Home Builder Sentiment Highest in Five Months

Component readings used for calculating Housing Market Index readings also rose in October. Builder sentiment for current market conditions gained five points for a reading of 75. The index reading for builder perception of market conditions in the next six months also rose five points to an October reading of 78.

Builder sentiment for home buyer traffic in new home developments rose one point to 48. Buyer traffic readings seldom exceed a Home Builder Index reading of 50.

NAHB Chairman Granger Mc Donald said builders were recovering from the initial shock of damage caused by hurricanes, but this was prior to numerous wildfires adding to demand for contractors and home builders.

National Disasters Add to Ongoing Materials and Labor Shortages

Factors contributing to stronger builder sentiment included an industry concentration of building homes for purchase instead of multifamily rental projects. Single-family homes have been in short supply in recent years and building more homes is the only remedy for a market skewed in favor of sellers and rapidly rising home prices fueled by high buyer demand and few choices available to buyers.

Recent hurricane damage is likely to raise materials prices and worsen labor shortages; Widespread damage caused by wildfires in California is expected to increase demand for contractors and skilled laborers as they work to repair and rebuild homes and buildings ruined in storms and fires.

Regional Readings Mixed

Three-month rolling averages of builder sentiment for regions tracked by NAHB were mixed. In the Northeast, builder sentiment rose one point to 50. The South gained two points for a reading of 68. The reading for builder sentiment in the South was unchanged at 63; the reading for the West was also unchanged at 77.

Winter weather and challenges caused by higher demand for services against rising materials costs and ongoing labor shortages can be expected to challenge builders, but the need for new housing caused by multiple national disasters will likely create many new jobs for builders.

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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

Next 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 Prices Higher in July, Home Prices May Have Peaked

Case-Shiller reported higher sales of new homes for July; the national reading for new home sales increased by 0.10 percent to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.90 percent. The 20-City Home Price Index rose by 0.20 percent to 5.80 percent on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Seattle Washington held the top spot in the 20-City Index with a growth of 13.50 percent year-over-year. Seattle home prices are growing faster than home prices in Portland Oregon, which reported a year-over-home price growth rate of 7,60 percent. Dallas, Texas lost its third-place standing in the 20-City Index to Las Vegas, Nevada, which reported 7.40 year-over-year growth in home prices. Dallas, Texas and Detroit, Michigan tied for fourth position with 7.30 percent home price growth.

David M. Blitzer, managing director and chair of the S&P Case Shiller Home Price Index Committee, said that the Pacific Northwest largely drove July home prices,12 of 20 cities surveyed reported higher home prices in July. Home prices rose to their highest level since May 2009 but were selling for less than half of what new homes sold for in 2009.

Home Prices Rise, Falling Sales Suggest Prices May Have Peaked

High demand for a limited number of available homes continued to cause home prices to rise, but home sales fell in July. Three of four regions reported lower sales with the Midwestern region sales volume unchanged. Low inventories of homes for sale have increased competition among homebuyers; this creates bidding wars that cause artificially high home prices in high-demand markets.

In related news, The Commerce Department reported that new home sales fell by 3.40 percent in August. The inventory of homes on the market rose from a 5.70month supply to a 6.10month supply of homes for sale. Real estate pros consider a six-month supply of homes for sale a good balance between homes on the market and active home buyers. Increasing inventories of homes for sale suggests that home prices could be peaking as home buyers face strict mortgage rules and affordability concerns.  

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma impacted 14 percent of building permits issued in 2016. While building permits issued may increase, ongoing concerns over labor shortages and building materials costs could become more pronounced as rebuilding in the hurricane zones progresses.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Dips on Hurricane Damage

Home builders had less confidence in housing market conditions in September. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, builders worried that ongoing shortages of construction labor and materials would worsen.  NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald said that concerns over labor and building materials were “intensified,” but said that builder confidence was expected to return to high readings once rebuilding is underway.

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index dropped three points to an index reading of 64 with all three component readings lower than they were in August. Builder confidence in current market conditions for new single-family homes dipped for points to an index reading of 70. Builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months also dropped points to 74. September’s reading for buyer traffic in new housing developments was one point lower at 47.

Construction Labor and Materials Shortages Expected to Worsen

Home builders have cited shortages of labor and building materials in recent years, but these shortages are expected to grow in coming months due to massive amounts of construction workers needed for rebuilding after severe storm damage and flooding wiped out homes, businesses, and infrastructure. As with the high demand for homes caused by low inventories of homes for sale, labor and materials costs will likely rise as rebuilding begins

The NAHB Housing Market Index measures builder confidence on a scale of 0 to 100. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer consider housing market conditions to be in positive territory. While September readings are well within positive territory, approaching winter weather and shortages may cause builder confidence in housing market conditions to decrease.

Regional Builder Confidence Readings Mixed

Three-month rolling average readings for four regions tracked by NAHB had missed results in September. The Northeast posted a one-point gain to 49; the Midwest posted a loss of three points for a reading of 63 and the Southern region posted a one-point loss for a reading of 66. The West posted a two-point gain for a reading of 77.

Future builder confidence readings depend on conditions as storm season continues and winter weather sets in.

NAHB Housing Market Index Slips Two Points in June

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for June fell by two points to 67 after a revision of May’s reading. Components of the Housing Market Index were lower for June with builder confidence in current market conditions two points lower at 73; June’s reading for builder confidence in market conditions for the next six months also fell two points to 76. Builder confidence in buyer traffic fell two points to 49. According to the Index, any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident than those who are not.

Labor and Lot Shortages Continue to Stifle SingleFamily Home Building

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said that builder confidence remains high despite ongoing shortages of buildable lots and skilled labor. Meanwhile, NAHB reported lower readings for its regional 3-month rolling average of home builder confidence. The Northeast region was two points lower at 46; Builder confidence in the Midwest was one point lower at 67 and the Southern region was also one point lower with a 3-month reading of 70. The West had the highest builder confidence with a three-month average reading of 70.

Mortgage and consumer credit interest rates are likely to move higher after the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise its target federal funds rate by 0.25 percent on Wednesday. This was the third uptick for the Fed rate this year. As interest rates and other consumer costs increase, would-be buyers of new homes may be sidelined. Future builder confidence readings could be influenced by a variety of economic factors including employment, interest rates and consumer confidence.

Housing Starts Expected to Lag Behind PreBubble Level

While housing starts are expected to increase to approximately 1.23 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis, they are significantly lower than the near 2-million housing starts reported prior to when the housing bubble burst. Analysts noted that the overall economic recovery remains steady with some glitches expected along the way. Closing the gap between builder confidence and housing starts is seen as the solution for easing high demand for homes and unusually low inventories of homes on the market.

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Dips in April

According to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for April, Builder Confidence dropped three points to an index reading of 68 in April. While any reading over 50 indicates positive builder confidence, home builders said that they continue to face obstacles including higher costs for materials and elevated costs associated with regulatory issues. Builders have repeatedly cited concerns including a lack of buildable lots and labor shortages in past months.

Home Builder Component Readings Fall But Remain in Positive Territory

Component readings of the Housing Market Index include builder confidence in current market conditions for newly built homes, which dropped three points to 73. Builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months fell three points to 75. Home builder confidence in buyer traffic volume for new housing developments dropped one point to an April reading of 52.

Regional Readings for Builder Sentiment Vary

Regional readings for April were included in the three-month rolling average in four U.S. regions. Builder confidence in the Northeastern region fell by two points to 46; The Midwestern region added one point for a builder confidence reading of 68, while the Southern region’s reading was unchanged at 68. The Western region added one point for a three-month reading of 77.

Housing industry groups and analysts watch the NAHB Housing Market Index for indications of future volume in housing starts, but builder confidence and housing starts are not always closely connected. The Commerce Department will release readings for March housing starts and building permits issued on Tuesday.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Mixed for September

September’s 20-City Housing Market Index from Case-Shiller showed signs that rapidly rising home prices in some metro areas may be losing momentum. San Francisco, California, posted a month-to-month reading of -0.40 percent and a year-over-year reading of 5.70 percent. Home prices stayed flat in Seattle Washington from August to September, but posted the highest home price gain of 11.00 percent year-over-year. Slowing home price growth in high-demand areas suggest that affordability concerns are impacting rapid gains in home prices seen in recent years.

Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index achieved its highest gain with a reading of 5.50 percent as compared to August’s reading of 5.10 percent.

YearoverYear: Western U.S. Holds Highest Gains in Home Prices

In addition to Seattle’s year-over-year home price growth rate of 11 percent, Portland, Oregon closely followed with a year-over-year reading of 10.90 percent. Denver, Colorado rounded out the top three cities in the 20-City Home Price Index with a year-over-year growth rate of 8.70 percent. September was the eighth consecutive month that the top three cities held their places in the 20-City Index. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index posted a year-over- year gain of 5.10 percent.

September Home Prices Cap Recovery, Usher in New Progress for Housing Market

According to David M. Blitzer, Chairman of S&P Dow Jones Index Committee, September’s record national reading for home prices marks a transition from housing recovery to “the hoped for start of a new advance.” Mr. Blitzer cited recent data on sales of new and pre-owned homes and said that housing starts reached a post-recession peak.

September’s peak in national home prices was 0.10 percent above the pre-recession peak set in 2006. Adjusted for inflation, the September peak remains approximately 16 percent below the pre-recession peak. During the recession, national home prices reached a trough that was 27 percent lower than Case-Shiller’s September reading. Analysts expressed some caution and noted headwinds to housing markets including slower-than-normal rates of homes construction, higher mortgage rates and strict mortgage approval requirements.

NAHB Housing Market Index Dips 2 Points

According to the National Association of Home Builders, overall builder confidence in housing markets dropped two points in October to an index reading of 63. September’s reading of 65 was the highest posted since the housing bubble peak. Component readings for October’s housing market index were mixed; the reading for builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months rose one point to 72. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell two points to 69. Builder outlook for buyer traffic in new home developments over the next six months fell by one point to an index reading of 46.

Approaching winter weather likely contributed to lower readings, but builder confidence remained strong. Any reading above 50 signifies that more builders are confident about specific index components than fewer. While home builders continue to be encouraged by low mortgage rates and a stronger job market, they also face obstacles including shortages of labor and buildable lots for development.

High Demand, Low Inventory of Homes Present Ongoing Challenges

High demand for homes coupled with depleted inventory of available homes is sidelining some buyers. As demand continues to drive home prices higher first-time and moderate income buyers are faced with affordability and mortgage qualification challenges. Limited inventory also makes it difficult for home buyers to find homes they want and contributes to competition for available homes. Buyers depending on mortgage financing typically compete with investors and cash buyers for homes in high demand areas.

Real estate pros and analysts monitor home builder sentiment as an indicator of future home supplies, but builder sentiment and housing starts don’t necessarily correspond. Given high home prices and strict mortgage qualification standards that sideline some buyers, it appears that home builders are taking a moderate stance toward ramping up construction.

In addition to boosting real estate markets, building homes provides jobs and supports local economies. Building homes creates demand for construction materials and related products and services.