October 23rd, 2018
Last week’s economic reports included readings on home builder confidence,sales of pre-owned homes and housing starts. The Commerce Department also issued a report on building permits issued; weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.
Homebuilder Confidence Rises One Point
The National Association of Home Builders reported a reading of 68 for October,which surpassed August’s reading of 67. Any reading over 50 indicates most home builders are confident about housing market conditions. Builders cited ongoing headwinds including higher prices for materials,shortages of lots and labor and rising mortgage rates. Builders sought ways to provide more affordable housing options as they faced higher costs.
Regional readings of builder confidence readings,which are tracked on a three-month rolling average,were missed. The northeastern region gained three points for a reading of 57; the southern region gained one point for an index reading of 70. The midwestern region lost two points for a reading of 57. The western region was unchanged from September’s reading of 74.
Sales of Pre-owned Homes Slip toward 3 Year Low
The National Association of Realtors® reported fewer sales of pre-owned homes in September;5.15 million sales were reported on a seasonally adjusted annual basis as compared to August’s reading of 5.33 million sales. Analysts expected a reading of 6.27 million sales for September. Faced with high home prices and slim inventories of available homes,would-be buyers sidelined their searches for homes. Housing starts were 3.40 percent lower month-to-month and hit their lowest rate since November 2015.
According to the Commerce Department,housing starts also fell in September to 1.201 million starts on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. August’s reading was 1.268 million starts. Year-over-year,housing starts were 3.70 percent higher.,but fewer housing starts were bad news for housing markets as demand continued to exceed supplies of available homes. Building permits issued also fell in September to 1.242 million permits issued as compared to August’s reading of 1.249 million permits issued.
Mortgage Rates,New Jobless Claims Lower
Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages were five basis points lower at 4.85 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged three basis points lower at 4.26 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was three basis points lower at 4.10 percent.
First-time jobless claims also fell last week to 210,000 new claims filed,which matched expectations but was lower than the prior week’s reading of 215,000 new claims filed.
This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on new and pending home sales along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.