Housing starts surge 50% | Bedford Corners Real Estate

U.S. homebuilding bounced back in May as lumber prices pulled back from record highs. 

Housing starts rose 3.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.572 million last month, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. April’s reading was revised lower to 1.517 million from 1.569 million. Economists surveyed by Refinitiv had expected housing starts to rise to 1.63 million.

Starts surged 50% on a year-over-year basis in May. Homebuilding rose in the Midwest, South and West but fell in the Northeast. 

The slight increase in homebuilding came as lumber prices topped out on May 7 and fell 22% through the end of the month, finishing below where they ended April. A lumber shortage that developed in the aftermath of COVID-19 lockdowns caused the cost of the critical material to soar, resulting in builders putting off projects and losing confidence.        

Permits for future construction slipped 3% to a rate of 1.681 million units in May, missing the 1.73 million units that economists were expecting. 

The drop in builder confidence was reflected in the latest National Association of Homebuilder’s/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index that was released on Tuesday. The index fell two points in June to 81, a 10-month low. 

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foxbusiness.com/economy/

Homebuyers are growing weary of the housing market | Chappaqua Real Estate

Fannie Mae’s HPSI sees “good time to buy” sentiment drop to survey low

Homebuyers are feeling pretty discouraged by the housing market these days. The latest Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index shows that just 35% of consumers believe now is a good time to buy a home, down from 47% in April. And those who believe it is a bad time to be a homebuyer increased to 56% from 48%.

“Consumers appear to be acutely aware of higher home prices and the low supply of homes, the two reasons cited most frequently for that particular sentiment,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae.

“However, despite the challenging buying conditions, consumers do appear more intent to purchase on their next move, a preference that may be supported by the expectation of continued low mortgage rates, as well as the elevated savings rate during the pandemic, which may have allowed many to afford a down payment,” Duncan said.

Though low inventory, bidding wars and high prices have knocked down homebuyer sentiment, other factors, such as a rebounding economy and stable income levels, pushed the overall HSPI index up one point to 80 in May.

In fact, four of the HPSI’s six components measuring market expectations increased month over month. The HPSI is still 12.5 points higher than it was in May 2020, when forbearance and unemployment heavily weighed down consumer sentiment.

Because the housing market feels very much like a zero sum game at this point, sellers again felt good about their position. Just over two-thirds of those surveyed in June said it was a prime time to list a home and tempt the swarms of homebuyers, unchanged from the prior month.

Respondents also remained virtually unaltered on how much homes will actually cost. The percentage of respondents who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months decreased from 49% to 47%, while the percentage who say home prices will go down remained unchanged at 17%. The share who think home prices will stay the same increased from 27% to 29%.

Mortgage rate expectations changed a bit in May for prospective homebuyers and sellers: The percentage who expect mortgage rates to go up decreased from 54% to 49% while the share of those who think mortgage rates will stay the same increased from 33% to 38%. The remaining 6% are hopeful they may slide back down.

Since rates have fallen back below 3% once again, Fannie Mae’s economic and strategic group revised its expectations for purchase and refinance volume. The economic group cut $43 billion from its 2021 purchase volume forecast; it now estimates that purchase mortgages will hit $1.8 trillion by year’s end.

Because record low mortgage rates fueled the refinance wave of 2020’s housing market, Fannie Mae also revised its refi origination volume to $2.2 trillion in 2021, an increase of $125 billion from the previous month’s forecast.

Borrowers who aren’t stuffing their pockets full of refi savings may be making it up on the job market. The percentage of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago increased from 21% to 29%, while the percentage who say their household income is significantly lower decreased from 17% to 13%. To top it off, the percentage of respondents who say they are not concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months increased from 80% to 87%.

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housingwire.com/articles/

Mortgage lenders loosened credit standards | Chappaqua Real Estate

Numbers are consistent with an uptick in mortgage rates and a downturn in applications.

Mortgage credit availability increased by 1.4% in May – a sign that volume-hungry lenders continued to loosen credit standards in a highly competitive market, according to Thursday data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

MBA’s Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) which uses 100 as a benchmark — increased to 129.9 in May. A decline in the MCAI suggests that lending standards are tightening while a higher number suggests loosening credit standards.

Lenders concerned over borrowers’ ability to pay their bills at the beginning of the economic shutdown resulted in an exponential tightening of credit. However, May’s credit availability inched to its highest level since the early days of the pandemic, but remained at 2014 levels.

The MCAI on conventional loans increased 3.5%, while MCAI on government loans increased by 0.3%. Of the two component indices of the conventional MCAI, the jumbo MCAI increased by 5.1%, and the conforming MCAI rose by 1.6%, the MBA said.

MCAI-May

“The overall increases were driven by a 3% gain in the conventional segment of the market, with a rise in the supply of ARMs and cash-out refinances,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting.

Borrowers are “stuck in the middle” between the agencies’ minimum FICO requirements and the “FICO gates” imposed by lenders’ credit overlays. We have the tools to help them, we just need to use them. 

According to Kan, this is consistent with the uptick in mortgage rates and a slowing refinance market, as well as MBA’s Weekly Applications Survey data showing increased interest in ARMs. Monday data from the MBA revealed mortgage applications dropped for the third consecutive week.

Compared to last year, fewer people are applying for purchase mortgages – a likely result of home prices continuing to rise and prospective buyers avoiding astronomical bidding wars.

However, housing demand is still far outpacing supply, Kan said. The average loan size on a purchase application edged down to $407,000, below the record $418,000 set in February — but still far above 2020’s average of $353,900, the MBA reported.

“The jumbo index also jumped 5% last month, but even with increases over the past two months, the index is still around half of where it was in February 2020,” Kan said. “A rapidly improving economy and job market has freed up jumbo credit, as banks have deposits to utilize. However, there is still plenty of restraint, as many sectors have not fully returned to pre-pandemic capacity, and there are around 2 million borrowers still in forbearance.”

At this time last year, the Jumbo loan index was 54% lower than it had been in February 2020. Securing a jumbo loan was the most difficult it had been in four years, according to MBA data. But a flourishing housing market gave way to jumbos from a host of lenders, including Rocket Mortgage and United Wholesale Mortgage.

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housingwire.com/articles/

How Lumber Prices are Hammering Housing Affordability for Home Owners | Armonk Real Estate

Skyrocketing lumber prices and supply-chain challenges continue to slow home construction, even amid higher demand. Both new home sales and existing home sales have cooled as prospective buyers are priced out of the market.

As appraisals struggle to reflect these ever-rising costs, home owners and builders continue to look for opportunities to minimize the impact these prices are having on the overall cost of the home. But as they strategize, prices are only getting worse.

“I am trying to build my own home — we are general contractors — and the price of lumber has set us back twice,” Michelle Govro from Missouri explains. “My permits are waiting, but in the one month of waiting for permits, the price of our bids in lumber went up substantially.”

“We even redrew house plans and are trying to build a smaller 1,600-square-foot home, and the lumber price is outrageous,” she added.

Others, such as Angela Cross from New York, have been watching the market to try to build their home at a better time only to be met with continued disappointment.

The Cross family began their home-building journey in April 2020, with an initial quote from a contractor in July 2020 once their land had been surveyed. Lumber prices had begun to ramp up, so a final quote was prepared in September 2020. The price of their turnkey home jumped 20% in just those two months.

“That was over our budget at that time,” she notes, “and after discussing it with our contractor, we decided to wait until February 2021, as he was hopeful lumber prices would come down.”

However, lumber prices have continued to rise instead, and what had been a 20% increase in September had become a 38% increase as of April 2021. Like Govro, the Crosses have tried to find every opportunity to cut costs — including reducing the square footage from 1,656 square feet to 1,500 square feet, and exploring alternative construction methods such as modular — as they continue to rent a two-bedroom house with their two daughters. But the costs are still too high.

Even the existing home market isn’t providing any relief.

“The homes are either sold very quickly, or are out of our price range, or need so much work that it is not worth it to us,” she shares. “Especially since we now own our own piece of land and have dreamed of building our home.”

Problem with rising costs and supply chain challenges are only bound to make these issues worse, as they continue to complicate the home building process.

Mark Reifsnyder, a mortgage banker of 22 years in Michigan, observes: “With construction, there is always the likelihood that costs change during the build due to fluctuations in the supply chain in any given year, as well as the customer making costly changes along the way. We plan ahead for that.”

“But when a builder cannot bottom-line a total cost because the costs run out of control due to an endless list of issues, it leads to a lengthier build,” he adds. “The problems just compound themselves.”

Home buyers in the current market need to earmark an additional 20%, beyond their 20% down payment, just to cover ‘what-ifs’ — and in some cases, “that isn’t even enough,” he notes.

“What confuses things even more is one day there is a news story about supply shortages, but the next day there is a story about stocked lumber yards that simply don’t have the manpower to get materials out the door fast enough,” he adds. “Forrest infestations in Canada, resin factories in Texas still offline due to the ice storm five months ago — the lists go on. This only adds to the confusion and frustration for people.”

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nahbnow.com

Eviction moratorium update | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Eviction friction

A national moratorium on the eviction of tenants had previously been set to expire today, though a 5-4 decision at the nation’s highest court will see the order extended for another month. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined with the court’s three liberal justices to leave the moratorium in place, with Kavanaugh issuing a one-paragraph concurrence detailing his views. “Because the CDC plans to end the moratorium in only a few weeks, on July 31, and because those few weeks will allow for an additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds, I vote at this time to deny the application” that had been filed by real estate firms and trade associations.

Backdrop: The CDC eviction moratorium was put in place under the Trump administration, aiming to shield tenants who missed monthly rent payments from being forced out of their homes during the coronavirus pandemic (they still owe back rent). It was originally set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020, but Congress stretched the order until late January, and it was then extended several more times under the Biden administration. While the CDC last week announced a final, one-month extension through July, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled the moratorium was legally unsupportable, though she stayed her ruling (pending appeal) citing public-health concerns.

While the moratorium has protected millions of tenants, it has also resulted in financial hardships for landlords. Property owners, which say they are losing $13B a month in unpaid rent, are still liable for taxes, insurance and maintenance costs tied to their real estate. They also said the ban on evictions is less justifiable now due to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and a high number of vaccinated Americans.

Reactions: “Allowing evictions to proceed when there are tens of billions in resources to prevent them would be wasteful and cruel,” said Diane Yentel, CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Landlords feel differently. “With the pandemic waning and the economy improving, it is time to restore the housing sector to its healthy, former function,” replied Charlie Oppler, President of the National Association of Realtors.

Statistics: By the end of March, 6.4M American households were behind on their rent, according to data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. On June 7, a Household Pulse Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau also showed that roughly 3.2M people in the U.S. feared an eviction in the next two months.

FHFA reports 16% increase in home prices | Chappaqua Real Estate

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) found that house prices across the nation rose 16% from April 2020 to April 2021.

From March to April, house prices across the nation rose 1.8%, surpassing the previous month’s 1.6% increase.

Three regions — the Pacific coast, the western states and New England — saw more pronounced year over year increases. The FHFA index tracks seasonally-adjusted, purchase data from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In the mountain division, which includes Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Wyoming, house prices rose 21% year over year. In the pacific division, encompassing Washington, Oregon and California, prices rose 18%. In Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, house prices also rose 18%.

“House prices recorded another monthly and annual record in April,” said Dr. Lynn Fisher, FHFA’s deputy director of the division of research and statistics. “This unprecedented price growth persists due to strong demand, bolstered by still-low mortgage rates, and too few homes for sale.

Mortgage rates rose above 3% for the first time in 10 weeks last week. Mortgage applications are still on the rise, however.

House prices have risen during the past year as a result of elevated lumber prices, a lack of available homes and increased demand for homes.

Lockdowns early in the pandemic led many to work from home and divide their living space into home offices. Those who were able to bought homes with more space, better suited to the pandemic remote work trend.

That has led to astonishing price increases in markets like Seattle, where the median home-sale price rose more than 26% year-over-year to a record $737,800 in May 2021. Tech employees there, faced with working remotely from cramped apartments, instead hunted for homes with more space.

“I’ve never seen anything like this housing market,” a Seattle-area Redfin agent said.

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housingwire.com/articles/

New homes material prices rising 26% | Mt Kisco Real Estate

post published last week discussed how record numbers of builders were reporting on broad-based shortages of building materials and products.  The source of the information was the May survey for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).  The same survey asked the HMI panel of single-family builders how total material costs for the same house have changed over the past 12 months.

The most comment response (checked by 28.0 percent of builders) was that materials costs increased by 20 to 29.99 percent.  However, 15.9 percent indicated that costs increased by 30 to 39.99 percent, 5.9 percent indicated 40 to 49.99 percent, and 15.2 percent even indicated that their costs had increased by 50 percent or more.

On average, the 12-month increase in material costs for the same house was 26.1 percent.  Historically, NAHB has included the material cost question on its HMI questionnaire six times since 2012.  The 2021 figure of 26.1 percent is the highest the average 12-month cost increase has been over that span—by a wide margin.  The previous record was 6.1 percent recorded in 2017.

Material availability and costs are one of several factors, including the cost of regulation and a general shortage of construction labor, limiting the supply of housing, particularly for the entry-level market where additional inventory is badly needed.

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eyeonhousing.org

New homes sales jump 48% year over year | North Salem Real Estate

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes dropped in April as prices surged amid a tight supply of houses, which is threatening to slow the housing market momentum.

New home sales dropped 5.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 863,000 units last month, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday. March’s sales pace was revised lower to 917,000 units from the previously reported 1.021 million units. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales, which account for a small share of U.S. home sales, at a rate of 970,000 units in April.

New home sales are drawn from a sample of houses selected from building permits and tend to be volatile on a month-to-month basis. Sales surged 48.3% on a year-on-year basis in April. Monthly sales declined in the populous South, the Midwest and Northeast, but rose in the West.

The market for new homes is being boosted by near record low inventory of previously owned houses, especially entry level homes. The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled demand for spacious and more expensive accommodations as millions of Americans work from home and take classes remotely.

But the virus has disrupted labor supply at saw mills and ports, causing shortages of lumber and other raw materials.

That is limiting builders’ ability to ramp up construction of new homes to plug the inventory gap. The input shortages are raising new home prices as well. The National Association of Realtors reported last week that home resales dropped for a third straight month in April as prices surged to a record high because of the tight supply.

The median new house price soared 20.1% from a year earlier to $372,400 in April. Sales were concentrated in the $200,000-$399,000 price range. Sales below the $200,000 price bracket, the sought-after segment of the market, accounted for a mere 2% of transactions last month.

There were 316,000 new homes on the market last month, up from 304,000 in March. At April’s sales pace it would take 4.4 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, up from 4.0 months in March. A six-to-seven-month supply is viewed as a healthy balance between supply and demand.

About 73% of homes sold last month were either under construction or yet to be built.

read more…

reuters.com/article/usa-economy-housing/

Case-Shiller prices up 13.2% | South Salem Real Estate

  • Home prices in March were 13.2% higher in March, compared with March 2020, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index.
  • The 10-City Composite rose 12.8% year over year, up from 11.7% in the previous month. The 20-City Composite increased 13.3%, up from 12.0% in February.
A real estate broker, right, gives a tour for potential home buyers during an open house in Manhattan Beach, California.

Home prices in March were 13.2% higher in March, compared with March 2020, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index.

That is up from the 12% annual gain in February, and it marks the 10th straight month of accelerating home prices.

The March gain is the largest since December 2005 and is also one of the largest in the index’s 30-year history. Prices are being pushed higher by incredibly strong competition in the market. High demand is butting up against near record-low supply, resulting in bidding wars for the vast majority of listings.

The 10-City Composite rose 12.8% year over year, up from 11.7% in the previous month. The 20-City Composite increased 13.3%, up from 12.0% in February.

Cities with the strongest price gains continue to be Phoenix, San Diego and Seattle. Phoenix sits at the top with 20% year-over-year price increase, followed by San Diego with a 19.1% increase and Seattle prices rising 18.3%. All 20 cities reported higher price increases in the year ending March 2021 versus the year ending February 2021.

“These data are consistent with the hypothesis that COVID has encouraged potential buyers to move from urban apartments to suburban homes,” said Craig Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P DJI.

“This demand may represent buyers who accelerated purchases that would have happened anyway over the next several years. Alternatively, there may have been a secular change in preferences, leading to a permanent shift in the demand curve for housing,” he added.

Mortgage rates began rising during this period, with the average rate on the 30-year fixed just below 3% in February and then ending March at around 3.4%, according to Mortgage News Daily. Higher mortgage rates cut into purchasing power, and usually put a chill on home prices, but clearly unusual competition in the market is overwhelming the usual mechanics of the market.

There were just 1.16 million homes on the market in April, a 20% drop year over year, according to the National Association of Realtors. The continued shortage of homes, especially at the lower end of the market, forecasts that home prices will not cool off any time soon.

Sales are beginning to weaken, and prices usually follow, but again, the usual trends are not dependable in this very unusual housing market.

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cnbc.com/2021/5/25

Mortgage rates average 3.00% | Waccabuc Real Estate

Freddie Mac today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.00 percent.

“After a run up over the first few months of the year, rates have paused and hovered around three percent since March,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “Despite this favorable rate climate, there remains a shortage of homes for sale. The lack of housing supply has been compounded by labor disruptions and expensive building materials that are driving up the cost of new housing, making it difficult for homebuyers to find homes to purchase.”

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.00 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending May 20, 2021, up from last week when it averaged 2.94 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.24 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.29 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.26 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.70 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.59 percent with an average 0.3 point, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.17 percent.

The PMMS is focused on conventional, conforming, fully amortizing home purchase loans for borrowers who put 20 percent down and have excellent credit. 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.