Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “Mortgage rates fell for the third consecutive week, continuing the general downward trend that began late last year. Wages are growing on par with home prices for the first time in years, and with more inventory available, spring home sales should help the market begin to recover from the malaise of the last few months.”
30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.35 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending February 21, 2019, down from last week when it averaged 4.37 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.40 percent.
15-year FRM this week averaged 3.78 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.81 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.85 percent.
Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.
Despite already being one of the more heavily taxed counties in the country, Westchester homeowners and shoppers may soon see a hike in sales tax.
Westchester officials are reportedly hopeful that the state will approve an increase in local sales tax which could help steady the county’s finances. However, according to a lohud report , no formal request has been made, and it is unclear how much taxes may be increased.
The report states that Westchester County Executive George Latimer plans to first reach out to area business owners before he makes his formal cause to New York State officials.
The average Westchester homeowner paid nearly $20,000 in property taxes last year, with a sales tax rate of 3.375 percent, which is a lower rate than surrounding counties and lower than the county’s four largest cities.
In recent years, Westchester has found itself facing millions of dollars in deficits and the county has seen its reserves dwindle, leading to a downgrade of their credit rating. Westchester’s financial report card saw its credit rating cut one level by two prominent agencies.
Westchester County was notified by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings that the county’s financial outlook has been downgraded to AA+. Moody’s also assigned Aa1 to Westchester. The county has lost its AAA rating – the highest ranking available – in each of the Big 3 rating agencies.
Late last year, lawmakers approved the $1.9 billion budget, with the measure quickly signed off by Latimer. The budget was approved by a 13-4 vote, with the support of county Democrats. The budget contains a 2 percent property tax hike.
Officials said that the tax rate increase is to help offset tens of millions of dollars in deficits that the county is currently operating against. There are no planned cuts to staff or service in the approved budget, which is contingent on the county selling several parking lots that surround the County Center in White Plains. The sale of the lots is expected to net more than $20 million.
The tax levy increase is the first since Latimer took over as county exec last year. The county could have raised taxes by as much as 4.5 percent, but was able to curtail that number with certain allowances. The county was operating at a $32 million deficit to end 2017 year, which only ballooned in 2018.
Americans are on the move, but where are they moving to and from?
Interactive Map: To understand inbound and outbound percentages for each state, use the legend. To view reasons for moving and demographic data, select the year and state that you would like to view using the dropdown menus. (If you are using a desktop computer, you can use your mouse to click and select a state.)
Americans are on the move, relocating to western and southern parts of the country. The results of United Van Lines’ 42nd Annual National Movers Study, which tracks customers’ state-to-state migration patterns over the past year, revealed that more residents moved out of New Jersey than any other state in 2018, with 66.8 percent of New Jersey moves being outbound. The study also found that the state with the highest percentage of inbound migration was Vermont (72.6 percent), with 234 total moves. Oregon, which had 3,346 total moves, experienced the second highest percentage nationally, with 63.8 percent inbound moves.
States in the Mountain West and Pacific West regions, including Oregon, Idaho (62.4 percent), Nevada (61.8 percent), Washington (58.8 percent) and South Dakota (57 percent) continue to increase in popularity for inbound moves. In tune with this trend, Arizona (60.2 percent) joined the list of top 10 inbound states in 2018.
Several southern states also experienced high percentages of inbound migration, such as South Carolina (59.9 percent, this makes moving to Greenville very popular) and North Carolina (57 percent). United Van Lines determined the top reasons for moving south include job change (46.6 percent) and retirement (22.3 percent).
In the Northeast, however, an outbound moving trend continues. New Jersey (66.8 percent), Connecticut (62 percent) and New York (61.5 percent) were included among the top 10 outbound states for the fourth consecutive year. Midwestern states like Illinois (65.9 percent), Kansas (58.7 percent), Ohio (56.5 percent) and Iowa (55.5 percent) saw high outbound relocation as well.
“As the nation’s largest household goods mover, our study allows us to identify the most and least popular states for residential relocation throughout the country, year after year,” said Eily Cummings, director of corporate communications at United Van Lines. “These findings accurately reflect not only where Americans are moving to and from, but also the reasons why.”
The National Movers Study reveals the business data of inbound and outbound moves from 2018. In addition to this study, United Van Lines also conducts a survey to find out more about the reasons behind these moves. A leading motivation behind these migration patterns across all regions is a career change, as the survey showed approximately one out of every two people who moved in the past year moved for a new job or company transfer. Other reasons for the high percentage of moves to the Mountain West in 2018 include retirement (28.1 percent), proximity to family (20.8 percent) and lifestyle change (19.4 percent). Compared to all other states, Idaho saw the largest influx of new residents desiring a lifestyle change (25.95 percent), and more people flocked to New Mexico for retirement than any other state (42.74 percent).
“The data collected by United Van Lines aligns with longer-term migration patterns to southern and western states, trends driven by factors like job growth, lower costs of living, state budgetary challenges and more temperate climates,” said Michael Stoll, economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Unlike a few decades ago, retirees are leaving California, instead choosing other states in the Pacific West and Mountain West. We’re also seeing young professionals migrating to vibrant, metropolitan economies, like Washington, D.C. and Seattle.”
The top inbound states of 2018 were:
District of Columbia
New to the 2018 top inbound list are Arizona at No. 5 and District of Columbia at No. 10, with 60.2 percent and 56.7 percent inbound moves, respectively.
The top outbound states for 2018 were:
New Jersey (66.8 percent), which has ranked in the top 10 for the past 10 years, moved up one spot on the outbound list to No. 1. New additions to the 2018 top outbound list include Iowa (55.5 percent), Montana (55 percent) and Michigan (55 percent).
In several states, the number of residents moving inbound was approximately the same as the number moving outbound. Arkansas and Mississippi are among these “balanced states.”
Since 1977, United Van Lines has annually tracked migration patterns on a state-by-state basis. The 2018 study is based on household moves handled by United within the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C. and ranks states based off the inbound and outbound percentages of total moves in each state. United classifies states as “high inbound” if 55 percent or more of the moves are going into a state, “high outbound” if 55 percent or more moves were coming out of a state or “balanced” if the difference between inbound and outbound is negligible.
To view the entire 2018 study, an interactive map and archived press releases from United, visit the United Van Lines website.
As the year is coming to an end, homeowners are more optimistic than ever that their home is worth more than they owe on it, and they expect that value to keep rising through 2019.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 69% of American Homeowners now say the value of their home is worth more than the amount they owe on their mortgage, up from May’s previous nine-year high of 66%. Just 21% now say their home’s value is not worth more than what they owe on it, but 10% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
The survey of 720 American Homeowners was conducted on November 20, 2018 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
U.S. homebuilding rose in October amid a rebound in multi-family housing projects, but construction of single-family homes fell for a second straight month, suggesting the housing market remained mired in weakness as mortgage rates march higher.
Data for September was revised to show starts dropping to a rate of 1.210 million units instead of the previously reported pace of 1.201 million units.
Building permits slipped 0.6 percent to a rate of 1.263 million units in October. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts rising to a pace of 1.225 million units last month.
The housing market is being hobbled by rising borrowing costs as well as land and labor shortages, which have led to tight inventories and higher house prices. This is making home buying unaffordable for many workers as wage growth has lagged.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate is hovering at a seven-year high of 4.94 percent, according to data from mortgage finance agency Freddie Mac. Wages rose 3.1 percent in October from a year ago, trailing house price inflation of about 5.5 percent.
Residential investment contracted in the first nine months of the year and housing is likely to remain a drag on economic growth in the fourth quarter. Economists expect housing activity to remain weak through the first half of 2019.
U.S. financial markets were little moved by Tuesday’s housing starts data.
SINGLE-FAMILY HOME BUILDING FALLS
Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, dropped 1.8 percent to a rate of 865,000 units in October after declining in September.
Single-family homebuilding has lost momentum since hitting a pace of 948,000 units last November, which was the strongest in more than 10 years.
A survey on Monday showed confidence among single-family homebuilders dropped to a more than two-year low in November, with builders reporting that “customers are taking a pause due to concerns over rising interest rates and home prices.”
Single-family starts in the South, which accounts for the bulk of homebuilding, fell 4.0 percent last month. Single-family homebuilding jumped 14.8 percent in the Northeast and fell 2.0 percent in the West. Groundbreaking activity on single-family homes dropped 1.6 percent in the Midwest.
Permits to build single-family homes fell 0.6 percent in October to a pace of 849,000 units. These permits remain below the level of single-family starts, suggesting limited scope for a strong pickup in homebuilding.
Starts for the volatile multi-family housing segment surged 10.3 percent to a rate of 363,000 units in October. Permits for the construction of multi-family homes fell 0.5 percent to a pace of 414,000 units.
Tuesday’s data also suggested that housing supply is likely to remain tight in the near term. Homebuilding completions in October fell 3.3 percent to a rate of 1.111 million units, the lowest level since September 2017.
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Realtors estimate that housing starts and completion rates need to be in a range of 1.5 million to 1.6 million units per month to plug the inventory gap.
Rising rates coupled with increasing home prices have discouraged homebuying activity during the third quarter of 2018, according to Freddie Mac’s (OTCQB: FMCC) October Forecast, which now includes estimates for 2020.
Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “The housing market continued to cool off in the Fall with slowdowns in home sales, new construction and price growth. While we expect the weakness in housing activity to extend the next few months as the market absorbs the recent uptick in mortgage rates, the combination of strong economic growth and millennials moving toward homeownership should help home sales regain momentum and rise modestly in 2019.”
After growing at its fastest pace in nearly four years (4.2 percent), the U.S. economy is expected to slow to around 3 percent in the third quarter of 2018. GDP is expected to grow at a rate of 3.0 percent for 2018, slowing to 2.4 percent in 2019, and dropping to 1.8 percent in 2020 as the effects of expansionary fiscal policy fade.
Mortgage rates remained steady at 4.6 percent for the third quarter until the weekly average rate reached a seven-year high at 4.9 percent in the beginning of October. The 30-year fixed-rate is expected to average 4.5 percent in 2018, rising to 5.1 percent in 2019 and 5.6 percent in 2020.
Home prices are expected to increase to 5.4 percent in 2018, with the growth rate slowing slightly to 4.6 percent in 2019 and even further to 2.9 percent in 2020.
High home prices and borrowing costs continue to affect housing activity. Total home sales (new and existing) are now forecasted to decline modestly this year to 6.07 million, and then regain momentum, increasing 1.8 percent to 6.18 million in 2019 and rising 1.1 percent to 6.25 million in 2020.
Freddie Mac makes home possible for millions of families and individuals by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Since our creation by Congress in 1970, we’ve made housing more accessible and affordable for homebuyers and renters in communities nationwide. We are building a better housing finance system for homebuyers, renters, lenders, investors and taxpayers.
Wages and salaries rose 3.1 percent in the third quarter, the biggest increase in a decade, according to the Labor Department.
Overall compensation costs were up 2.8 percent, ahead of Wall Street expectations.
Wages have been the missing piece in the economic recovery, though the Fed has been raising rates to guard against future inflationary pressures.
Higher wages are very good for real estate
Employment costs rose more than expected in the third quarter in a sign that more inflation could be brewing in the U.S. economy.
The Labor Department’s employment cost index rose 0.8 percent for the period, ahead of the estimate of 0.7 percent from economists surveyed by Refinitiv.
Wages and salaries rose 0.9 percent, well ahead of expectations for 0.5 percent. Benefit costs were up 0.4 percent.
On a yearly basis, wages and salaries jumped 3.1 percent, the biggest increase in 10 years.
Wage increases have been the missing link in the economy since the recovery began in mid-2008. Average hourly earnings have been rising steadily but have stayed below the 3 percent level as slack has remained in the labor market.
However the unemployment rate is now at 3.7 percent, the lowest since 1969, and wage pressures have begun to build. The Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates in an effort to stave off future inflationary pressures, though the central bank’s preferred gauge of inflation rose just 2.5 percent in the third quarter, including a 1.9 percent increase for health benefits.
The wage data came the same day that ADP and Moody’s reported private payroll growth of 227,000 in October, easily beating Wall Street expectations. The combination of news sent Treasury yields higher in morning trading.
Overall compensation costs for civilian workers rose 2.8 percent, tamped down in part by the small rise in benefit costs, which rose 1.9 percent for the 12-month period ending in September. Employers have been looking for non-salary measures to retain workers, but may have to start increasing wages to attract and retain talent.
In addition to the tighter job market, various states, communities and private companies have passed minimum wage increases, adding to inflation pressures.
At an occupational level, compensation costs increased 4.8 percent for information technology and 3.5 percent for sales and office and service occupations.
State and local government compensation costs rose just 2.5 percent, just one-tenth of a point more than the increase for the same period a year ago.
The number of new and existing houses and condominiums sold during the month plummeted nearly 18 percent compared with September 2017, according to CoreLogic.
That was the slowest September pace since 2007, when the national housing and mortgage crisis was hitting.
The median price of Southern California homes sold in September, $505,000, was still 3.6 percent higher than it was a year ago. That was the lowest annual gain for any month in more than three years.
A property for sale in Arcadia, California.Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
Higher mortgage rates and overheated home prices hit Southern California home sales hard in September.
The number of new and existing houses and condominiums sold during the month plummeted nearly 18 percent compared with September 2017, according to CoreLogic. That was the slowest September pace since 2007, when the national housing and mortgage crisis was hitting.
Sales have been falling on an annual basis for much of this year, but this was the biggest annual drop for any month in almost eight years. It was also more than twice the annual drop seen in August.
“The double whammy of higher prices and rising mortgage rates has priced out some would-be buyers and prompted others to take a wait-and-see stance,” said Andrew LePage, a CoreLogic analyst, in the release. “There was one caveat to last month’s sharp annual sales decline — this September had one less business day for recording transactions. Adjusting for that, the year-over-year decline would be about 13 percent, still the largest in four years.”
On a monthly basis, sales fell 22 percent in September compared with August. Sales usually fall about 10 percent from August to September.
Sales of newly built homes are suffering more than sales of existing homes, likely because fewer are being built compared with historical production levels. Newly built homes also come at a price premium. Sales of newly built homes were 47 percent below the September average dating back to 1988, while sales of existing homes were 22 percent below their long-term average.
The median price of Southern California homes sold in September, $505,000, was still 3.6 percent higher than it was a year ago. That was the lowest annual gain for any month in more than three years.
“Price growth is moderating amid slower sales and more listings in many markets,” LePage said. “This is welcome news for potential homebuyers, but many still face a daunting hurdle – the monthly mortgage payment, which has been pushed up sharply by rising mortgage rates.”
LePage noted that while the median sale price was up 3.6 percent year over year in September, the principal and interest mortgage payment on the median-priced home was up 14.2 percent because mortgage rates increased about 0.8 percentage point over that period.
Residential construction goods input prices reversed course in September, increasing 0.2% after declining each of the prior two months, according to the latest Producer Price Index (PPI) release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The index for inputs to residential construction has risen 5.2% in 2018 and is 10.2% higher than it was in January 2017.
Gypsum prices also reversed trend in September, falling 0.1% (seasonally adjusted) after a combined increase of 6.1% over the prior two months. Since the start of the year, the price index for gypsum products has increased 1.0% per month, on average.
From January to September of 2017, prices paid for gypsum products rose 7.2%. The index has increased 8.1% over the same period in 2018.
The September PPI release continued to capture decreases in prices paid for softwood lumber that began in mid-June. However, even after accounting for the most recent price movements, the average price paid for softwood lumber in 2018 remains the highest on record according to Random Lengths data—18.7% above the prior record set in 1997.
The index for prices paid for OSB (and waferboard) decreased for the second consecutive month (-5.2%, not seasonally adjusted). Prices are down 16.4% since July and have declined in five of the past 12 months.
The index for ready-mix concrete (RMC) prices increased 0.4% (seasonally adjusted), reversing a four-month trend of price declines. After an uncharacteristically large monthly increase in March—when the index rose 3.3%–the PPI for RMC has fallen back in line with its long-run trend.
Housing starts in the US jumped 9.2 percent from a month earlier to an annualized rate of 1,282 thousand in August of 2018, recovering from a 0.3 percent drop in July and beating market expectations of a 5.8 percent rise. Starts increased in the South, the Midwest and the West and were flat in the Northeast. Housing Starts in the United States averaged 1433.04 Thousand units from 1959 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 2494 Thousand units in January of 1972 and a record low of 478 Thousand units in April of 2009.
US Housing Starts Above Forecasts
Housing starts in the US jumped 9.2 percent from a month earlier to an annualized rate of 1,282 thousand in August of 2018, recovering from a 0.3 percent drop in July and beating market expectations of a 5.8 percent rise. Starts increased in the South, the Midwest and the West and were flat in the Northeast.
Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, increased 1.9 percent to a rate of 876 thousand units in August; and starts for the volatile multi-family housing segment surged 27.3 percent to a rate of 392 thousand. Starts rose in the Midwest (9.1 percent to 191 thousand), the West (19.1 percent to 318 thousand) and the South (6.5 percent to 674 thousand), but were steady in the Northeast (at 99 thousand). Starts for July were revised to 1,174 thousand from 1,168 thousand.
Building permits dropped 5.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,229 thousand, the lowest reading since May of 2017. It compares with market expectations of a 0.1 percent decline to 1,310 thousand and follows a 1.5 percent rise in July. Single-family authorizations fell 6.1 percent to 820 thousand and multi-family permits decreased 4.9 percent to 409 thousand. Declines were seen in all regions: Northeast (-19.2 percent to 101 thousand), the Midwest (-1.7 percent to 178 thousand), the West (-8.4 percent to 304 thousand) and the South (-2.9 percent to 646 thousand).
Year-on-year, housing starts increased 9.4 percent while building permits fell 5.5 percent.