NAHB Housing Market Index Unchanged in September

NAHB Housing Market Index Unchanged in SeptemberHome builder confidence in housing market conditions stayed flat in September. The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index reported an index reading of 67, which matched expectations and NAHB’s housing market reading for August. Analysts cited recent tariffs on building materials as a significant cause of easing builder confidence.

While NAHB called September’s reading “solid” at 67, the reading was one full point lower than the average reading for 2017 and equaled the lowest builder confidence reading in 2018 to date. Readings over 50 in the Housing Market Index indicate that more builders than fewer are confident in housing market conditions.  

Components of the Housing Market Index were mixed as builder confidence in current market conditions rose one point to 74. Builder confidence in market conditions for the next six months rose two points to a reading of 74. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments was unchanged with a reading of 49.

Buyer traffic readings frequently fall below the benchmark reading of 50, so a reading of 49 indicates builders aren’t concerned about buyer interest in new homes.

Home Building Viewed As Cure For Housing Shortages, But Buyers Face Challenges

Housing industry leaders, real estate pros and mortgage lenders continued to look to builders for a solution to severe housing shortages in some areas. Rapidly rising home prices driven by high demand, few choices for buyers and aren’t likely to ease until inventories of available homes increase. Recently rising mortgage rates added to pressures on first-time and moderate-income home buyers.

NAHB Chief Economist Rob Dietz said that trade skirmishes and “burdensome regulations” also contributed to rising home prices. Real estate pros said that local market conditions affected market areas affected by natural disasters including severe red tide algae blooms in Florida and wildfires in Oregon and California. Home sales typically slow in August, but the combination of low inventories of homes coupled with rising prices and natural disasters resulted in lower than expected home sales in August.

Buyer fatigue was cited as a driving factor in slowing home sales as rapidly rising prices and few available homes took a toll on buyer interest. As the school year approached buyers were backing off instead of continuing to compete with cash buyers and bidding wars.

It is commonplace for markets to shift and for trends to change. Your trusted mortgage professional is ready to help you find your best financing options for today’s real estate market.

Big Second Quarter GDP Numbers Impact Housing Market

Big Second Quarter GDP Numbers Impact Housing MarketPositive economic growth numbers are always cause for celebration and the second quarter GDP just went vertical. After nearly four years of sub-par growth, the real GDP hit 4.1 percent in the second quarter.

While that economic news has everyday Americans excited that we may be entering a new age of prosperity, drawing a concrete link to the real estate market may be difficult. But by looking long and hard at this uptick and its potential impact on housing, you may get a better idea about buying, selling or standing pat on residential and commercial property.

GDP Report Points To Demand

Among the positive measures from the recent economic report, consumption enjoyed a positive increase. The first quarter numbers were disappointingly sluggish in this area at a modest 0.5 percent. The second quarter took off like a rocket, by comparison, at 2.25 percent.  

Although that figure shows an upwardly mobile economy, some experts are calling it discouraging given the extraordinary consumer confidence that has risen to record highs of more than 101.0 since November 2017. This opinion begs the question: why are economy gurus disappointed?

The first part of that answer has to do with the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that is putting more money in American paychecks and rolled back income tax liability. Many economists forecast that this personal wealth growth would turn into solid consumption. While working families have enjoyed a breather in terms of scratching from paycheck to paycheck, home purchases have not gone through the roof.

Home availability remains relatively low. With Millennials scooping up many of the starter-home listings and Baby Boomers downsizing, a significant housing shortfall exists. If you have ever heard the term “seller’s market,” this is it.

Inventory Shortage Means Buy Quickly

There are always naysayers that point to lower than expected consumption and claim the economy is weak. The facts in the GDP report clearly dispute any such ideas.

Business investment spiked to a powerful 11.5 percent and then 7.3 percent in the first two quarters. Fixed business investment is on fire based on deregulation, soaring profits and confidence.

That’s why real estate resources are saying that the only thing holding the market back is inventory. Home sale data is not keeping pace with other sectors of the economy because there simply is not enough inventory to keep up with demand. For first-time buyers, this means get prequalified and act swiftly if you find a dream home. It won’t stay on the market long.

Prospective homebuyers may be relieved to know that positive construction indicators are trending. New homes are expected to improve the inventory shortage heading into 2019. Still, demand is likely to stay ahead of inventory.

Be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional to help you get your financing pre-approved so that you are ready to make an offer quickly.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Drops in January

Homebuilder confidence in housing market conditions dipped two points in January; ongoing challenges including labor shortages and materials costs were cited by the National Association of Home Builders, which provides monthly readings on home builder sentiment. Three component readings of the Housing Market Index declined by one point each. Readings for current sales conditions, housing market conditions for the next six months and for buyer traffic within new single-family housing developments were 79, 78 and 54 respectively.

Readings over 50 indicate positive builder sentiment. The reading for buyer traffic seldom exceeds 50. Current readings support continued builder confidence in current and future housing market conditions. NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said housing demand should continue to grow in 2018 based on the gauge of future market conditions remaining in the 70s range. Real estate pros have repeatedly cited slim inventories of homes for sale as driving rapidly rising home prices.

NAHB estimated 1.125 million housing starts for 2018, which was 2.70 percent higher than for2017. The Commerce Department released its annual rate of housing starts in December at 1.192 million starts; Building permits were issued at the annual rate of 1.302 million permits issued in December, based on November’s annualized reading of 1.303 million permits issued.

Regional Builder Confidence Readings Rise

Regional readings for builder confidence were higher in all four regions tracked by NAHB. Calculated on a three-month rolling average, the Northeast gained five points for an index reading of 59; The Midwest posted a one-point gain for a January reading of 70. The South posted a one-point gain for an index reading of 73 and the West reported a two-point gain for a reading of 81.

Analysts said throughout 2017 that building more homes would be the only way to solve the housing shortage and resulting challenges including rapidly rising home prices that eliminate first-time and moderate-income home buyers out of affordable home prices and home financing options.  

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Rise in October

According to Case-Shiller national and 20-city home price indices for October, home prices continued to rise.  National home prices rose 0.70 percent for the three months ending in October. Year-over-year, national home prices increased by 6.20 percent. The 20-City Home Price Index also rose by 0.70 percent in October and reported a year-over-year increase of 6.40 percent.

The top three metro areas in the 20-City Index were Seattle, Washington with a year-over-year increase of 6.40 percent; Las Vegas Nevada followed with year-over-year home price growth of 10.20 percent. San Diego, California had the third highest home price growth rate at 8.10 percent year-over-year.

The year-over-year percentage increase was 1.30 percent below the all-time high reading for the 20-City Index.

Home Price Growth, Sales Could Face Headwinds in 2018

David M. Blitzer, CEO of the S&P Indices Committee, said that 2018 may bring challenges to home price growth. Mr. Blitzer said that while strong labor markets, economic growth, and low mortgage rates were major factors driving home price growth, higher mortgage rates are expected next year. Rising rates would make buying a home less affordable for some. Home price growth continued to outstrip inflation and income growth.

Mr. Blitzer cited an Urban Institute report that indicated that high-priced metro areas may compel would-be home buyers to consider renting. High-demand metro areas are subject to high rates of buyer competition and bidding wars can drive affordable home prices beyond the reach of first-time and moderate-income buyers.  Significant numbers of buyers turning to rentals could drop the demand for homes and possible ease the rate of home price growth.

Analysts expected home prices to continue increasing due to low supplies and high demand. Millennials are entering their home-buying years and relatively low mortgage rates have supported affordability, but higher mortgage rates and continued competition from investors and cash buyers could stifle demand for homes in the new year.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Outstrips Pre-Bubble Highs

Home builders surveyed by the National Association of Home Builders expressed their highest level of confidence in housing markets since 1999. The index reading for housing market conditions in December hit 74, which exceeded November’s reading of 70. Analysts expected a flat reading of 70 for December. Readings over 50 indicate improvement in housing market conditions.

The three component readings used to comprise the Housing Market Index also rose in December. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose four points for a reading of 81; builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months rose three points to 79. Most surprising was the jump in builder confidence in buyer traffic levels in new housing developments. Traditionally, this reading rarely exceeded 50, but in November, it achieved the benchmark reading. December’s reading for buyer traffic gained eight points to 58. December’s reading for builder confidence in buyer traffic reached its highest level since 1999.

Home Builder Confidence Reflects Strong Economic Conditions

Strength in jobs markets and overall economic conditions drove builder confidence; home builders also cited potential tax breaks associated with pending tax legislation. Tariffs on Canadian lumber were cited as an obstacle to builder profits and increased prices.

High demand for homes caused by slim supplies of homes for sale continues to boost home prices. Real estate pros have said that increasing construction of single-family homes is the only way to correct the current imbalance between rapidly increasing home prices and challenges for first-time and moderate-income home buyers who cannot compete with cash buyers or afford rapidly rising home prices.

Builder Confidence Expands in All Regions

Builder confidence also rose according to the three-month rolling average for builder confidence in the four regions tracked by NAHB. The Northeastern region reported a one-point increase for a regional reading of 54.  Home builder confidence gained six points in the Midwestern region for a reading of 69. Home builders in the South reported a confidence reading of 72, which was three points higher than in November. Builders in the Western region reported a two-point gain in confidence with a reading of 79 in December.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 23, 2017

Last week’s economic reports included NAHB Housing Market Indexes along with readings on housing starts, building permits and existing home sales. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Jumps in September, Housing Starts and Building Permits Fall

The National Association of Home Builders reported a four-point increase in its Home Price Index for October. Builders surveyed reported higher confidence in overall market conditions, which resulted in a reading of 68. Analysts had expected no change in the September reading of 64. Natural disasters have raised builder opportunities for new projects, but the industry continues to be swamped with labor shortages and rising materials costs.

While stronger builder confidence is expected to impact housing starts and building permits issued, both reports had lower readings in September. Housing starts were calculated at 1.215 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. An expected reading of 1.170 million housing start was based on August’s reading of 1.183 million starts. Single-family housing starts were lower than for August but were 9.10 percent higher year-over-year.

Building permits issued fell in September; 1.215 million permits were issued on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to 1.272 million permits issued in August. Higher readings for building permits are expected in the aftermath of recent hurricanes and wildfires, but increased starts and permits will include replacing damaged structures as well as building new developments.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Existing Home Sales Rise

Fixed mortgage rates were lower after the 10-year Treasury rate fell six basis points. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 3.88 percent the average rate for a 15-year mortgage dropped by two basis points to 3.19 percent. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.17 percent, an increase of one basis point. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Sales of existing homes rose in September according to the National Association of Realtors®. Previously-owned homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million sales. Which surpassed August’s reading of 5.35 million sales and expected sales of 5.30 million previously-owned homes. Any increase in sales is a welcome sign that the severe shortage of homes for sale may be easing. It’s too early to know how hurricanes and fires will affect housing markets and it will take months to rebuild all homes destroyed.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 222,000 and were lower than the expected 244,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 244,000 new jobless claims filed. Fewer jobless claims suggest that jobs markets continue to expand and may help renters decide to buy homes.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s economic readings include reports on new and pending home sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released. 

Home Builder Sentiment Highest in Five Months

Component readings used for calculating Housing Market Index readings also rose in October. Builder sentiment for current market conditions gained five points for a reading of 75. The index reading for builder perception of market conditions in the next six months also rose five points to an October reading of 78.

Builder sentiment for home buyer traffic in new home developments rose one point to 48. Buyer traffic readings seldom exceed a Home Builder Index reading of 50.

NAHB Chairman Granger Mc Donald said builders were recovering from the initial shock of damage caused by hurricanes, but this was prior to numerous wildfires adding to demand for contractors and home builders.

National Disasters Add to Ongoing Materials and Labor Shortages

Factors contributing to stronger builder sentiment included an industry concentration of building homes for purchase instead of multifamily rental projects. Single-family homes have been in short supply in recent years and building more homes is the only remedy for a market skewed in favor of sellers and rapidly rising home prices fueled by high buyer demand and few choices available to buyers.

Recent hurricane damage is likely to raise materials prices and worsen labor shortages; Widespread damage caused by wildfires in California is expected to increase demand for contractors and skilled laborers as they work to repair and rebuild homes and buildings ruined in storms and fires.

Regional Readings Mixed

Three-month rolling averages of builder sentiment for regions tracked by NAHB were mixed. In the Northeast, builder sentiment rose one point to 50. The South gained two points for a reading of 68. The reading for builder sentiment in the South was unchanged at 63; the reading for the West was also unchanged at 77.

Winter weather and challenges caused by higher demand for services against rising materials costs and ongoing labor shortages can be expected to challenge builders, but the need for new housing caused by multiple national disasters will likely create many new jobs for builders.