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Mortgage News

Spring New Home Sales Prove Resilient to Higher Rates

April 23 2024

Existing home sales posted strong gains in February while sales of new homes slipped slightly. In March each category switched directions. The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development said newly constructed homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 693,000 compared to 668,000 in February while the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reported that existing home sales fell from a rate of 4.38 million units the prior month to 4.19 million. The increase in new home sales put those transactions up 8.8 percent compared to February and 8.3 percent higher than the March 2023 pace. Sales of previously owned single-family homes, townhouses, condos, and cooperative apartments were down 4.3 percent and 3.7 percent compared to the two earlier periods. [newhomesall] Existing single-family home sales also declined 4.3 percent in March to a 3.97-million-unit sales pace while condo and cooperative apartment sales were down 4.9 percent to 390,000 units.  Single-family sales were 2.8 percent and multi-family sales were 11.4 percent lower year-over-year. New home sales rose by 10,000 units from February to 67,000 on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. Analysts polled by Trading Economics had expected new home sales to remain at February’s 668,000 level and had expected a smaller 2.2 percent decline in existing home sales to 4.2 million units. The inventory of new homes remains healthy with 477,000 unsold homes , an estimated 8.3-month supply at the current rate of sales and a monthly increase of 5.7 percent. The number of existing homes available for sale did increase by 4.7 percent to 1.11 million units but remains anemic at a 3.2-month supply.

Mortgage App Volume Ticks Higher Despite Higher Rates

April 17 2024

Mortgage interest rates rose for the second straight week, and so did the volume of mortgage applications. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said its Market Composite Index, a measure of that volume, increased 3.3 percent on an adjusted basis from one week earlier and 4.0 percent before adjustment.   The Refinance Index increased 0.5 percent from the previous week and was 11 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The refinance share of activity decreased to 32.1 percent from 33.3 percent the previous week. [refiappschart] The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index was up 5 percent from one week earlier, and the unadjusted version was 6.0 percent higher. Purchasing activity was down 10 percent compared to the same week in 2023. [purchaseappschart]  “Rates increased for the second consecutive week, driven by incoming data indicating that the economy remains strong and inflation is proving tougher to bring down. Mortgage rates increased across the board, with the 30-year fixed rate at 7.13 percent – reaching its highest level since December 2023,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “ Despite these higher rates, application activity picked up, possibly as some borrowers decided to act in case rates continue to rise. Purchase applications drove most of the increase but remain at low levels of around 10 percent behind last year’s pace. Refinance applications increased very slightly, driven by a 3 percent gain in conventional applications.”

Residential Construction Fall and Builder Confidence Flattens in Uncertain Rate Environment

April 16 2024

While builder confidence in the market for new residential construction improved in March, it remained flat in April and residential construction numbers showed a decline in momentum as well. Residential construction starts, which had surged in February, gave back all of those gains in March. The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report that construction began at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.321 million housing units during the month, a decline of 14.7 percent from February’s level of 1.549 million units. Starts were 4.3 percent lower than their level in March 2023. Single-family starts fell 12.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.022 million and multifamily starts dived 20.8 percent to 290,000 units. The two categories were down 21.2 percent and 43.7 percent respectively year-over-year. Permits also declined. The annual rate was 4.3 percent lower at 1.458 million units compared to 1.523 million in February. Permits increased 1.5 percent on an annual basis. Single-family authorizations dropped from 1.032 million to 973,000, a 5.7 percent decline. This was still a 17.4 percent improvement from March of last year. Multifamily permits were unchanged at 433,000 units, down 22.1 percent year-over-year. Analysts polled by Econoday had forecast starts at 1,480 million and permits at 1.510 million, substantially overshooting both numbers. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) broke a four-month string of gains this month, remaining at the 51 level, unchanged from March, but still above the key breakeven point of 50.

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