July 31st, 2017
Last week’s economic news included readings on new and existing home sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports and an announcement by the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.
New and Existing Home Sales Mixed in June
Sales of new homes rose in June rose to a seasonally- adjusted annual rate of 610,000 homes. Analysts expected 614,000 new home sales based on May’s reading of 605,000 new home sales. The National Association of Realtors® reported 5.52 million previously owned homes sold in June on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. A reading of 5.57 million sales was expected, based on May’s reading of 5.62 million sales. Sales of pre-owned homes are lagging due to a severe shortage of homes available. Low inventory and high demand are limiting options for buyers, who are frequently forced to compete with multiple offers for homes they want and not enough listings of appropriate or affordable homes.
New home sales rose in June according to the Commerce Department. June sales of new homes increased by 5000 sales to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 610,000 new home sales. June’s reading fell short of the 614,000 sales anticipated by analysts. While housing and real estate industries say that building more homes is the only solution to reducing the shortage of homes for sale, builders cite labor and lot shortages and increases in materials cost as headwinds to building more homes at a fast pace. June’s reading was 9.10 percent higher than a year ago.
Case–Shiller: Home Prices Hold Steady in May
National home price appreciation held steady at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.60 percent in May. The 20-City Index, which reported a year-over-year gain of 5.70 percent. indicated that home values remain highest in the West. Seattle, Washington had the highest year-over-year home price gain of 13.30 percent. Portland Oregon followed with a year-over-year gain of 8.90 percent. Denver, Colorado reported a year-over-year gain of 7.90 percent for home prices.
The Federal Reserve announced that its target federal funds interest rate would not change; it is currently at 1.00 to 1.25 percent. The Fed also noted that it would start reducing its balance sheet soon.
Mortgage Rates Fall as New Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage four basis points lower at 3.92 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped three basis points to 3.20 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was three basis points lower at 3.18 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.
New jobless claims rose to 244,000 as compared to 245,000 new claims expected and 234,000 new claims filed the prior week.
Next week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on pending home sales, inflation, construction spending and ADP payrolls. Non-farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate will also be released, along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.