Last week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller Housing Price Indices and Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued.
Readings on pending home sales and consumer confidence were released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and initial jobless claims.
Case-Shiller Home Price Growth Slows to Lowest Rate in Four Years
Home prices continued to grow in December but reached their slowest pace since November2014. Seasonally-adjusted annual home price growth reached 4.70 percent in December as compared to growth of 5.10percent year-over-year in November.
Analysts cited high home prices, and slim inventories of available homes, although demand for homes eased in some metro areas. Affordability and accessibility to mortgages sidelined low and moderate-income buyers; some buyers allegedly gave up on buying homes.
Building more homes is necessary for relieving the housing shortage; real estate pros, mortgage lenders and home buyers rely on home builders to provide enough housing for first-time buyers and existing homeowners to transition from renting to owning and for existing homeowners to move up to aspirational homes.
Housing starts fell short of expectations in December with a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.078 million starts. Analysts expected 1.28 million starts based on November’s reading of 1.214 million housing starts. Construction was affected by winter weather and higher costs for building materials.
Pending Home Sales Rise in January
Pending home sales increased in January; sales with signed purchase contracts rose 4.6- percent as compared to December’s negative year-over-year reading of -2.30 percent. The National Association of Realtors® said that all four U.S. regions reported higher readings for pending home sales. The Northeast reported 1.60 percent more pending sales, Midwest and Southern regions reported increases of 2.80 percent and 8.90 percent, and the Western region reported 0.30 percent more pending home sales.
Mortgage Rates, Hold Steady New Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported no change in 30-year fixed mortgage rates, which averaged 4.35 percent. The average rate for 15-year fixed rate mortgages dropped one basis point to 3.77 percent; mortgage rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at 3.84 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
First-time jobless claims matched expectations of 225,000 claims filed as compared to 217,000 first-time claims filed the prior week. The University of Michigan Consumer Confidence Index rose to an index reading of 131.4 and exceeded the expected reading of 124.7.
January’s reading was 121.7. Rising consumer confidence may compel would-be home buyers to enter the housing market during peak buying season in spring and summer.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on January housing starts, construction spending, and new home sales. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released along with labor-sector reports on public and private sector jobs and the national unemployment rate.