Last week’s economic reports included readings on NAHB homebuilder confidence, housing starts, building permits issued and sales of previously-owned homes. Weekly releases on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.
Builder Confidence Rises, Housing Starts Increase
According to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for December, builder confidence in housing market conditions rose by four points to 74. This reading was the highest since 1999. Builder confidence increased based on strong labor markets, demand for homes and potential tax breaks resulting from proposed tax code revisions.
Housing and real estate industries continued to cite an imbalance caused by high demand for homes and few available homes for sale. Increasing production of new single-family homes is the only way to ease the discrepancy between supply and demand. Reducing demand for homes would also slow the pace of home price growth, which impacted the ability of first-time and moderate-income home buyers to purchase homes.
Commerce Department readings indicate that builder confidence aligned with housing starts in November. 1.297 million housing starts were reported as compared to expectations of 1,250 housing starts based on October’s revised reading of 1.256 million starts on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Housing starts were 3.30 percent higher month-to-month and 12.90 percent higher year-over-year. Single-family starts were 5.30 percent higher for November. Analysts said that this indicated builder confidence in single-family home building increased.
Building permits issued in November were lower than in October, but home construction slows in the winter months. 1,298 million building permits were issued in November as compared to 1.316 million permits issued in October.
Demand Pushes Pre–Existing Home Sales in November
Sales of Previously-owned Homes rose to 5.81 million sales on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to October’s reading of 5.50 million sales of previously-owned homes. Pre-owned homes sales were 5.60 percent month-to-month and 3.80 percent higher year-over-year.
The National Association of Realtors® reported increased sales of pre-owned homes in all regions except the West, where high home prices may be topping out. The Northeast reported 6.70 percent growth in sales; the Midwestern region had the highest rate of sales with growth of 8.40 percent and the South reported 8.30 percent growth in sales of previously-owned homes. The West reported a drop of -2.30 percent in sales of pre-owned homes.
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was one basis point higher at 3.94 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate rose two basis points to 3.38 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose three basis points to 3.39 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate loans and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
First-time jobless claims were higher last week with 245,000 new claims filed as compared to last week; reading of 225,000 new jobless claims and expectations of 230,000 new claims.
This week’s economic releases include the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, pending home sales and consumer confidence. Mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims will also be released.