What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 2, 2017

Last week’s economic reports included Case-Shiller’s Home Price Indices, readings on new and pending home sales and Freddie Mac ‘s weekly mortgage rates report. Weekly jobless claims and reports on inflation and core inflation were also released.

CaseShiller Home Prices Rise in July; New and Pending Home Sales Lower in August

According to Case-Shiller July Index reports, national home prices rose at a rate of 5.8

90 percent on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to June’s reading of 5.80 percent. The top three cities in the 20-City Home Price Index were Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Home prices are responding to high demand for homes and limited inventories of homes for sale. Although this trend has persisted in the last few years, lower readings for sales of new homes and pending home sales were lower in August. Analysts said this could indicate that home prices are topping out due to affordability and few homes for sale.

New home sales fell to 560,000 on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in August as compared to July’s reading of 580,000 sales. While real estate pros and economists look to pending home sales as an indicator for future closings and mortgage originations, August’s reading slipped lower into negative territory with a reading of – 2.60 percent. July’s reading for pending home sales was – 0.80 percent.

Mortgage Rates Stay Flat, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported no change in average fixed mortgage rates. 30-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.83 percent and 15-year fixed rate mortgage rates held steady at an average of 3.13 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.20 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose by 12,000 to 272,000 claims. Analysts expected 270,000 new jobless claims; 260,000 new claims were filed the prior week.

Inflation rose by 0.10 percent in August, which matched expectations and was lower than July’s growth rate of 0.30 percent. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, was unchanged at 0.10 percent and fell short of expectations of 0.20 percent growth in August.

Consumer sentiment fell to an index reading of 95.10 percent and met analysts’ expectations based on August’s reading of 95.30

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending and labor-sector reports from ADP Payrolls, Non-Farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate for September. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Continues

Home prices increased in October according to Case-Shiller’s 20 City Home Price Index. Home prices rose from September’s annualized reading of 5.40 percent to 5.60 percent. Factors contributing to rising home prices include stronger economic conditions and outlook along with short inventories of available homes coupled with high demand. On average, October home prices rose 5.10 percent on seasonally adjusted annual basis, which was unchanged from September’s reading.

West Continues to Lead Home Price Growth

Top home price growth rates were in Seattle, Washington at 10.70 percent, Portland, Oregon at 10.30 percent and Denver, Colorado with a seasonally-adjusted annual price increase of 8.30 percent. New York, New York had the lowest home price growth in October with a reading of 1.70 percent.

In a separate report, December consumer confidence exceeded expectations with an index reading of 113.70 as compared to an expected reading of 110.00 and November’s reading of 109.40. This was the highest reading for consumer confidence since 2001. Analysts said that the strong reading for consumer confidence was a sign that consumers will increase their spending in 2017, but what will happen with mortgage rates is a big question.

Rising Mortgage Rates May Slow Home Prices, High Demand for Homes

With the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise its target federal funds range in December comes a question of how rising mortgage rates will affect housing markets. Rising fed rates typically lead to increases in consumer lending rates including rates for home loans and refinancing. Combined effects of rising home prices and mortgage rates create challenges for first-time and moderate income home buyers. While higher mortgage rates have not impacted buyer demand so far, rising mortgage rates could sideline some buyers.

A recent compilation of the most expensive places to live in America illustrates the imbalance of home prices as compared to consumer incomes. Brooklyn, NY topped this list with a reading of 127.70 percent of average household income earned in Brooklyn to buy an average priced home in Brooklyn. Analysts reporting this data noted that many Brooklyn homeowners work in Manhattan and earn more than those who work in Brooklyn. Disparities in average home prices and home buyer incomes could “trickle down” to less expensive areas if mortgage rates and home prices continue to rise.

Meanwhile, builder confidence is strong and is expected to lead to higher levels of home construction in 2017.

Home Builder Sentiment Unchanged in November

According to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for November, builder sentiment was unchanged at a reading of 63. Readings above 50 indicate that a majority of builders are confident about housing market conditions. Readings for three sub-indexes used to calculate the Housing Market Index Readings for builder confidence in current market conditions and market conditions within the next six months were posted at 69. The reading for buyer foot traffic in housing developments was 47. Buyer traffic has not reached the benchmark reading of 50 since the peak of the housing bubble approximately 10 years ago.

NAHB Chair Ed Brady noted that survey information provided by most participating builders was gathered prior to the presidential election. Mr. Brady also noted that Housing Market Index readings have exceeded 60 for the past three months, which indicates slow but steady growth in housing markets.

 

Analysts: Builder Sentiment and Building Activity Inconsistent

While positive builder sentiment readings seem to contribute to stronger housing markets, analysts pointed out that housing starts are not consistent with high builder sentiment levels. Reasons for fewer home starts than the Housing Market Index suggests include approaching winter weather and ongoing shortages of labor and buildable lots.

Real estate pros count on building more homes (and building them faster) as the only solution to tight supplies of available homes and rising demand. These conditions create highly competitive markets that present obstacles to moderate income and first time home buyers. NAHB said that rising incomes, expanding labor markets and relatively low mortgage rates are fueling demand for homes. While mortgage rates have remained near historic lows, home prices have risen quickly in high-demand areas. This creates affordability challenges for home buyers, who also face strict home loan approval requirements.

 

3 Month Rolling Averages Show Regional Confidence Readings

NAHB reported its three-month rolling averages according to four regions included in Housing Market Index readings. The Northeast reading was 45; the Midwest region’s confidence reading was 58 and the Southern region reported a reading of 66. The West, which includes high-demand metro areas such as Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California, had a November builder confidence reading of 77.