Last week’s economic releases included the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index along with reports on housing starts, building permits and sales of previously owned homes. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.
NAHB: Builder Sentiment Dips amid High Demand for Homes
Home builder confidence in current housing market conditions dipped from September’s index reading of 65 to 63. September’s reading was the highest since the peak of the housing bubble. Any reading above 50 indicates a majority of builders surveyed are confident about housing market conditions. Building new homes is essential to relieving intense demand for homes against short supplies of homes for sale. Builders cited obstacles including low supplies of land for development and workforce shortages, but expressed confidence in overall economic conditions that affect construction and sales of new homes.
Housing Starts Fall, Building Permits Rise
According to the Commerce Department, the reading for housing starts was nine percent lower in September than for August. 1.047 million starts were reported in September on a seasonally adjusted annual basis; August’s reading showed 1.150 million starts. Monthly readings tend to fluctuate due to weather, labor and materials supplies. Single family starts provided good news with a higher annual rate of 783,000 starts; this was 8.10 percent higher than August’s reading.
More building permits were issued in September than for August. Overall, 1.225 million permits issued on an annual basis. August’s reading showed 1.152 million permits issued. Building permits for single-family homes rose to 783, 000 on an annual basis, an increase of 8.10 percent over August. September’s increase in single-family permits indicates that builders are shifting their efforts toward single-family construction instead of multi-family construction. This signifies confidence in homeownership and suggests stronger housing markets as renters become homebuyers.
Sales of Previously–Owned Homes Increase
The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®® reported that previously owned homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 5.47 million sales in September as compared to a rate of 5.33 million sales in August. Pre-owned home sales rebounded after slowing in July and August. Home prices rose 5.60 percent year-over-year to an average of $234,200; this was the 55th consecutive month that home prices rose.
Sales of pre-owned home sales rose in all four regions rose year-over-year from 0.90 percent in the South to 5.80 percent in the Northeast. First-time buyers accounted for 34 percent of sales, which was the highest participation rate in four years.
Mortgage Rates Higher
Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. 30-year fixed rates were five basis points higher at 3.52 percent. 15-year fixed rates were three basis points higher at 2.79 percent. 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates rose three basis points to 2.85 percent. Discount points rose from 0.50 to 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and were unchanged at -.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims were higher than expected at 260,000 claims; analysts expected 248,000 new claims to be filed based on the prior week’s reading of 247,000 new claims filed. Last week’s reading was the highest in six weeks, but analysts said that layoffs remain very low.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes Case-Shiller home price data, readings on new and pending home sales along with reports on consumer confidence. Mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released on their regular weekly scheduled.