Archive for Financial Reports

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 12, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 12th, 2021

Last week’s economic reporting included readings from the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee and a speech given by Fed Chair Jerome Powell. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

FOMC Minutes: Fed’s Monetary Policy Stance to Remain “Accommodative”

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve released minutes of its meeting held March 16 and 17. The meeting minutes indicated split opinions on the U.S. economy’s outlook. Several members expected inflation to rise due to constricted supply chains and high demand for goods and services. This scenario resembles trends in residential real estate where supplies of available homes are far lower than buyer demand. Other FOMC members expected continued downward pressure on inflation. Members expected inflation to rise to 2.40 percent in 2022 but expected the inflation rate to ease to 2.10 percent by 2023.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 12, 2021The Federal Reserve has a dual legal mandate to achieve an inflation rate of 2.00 percent and maximum employment. While inflation is expected to exceed 2.00 percent in 2022 and beyond, unemployment remains above pre-pandemic levels. FOMC members did not raise the Fed’s key interest rate range from 0.00 to 0.25 percent.

In related news, Fed Chair Jerome Powell spoke at a webinar hosted by the International Monetary Fund. He emphasized the potential threat of COVID to the U.S. and global economy and encouraged everyone to get vaccinate and said, “Until the world is vaccinated, we’re all going to be at risk of new mutations and we won’t be able to resume activity all around the world.”

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Show Mixed Readings

Fixed mortgage rates were lower last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by five basis points to 3.13 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by three basis points to 2.42 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.92 percent and rose by eight basis points. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points averaged 0.10 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Initial jobless claims rose to 744,000 claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 728,000 first-time jobless claims filed. Analysts expected 694,000 new claims for last week. Continuing jobless claims were lower last week with 3.73 million ongoing claims filed. There were 3.75 million continuing jobless claims in the prior week.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reporting includes readings from the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued, and inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 5, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 5th, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 5, 2021Last week’s economic reports included readings on home prices, pending home sales, and construction spending. Data on public and private-sector employment and the national unemployment rate were published along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims. 

vLast week’s economic reports included readings on home prices, pending home sales, and construction spending. Data on public and private-sector employment and the national unemployment rate were published along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims. Last week’s economic reports included readings on home prices, pending home sales, and construction spending. Data on public and private-sector employment and the national unemployment rate were published along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims.

Case-Shiller: Record Home Price Growth in Phoenix, but Will it Last?

Case-Shiller Home Price Indices indicated fast growth in home prices as the national home price growth rate for January grew to 11.20 percent from December’s reading of 10.40 percent national home price growth. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index reported 19 of 20 cities reported rising home prices in January, but Cleveland, Ohio home prices were lower. Detroit, Michigan resumed reporting to the 20-City Home Price Index after nearly a year’s absence.

Phoenix, Arizona led the January 20-City Home Price Index with a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 15.80 percent; Seattle, Washington, and San Diego, California followed with home price growth of 14.30 percent and 14.20 percent.

 Analysts expressed concerns that rapidly rising home prices are not sustainable in the long term and cited rising mortgage rates and skyrocketing home prices as obstacles to homebuying. As demand for homes eases, home price growth will slow.

The Commerce Department reported fewer pending home sales in February as pending home sales fell by 10.60 percent. Analysts expected pending home sales to fall to -3.10 percent; pending home sales dropped by -2.40 percent in January. Construction spending fell by -0.80 percent in February; it was expected to fall by one percent as compared to January’s positive reading of 1.25 percent growth in construction spending. Rising lumber prices and severe winter weather influenced construction spending in February.

Mortgage Rates Hold Steady, Jobless Claims Mixed

Freddie Mac reported little change in mortgage rates last week. The average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose one basis point to 3.18 percent; Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.45 percent and were unchanged. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was also unchanged at 2.84 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

The Census Bureau reported 719,000 new jobless claims last week; this surpassed the prior week’s reading of 658,000 initial claims. Ongoing jobless claims fell to 3.79 claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 3.80 million continuing jobless claims filed.

Private-sector jobs grew by 525,000 jobs in March but fell short of the expected 525,000 private-sector jobs added. Public and private-sector jobs also ramped up with 916,000 jobs added in March. Analysts expected 675,000 jobs added to the Non-Farm Payrolls report; 468,000 public and private-sector jobs were added in February. The national unemployment rate decreased to 6.00 percent from February’s reading of 6.20 percent.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include job openings and minutes of the recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be reported.

 

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Case-Shiller: Phoenix Home Prices Hot, Hotter, and Hottest

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 1st, 2021

Case-Shiller: Phoenix Home Prices Hot, Hotter, and HottestThe S&P Case-Shiller National Home Price Index posted its highest gain in nearly 15 years with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 11.20 percent in January. The December 2020  National Home Price Index reported 10.40 percent home price growth. The S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index reported 11.10 percent year-over-year growth with 19 of 20 cities reporting higher home prices. Cleveland, Ohio was the only city reporting no home price growth in January. Detroit, Michigan reported home price growth data for the first time in nearly a year.

Phoenix, Seattle, and San Diego Home Prices are Hot, Hotter, and Hottest

Home prices in Phoenix, Arizona again topped Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index for January with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 15.80 percent. Seattle, Washington held its second-place position with home price growth of 14.30 percent, and San Diego, California held third position with year-over-year home price growth of 14.20 percent.

Rapidly rising home prices coupled with rising mortgage rates presented challenges for first-time and moderate-income buyers; some have revised their purchasing budgets downward while others have left the market. Analysts noted that buyers leaving the housing market could impact high demand and strong buyer competition which has fueled bidding wars and driven home prices ever higher in popular metro areas.

Craig Lazzara, managing director and head of index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said that January’s home price data supported the position that COVID encouraged buyers to leave congested urban areas for single-family homes in suburbia. He said that many of these households may have accelerated existing home-buying plans.

FHFA Posts 12 Percent Increase in Home Prices; Slowing Momentum

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported a 12 percent year-over-year growth in prices of single-family homes owned or financed by the two government-sponsored mortgage companies. According to Lynn Fisher, FHFA’s deputy director of the division of research and statistics, home price growth slowed to its slowest pace since June. She wrote, “While house prices experienced historic growth rates in 2020 and into the New Year, the monthly gains appear to be moderating.”

Home prices are expected to continue growing in popular metro areas, but at a slower pace due to higher mortgage rates and would-be buyers leaving the market. Demand for homes may ease as COVID-driven flight from urban areas slows but families working from home and homeschooling their children also create demand for larger homes.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 29, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 29th, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 29, 2021Last week’s economic news included readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes along with final March index readings on consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

Sales of New and Pre-Owned Homes Fall in February

Weather-related problems disrupted sales of new and previously-owned homes in February as low inventories of homes for sale further stalled sales. The National Association of Realtors® said that sales of new and pre-owned homes were slowed by persistent shortages of homes on the market.

Shortages of available homes were common before the pandemic and are more pronounced now. Realtor.com estimates that 200,000 homeowners stayed out of the market in the past year; this contributed to the two-month supply of homes available in February. Real estate professionals consider a six-month supply of homes for sale to indicate a balanced market. Sales of previously-owned homes were 9.10 percent higher in February 2020.

High demand for homes fueled competition among buyers and drove home prices higher. Rising mortgage rates, short supplies of homes, and rising home prices presented obstacles for first-time and moderate-income home buyers as the national median price for previously-owned homes reached $313,000.

New homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 775,000 sales in February according to the Census Department and was 18.20 percent lower than the reading of 948,000 new home sales reported in January. The inventory of new homes available rose to a 4.80 month supply as buyers were sidelined by winter weather and rising mortgage rates. Analysts expect high demand for new homes to continue as buyers move out of crowded urban areas and seek larger homes that meet increasing needs for work-at-home space and up-to-date technology.

Mortgage Rates Rise as Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week as rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages jumped eight basis points to 3.17 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose five basis points to 2.45 percent and the average rate for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages rose five basis points to 2.84 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 0.20 percent.

New jobless claims fell to 684,000 claims from the prior week’s reading of 781,000 first-time jobless claims.  Ongoing claims were also lower with 3.87 million continuing claims filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 4.13 million continuing claims filed.

The University of Michigan reported an index reading of 89.1 for its Consumer Sentiment Index in March. February’s reading was 83.0 and analysts expected an index reading of 83.7.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reporting includes readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Index and reporting on pending home sales. Private and public sector job growth and the national unemployment rate will be released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 22, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 22nd, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 22, 2021Last week’s economic reports included readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing markets and Commerce Department data on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Slips as Materials Costs Rise

The National Association of Home Builders reported that its Housing Market Index fell to an index reading of 82 in March as compared to February’s index reading of  84. Analysts forecasted a reading of 83. Builder concerns included rising materials costs and mortgage rates, which impact home pricing and affordability.  Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for NAHB, said that lumber prices have more than doubled since August 2020 and have added $24,000 to the cost of a home on average.

Regionally, builder confidence in housing markets declined in the Midwest, Northeast, and West but remained unchanged in the South.

Demand for new homes remained high as shortages of existing homes for sale persisted. Homebuilder sentiment was unchanged in the South but declined in the Northeast, Midwest, and Western regions of the U.S.

According to Commerce Department reports for February, housing starts declined to 1.42 million starts n a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to January’s reading of 1.58 million housing starts. Building permits issued also reflected growing builder concerns as permits issued fell to 1.68 million permits issued from 1.89 million building permits issued in January.

Mortgage Rates Rise,  Jobless Claims Mixed

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week as rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by four basis points to 3.09 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by two basis points to 2.40 percent. Mortgage rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.79 percent and rose by two basis points.

Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

770,000 first-time jobless claims were filed last week as compared to the prior week’s reading of 725,000 new jobless claims filed. Severe winter weather in Texas boosted new claims, which significantly exceeded analysts’ expectations of 700,000 new claims filed.

Continuing jobless claims fell to 4.12 million claims from the prior week’s reading of 4.14 million ongoing claims filed.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes, inflation and consumer sentiment.  Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 15, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 15th, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 15, 2021Last week’s economic reporting included data on inflation and job openings, and weekly readings n mortgage rates, and jobless claims.

Inflation Rate Rises in February

Consumer prices grew by 0.40 percent in February according to the federal government’s Consumer Price Index; the year-over-year inflation rate rose from January’s reading of 1.40 percent to 1.70 percent. Consumer prices rose at their fastest pace in six months as rising fuel prices caused the jump in consumer prices. The Core Consumer Price Index, which does not include volatile food and fuel sectors, rose by 0.10 percent in February and matched analysts’ expectations.

Analysts expect continued economic expansion as Americans receive stimulus checks, get covid-19 vaccinations, and businesses reopen.

Mortgage Rates Rise as Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by three basis points to 3.05 percent. Interest rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.38 percent and rose by four basis points. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages also rose by four basis points to 2.77 percent on average.

Jobless claims fell to their lowest level since November. New jobless claims fell to 712,000 claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 754,000 initial claims filed in the prior week. Analysts expected 725,000 first-time claims to be filed. Last week’s reading showed the lowest pace of new jobless claims since November 7, when 211,000 first-time claims were filed.

Continuing jobless claims fell to 4.14 million claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 4.34 million claims filed.  Jobless claims averaged fewer than two million claims filed before the pandemic. Accurate counts of individuals receiving jobless benefits were questioned due to the discovery of fraudulent claims and duplicate counting of some recipients. Analysts were advised to focus on jobless claims trends rather than individual claims data.  

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department readings on housing starts, and building permits issued. The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee will release its post-meeting statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen will give a press conference. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 8, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 8th, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 8, 2021Last week’s scheduled economic news included readings on construction spending and labor sector reports on public and private sector jobs. The national unemployment rate was published along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell also spoke at a jobs summit.

Construction Spending Rises in January

U.S construction spending rose at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 1.70 percent in January as compared to 1.10 percent growth reported in December. Year-over-year construction spending was 5.80 percent higher in January 2021.  Residential construction spending reported in January rose to $713 billion on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to December 2020’s construction spending pace of $695.70 billion.

Non-residential construction spending in the private sector rose to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $447 billion in January as compared to December 2020’s pace of $445.2 billion.

High demand for single-family homes persists as inventories of available homes fall. This scenario contributes to affordability issues that are also influenced by rising building materials costs.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Mixed

Freddie Mac reported higher rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, which rose by five basis points and averaged 3.02 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages were unchanged from the prior week and averaged 2.34 percent. Mortgage rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages dropped by 26 basis points and averaged 2.73 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.70 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.30 percent.

First-time jobless claims rose to 745,000 new claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 736,000 new claims filed. Ongoing jobless claims fell last week with 4.30 million continuing claims filed; 4.42 million ongoing claims were filed during the prior week.

Private- Sector Jobs Fall as Public-Sector Jobs Increase

ADP reported 117,000 private-sector jobs added in February as compared to January’s reading of 195,000 private-sector jobs added. The government’s Non-Farm Payrolls report for February showed 379,000 public and private sector jobs added in February; 166,000 public and private-sector jobs were added in January. The national unemployment rate fell to 6.20 percent as compared to January’s reading of 6.30 percent.

Fed Chair Promised to Hold Steady on Monetary Policy

Fed Chair Jerome Powell promised to maintain accommodative monetary policies for the foreseeable future as the Federal Reserve continues striving toward its dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and annual inflation of two percent. When asked about rising long-term rates, Mr. Powell said that he could not commit to reducing the Fed’s asset purchases as he thought that the Fed’s goal of achieving maximum employment was “highly unlikely.”

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reporting includes readings on inflation and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 1, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 1st, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 1, 2021Last week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller on home prices, the Federal Housing Finance Agency also reported on home prices and the Commerce Department released data on sales of new homes and pending home sales. The University of Michigan released its Consumer Sentiment Index, and weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were released.

Case-Shiller Home Price Indices Report Fastest Price Growth in 7 Years

The S&P Case Shiller National Home Price Index reported December home prices rose at the fastest pace since 2014. The National Home Price Index posted a year-over-year home price growth rate of 10.40 percent in December as compared to November’s home price growth rate of 9.50 percent.

Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index posted December home price growth at a year-over-year pace of 10.10 percent as compared to November’s home price growth rate of 9.20 percent according to Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index. Phoenix, Arizona home prices rose at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 14.40 percent; Seattle, Washington home prices held second place with 13.60 percent growth, and San  Diego, California held third place in the 20-City Home Price Index with 13.00 percent home price growth. 18 of 19 cities reported higher home prices;  Detroit Michigan did not report data for December.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported year-over-year home price growth of 11.40 percent in December for homes owned or financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. High demand for homes and short inventories of available and affordable homes created challenges for first-time and moderate-income home buyers. Builders said that rising materials costs and labor shortages continued to impact new home construction.

 

New Home Sales Increase as Shortages of Pre-Owned Homes Persist

The Census Bureau reported 823,000 sales of new homes in January on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected 850,000 sales based on December’s reading of 885,000 new homes sold. Homebuyers are turning to new homes as supplies of previously-owned homes are in short supply. Shortages of previously-owned homes continued as homeowners stayed in their homes due to economic uncertainty, unemployment, and ongoing concerns over the pandemic.

 Pending home sales fell by – 2.80 percent in January as compared to December’s reading of – 0.50 percent.

Mortgage Rates Rise as Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose 16 basis points to 2.97 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose 15 basis points to 2.34 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 22 basis points higher at 2.99 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for fixed-rate home loans and 0.10 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell to 730,000 new claims filed from the prior week’s reading of  841,000 initial jobless claims filed. Ongoing jobless claims were also lower; 4.42 million continuing claims were filed last week as compared to 4.52 million ongoing claims filed in the prior week.

The University of Michigan reported an index reading of 76.80 for its Consumer Sentiment Index in February, as compared to January’s index reading of  76.20.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending, job growth, and the national unemployment rate. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.

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Case-Shiller Reports Home Prices Rise at Fastest Pace in 7 Years

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 24th, 2021

Case-Shiller Reports Home Prices Rise at Fastest Pace in 7 YearsS & P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices reported the fastest pace of U.S home price growth in seven years. National home prices grew by 10.40 percent year-over-year in December as compared to November’s reading of  9.50 percent home price growth on a year-over-year basis.

The S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index reported home price growth in 18 of 20 cities included in the index. Detroit, Michigan did not report home price data for December. Phoenix, Arizona held the top position in the 20-City Index for the 19th consecutive month with year-over-year home price growth averaging 14.40 percent. Home prices in Seattle, Washington home prices held second place with year-over-year growth of 13.60 percent. San Diego, California home prices grew 13.00 percent year-over-year.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency released home price data for homes owned or financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Home prices rose by 10.80 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 as compared to home prices in the fourth quarter of 2019. Home prices reported by FHFA rose by 3.80 percent between the third and fourth quarters of 2020.

Idaho home prices reported by FHFA rose by 21.10 percent year-over-year.  Montana home prices grew by 15.50 percent; Utah followed closely with 15.40 percent home price growth. FHFA reported the highest pace of home price growth for cities in Boise, Idaho; home prices in San Francisco, California grew at the slowest pace. This data supports the trend of homeowners moving from costly metro areas to inland suburbs where they can buy larger homes for lower prices.

Rapidly Rising Home Prices Impact Affordability

While homeowners welcome quickly rising home prices, affordability issues worry real estate analysts and prospective home buyers. The covid-19 pandemic caused home prices to rise as homeowners fled congested urban areas for suburban and rural areas.

Supplies of available homes fall as demand for homes keeps rising during the pandemic. Millennials are in their peak home-buying years but many current homeowners are waiting out the pandemic to sell. Low inventories of available homes and rising building materials costs add to the shortage of homes in general and affordable homes in particular.

First-time and moderate-income home buyers face increasing challenges as home prices and mortgage rates rise. Mortgage approval standards are difficult to meet as rising home prices cause housing payments and down payment requirements to increase. In addition to property taxes and hazard insurance, buyers who cannot pay 20 percent down must also pay for mortgage insurance.

Skyrocketing home prices should ease when demand for homes slows, but that won’t happen until supplies of available homes catch up to buyer demand.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 22, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 22nd, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - February 22, 2021Last week’s economic reporting included readings from the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued along with data on sales of previously-owned homes. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Home Builders Index Rises One Point in February

Homebuilder confidence rose by one index point to 84 according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. Readings over 50 in the Housing Market Index indicate that most homebuilders are confident about U.S. housing market conditions.

Component readings for the housing market index were mixed in February. Builder confidence in current market conditions for new single-family homes was unchanged with an index reading of 90; builder confidence in new home sales for the next six months fell by three points to a reading of 83. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new single-family developments rose four points to an index reading of 72.  Before the pandemic, readings for buyer traffic in new housing developments were typically below 50, but the pandemic has created more interest in new single-family homes as families moved from congested urban areas to suburban areas.

Builders cited ongoing concerns including rising materials costs and affordability issues for first-time and low-income homebuyers.

Housing Starts Lower in January as Building Permits Rise

The Commerce Department reported fewer housing starts in January based on 1.58 million starts reported on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis, 1.67 million starts were reported in December and analysts expected a pace of 1.68 million housing starts for January.

Building permits issued rose in January to a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 1.88 million permits. Analysts expected a reading of 1.67 million permits issued based on 1.70 million permits issued in December. Winter weather conditions likely contributed to fewer housing starts, but builders took out more building permits in anticipation of improving weather and continuing demand for homes due to shortages of available homes for sale and higher demand due to the covid-19 pandemic.

The National Association of Realtors® reported 6.69 million sales of previously-owned homes on a seasonally adjusted annual basis as of January. Low inventories of available homes and high demand for single-family homes continue to drive home sales during the pandemic. Rising home prices caused by high demand and low inventories of homes for sale created affordability issues in suburban areas as well as traditionally high-priced metro areas.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Jobless Claims Mixed

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by eight basis points to 2.81 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.21 percent and were two basis points higher. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.77 percent and two basis points lower than the prior week.

Weekly jobless claims data was mixed last week with 861,000 initial jobless claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 848,000 first-time jobless claims filed. Ongoing jobless claims fell to 4.49 million continuing claims as compared to the prior week’s reading of 4.56 million continuing jobless claims filed.

What’s Next

This week’s scheduled economic readings include S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Home Price Index, and data on pending home sales. The University of Michigan will issue its reading on consumer sentiment and weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be published.

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