Archive for Market Outlook

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Near 1999 High

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 20th, 2020

NAHB Home Builder Confidence Near 1999 HighThe National Association of Home Builders reported a housing market index reading of 74 in February; the index reading was one point lower than for January and was only two points below the highest reading of 76 reported in December. Readings over 50 indicate that most builders consider housing market conditions to be positive.

Factors contributing to builder confidence included strong housing markets and low mortgage rates; job growth and higher wages also boosted builder confidence.

Low Inventory Influences Home Prices

Low inventories of available homes continued to drive demand and rising home prices. Homebuyers faced with low supplies of existing homes turned to new home developments for additional options. First-time homebuyers faced obstacles including affordability and student loan debt that negatively impacted the ability to save for a down payment and qualify for home loans.

High costs of building materials and lots contributed to homebuilder expenses and higher home prices. Analysts noted that environmental and zoning issues also presented challenges for builders and limited their ability to meet the rising demand for affordable single-family homes.

Composite indices used to calculate the Homebuilders Housing Market Index slipped one point in each category. Builder confidence in current market conditions for newly-built single-family homes fell to an index reading of 80 and builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months dipped to 79. Buyer traffic volume in new housing developments dropped to 57, but buyer traffic readings of 50 or more were historically rare until recently.

Analysts identified correlations between the Housing Market Index and readings on consumer sentiment. The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index and the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index readings trend close to the NAHB Housing Market Index but are reported one month behind the Housing Market Index.

Regional Builder Confidence Mixed

Homebuilders reported mixed confidence in housing market conditions throughout the U.S. Market Conditions improved in the Northeast where homebuilder confidence was five points higher at 67. The Midwestern region reported a builder confidence reading of 62, which was five points lower than January’s reading. Homebuilder confidence in the South rose two points to an index reading of 79; homebuilder confidence fell four points in the West to 82.

Regional builder confidence levels reflect local economic conditions and events impacting housing markets.

 

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FOMC Statement: Key Fed Rate Unchanged; Policymakers Monitor Impact of Asian Flu Outbreak

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 31st, 2020

FOMC Statement Key Fed Rate Unchanged; Policymakers Monitor Impact of Asian Flu OutbreakThe Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve issued its scheduled post-meeting statement Wednesday. Policymakers unanimously decided to leave the target federal funds rate range unchanged at 1.50 to 1.75 percent.

FOMC members reasserted previous views that inflation was “subdued” and the economy was growing at a moderate pace. The Fed typically bases decisions about interest rates on its dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and an annual inflation rate of 2.00 percent.

U.S. Economy Strong, Fed Chair Sees No Immediate Risk From China

FOMC cut the target interest rate range three times in 2019 to offset higher prices associated with a trade war with China, but the Committee considered recent progress in trade negotiations as an indication that there was no current need for further rate cuts. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said he was not concerned about immediate risks from China.

In its current assessment of economic conditions, the Fed cited a strong labor market and job growth but said that business investments and exports were weak. Core inflation readings, which exclude volatile food and fuel sectors, consistently ran below 2.00 percent. The FOMC changed language in its statement to indicate a goal of achieving an inflation rate of 2.00 percent; previous statements referred to an inflation goal of near 2.00 percent.

Committee members will continue to monitor current and developing economic conditions to determine when or if to change the benchmark interest rate range in future meetings.

Fed Chair: Fed Is Monitoring Potential Impact Of Coronavirus Outbreak

Concerns over trade conflicts with China were overshadowed by an outbreak of a strain of Asian influenza in China. The disease, caused by a coronavirus, is extremely contagious and spreads quickly. This could impact global economic conditions as international air travel and shipping may be limited or stopped to prevent further spread of the virus.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that although the Fed is not worried about an immediate threat, the FOMC members would continue to monitor how and where the current outbreak of Asian influenza spreads to determine if changes to the Fed’s monetary policy positions are necessary. Tensions in the Middle East were not mentioned in the FOMC statement or Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s post-meeting statement.

 

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Case-Shiller Reports Growth In Home Prices In November

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 29th, 2020

Case-Shiller Reports Growth In Home Prices In NovemberCase-Shiller Home Price Indices reported that national growth of home prices rose by 0.30 percent in November. Analysts said that slim inventories of available homes boosted home prices. Whether or not home price growth continues gaining speed depends on variables including supplies of homes for sale, affordability and home-buyer confidence in the economy.

Mr. Craig Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices said, “It is, of course, too soon to say whether this marks an end to the deceleration [of home price growth] or is merely a pause in the longer-term trend.”

Phoenix Holds First Place In Home-Price Growth For 6 Consecutive Months

Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index showed that all cities tracked reported year-over-year growth in home prices after seasonal adjustments. Phoenix, Arizona held the top position with home price growth of 5.90 percent; Charlotte, North Carolina held second place in the 20-City Index with 5.20 percent growth in home prices and Tampa, Florida held third place with year-over-year home price growth of 5.00 percent.

The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index posted a year-over-year gain of 2.60 percent in November and home prices rose by 0.10 percent in November as compared to October. Case-Shiller reported that home price growth increased by 3.50 percent nationally on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Buyers Seeking Affordable Homes Inland

Home-buyers sought less expensive homes in inland states as high-priced homes in coastal regions continued to be unaffordable for many. Slim supplies of homes contributed to bidding wars that drove home prices higher. Analysts said that home prices are set to drop in high-cost markets as the home-buyers move to more affordable markets.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported a 4.90 percent gain in November home prices for properties associated with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; this reading was compiled on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis.

FHFA data noted that the Mountain Region reported slower month-to-month growth in home prices in November, but all geographic regions reported positive growth in home prices year-over-year. The Mountain region includes the states of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming; these states typically offer a lower cost of living and affordable home prices as compared to high priced coastal areas.

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FOMC Statement: Fed Holds Steady On Its Interest Rate Range

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 12th, 2019

FOMC Statement: Fed Holds Steady On Its Interest Rate RangeThe Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced its unanimous decision not to change to the current target federal funds range of 1.50 to 1.75 percent. The committee’s customary post-meeting statement said the decision not to change the Fed’s target range for federal funds was based on factors including a strong labor market, moderate economic growth, continued job growth, and low unemployment.

Economic readings reviewed prior to the FOMC meeting held Tuesday and Wednesday supported the achievement of the committee’s dual mandate to achieve maximum employment and maintain price stability.

According to the post-meeting statement issued on December 11, FOMC members consistently review incoming global and domestic economic news to determine if the Fed’s monetary policy should be adjusted. Chair Powell signaled that the federal funds rate may not change in 2020, but repeated the FOMC’s frequently-repeated caveat that monetary policy is subject to change as world news and economic conditions may warrant.

Expected And Realized Economic Conditions Contribute To Fed’s Monetary Policy

FOMC members reviewed their expectations of economic performance and compared them with actual readings in evaluating economic performance as connected to the Federal Reserve’s dual mandates of maximum employment and price stability. Low unemployment and overall inflation readings near two percent supported the Committee’s decision not to change the target range for the federal funds rate.

Fed Chair Expects Strong Economy To Continue

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in a scheduled press conference that he and his colleagues in the Federal Open Market Committee are confident that strong economic conditions will prevail over the next few years. Mr. Powell said that the Fed expects the national unemployment rate to remain near a 50-year low at approximately four percent; he said that the national unemployment rate is expected to remain low in the near-term. Chair Powell said that the economy has remained strong for 11 years; this is the record for the longest run of positive economic conditions.

Inflation remains below the Fed’s objective of 2.00 percent; Chair Powell said that the overall inflation rate averaged 1.30 percent, but core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors averaged 1.60 percent. Chair Powell said that the core inflation reading was a more reliable indicator of long-term inflation.

Jobs and wages increased in lower to middle-income communities, but the business and manufacturing sectors weakened. Mr. Powell suggested that the Fed would leave interest rates unchanged in 2020 unless economic and news events indicate that a change in the current monetary policy becomes necessary.

 

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Case-Shiller: July Home Price Growth Hits Lowest Pace in 12 Years

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 26th, 2019

Case-Shiller July Home Price Growth Hits Lowest Pace in 12 YearsCase-Shiller’s National Home Price Index reported U.S. home prices grew by 3.20 percent year-over-year in July; as compared to year-over-year home price growth 0f 3.00 percent posted in June. Cities with the highest rates of year-over-year home price growth were Phoenix, Arizona with 5.80 percent year-over-year home price growth. Las Vegas, Nevada had 4.70 percent year-over-year home price appreciation and Charlotte, North Caroline bumped Tampa, Florida from the top three cities with home price appreciation of 4.60 percent. Tampa, Florida posted 4.50 percent year-over-year home price growth in July.

Home Price Growth Stalls In West

14 cities had higher home price gains than in June and Seattle, Washington was the only city in the 20-City Index to post lower home prices. Analysts said that after years of rapid and unsustainable growth in home prices on the West Coast coupled with economic expansion and job growth in areas with lower home prices. July readings for home-price growth in western cities that posted double-digit price growth percentages in recent years were far lower. Home prices in Portland, Oregon rose 2.50 percent year-over-year; Los Angeles, California home prices rose 1.10 percent and San Francisco, California posted year-over-year home price growth of 0.20 percent.

High Home Prices Ease Demand Caused By Low Supply Of Homes For Sale

As home prices in many markets skyrocketed, would-be buyers were sidelined by affordability cash buyers and strict mortgage loan requirements. With home prices stabilizing and mortgage rates at near-record lows, more buyers will likely enter the market. This would increase demand on already slim supplies of homes for sale and cause home prices to rise at a faster pace than they have in 2019. Current rates of home price growth remain higher than current inflation and wage growth, but are low enough to encourage home buyers who were previously unable to keep up with rapidly rising home prices.

Seven cities posted higher rates of home price growth year-over-year in July as compared to readings for year-over-year home price growth from June 2018 to June 2019. The National Association of Realtors® said that sales of pre-owned homes were higher in July for the first time in months. The supply of available homes tightened in June; this trend is expected to boost home prices as demand for homes increases.

 

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Fed Policymakers Cut Key Rate Range by .25 Percent

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 19th, 2019

Fed Policymakers Cut Key Rate Range by.25 PercentThe Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee reduced its key short-term interest rate range one-quarter percent to 1.75 to 2.00 percent during it’s September meeting. While FOMC members had mixed opinions on reducing the benchmark rate range for short term loans, the post-meeting statement suggested that reducing the federal funds rate was a hedge against inflation. The federal funds rate impacts short-term consumer loan rates for autos and adjustable rate mortgages, but does not impact fixed mortgage rates. FOMC monetary policy decisions are governed by the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of maintaining price stability and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent.

FOMC Members Facing Conflicted Opinions On Rate Cuts

Policymakers consider a variety of influences and news when cutting or raising the federal funds rate range. In addition to its dual mandate, FOMC members consider domestic and global impacts on the economy. Uncertainty over effects of international trade disputes and Great Britain’s looming exit from the European Union balanced strengths in the U.S. economy.

According to the post-meeting statement, seven FOMC members voted in favor of the rate cut to 1.75 to 2.00 percent; one member voted for a rate cut to 1.50 to 1.75 percent and two members voted against changing the target federal funds rate range.

Fed Chair: U.S. Economy Expected To Stay Strong

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in a post-meeting press conference that while U.S. economy expanded for its 11th consecutive year, global economic outlook was less certain particularly in Europe and China. The U.S. economy expanded 2.50 percent in the first half of 2019; factors driving growth included rising consumer confidence, wages and strong job markets. Business investment and exports were lower due to uncertainties over trade. Job growth slowed, but this was expected based on 2018’s fast pace of job growth. Work force participation grew; the Fed expects the national unemployment rate to remain below four percent for the next few years.

Chair Powell said that maintaining strong economic conditions was particularly important for low to middle income consumers left behind during the Great Recession. While current inflation stands at 1.40 percent, the Fed projects that it will grow to 1.90 percent in 2020 and achieve the target goal of 2.00 percent in 2021. Chair Powell said that inflation pressures are muted and at the lower end of historical ranges.

Chair Powell echoed the FOMC statement in saying that the Fed would continue to monitor economic developments abroad and would adjust monetary policy according to economic developments prompted by trade disputes and emerging economic developments.

 

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NAHB: Home Builders Remain Confident

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 18th, 2019

NAHB Home Builders Remain ConfidentThe National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index shows steady builder confidence in housing market conditions. September’s index reading of 68 was one point higher than August’s reading. Any reading over 50 indicates that most home builders surveyed view housing market conditions as favorable. August’s original index reading was adjusted upward by one point.

Component readings for the Housing Market Index were mixed. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose two points to index reading of 75; this was the highest reading year-over-year. Builder confidence in home sales over the next six months fell by one point to 70. The gauge of buyer traffic in single-family housing developments held steady at 50. Readings for buyer traffic seldom exceed 50; September’s reading suggested higher builder confidence than the numerical reading suggested.

Average New Home Size Decreases, Builders Confident In Housing Markets

In recent months, builders have focused on producing larger homes, which has limited the number of affordable homes available to middle-income and first-time home buyers. High demand for homes caused by slim inventories of homes for sale and factors including competition with cash buyers sidelined would-be buyers. Home builders scaled down the size of new homes by 4.30 percent during the second quarter of 2019. This trend is expected to encourage potential home buyers into the market as lower home prices and mortgage rates combine to encourage more buyers into the housing market.

Lower Home Prices And Mortgage Rates Increase Affordability

Analysts and real estate pros have long said that the only way to ease demand for homes is by building more homes within all price ranges. Builders did not immediately respond to calls for more homes, but if current builder confidence and a new focus on building affordable homes continues, high demand for homes and short supplies of available homes may ease toward evenly balanced market conditions, but the unknown factor is mortgage rates. If they rise, affordability will be challenged and buyer interest in new homes could slow.

New home prices typically fall as peak buying season ends. Current trends toward building smaller homes, low mortgage rates and lower home prices combined to provide more choices and affordable options for home buyers. If general economic conditions remain strong, more home shoppers could become homeowners.

 

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Case-Shiller: June Home Prices Grew at Slowest Pace in 12 Years

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on August 28th, 2019

Case-Shiller June Home Prices Grew at Slowest Pace in 12 YearsHome price growth continued to slow in June according to Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index. 17 cities reported higher home prices in June, but three cities reported lower home prices month-to-month. Seattle, Washington was the only city to report lower home prices year-over-year in June.

Phoenix, Arizona Home Price Growth Highest in June

Phoenix, Arizona toppled Last Vegas, Nevada’s hold on first place for home price growth in June. According to Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index, home prices in Phoenix rose by 5.80 percent year-over-year in June. Las Vegas, Nevada followed closely with year-over-year home price growth of 5.50 percent. Tampa, Florida had the third highest rate of home price growth with a year-over-year reading of 4.70 percent.

Home prices also slowed nationally; Case-Shiller reported 3.10 percent growth as compared to May’s year-over-year pace of 3.30 percent growth in home prices.

Home Buyers Leaving High-Cost West Coast

Analysts pointed out that recent slowing in home price growth followed a long period of rapidly rising home prices and higher mortgage rates. This sidelined many buyers as cash buyers and investors competed for fewer available homes. First-time and moderate income buyers could not afford rapidly rising prices and mortgages. Stricter mortgage loan requirements put in place after the Great Recession made qualifying for home loans more difficult.

Homeowners may not be seeing top pricing, buyer competition and offers higher than their asking prices, but after the long and fast increase in home prices, many sellers stand to realize significant profits after years of gains. At the height of the housing recovery, cities on the west coast saw steep rises in home prices. Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California enjoyed rapid home price growth as buyers paid cash and outbid each other, but lagging home price growth suggests that sky-high home prices have peaked in the West.

Seattle, Washington was the first city to show a year-over-year drop in home prices. Low mortgage rates may encourage formerly sidelined home buyers to enter the housing market. Analysts said that the only obstacle to increasing home sales might be homeowners unwilling to sell as home prices ease. Consumer concerns over the economic impact of trade tariffs may delay decisions to buy a home as consumer costs continue to rise. Home builders share these concerns as the cost of imported building materials increases.

 

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Case-Shiller: Home Prices Growth Slows in March

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on August 1st, 2019

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Growth Slows in MarchHome price growth slowed again in May according to Case-Shiller home price indices. Home price growth slowed for the 14th consecutive month to its lowest rate in 12 years. Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index showed 3.40 percent growth year-over-year in May as compared to April’s year-over-year reading of 3.50 percent.

Las Vegas, Nevada held its first place position in the 20-City Home Price Index for highest year-over-year home price growth rate at 6.40 percent; Phoenix, Arizona held second place with a year-over-year home price growth reading of 5.70 percent. Tampa, Florida home prices grew by 5.10 percent year-over-year in May.

Home Price Growth Rates Fall In West Coast Cities

West coast cities that posted double-digit annual home price gains in recent years posted less than two percent growth in home prices in May. Seattle, Washington was the first city to post negative home price growth with a negative year-over-year reading of -1.20 percent in May. San Francisco, California home prices rose by 1.00 percent year-over-year and home prices in San Diego, California grew 1.30 percent year-over-year.

This trend suggests that home prices were topped out in terms of affordability as buyers looked elsewhere for larger selections of homes at affordable prices.

Analysts predicted a plateau in home price growth and did not expect steep declines in home prices. Steady growth in wages and jobs could help to ease affordability challenges for home buyers. Lower mortgage rates provided additional opportunity for first-time and moderate income home buyers, but home price growth needs to ease further to help would-be buyers conquer affordability concerns. Shortages of homes for sale are most pronounced for lower-priced homes, where demand is largest. Higher demand for homes during the peak selling season could boost prices in popular metro areas.

If you’re in the market for a new home or interested in listing your current property, please contact your trusted real estate professional.

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NAHB: Housing Market Index Rises 1 Point in July

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 17th, 2019

NAHB Housing Market Index Rises 1 Point in JulyHome Builder sentiment rose one point in July according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. 2019 builder confidence in housing market condition continued to fall short of 2018 levels. July’s Housing Market Index reading of 65 was one point higher than June’s reading.

Component readings also rose one point each. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose to 72; the reading for builder confidence in market conditions for the next six months rose to 71. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments rose to an index reading of 48; buyer traffic readings seldom exceed the neutral reading of reading of 50.

2019 Builder Confidence Is Lagging Behind 2018 Readings

Year to date, builder confidence index readings averaged 63 as compared to a reading of 67 in 2018 and 68 in 2017. Ongoing headwinds affecting builders were familiar concerns over materials prices and shortages of buildable lots and labor. Analysts said that builders remain leery of building to many homes after having large inventories of unsold homes after the Great Recession.

Builders also noted that increasing regulation and local building codes are impacting some areas. Builders are under pressure to produce affordable homes, but are log-jammed by “not in my backyard” zoning restrictions when they apply to build mixed developments of single and multi-family homes.

There may be good news on the horizon. Oregon passed state legislation banning exclusively single-family zoning. Depending on population, local jurisdictions will be allowed to build duplexes and larger multi-family units. If other states and communities follow Oregon’s lead, builders may find new options for building multiple units on lots formerly zoned for single family homes. Building affordable homes would help to ease housing shortages and ease demand for homes.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in listing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage and real estate professionals. 

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