Builder Confidence And Housing Starts Sales And Prices Headline The Week

Dated: January 20 2015

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With just a few mortgage-focused earnings coming out this week the emphasis will be on a slate of housing metrics coming from homebuilders, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Census Bureau.


The National Association of Home Builders releases on Tuesday its housing market index for January.


Last month, the index remained solid, at 57 for the December housing market index. Though slightly below November's 58 and on the low side of expectations, this was still the sixth reading in a row that the index was above breakeven 50. December's strength was centered in expectations for future sales, at 65 versus November's 66, followed by current sales which are at 61 versus 62. Continuing to trail in the distance was the traffic component, unchanged at 45 in a reading that underscores the lack of first-time buyers in the housing market.


On Wednesday the Census Bureau releases its report on housing starts for December.


The November report showed single-family starts and multifamily starts moving in opposite directions. Housing starts in November dipped 1.6% after rebounding 1.7% in October. The 1.028 million unit pace was down 7% on a year-ago basis. November strength was in the volatile multifamily component. Multifamily starts rebounded 6.7% after declining 9.9% in October.


In contrast, single-family starts fell 5.4% in November after gaining 8% in October. Housing permits declined a monthly 5.2%, following a 5.9% jump in October. The 1.035 million unit pace was down 0.2% on a year-ago basis.


The FHFA releases on Thursday its purchase-only house price index for November. The index showed unexpected strength in October, gaining 0.6% after no change in September. Analysts forecast a 0.2% rise for October.


The year-ago rate firmed to 4.5% from 4.4% in September. Regionally, six Census regions reported gains in October while three declined. Housing may be showing improved demand but this is just one month's report.


The FHFA index covers single-family housing, using data provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.


Friday will see the report on existing home sales for December.


Existing home sales had been showing some life but not in November, sinking a very steep 6.1% to a 4.93 million annual rate, below expectations.


November's weakness was broad based with all four regions showing single digit monthly declines. But the good news is that the weakness in sales is not inflating supply which, due to a draw down of homes on the market to 2.09 million from 2.24 million, held steady relative to sales, at 5.1 months.

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Mark Ross

For Mark Ross, founder of Ross NW Real Estate and professional real estate broker, real estate has always been the career of choice. During his 25+ years in the industry, Mark has gained experience in....

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