Last week’s economic reports included readings on builder confidence, housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.
NAHB: Builder Confidence Drops by One Point
The National Association of Home Builders reported that builder confidence dipped by one point in April to an index reading of 69. While any reading over 50 indicates positive builder sentiment, NAHB noted that builder sentiment has decreased for the past four months.
During the housing bubble of 2004 and 2005, builder confidence in market conditions averaged 68, but analysts said that the post bubble crash in home values was preceded by several months of decreasing builder sentiment.
Builders are maintaining a steady approach to housing starts despite high demand in many markets. Short supplies of available homes are driving prices higher and causing issues of affordability for would be buyers. Home builders continued to face shortages of buildable lots and rising materials prices. This could account for decisions not to ramp up home construction enough to meet demand.
Housing Starts, Building Permits Rise
According to the Commerce Department, housing starts and building permits issued rose in March. 1.319 million starts were reported on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to 1.1,295 million starts in February. Analysts expected housing starts to drop in March to 1.255 million, due to rising materials costs and concerns over trade wars. Housing starts were 10.90 percent higher year-over-year.
Single-family housing starts were lower by 3.70 percent lower than for February, but were 8.00 percent higher year-over-year. This suggests that aside from seasonal fluctuations, home builders are boosting their efforts to keep up with demand for homes.
Building permits issued increased in March to 1.354 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; the February reading showed 1.321 million building permits issued. Building permits issued in March were 2.50 percent higher than for February and 7.50 percent higher year-over-year.
Mortgage Rates, Jump, New Jobless Claims Dip
Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week, with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rising by five basis points to 4.47 percent. This was the highest average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages since January 2014 and the highest weekly rate increase since February. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.94 percent and increased by seven basis points.
The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was six basis points higher at 3.67n percent. Discounts points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims were lower last week with 232,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 230,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 233,000 new claims filed.
This week’s economic reports include readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, sales reports for new and previously-owned homes, and weekly readings on average mortgage rates and new jobless claims. A monthly reading for consumer sentiment will be released Friday.