Last week’s economic news included readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released, along with coverage of Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s remarks at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Home Sales Lower in July
According to the Commerce Department, new home sales fell to a seven-month low in July; 571,000 new homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in July. This reading fell short of the expected sales rate of 608,000 new home sales and June’s reading of 630,000 sales. This was unwelcome news for home builders, who have been under pressure to build more homes. pronounced shortage of available homes coupled with high buyer demand has pressured builders to increase their rate of housing starts. A sudden dip in new home sales could impact builders’ production rates if slow sales persist.
Buyer demand may be waning as home prices have continued to climb. July’s national average home price rose to $313700, which was 6.30 percent year over year. The National Association of Realtors® said the current inventory of available homes rose to 5.70 months. This was the highest reading in highest reading in several months. Real estate pros consider a six-month supply of homes for sale an average reading.
Regardless of record high demand for homes and low inventories, rapidly rising home prices reduce the pool of potential buyers due to affordability.
Sales of previously owned homes also fell in July. The National Association of Realtors® reported that pre-owned homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.44 million sales. Analysts predicted a rate of 5.50 million sales based on June’s reading of 5.51 million sales.
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims
Freddie Mac reported mixed mortgage rates results, but mortgage types surveyed were little changed. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell three basis points to 3.86 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage was unchanged at 3.16 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.17 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.
First-time jobless claims rose to 234,000, which fell short of the expected reading of 238,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 232,000 new claims.
Fed Chair Defends Dodd–Frank Act
Fed Chair Janet Yellen defended Dodd-Frank mortgage legislation passed after the financial crisis. The legislation established credit standards for mortgage lenders to eliminate irresponsible lending practices. Speaking at the Federal Reserve’s annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Chair Yellen’s comments responded to recent indications by the administration and banking officials that the Dodd-Frank Act should be repealed.
This week’s economic reports include readings from Case-Shiller on home prices. Pending home sales, construction spending and inflation reports will be released in addition to weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Several labor reports will also be released including ADP Payrolls, Non-Farm Payrolls, and the national unemployment rate will also be released.