Why Predictions Won’t Work

In the past couple of months we have seen how futile it can be to try and predict the future. If one were to look at the stock market for the first half of the year, everything seemed to be coming up roses. Who can complain about a ten percent increase in the major stock indices in just six months? On the other hand, many analysts predicted that the price of oil would come down this summer. Events in Egypt reminded us quickly that predictions are useless. Oil moved up significantly at the end of June. The next question is whether higher gas prices will cause the economy to slow down while consumers adjust their spending patterns. The same can be said about interest rates.

Many analysts predicted that long-term rates would rise this year. Few predicted the scope of the rise as rates on home loans have moved up from historic lows overnight. Will this increase affect consumer spending? In the short run it appears that consumers are coming off the fence and purchasing homes in reaction to the increase in rates. This is giving real estate another shot in the arm. But what about the long-run? For a year we have warned consumers that there would be no notice when rates rise and the sale on America’s real estate ends. We could not predict when and how quickly it would happen. Now we know. The good news is that rates are still low when measured against historical patterns. Those who are older remember rates on home loans which were 8.0% or higher. Today, we will not predict whether higher oil prices or interest rates will slow the economic recovery which finally seems to be gaining steam. But we certainly will hold out that possibility.

The Markets. Rates bounced back up in the past week, but eased as the data was released. Freddie Mac announced that for the week ending July 11, 30-year fixed rates rose from 4.29% to 4.51%. The average for 15-year loans increased to 3.53%. Adjustable rates were mixed, with the average for one-year adjustables unchanged at 2.66% and five-year adjustables rising to 3.26%. A year ago 30-year fixed rates were at 3.56%. Attributed to Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac — “June’s strong employment led to more market speculation that the Federal Reserve will reduce future bond purchases causing bond yields to rise and rates on home loans followed. The economy gained 195,000 jobs in June, above the market consensus forecast, while revisions to the prior two months added 70,000 on top of that. Moreover, hourly wages rose by 2.2 percent over the last 12 months and represented the largest annual increase in nearly two years. However, the minutes of the June 18th and 19th Federal Reserve’s monetary policy committee meeting, released July 10th, stated that many members indicated further improvement in the outlook for the labor market would be required before it would be appropriate to slow the pace of bond purchases.”  Rates indicated do not include fees and points and are provided for evidence of trends only. They should not be used for comparison purposes.

 CoreLogic released its May CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) report. Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased 12.2 percent on a year-over-year basis in May 2013 compared to May 2012. This change represents the biggest year-over-year increase since February 2006 and the 15th consecutive monthly increase in home prices nationally. On a month-over-month basis, including distressed sales, home prices increased by 2.6 percent in May 2013 compared to April 2013. Excluding distressed sales, home prices increased on a year-over-year basis by 11.6 percent in May 2013 compared to May 2012. On a month-over-month basis, excluding distressed sales, home prices increased 2.3 percent in May 2013 compared to April 2013. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions. The CoreLogic Pending HPI indicates that June 2013 home prices, including distressed sales, are expected to rise by 13.2 percent on a year-over-year basis from June 2012 and rise by 2.9 percent on a month-over-month basis from May 2013. Excluding distressed sales, June 2013 home prices are poised to rise 12 percent year over year from June 2012 and by 2 percent month over month from May 2013. The CoreLogic Pending HPI is a proprietary and exclusive metric that provides the most current indication of trends in home prices. It is based on Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data that measure price changes for the most recent month. “It’s been more than seven years since the housing market last experienced the increases that we saw in May, with indications that the summer months will continue to see significant gains,” sa! id Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “As we approach the half-way point of 2013, home prices continue to respond positively to the reductions in home inventory thus far.” Source: NAMP Daily

Twenty-six percent of renters are denied in getting their security deposits back when they move out, a survey finds of 1,000 renters. Landlords cite the biggest reason for withholding security deposits was a tenant who moved out too early. Indeed, 44 percent of the renters surveyed between the ages of 18 and 24 said they broke the lease agreement early and that’s why they didn’t get their security deposit returned. Nine percent of women and 3 percent of men surveyed say they lost their security deposits due to pet damage. Thirty-six percent of the survey respondents said that their landlords failed to offer an explanation why their security deposits were being withheld. In some places, that’s illegal. For example, in New York, landlords are required to return security deposits — excluding any legal deductions — within a certain time frame. offers up a list of security deposit laws for all 50 states. Source: AOL Real Estate

“Transit-oriented development” sounds like a solution to a variety of urban problems. If people could live and work within walking distance of a train or bus stop, people could save money on gas, people without cars could commute more easily, neighborhoods could reduce congestion and pollution, and economic growth could follow. Generally, it makes sense for cities to invest in the hubs that connect people and the places they need to go. However, not every rail stop is equally primed for a new apartment complex or retail development, and determining why is a significant challenge. For example, there is little sense in pushing transit-oriented development in a community where every household already has multiple cars, and likewise there is little sense in developing stops in areas divided by highways and mega blocks where people are unlikely to walk to a train. In early February, the Center for Transit-Oriented Development released a study of more than 100 transit stops in the Pittsburgh area, assessing the suitability for transit-oriented development. A quarter to half of the station areas in the system could benefit from a small infrastructure investment, such as a pedestrian bridge or tunnel, signage showing where the station is, or paved pathways or sidewalks. The assessment uses pentagonal graphs to illustrate ways that density, land use, care dependency and distance all shape communities differently. “It’s a very simplistic way of measuring what you need,” says CTOD director Abigail Thorne-Lyman. “But if you don’t have the resources to even know where to begin, it’s very powerful to say ‘I’m just going to look at these five things, and what do I need to improve to push myself into a more transit-oriented urban form?'” Source: The Atlantic Cities

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