What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 30, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week- December 30, 2013The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index was improved for December at 82.5, after the November reading was adjusted from 82.5 to 75. Analysts noted that consumers were relieved when legislative gridlock ended.

Durable goods orders reached their highest level since May with November’s reading of + 3.5 percent. Without the volatile transportation sector, the reading for November was +1.2 percent.

This could be a sign of economic recovery for manufacturing, as more orders are being placed. Economists expected an overall increase of 2.0 percent for overall durable goods orders.

The U.S. Commerce Department provided housing markets with good news with its New Home Sales report for November. 464,000 new homes were sold in November against expectations of 440,000 new homes sold.

This expectation was based on the original reading of 444,000 new homes sold in October, which has been revised to 474,000 new homes sold. The latest reading for October is the highest since July of 2008.

While rising mortgage rates slowed home purchases during the summer, analysts note that home buyers seem to be adjusting for higher mortgage rates by purchasing smaller homes in less costly areas.

Home Builder Confidence recently achieved its highest reading since 2005, a further indication of overall economic recovery and housing markets in particular.

After Wednesday’s holiday, the Weekly Jobless Claims report came in with a reading of 338,000 new jobless claims filed. This reading was lower than expectations of 345,000 new jobless claims and significantly lower than the previous week’s report of 380,000 new jobless claims.

This was the largest decrease in new jobless claims since the week of November 17, 2012. After seasonal volatility associated with the holidays, analysts expect new jobless claims to decrease at a slower rate in early 2014,

Freddie Mac released its Primary Mortgage Market Survey on Thursday. Although some economic analysts had expected a jump in mortgage rates after the Fed announced its plan to begin tapering its monthly securities purchases in January, mortgage rates showed little change.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 4.48 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. Average 15-year mortgage rates also rose by one basis point to 3.52 with discount points moving up from 0.60 to 0.70 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by 4.00 basis points to 3.00 percent, with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.

2014 shows promise of a steady economic improvements, and given the latest New Home Sales report, it’s possible that improving housing markets will continue leading the way.

What’s Ahead

As with last week, this week’s schedule of economic events is reduced due to the New Year holiday. Pending home sales for November will be released Monday, Tuesday’s economic reports include The Case/Shiller Housing Market Indices and the Consumer Confidence report.

After the holiday on Wednesday, Thursday’s scheduled reports include the Weekly Jobless Claims and Freddie Mac PMMS on mortgage rates. Construction Spending will also be released. There is no housing or mortgage-related economic reports set for release on Friday.

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Housing Market Index Shows Builder Confidence Up 23 Percent Year-Over-Year

Housing Market Index Shows Builder Confidence Up 23 Percent Year- Over- Year According to the National Association of Homebuilders/Wells Fargo Homebuilders Market Index for December, builder confidence recovered in with a reading of 58. This surpassed both expectations of 56 and last month’s reading of 54.

Analysts noted that builder confidence has steadied after the government shutdown. December’s reading was the highest in four months. Dave Crowe, NAHB chief economist, said that his organization was expecting a “gradual improvement in the housing recovery” in 2014.

Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders are confident about overall housing market conditions than not.

Builder Confidence – Highest Reading Since 2005

Pent-up demand for housing is driving housing markets in spite of higher mortgage rates. Three components of builder confidence used to calculate the overall reading also rose in December. Builder confidence in current home sales rose to 64 from a reading of 58 in November; this is the highest reading since 2005.

Confidence levels in housing markets over the next six months rose to 62 from last month’s reading of 60. Builder confidence also grew in the area of buyer foot traffic in new developments and gained three points to a reading of 44.

All of this is good news, but the NAHB said that a gap remains between higher home builder confidence and the rate of new home construction. A seasonal lull in home construction is not unusual especially in areas experiencing harsh weather.

More Jobs, Low Refinance Numbers Could Mean More Mortgages Available

MarketWatch analysts suggest that if the economy continues to add jobs “at a brisk pace” and mortgage lenders ease lending requirements next year, the demand for homes could further strengthen the U.S. housing market next year.

Low numbers of refinance mortgages in 2013 may cause some lenders to loosen mortgage credit requirements, which were tightened after the housing bubble burst.

Economic News scheduled for today may provide a broader picture of economic health and likely trends for 2015. The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee will provide its expected statement after its meeting, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will give his last press conference as Fed chair as well.

Any indication of plans to reduce the Fed’s current quantitative easing program could upset financial and mortgage markets, but most economic analysts don’t expect an announcement of tapering the Fed’s asset purchases before next year.

Data on November Housing Starts and Building Permits will also offer clues as to how housing markets and the general economy are doing.

Home Builder Confidence Has Far Outpaced Actual Home Construction

Home Builder Confidence Has Far Outpaced Actual Home ConstructionHome builder confidence was unchanged for September according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index HMI released Tuesday. After four months of rising confidence, September’s HMI reading came in at 58, which was not far from expectations of a reading of 59.

August’s reading of 58 was revised from 59. Readings over 50 indicate that more builders view housing market conditions as being positive than negative.

Housing Market Index Readings Rise

Components of September’s HMI include readings for home builder views of current market conditions, which maintained August’s reading of 62. The September reading for buyer foot-traffic rose to 47 from 46 in August.

Builder expectations for housing market conditions within the next six months slipped from a reading of 48 in August to 45 for September. Lower expectations for market conditions within the next six months likely take into consideration the coming winter months when weather conditions slow construction and home sales.

Home builder confidence has far outpaced actual home construction on a year-over-year basis; the HMI increased by 45 percent since September 2012.  Investors expect a seasonally-adjusted reading of 921,000 housing starts for August on Wednesday. This figure represents a year-over-year increase of 23 percent for housing starts.

Rising mortgage rates affected September’s reading. In addition, David Crowe, chief economist for NAHB also cited consumer credit restrictions, a low inventory of lots available for development and rising labor costs as factors contributing to a plateau in builder confidence. 

Fed Decision On Quantitative Easing Tapering Expected

Wednesday’s highly anticipated statement from the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has created a “wait-and-see” mood among home buyers, home builders and investors. The Fed is expected to announce whether or not it will begin tapering its $85 billion monthly purchases of securities.

This program, which is called quantitative easing, was designed to keep long-term interest rates low. Speculation on the Fed’s upcoming decision about reducing its securities purchases has caused mortgage rates to rise since May.

Economists are expecting the Fed to announce moderate tapering of QE to $75 billion in monthly purchases. Reducing or not reducing the fed’s securities purchases has become an elephant in the room to those concerned with mortgage rates; in recent months, the Fed has hinted at its intention to taper QE purchases before year-end.

If the Fed reduces its securities purchases, the demand for securities (bonds) is expected to fall, along with bond prices. When bond prices fall, mortgage rates typically rise. The good news is that once the Fed announces a decision on QE, the guesswork will be done for a while.

Home Builder Confidence Rises To Highest Level Since January 2006

Home Builder Confidence Rises To Highest Level Since January 2006The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) rose in July.

Home builder confidence in the market for newly constructed single-family homes rose six points to a reading of 57. NAHB reports that this was the third consecutive rise in the HMI and its highest reading since January 2006.

Three components used in compiling the HMI reading include current sales, which gained five points for a reading of 60.  Confidence in prospective buyer traffic rose from 40 to 45, and sales expectations for the next six months rose from a reading of 60 to 67.

HMI: All Regions Post Gains

Regional data reflected gains in builder confidence for all U.S. geographic regions. Regional data is based on a three-month rolling average of builder confidence in each region.

The Northeast gained four points for a reading of 40; the Midwest gained eight points for a reading of 54. The South gained five points for a reading of 50, and the West gained three points for a reading of 51.

Readings of more than 50 indicate that more builders view conditions as good than poor. NAHB Economist David Crowe indicated that growing confidence is driven by factors including lower prices for building materials and more buyers vying for fewer available homes. A shortage of building space and available existing homes is improving markets for new homes.

Housing Starts Decline In June

In spite of growing home builder confidence, housing starts for June fell to their lowest level in nearly a year. Regional weather conditions contributed to the dip in housing starts, which surpassed June 2012 housing starts by 10.40 percent.

June’s housing starts fell to 836,000 on a seasonally-adjusted annual rate, and fell shy of economist’s expectation of 950,000 housing starts. Expectations were based on May’s original tally of 914,000 housing starts, which was revised upward to 928,000 on Wednesday.

Building permits for single family homes moved up by 0.60 percent to a rate of 624,000; this is the highest rate since May, 2008. A significant backlog of unused permits contributed to June’s lower number of building permits issued.

Economists are confident that the housing market continues its recovery, but may face obstacles if the government changes the mortgage interest tax deduction.

Another concern involves the pending “tapering” of the Fed’s quantitative easing program (QE). The QE program, which involves the Fed’s purchase of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) was designed to support mortgage markets and also helps to keep mortgage rates low.

For specific details on local home building activity in and around Portland , please contact your trusted Portland Maine Real Estate professional today.

Home Builder Confidence Jumps By Widest Margin Since 2002

Home Builder Confidence Jumps By Widest Margin Since 2002U.S. housing markets are gaining as demand for homes exceeds available supplies in many areas. The National Association of Home Builders/ Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for June increased by eight points over May’s reading to achieve a positive reading of 52. This last happened in August-September of 2002, when HMI monthly readings also jumped by eight points.

Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders consider housing market conditions positive than negative. June’s reading was the first time the HMI reading surpassed a reading of 50 since April 2006.

Limited Inventory Drives Sales Of New Homes

Rick Judson, NAHB Chairman, cited short supplies of existing homes as a factor driving sales of new homes. As demand for homes grows and inventories of available existing homes fall, buyers are increasingly buying new homes.

Sales of existing homes continue to be impacted by factors such as homes worth less than the mortgages held against them and sellers taking a “wait and see” attitude toward listing their homes for sale.

All three of the components of June’s national HMI gained:

  • The reading for current sales conditions rose from 48 to 56.
  • Expectations for future sales gained nine points to 61.
  • June’s reading for buyer foot traffic in new homes gained seven points for a reading of 40.

Regional Home Builder Confidence Grows In 3 Of 4 Regions

The 3-month rolling average readings for regional home builder confidence showed increases in three of four regions:

  • Northeast: Builder confidence increased by one point to 37.
  • Midwest: Builder confidence rose by one point to 47.
  • South: Builder confidence rose by four points to 46.
  • West: Builder confidence dropped by one point to 48.

High demand and a shortage lots available for building new homes contributed to the West’s slight decrease in builder confidence. Overall, increasing home builder confidence is a sign of economic recovery, but as the economy gains momentum and home prices continue rising, mortgage rates can be expected to rise as well.

Housing Starts Up 28% Annually In May

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported Wednesday that national housing starts rose by 6.80 percent from April’s revised reading. May’s reading of 914,000 housing starts was reported on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. May’s reading was 28.80 percent higher than for May 2012.

Single-family housing starts (one to four units) fell short of investor expectations of 953,000 but exceeded April’s revised reading of 856,000.

Multi-family housing starts surpassed single-family housing starts, but any additions to low inventories of single-family homes could ease the difference between high demand and low inventories of available homes. Meeting demand for homes would temper rising home prices, which could help potential buyers qualify for mortgage loans.

Home Builder Future Sales Confidence Rises To New Highs

Home Builder Confidence Surges In May 2013Home builders are gaining confidence in current and future market conditions for new homes, but continue to see below-average foot traffic in new homes.

The reading for May’s National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) /Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) increased by three points to a reading of 44 as compared to April’s revised reading of 41. The HMI measures builder confidence in current sales conditions for newly built homes, buyer foot traffic in new homes and builder expectations for future sales conditions.

Builder Confidence In Future New Home Sales Highest Since February 2007

The HMI reading for current sales conditions for newly built homes rose from 44 to 48. The reading for buyer foot traffic in new homes rose from 30 to 33, and builder confidence in future sales of new homes rose from 52 to 53, which is the highest reading posted for builder expectations since February 2007.

A reading of more than 50 indicates that more builders consider housing markets good than bad.

NAHB Chairman Rick Judson noted that home builders are facing challenges including rising costs for building materials, lots and labor as supply chains recover from the recession. He also said that builders took note of “urgency” among home buyers wanting to take advantage of low mortgage rates, but who are facing a dwindling supply of available homes.

Regional Housing Market Index Unchanged Except In West

HMI readings for three of the four geographical regions used in the HMI survey of builders remained unchanged with the Northeast at 37, Midwest at 45 and South at 42.

The reading for the West declined by five points to 49, and likely reflects the shortage of building space and available new homes for sale. The regional HMI figures are calculated as a three-month rolling average.

In some areas of the West, home sellers are again receiving multiple offers for homes, a clear indication of diminishing inventories of homes for sale.

As an example, the Sacramento Bee recently reported the dilemma of builders faced with fewer available construction-ready lots alongside an increasing demand for homes. As inventories of both new and pre-owned homes shrink, demand for homes is growing as buyers take advantage of low mortgage rates.

With builders feeling confident about the future and poised to ramp up their home building efforts, it is a great time to consider buying or selling a home in Maine.

Contact your trusted real estate professional to discuss your options right away to take advantage of this exciting opportunity.