. Builder confidence in the Northeastern region fell by two points to 46; The Midwestern region added one point for a builder confidence reading of 68, while the Southern region’s reading was unchanged at 68. The Western region added one point for a three-month reading of 77.

Housing industry groups and analysts watch the NAHB Housing Market Index for indications of future volume in housing starts, but builder confidence and housing starts are not always closely connected. The Commerce Department will release readings for March housing starts and building permits issued on Tuesday.

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NAHB: Builder Sentiment Dips in April

According to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for April, Builder Confidence dropped three points to an index reading of 68 in April. While any reading over 50 indicates positive builder confidence, home builders said that they continue to face obstacles including higher costs for materials and elevated costs associated with regulatory issues. Builders have repeatedly cited concerns including a lack of buildable lots and labor shortages in past months.

Home Builder Component Readings Fall But Remain in Positive Territory

Component readings of the Housing Market Index include builder confidence in current market conditions for newly built homes, which dropped three points to 73. Builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months fell three points to 75. Home builder confidence in buyer traffic volume for new housing developments dropped one point to an April reading of 52.

Regional Readings for Builder Sentiment Vary

Regional readings for April were included in the three-month rolling average in four U.S. regions. Builder confidence in the Northeastern region fell by two points to 46; The Midwestern region added one point for a builder confidence reading of 68, while the Southern region’s reading was unchanged at 68. The Western region added one point for a three-month reading of 77.

Housing industry groups and analysts watch the NAHB Housing Market Index for indications of future volume in housing starts, but builder confidence and housing starts are not always closely connected. The Commerce Department will release readings for March housing starts and building permits issued on Tuesday.

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Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Mixed for September

September’s 20-City Housing Market Index from Case-Shiller showed signs that rapidly rising home prices in some metro areas may be losing momentum. San Francisco, California, posted a month-to-month reading of -0.40 percent and a year-over-year reading of 5.70 percent. Home prices stayed flat in Seattle Washington from August to September, but posted the highest home price gain of 11.00 percent year-over-year. Slowing home price growth in high-demand areas suggest that affordability concerns are impacting rapid gains in home prices seen in recent years.

Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index achieved its highest gain with a reading of 5.50 percent as compared to August’s reading of 5.10 percent.

YearoverYear: Western U.S. Holds Highest Gains in Home Prices

In addition to Seattle’s year-over-year home price growth rate of 11 percent, Portland, Oregon closely followed with a year-over-year reading of 10.90 percent. Denver, Colorado rounded out the top three cities in the 20-City Home Price Index with a year-over-year growth rate of 8.70 percent. September was the eighth consecutive month that the top three cities held their places in the 20-City Index. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index posted a year-over- year gain of 5.10 percent.

September Home Prices Cap Recovery, Usher in New Progress for Housing Market

According to David M. Blitzer, Chairman of S&P Dow Jones Index Committee, September’s record national reading for home prices marks a transition from housing recovery to “the hoped for start of a new advance.” Mr. Blitzer cited recent data on sales of new and pre-owned homes and said that housing starts reached a post-recession peak.

September’s peak in national home prices was 0.10 percent above the pre-recession peak set in 2006. Adjusted for inflation, the September peak remains approximately 16 percent below the pre-recession peak. During the recession, national home prices reached a trough that was 27 percent lower than Case-Shiller’s September reading. Analysts expressed some caution and noted headwinds to housing markets including slower-than-normal rates of homes construction, higher mortgage rates and strict mortgage approval requirements.

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NAHB Housing Market Index Dips 2 Points

According to the National Association of Home Builders, overall builder confidence in housing markets dropped two points in October to an index reading of 63. September’s reading of 65 was the highest posted since the housing bubble peak. Component readings for October’s housing market index were mixed; the reading for builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months rose one point to 72. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell two points to 69. Builder outlook for buyer traffic in new home developments over the next six months fell by one point to an index reading of 46.

Approaching winter weather likely contributed to lower readings, but builder confidence remained strong. Any reading above 50 signifies that more builders are confident about specific index components than fewer. While home builders continue to be encouraged by low mortgage rates and a stronger job market, they also face obstacles including shortages of labor and buildable lots for development.

High Demand, Low Inventory of Homes Present Ongoing Challenges

High demand for homes coupled with depleted inventory of available homes is sidelining some buyers. As demand continues to drive home prices higher first-time and moderate income buyers are faced with affordability and mortgage qualification challenges. Limited inventory also makes it difficult for home buyers to find homes they want and contributes to competition for available homes. Buyers depending on mortgage financing typically compete with investors and cash buyers for homes in high demand areas.

Real estate pros and analysts monitor home builder sentiment as an indicator of future home supplies, but builder sentiment and housing starts don’t necessarily correspond. Given high home prices and strict mortgage qualification standards that sideline some buyers, it appears that home builders are taking a moderate stance toward ramping up construction.

In addition to boosting real estate markets, building homes provides jobs and supports local economies. Building homes creates demand for construction materials and related products and services.

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FOMC Minutes: Housing Market Stable But Slow

FOMC Minutes: Housing Market Stable But SlowThe minutes of the March meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) were released Tuesday and included a staff review of current economic conditions. The minutes noted that while labor markets continued to grow, inflation to the Fed’s target rate of 2.00 percent was impeded by dropping fuel prices. The Committee noted that expectations for longer-term inflation remained stable.

Non-farm payrolls, which include both private and public sector jobs, grew in January and February and the national unemployment rate reached a new low of 5.50 percent in February. Readings for workers employed part time due to economic reasons edged down and workforce participation was up.

These developments are noteworthy as in recent months analysts have repeatedly cited concerns over the numbers of workers who have stopped looking for work and those who work part time because they cannot find full-time employment. Meeting participants said that underutilization of labor resources “continued to diminish,” but also said that levels for those involuntarily working part-time and still elevated numbers of workers no longer seeking employment.

Personal consumption expenditures slowed in the first quarter due to falling fuel prices and winter weather conditions. Households had more disposable income and household wealth increased due to increasing home values. The Committee said that consumer sentiment was near pre-recession levels according to the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment survey.

Fed Says Housing Activity “Slow,” No Decision on Raising Fed Funds Rate

The FOMC minutes reflect the committee’s view that housing markets are performing at a slower rate than other economic sectors. The minutes said that building permits and housing starts for single family homes were lower in January and February. Sales of new and existing homes were down in January, but pending home sales rose. This suggests that while markets slowed (as they typically do) during winter, pending sales suggest that completed sales will recover in the late winter and early spring.

The FOMC minutes noted that mortgage credit remained challenging for those in the lower portion of the credit score distribution, but said that the cost of mortgages was historically low for those who qualified for home loans.

The Committee also addressed the likelihood of raising the Federal Funds rate in its usual non-definitive manner. While raising the rate at the next meeting seemed unlikely, committee members wanted the flexibility to raise the target federal funds rate when conditions warrant. The target rate is currently set at 0.00 to 0.25 percent; when the FOMC moves to raise the target federal funds rate, the cost of credit including mortgage loans can be expected to increase.

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Home Builder Index Stays Near Nine Year Peak

Home Builder Index Stays Near Nine Year Peak

Home Builder Sentiment slipped to a reading of 57 in December according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. November’s reading of 58 prompted analysts to project a reading of 59 for December. The latest reading marks the sixth consecutive month for readings above 50. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are positive about housing market conditions than not.

The one-point decline in December’s reading kept the NAHB Housing Market Index within two points of a nine-year high reached in September.

NAHB: Housing Market Index Suggests Slow Return to Normalcy

NAHB’s chief economist, David Crowe, said that December’s reading was in line with NAHB’s assessment that housing markets are on a “slow march back to normal.” Home builder confidence in conditions contributing to the NAHB Housing Market Index also fell in two categories while remaining unchanged in one.

The gauge of builder confidence in current market conditions moved from last month’s reading of 62 to 61. Builder confidence in upcoming home sales fell from 65 to 64, while confidence in prospective buyer traffic was unchanged at a reading of 45. These results are consistent with real estate market trends slowing during the holiday season and winter months.

Builders Challenged in 2014, Better Conditions Expected in 2015

Analysts said that steady builder confidence may be a result of builders surviving a tough year in 2015. Market conditions, unpredictable interest rates and higher costs of supplies along with high unemployment subdued builder confidence during 2014. The New Year brings prospects of easing mortgage standards and better labor markets, which are expected to boost builder confidence as more home buyers enter the market for new homes.

The Commerce Department is set to release Housing Starts for November on December 16; analysts expect an increase to 1.035 million starts on a seasonally adjusted annual basis as compared to October’s reading of 1.01 million starts. A positive reading for housing starts could further bolster home builder confidence for future readings.

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Discover Why Your Home Isn’t Selling This Summer

Discover Why Your Home Isn't Selling This SummerJust when you think you’ve done everything you need to do to get your home ready for the market, months pass and your home doesn’t sell. Consider a few factors that can effect your goal of selling your home.

Priced Too High If your home has an excessive asking price, it will be harder to sell. With so many homes available today, a big price tag may turn buyers off.

And, your competition down the street may have the same home but a better price.

The Market – No longer can you simply put a home on the market and watch the offers roll in. Nowadays, you have to be diligent and knowledgeable in your approach.

Research the market value of homes in your neighborhood and know what kind of competition you’re up against. And, understand today’s buyers and what they need in order to make a good offer on a home.

Unfavorable LocationNo matter how gorgeous a home is a bad location can hurt sales. Although you can’t change the location, you can be creative in figuring out ways to appeal to buyers. Offer incentives to attract buyers or lower your asking price.

The Appearance – Does your home need some work? If so, you want to attack those issues first before putting your home on the market.

Things like dirty carpets and broken appliances can turn buyers off. Try staging your home. This will help to ensure your home dazzles potential buyers.

You Didn’t Consult A Professional – Trying to sell a home yourself can be an extremely daunting task. That’s why you need a real estate professional who knows the ins and outs of the industry and can market your home in the right way.

The good thing is that you can make changes that will improve the situation. Go over all the points listed and address any problems. Once that’s done, you’ll have a better chance of watching your home sell.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 5, 2014

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 5, 2014Last week’s economic news included several reports related to housing and mortgages. The NAR started the week on a positive note with its Pending Home Sales Index released Monday. Pending home sales in March were higher with an unexpected increase of 3.40 percent over February for an index reading of 97.40.

This is encouraging news for home sales that were severely affected by a hard winter in many areas, and suggests that as warmer weather approaches, home sales will pick up. Analysts do not expect the rapid rate of price appreciation seen in 2013. The Fed’s tapering of its “quantitative easing” program has caused mortgage rates to rise, and last year’s rapid run-up of home prices has made affordability an issue in many areas.

The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index for February performed slightly better than expected with a seasonally-adjusted month-to-month reading of 0.80 percent. The expected reading was 0.70 percent.

The year-over-year reading fell short of January’s reading of 13.20 percent and the expected reading of 13.00 percent at 12.90 percent. Analysts noted the continuing trend of slowing momentum in home price growth, but seem confident that home prices will continue to increase over the spring months.

Fed Continues Tapering Of QE, Mortgage Rates Mixed

Wednesday brought the FOMC’s customary statement after its two-day meeting concluded. There were no surprises as the statement verified another monthly tapering of $10 billion from the Fed’s quantitative easing (QE) program of asset purchases.

The tapering was evenly divided with $5 billion less in MBS purchased and $5 billion less in treasury securities purchased. The ongoing tapering was seen as contributing to rising mortgage rates, but the Fed asserted that its asset purchases remain sufficient to dampen rapid increases in long-term interest rates, which include mortgage rates.

The Fed repeated its usual reminder that its decisions are not on a pre-set course and that the committee members would closely monitor economic and financial developments as guidance for future decisions.

Freddie Mac reported mixed results for mortgage rates on Thursday. Average rates rose by four basis points to 4.29 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage with discount points of 0.70 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by one basis point to 3.38 percent; discount points steady at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 3.05 percent; discount points dropped from 0.50 to 0.40 percent.

Weekly jobless claims made an unexpected jump to 344,000 as compared to the prior week’s revised figure of 329,000 jobless claims and an expected reading of 320,000 new jobless claims.

Analysts note that week-to-week figures continued to show volatility, but said that on balance, the rolling average for jobless claims appeared consistent with moderate growth in labor markets.

This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news shows no events related to housing and mortgages. Highlights include Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s appearance before the Joint Economic Committee in Washington, D.C. and the usual releases of mortgage rates and new jobless claims on Thursday. 

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FOMC Noted Retail Sales In March Reached Highest Level Since September Of 2012

FOMC Noted Retail Sales In March Reached Highest Level Since September Of 2012The FOMC of the Federal Reserve released its customary statement after its meeting concluded April 30.

FOMC members said that the economy is improving after a winter lull caused by poor weather. The national unemployment rate remains high, although some improvement in labor markets was reported. Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth, although FOMC said that the restraint is diminishing.

FOMC Monitors Inflation, Further Reduces Asset Purchases

The FOMC statement reflected members’ concerns about the inflation rate remaining below its goal of two percent, and said that this could eventually impact economic recovery. The Fed expects inflation to approach its goal within the “medium term.”

The Fed will reduce its monthly asset purchases of mortgage-backed securities and Treasury securities to a total of $45 billion in May. FOMC members said that the Fed’s level of asset purchases is sufficient to maintain downward pressure on long term interest rates and to support mortgage markets.

The Fed expects to continue reducing its asset purchases as long as improvements in the labor market and general economic conditions occur. As of March, the national unemployment rate was 6.70 percent; the Fed previously established a goal of 6.50 percent unemployment as an indicator of economic recovery.

The statement included its usual comment that asset purchases are not on a pre-set course and that FOMC members monitor economic reports and other financial data on an ongoing basis as part of the FOMC’s decision making process.

Fed Funds Target Rate Unchanged

FOMC members agreed to maintain the Fed’s current “highly accommodative” monetary policy and left the target Federal Funds rate at between 0.00 and 0.25 percent. The committee expects this policy to continue long after the asset purchase program concludes.

FOMC members will continue to monitor economic and financial developments along with inflation to determine the course of the target federal funds rate.

The FOMC noted that retail sales in March reached their highest level since September of 2012; this was viewed as a sign of a stronger overall economy.

This FOMC statement mentioned inflation as a basis for reviewing monetary policy more than in recent statements, and clearly established maximum employment and the committee’s target two percent inflation rate as benchmarks for decisions related to future policy decisions.

April’s unemployment rate is set for release on May 2.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 7, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 7, 2014Last week’s economic news included readings on February construction spending and multiple reports on employment data.

Private sector employment was higher in March, but The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Non-Farm Payrolls for March fell short of expectations. According to Freddie Mac, mortgage rates ticked upward.

Employment And Unemployment News

ADP’s payrolls report for March was higher than February’s reading, with 191,000 new private sector jobs added. In February, 178,000 jobs were added. February’s reading originally showed 138, 000 new jobs added.

While analysts were confident that private-sector employment was showing signs of stability, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics swamped excess confidence in labor markets Friday with its March reading for Non-Farm Payrolls.

192,000 jobs were added in March against predictions of 200,000 jobs added and February’s reading of 197,000 jobs added.

The news was not all bad as job gains for January and February were revised upward. January’s job gains were revised from 129,000 to 144,000 and February’s reading was revised from 175,000 to 197,000 jobs added. The revised readings represent a total of 37,000 more jobs added.

As data impacted by severe winter weather “shakes out,” it would not be surprising to see a revision to March’s new jobless claims reading as well.

Unemployment Rate Holds Steady, Workforce Numbers Higher

While readings on employment have been up and down in recent months, the national unemployment rate has held relatively steady, with last week’s reading at 6.70 percent. 503,000 workers joined the workforce this increased the labor participation rate for March from 63 percent to 63.20 percent.

Mortgage rates were incrementally higher last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased by one basis point to 4.41 percent; discount points moved from 0.60 percent to 0.70 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by five basis points to 3.47 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.60 percent. 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.12 percent, which was two basis points higher than the previous week. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.50 percent.

This Week’s Economic News Highlights

Job openings for February, FOMC minutes and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for March are set for release this week. As usual, Freddie Mac will post results of its latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey and weekly unemployment claims will also be reported.

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