Last week brought a variety of housing related news. Highlights included the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index for July, which showed a 12.40 percent year-over-year increase in national home prices. This was up from 12.10 percent in June.
The FHFA Housing Price Index reading traces home prices on properties securing mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The year-over-year reading for July showed an increase of 8.80 percent as compared to a year-over-year reading of 7.80 percent in June.
Rising mortgage rates and rising home prices have caused some buyers to leave the market, while others are jumping in before mortgage rates move higher. Pent-up demand for homes and short supplies of homes for sale are expected to sustain buyer interest and home prices.
The Consumer Confidence Index for September fell to 79.70 percent for September as compared to August’s reading of 81.80 percent, but was slightly higher than the expected reading of 79.50 percent.
Sales Of New Homes Surpass Expectations
Sales of 421,000 new homes in August surpassed expectations of 420,000 sales and the revised number of 390,000 sales of new homes in July. A short supply of existing homes for sale is attracting buyers to new homes.
Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey provided good news as average mortgage rates fell. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.32 percent as compared to last week’s 4.50 percent.
The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.37 percent as compared to last week’s reading of 3.54 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 3.07 percent, which was four basis points lower than last week. Discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent.
Pending home sales fell by 1.60 percent in August as compared to July; the National Association of REALTOR cites higher home prices and mortgage rates along with depleted supplies of available homes as reasons for fewer signed contracts in August.
The West reported a drop of 1.60 percent in pending sales and the Midwest reported 1.40 percent fewer pending sales in August. The Northeast came out ahead with 4.00 percent more pending home sales in August.
Weekly jobless claims were reported at 305,000 new jobless claims as compared to expectations of 327,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 310.000. The Federal Reserve recently cited the national unemployment rate of over seven percent as a clear indication that employment levels are not recovering quickly.
Next Week’s Economic News
While few housing and mortgage related reports are set for release next week, the calendar should provide indications of overall economic conditions. On Tuesday, Construction Spending for August will be released. Wednesday brings the ADP employment report for September. This report tracks private sector jobs.
Thursday brings Freddie Mac’s PMMS report of average mortgage rates and the weekly jobless claims report.
The federal Non-farm Payrolls and National Unemployment Reports for September are set for release on Friday.
UPDATE (10/3): Due to the government shutdown, there will be no Unemployment Reports this week.