Category Archives: Housing Analysis

Case Shiller Home Price Index Shows Rising Prices For May 2013

Case Shiller Home Price Index Shows Rising Prices For May 2013The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index (HPI) released Tuesday presented solid evidence that the housing recovery continued during the month of May.

The Case-Shiller 20-City Index showed increasing home prices for all 20 cities.

Highest Year-Over-Year Gains Included Theses Cities:

  • San Francisco, CA 24.50 percent
  • Las Vegas, NV 23.30 percent
  • Phoenix, AZ 20.60 percent
  • Atlanta, GA 20.10 percent
  • Los Angeles, CA 19.20 percent

In surprising news, Dallas, TX and Denver, CO posted record year-over-year price gains that surpassed their pre-crisis peaks.

Year-over-year home prices in Dallas increased by 7.60 percent and Denver home prices increased by 9.70 percent year-over-year in May.

Home prices grew by 12.20 percent on a year-over year basis in May; this reading fell short of expectations of 12.40 percent, but moved slightly ahead of April’s reading of a 12.10 percent year-over year increase.

The Case-Shiller HPI is based on a three-month rolling year-over-year average of home prices in the cities surveyed.

Cities Post Month-To- Month Price Gains 

On a seasonally-adjusted month-to-month basis, home prices rose by 1.00 percent in May as compared to April. Expectations were for a 1.40 percent increase over April’s reading, which came in at 1.70 percent.

Top Gains From April To May Were Posted By These Cities:

  • San Francisco, CA 4.30 percent
  • Chicago, IL 3.70 percent
  • Atlanta, GA 3.40 percent
  • San Diego, CA 3.10 percent
  • Seattle, WA 3.10 percent

Analysts noted that home prices for two metro areas in Florida surpassed year-over-year gains in Washington, D.C.; this illustrates home values shifting geographically.

Miami home prices posted a month-to gain of 2.00 percent and a year-over-year gain of 14.20 percent.

Tampa, FL home prices posted a month-to-month gain of 1.80 percent on a year-over-year gain of 10.90 percent.

Washington, D.C. home prices gained 2.00 percent month-to-month in May, but only gained 6.50 percent year-over-year.

Rising Mortgage Rates Could Slow Price Momentum

It’s important to understand that the data in the Case-Shiller HPI lags a couple of months behind current market conditions; the latest numbers were compiled prior to mortgage rates spiking. Economists expect that the impact of higher mortgage rates won’t be seen in home prices until fall.

Higher mortgage rates are expected to slow home sales. If the demand for homes falls due to higher mortgage rates, inventories of available homes would expand, which would create competition among home sellers and potentially lead to lower home prices.

For any questions regarding your mortgage rate and buying a home feel free to contact your trusted real estate professional today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week — July 29, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - July 29, 2013Last week brought a mixed bag of economic news, but most notably, average mortgage rates fell.

New home sales surpassed expectations and consumer sentiment rose for July; these readings among others suggest that the economy continued to improve and that consumer confidence in the economy improved as well.

Monday: Existing home sales in June were reported at 5.08 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. While this fell short of expectations of 5.25 million existing homes sold, the expectation was based on the original reading of 5.18 million existing homes sold for May; this was later revised to 5.14 million homes existing homes sold in May.

Tuesday: FHFA reported that May prices for homes with mortgages held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac remained consistent with April’s reading of a 7.30 percent increase on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Home prices rose by 0.70 percent in May as compared to April’s revised reading of 0.50 percent. 

Wednesday: The U.S. Census Bureau revealed that June sales of new homes came in at 497,000, which surpassed both expectations of 483,000 new homes sold and May’s reading of 449,000 new homes sold.

Thursday: Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates fell last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by six basis points to 3.31 percent with 0.8 percent in discount points.

The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was 3.39 percent with discount points of 0.8 percent as compared to last week’s report of 3.41 percent. Average rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by one basis point from 3.17 percent to 3.16 percent; discount points moved from 0.60 percent to 0.70 percent.

In other economic news, June’s report for Durable Goods Orders nearly doubled to 4.20 percent over expectations of 2.30 percent.

Friday: Consumer Sentiment for July rose to 85.1 as compared to expectations of 84.0 and June’s reading of 83.90 percent. That consumers continued gaining confidence in the economy could indicate that more would-be home buyers will become active homebuyers seeking to buy amidst a short inventory of available homes. 

This Week’s Busy Economic Calendar

Readings for several significant economic and housing related indicators will be released this week.

Pending Home Sales are due out today; Tuesday brings the Case-Shiller Home Price Index and the Consumer Confidence Index. Wednesday’s news includes the ADP report (useful for tracking private sector job growth) and an FOMC statement after its meeting ends.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is also scheduled to give a press conference Wednesday. As always, any remarks concerning projected changes to the Fed’s quantitative easing program (QE) could impact financial markets and mortgage rates. 

On Thursday, construction spending data will be released in addition to Freddie Mac’s weekly report on average mortgage rates.

Friday’s news includes several employment-related reports. The monthly Non-Farm Payrolls and Unemployment report will be released; collectively these two reports are frequently called the Jobs Report.

Data on personal income and consumer spending will round out the week’s economic news.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 22, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 22 2013Last week’s economic news was a mixed bag with retail sales and housing starts coming in lower than expected, but home builder confidence in housing markets increased.

Weekly jobless claims fell, and Fed Chair Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate, saying that falling gold prices were an indication of increasing confidence in the economy, but that it was “way too soon” to say when the Fed’s quantitative easing program would be reduced.

Monday: Retail sales for June came in lower than expected at 0.4 percent. Economists estimated a reading of 0.9 percent based on May’s reading of 0.5 percent.

Tuesday: June’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) came in as expected at 0.5 percent against May’s reading of 0.1 percent. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for July gained five points for a reading of 57, which exceeded expectations of a reading of 52. Builders cited a short supply of existing homes and falling materials prices as factors contributing to June’s stronger reading.

Wednesday: Housing starts in June fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 836,000 against expectations of 950,000 and May’s revised reading of 928,000. Regional weather and a surplus of unused building permits were seen as contributing to fewer housing starts in June; analysts did not see the dip in housing starts as a sign of softening housing markets.

Thursday: Fed Chair Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate as noted above and was careful to emphasize that economic data received after the last FOMC meeting indicated that it is “way too soon” for the Fed to change its monthly volume of Treasury bonds and MBS purchases. This is good news for mortgage markets, and possibly for mortgage rates, which fell this week.

Freddie Mac reported that average rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by 14 basis points to 4.37 percent; average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by 12 basis points to 3.41 percent; these rates include average discount points of 0.7 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 ARM was 3.17 percent with discount points of 0.6 percent. The 5/1 ARM provides an affordable alternative to rising fixed mortgage rates.

Friday: No significant economic news noted.

What’s Coming Up

This week’s schedule includes Existing Home Sales on Monday; on Tuesday, the FHFA releases its Home Prices report. New Home Sales will be released on Wednesday; Thursday brings weekly jobless claims and the Durable Goods report. The week will finish with the Consumer Sentiment report on Friday.

Home Builder Confidence Rises To Highest Level Since January 2006

Home Builder Confidence Rises To Highest Level Since January 2006The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) rose in July.

Home builder confidence in the market for newly constructed single-family homes rose six points to a reading of 57. NAHB reports that this was the third consecutive rise in the HMI and its highest reading since January 2006.

Three components used in compiling the HMI reading include current sales, which gained five points for a reading of 60.  Confidence in prospective buyer traffic rose from 40 to 45, and sales expectations for the next six months rose from a reading of 60 to 67.

HMI: All Regions Post Gains

Regional data reflected gains in builder confidence for all U.S. geographic regions. Regional data is based on a three-month rolling average of builder confidence in each region.

The Northeast gained four points for a reading of 40; the Midwest gained eight points for a reading of 54. The South gained five points for a reading of 50, and the West gained three points for a reading of 51.

Readings of more than 50 indicate that more builders view conditions as good than poor. NAHB Economist David Crowe indicated that growing confidence is driven by factors including lower prices for building materials and more buyers vying for fewer available homes. A shortage of building space and available existing homes is improving markets for new homes.

Housing Starts Decline In June

In spite of growing home builder confidence, housing starts for June fell to their lowest level in nearly a year. Regional weather conditions contributed to the dip in housing starts, which surpassed June 2012 housing starts by 10.40 percent.

June’s housing starts fell to 836,000 on a seasonally-adjusted annual rate, and fell shy of economist’s expectation of 950,000 housing starts. Expectations were based on May’s original tally of 914,000 housing starts, which was revised upward to 928,000 on Wednesday.

Building permits for single family homes moved up by 0.60 percent to a rate of 624,000; this is the highest rate since May, 2008. A significant backlog of unused permits contributed to June’s lower number of building permits issued.

Economists are confident that the housing market continues its recovery, but may face obstacles if the government changes the mortgage interest tax deduction.

Another concern involves the pending “tapering” of the Fed’s quantitative easing program (QE). The QE program, which involves the Fed’s purchase of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) was designed to support mortgage markets and also helps to keep mortgage rates low.

For specific details on local home building activity in and around Chicago , please contact your trusted real estate professional today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 15, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates July 15 2013The Fed’s release of the minutes for the June FOMC meeting was the most noteworthy economic event last week; the minutes repeated the Fed’s recent statement concerning the wind-down of its current monetary easing policy.

The minutes indicated that about half of meeting participants wanted to end the quantitative easing (QE) policy by year end, while “many others” preferred to end the program in 2014.

This split suggests that days are numbered for the Fed’s monthly purchase of $85 billion in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The minutes also revealed that the Fed would not be selling off MBS as QE is ended. This would likely prevent additional potential for mortgage rates to increase as demand for bonds would decline when the Fed stops its monthly purchases.

Mortgage Rates Typically Rise When Bond And MBS Prices Fall

U.S. financial markets showed little reaction to the Fed minutes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average saw a quick gain of about 40 points that quickly retreated. The Wall Street Journal interprets the lackluster response to the Fed minutes as investors growing accustomed to the eventual end of the QE program; it’s also possible that the markets interpreted the FOMC minutes as “old news,” as the minutes contained information included in the Fed statement given after June’s FOMC meeting.

The FOMC minutes reported that details of tapering the QE program will be given by Chairman Ben Bernanke during his customary press conference after the Fed presents the FOMC meeting statement. The minutes also asserted that the Fed will closely monitor economic and financial developments as part of their decision-making for ending QE.

The minutes stated that the current Federal Funds rate of 0.00 to 0.25 percent will remain in place for some time after QE is ended.

Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage moved to 4.51 percent from last week’s 4.29 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 3.53 percent from 3.39 percent. Discount points for both types of loans rose from 0.70 percent to 0.80 percent.

Rising mortgage rates suggest that borrowers may soon return to adjustable rate mortgages or hybrids such as the 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which was reported at an average rate of 3.26 percent with discount points of 0.70 percent.

What’s Coming Up

On Monday, retail sales for June will be released. This is an important indicator for the general economy. Tuesday’s news includes NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for July.

On Wednesday, Housing Starts for June will be released. Thursday’s news includes weekly Jobless Claims and Leading Economic Indicators. No economic news is scheduled for Friday.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 8, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 8 2013Last week saw a relatively quiet week due to the 4th of July holiday, but there were some housing-related developments:

Monday: The Department of Commerce reported that overall construction spending increased by 0.50 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $874.9 billion. Residential construction grew by 1.20 percent, and May 2012 construction spending was 5.40 percent higher than in May 2012.

More spending in residential construction can indicate builder confidence in housing markets; added construction could help ease low inventories of available homes.

Tuesday: CoreLogic reported that May national home prices increased by 12.20 percent over May 2012, and grew by 2.60 percent in May including sales of distressed properties. Excluding distressed properties, home sales rose by 2.30 percent in May for a year-over-year increase of 11.60 percent.

States hardest hit in the economic downturn are showing good recovery; Nevada home prices rose by 26 percent year-over-year. While double-digit increases in home prices are good news, economists note that home prices remain approximately 20 percent below their peak in 2006.

Employment Data: More Jobs, Less Unemployment

Employment data are important for housing markets; employment is closely tied to home buyers’ ability to qualify for mortgage loans. Last week ended with several important jobs related reports:

Wednesday: ADP reported that 188,000 private-sector jobs were added in June for the highest increase in four months. This number surpassed expectations of 160,000 new jobs and May’s revised figure of 134,000 jobs added.

Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey had some good news as average rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 4.46 percent to 4.29 percent with discount points also falling from 0.80 to 0.70 percent. Average rates for a 15-year mortgage fell from 3.50 percent to 3.39 percent, with discount points moving from 0.80 percent to 0.70percent.

Friday: The Labor Department released Non-farm Payrolls and the national Unemployment Rate for June. Non-farm matched May’s level of 195,000 jobs added, which surpassed expectations of 155,000 jobs added. The unemployment rate remains at 7.60 percent, just over expectations of 7.50 percent.

The Federal Reserve has cited a benchmark unemployment rate of 6.50 percent as a criterion for raising the federal funds rate and reducing its current quantitative easing policy; this news may help slow mortgage rates as the Fed isn’t likely to modify its programs based on the current unemployment rate.

Looking Ahead

This week’s economic news includes today’s report on consumer credit. Tuesday brings Job Openings for May, and Wednesday brings the minutes from the recent FOMC meeting. The minutes should clarify exactly what the committee discussed concerning quantitative easing and their plans for modifying it.

Thursday, Freddie Mac will release weekly mortgage rates. The federal government will release weekly jobless claims and will update the federal budget. The week’s economic news will conclude with release of the Producer Price Index (PPI) and Core PPI for June, along with Consumer Sentiment for July.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 1, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 1, 2013The past week was active for economic news and mortgage rates. The aftermath of the Fed’s indication that it may start dialing back its multi-billion dollar monthly purchases of Treasury and mortgage backed securities has sent mortgage rates to record highs.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, this may be the last chance for finding the best deal on mortgage rates; meanwhile, home prices continue trending up as well.

Here’s the scoop on last week’s activity affecting real estate markets:

Tuesday’s Case-Shiller Composite Indices for April demonstrate the momentum of recovery in many housing markets. As of April, national home prices had increased by 12.10 percent as compared to April 2012. April’s reading also exceeded March’s reading of 10.10 percent year-over-year.

FHFA released its home prices report for April and noted that the average price for homes with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac increased by 7.40 percent, which slightly surpassed the March reading of 7.20 percent.

The Department of Commerce released New Home Sales for May and reported 476,000 new homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. This exceeded expectations of 453,000 new home sales and also surpassed April’s reading of 454,000 new homes sold.

Wednesday brought the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report for the first quarter of 2013. The GDP grew by 1.80 percent against expectations of 2.40 percent and the previous quarter’s growth, also 2.40 percent.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) brought the days of bargain basement mortgage rates to a halt as average mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage moved from last week’s 3.93 percent to 4.46 percent. Average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 3.04 percent 3.50 percent. This was the largest weekly jump in mortgage rates in 26 years. 

Home buyers may also consider a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which provides an average 5 year fixed rate of 2.74 percent.  The fixed mortgage rate converts to an adjustable rate after five years.

The National Association of REALTORS ® reported that Pending Home Sales in May rose by +6.70 percent to their highest level in 6 years.

Last week ended on a positive note with the Consumer Sentiment Index for June beating expectations of 83.0 and coming in at 84.1. May’s reading was 82.1; higher consumer confidence is likely driving demand for available homes.

Whats Ahead This Week

Next week’s scheduled economic news includes Construction Spending due on Monday and the ADP private sector jobs report is set for Wednesday.

Thursday the financial markets are closed as we celebrate the July 4th holiday.

Friday brings the Department of Labor’s Non-farm Payrolls Report and the National Unemployment Rate. If the unemployment rate stays steady at 7.60 percent, this may reduce fears that the Fed will start reducing its monetary easing program any time soon, which should help to slow the recent increases in mortgage rates.

Home Prices Record Highest Monthly Gains Since Case Shiller Index Inception

Home Prices Record Record Month To Month GainsThe S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for April indicate that the housing recovery gained ground.

In April 2013 average home prices tracked in the Case-Shiller 10 and 20-city Composites increased by 11.60 and 12.10 percent year-over-year. On a month-to-month basis, the Composites increased by 2.60 and 2.50 percent respectively.

According to David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Indices’ Index Committee, the 10-and 20- City Composites experienced their largest month- to- month gains since their inception: “Thirteen cities posted month- to-month gains of two percent or more, with San Francisco leading with a month-to-month gain of 4.90 percent.”

The 10-and-20 City Indices reported the highest year-over-year gains in home prices since 2006.  Cities where home prices gained more than 20 percent year-over-year included Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Francisco. Phoenix posted its 12th consecutive month of double-digit increases in home prices while San Francisco home prices increased year-over-year by an average of 23.90 percent. Home prices increased year-over-year in 19 the 20 cities included in the 10-and 20 City Composites, with home prices in Detroit remaining flat.

Mortgage Loan Requirements Showing Signs Of Loosening

Mr. Blitzer also noted that according to the most recent Fed Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey, some lenders are beginning to relax credit requirements for mortgage loans. This good news, along with the availability of adjustable-rate mortgage loans is expected to help with maintaining affordability and providing access to homes for more buyers.

According to the S&P Case-Shiller 10-and-20 City Composites, home prices fell approximately 26 to 27percent from their highest in June 2006 to their lowest in March 2012. As of April 2013, average home prices had recovered by 13.10 percent for the 10-City Composite and 13.60 percent for the 20-City Composite.

More Reports Show Ongoing Housing Recovery

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices increased an average of 7.40 percent year-over-year as of April 2013, and rose by 0.70 percent between March and April 2013. While this data fell short of an expected month-to-month increase of 1.10 percent, Average FHFA home prices were 11.70 percent below their peak in April 2007.

FHFA bases its report on sales of homes financed with mortgages owned or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes reached a five-year high in May, the highest level since July 2008. May sales increased 2.10 percent between April and May 2013 to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 476,000 homes. This represents a year-over-year increase of 29 percent from May 2012.

While rising mortgage rates and home prices may slow demand for homes, economists don’t believe that either factor will halt the housing recovery. A good next step is asking your trusted real estate professional about current home values and loan options in and around Chicago.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 24, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 24, 2013Comments by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke after Wednesday’s FOMC meeting caused havoc in financial markets as investors anticipated the potential effects of any rollback of the Fed’s policy of quantitative easing (QE). Chairman Bernanke said that the Fed may begin reducing its $85 billion monthly purchase of Treasury securities and MBS toward the end of this year.

The chairman made it clear that any decision concerning QE would be based on careful review of current and developing economic conditions. QE is intended to keep long-term interest rates low; any reduction of the QE securities purchases could cause mortgage rates to rise.

Economic News Bodes Well For Housing

The week’s other economic news included more good news for housing. The NAHB/WF Housing Market Index for June came in ahead of expectations at 52, which surpassed the expected reading of 45 and May’s reading of 44. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders surveyed believe that housing market conditions are positive.

Tuesday was busy for economic news. The Consumer Price Index for May rose from April’s reading of –0.40 percent to +0.10 percent in May, which was below expectations of +0.20 percent.

The Department of Commerce released its Housing Starts Report for May; the reading for May missed expectations of 953,000 housing starts and came in at 914,000 which exceeded April’s 856,000 housing starts. Increasing the number of available homes could help steady recently increasing home prices, but existing homes remain in short supply in many areas.

Fed Expects Moderate Improvement Continuing For Economy

Wednesday’s news involved the Fed’s FOMC meeting and press conference. The Fed stated after the meeting that it expects moderate improvement in economic condition and noted that housing, which was a primary cause of the economic downturn, is now leading the economy’s recovery.

Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 3.98 percent with 0.7 percent discount points to 3.93 percent with borrowers paying 0.8 percent in discount points.  The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 3.10 percent to 3.04 percent with 0.7 percent in discount points for both weeks. Investor response to the Fed’s mention of possibly reducing its QE program is likely to send mortgage rates up next week.

The National Association of REALTORS® released its Existing Home Sales report for May. Existing home sales came in at 5.18 million and beat projections of 5.00 million and April’s sales of 4.97 million existing homes.

Increasing sales of existing homes is good news as demand has exceeded supplies of existing homes in recent months. High demand drives up home prices and impacts affordability along with rising mortgage rates.

What’s Ahead For This Week

Next week’s scheduled news includes a number of housing related reports, FHFA Home Prices, the Case-Shiller Home Prices Report and New Home Sales are set for release Tuesday.

The Gross Domestic Product Report comes out on Wednesday. On Thursday, data for weekly jobless claims, consumer spending and pending home sales will be released.

Friday brings the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index and the Consumer Sentiment Index.

The data released in these reports will continue to inform the Fed’s decision-making with regard to bond purchasing and interest rate policy. It’s possible though, following the aggressive market sell-off activity from last week, that we may see a softening in long-term rates over the course of this week.

Home Builder Confidence Jumps By Widest Margin Since 2002

Home Builder Confidence Jumps By Widest Margin Since 2002U.S. housing markets are gaining as demand for homes exceeds available supplies in many areas. The National Association of Home Builders/ Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for June increased by eight points over May’s reading to achieve a positive reading of 52. This last happened in August-September of 2002, when HMI monthly readings also jumped by eight points.

Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders consider housing market conditions positive than negative. June’s reading was the first time the HMI reading surpassed a reading of 50 since April 2006.

Limited Inventory Drives Sales Of New Homes

Rick Judson, NAHB Chairman, cited short supplies of existing homes as a factor driving sales of new homes. As demand for homes grows and inventories of available existing homes fall, buyers are increasingly buying new homes.

Sales of existing homes continue to be impacted by factors such as homes worth less than the mortgages held against them and sellers taking a “wait and see” attitude toward listing their homes for sale.

All three of the components of June’s national HMI gained:

  • The reading for current sales conditions rose from 48 to 56.
  • Expectations for future sales gained nine points to 61.
  • June’s reading for buyer foot traffic in new homes gained seven points for a reading of 40.

Regional Home Builder Confidence Grows In 3 Of 4 Regions

The 3-month rolling average readings for regional home builder confidence showed increases in three of four regions:

  • Northeast: Builder confidence increased by one point to 37.
  • Midwest: Builder confidence rose by one point to 47.
  • South: Builder confidence rose by four points to 46.
  • West: Builder confidence dropped by one point to 48.

High demand and a shortage lots available for building new homes contributed to the West’s slight decrease in builder confidence. Overall, increasing home builder confidence is a sign of economic recovery, but as the economy gains momentum and home prices continue rising, mortgage rates can be expected to rise as well.

Housing Starts Up 28% Annually In May

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported Wednesday that national housing starts rose by 6.80 percent from April’s revised reading. May’s reading of 914,000 housing starts was reported on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. May’s reading was 28.80 percent higher than for May 2012.

Single-family housing starts (one to four units) fell short of investor expectations of 953,000 but exceeded April’s revised reading of 856,000.

Multi-family housing starts surpassed single-family housing starts, but any additions to low inventories of single-family homes could ease the difference between high demand and low inventories of available homes. Meeting demand for homes would temper rising home prices, which could help potential buyers qualify for mortgage loans.