Real Estate News

The Next Really Important Number

October 13, 2015
ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
Now that the September jobs report is behind us and we witnessed a slowdown in the creation of jobs, it will be interesting to see if the market’s fear of a general economic slowdown is well founded. That is why the release of the third quarter snapshot of economic growth at the end of October will be very important. The economy has been up and down this year. The first quarter was slow and the second quarter saw more robust growth. Many economists are expecting a “regression towards the mean” this quarter.

Before we get too worked up about this number, there are a few points that should be made about the statistic. First, it is a measure of past growth, and not indicative of what is happening now. It is also subject to future revisions and the future revisions will give a better view of the second half of the third quarter. Finally, the Federal Reserve Board meets again the same week as the data is released, but they conclude the meeting one day beforehand. Therefore, the Fed will release their results without the benefit of seeing this important snapshot of our economy.

As of now, the markets are betting that the Fed will hold off rate increases again in October based upon the disappointing jobs data, as well as other reports showing that manufacturing is slowing. Even the strong growth we have seen in the real estate sector seems to be slowing a bit, though this sector still is one of the shining stars in the 2015 economy. For now it looks like real estate will have to carry us through this segment of our economic recovery. Thus, it is great news that recent reports have shown homes as affordable as ever in 2015.

WEEKLY INTEREST RATE OVERVIEW

The Markets. Rates on home loans fell in the past week in response to the weak jobs report. Freddie Mac announced that for the week ending October 8, 30-year fixed rates fell to 3.76% from 3.85% the week before. The average for 15-year loans decreased as well to 2.99%. Adjustables were mixed, with the average for one-year adjustables up to 2.55% and five-year adjustables down to 2.88%. A year ago, 30-year fixed rates were at 4.19%, over one-third of one percent higher than today’s levels. Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac –“Calling the September jobs report disappointing is an understatement. The sputtering U.S. economy added only 142,000 jobs. To make matters worse, there were downward revisions to the prior two months. Hourly wages were flat, and the labor force participation rate fell to 62.4 percent, the lowest rate since 1977. In response, Treasury yields dipped below 2 percent triggering a 9 basis point tumble in the 30-year fixed rate on home loans to 3.76 percent.”Rates indicated do not include fees and points and are provided for evidence of trends only. They should not be used for comparison purposes.

Current Indices For Adjustable Rate Mortgages
Updated October 9, 2015
Daily Value Monthly Value
Oct. 8 September
6-month Treasury Security  0.07%  0.18%
1-year Treasury Security  0.27%  0.37%
3-year Treasury Security  0.93%  1.01%
5-year Treasury Security  1.40%  1.49%
10-year Treasury Security  2.12%  2.17%
12-month LIBOR  0.847% (Sept)
12-month MTA  0.243% (Sept)
11th District Cost of Funds  0.639% (Aug)
Prime Rate  3.25%

REAL ESTATE NEWS
 The residential real estate market has “clearly shifted in favor of buyers,” says Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist, in his latest analysis of housing data from the first three weeks of September. “Would-be buyers have struggled to find a home all year, but now inventory is nearly as high as it has been all throughout 2015, and it isn’t moving as quickly,” Smoke says. “Likewise, price appreciation remains above normal levels but has declined from the higher pace of the spring and summer.” Homes have been selling more slowly in September, which might make sellers more willing to negotiate on the price or other concessions, realtor.com®’s report notes. Listings are staying longer on the market: The median age of inventory has jumped to 80 days, up 6.7 percent from August but down 5 percent year over year. Home prices peaked in July and have since inched down slightly. In September, the median list price fell 1 percent month over month to $230,000 but remain up 6 percent year over year. “Sellers should have reasonable expectations for prices and be more patient during the fall,” Smoke says in his latest report. “But both buyers and sellers should be encouraged by a market that continues to see healthy gains in transactions over last year.” Source: realtor.com®

The characteristics and actions of first-time homebuyers have changed. A study by Zillow shows that those taking their first step on the home ownership ladder are likely to be older than first-time buyers would have been in the 70s and 80s; they are also more likely to be single. Americans are renting for an average of six years before buying their first homes. In the 1970s, they rented for an average of 2.6 years. First-time buyers are also spending a bigger chunk of their incomes to buy; in the 1970’s they bought homes that cost about 1.7 times their annual income whereas now they’re buying homes that cost 2.6 times their annual income. The average first-time homebuyer is about 33 with a median income of $54,340, which is about the same as what first-time homebuyers made in the 1970s, when adjusted for inflation. In the late 1980s, 52 percent of first-time homebuyers were married compared with 40 per cent today. Source: Mortgage Bankers Association

Sales of newly built single-family homes increased nearly 6 percent in August, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 552,000 units, the Commerce Department reported. That is the best monthly figure in new-home sales since February 2008. However, the number does still remain far off from the 706,000 unit-pace that is considered the 30-year historic average in new-home sales. “We continue to hear from our members that more serious home buyers are returning to the market,” says Tom Woods, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. “Builders are gradually adding inventory to meet future demand as they handle shortages of lots and labor.” Overall, the inventory of new homes for-sale reached 216,000 units in August, a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace. “This report indicates the release of pent-up housing demand as the overall economy strengthens, consumer confidence grows and interest rates remain low,” says David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist. “The housing market should continue to move forward at a modest but more persistent pace throughout the rest of 2015.” Source: CNN

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