This Week in Real Estate: Jan. 4, 2015

Happy New Year!
This Week in Real Estate brought a close to a memorable year. Below are a few of the highlights from the final week of 2015 that influence our business:
* Consumers Have Confidence in 2016. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had decreased moderately in November, improved in December. The Index now stands at 96.5, up from 92.6 in November. The Present Situation Index increased from 110.9 last month to 115.3 in December, while the Expectations Index improved to 83.9 from 80.4 in November. “As 2015 drew to a close, consumers’ assessment of the current state of the economy remains positive, particularly their assessment of the job market. Looking ahead to 2016, consumers are expecting little change in both business conditions and labor market. Expectations regarding their financial outlook are mixed, but the optimists continue to outweigh the pessimists,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board.
* What Fed Rate Hike? Interest Rates Hold Steady for 2nd Straight Week. Despite some declarations that the Federal Open Market Committee’s recent decision to raise the federal funds rate for the first time since June 2006 was a “disaster,” the FOMC’s decision is having a limited impact on mortgage interest rates thus far. Mortgage rates ticked up a little in the week that ended December 10 in anticipation of a Fed rate hike, with the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increasing during that week from 3.93% to 3.95%, according to Freddic Mac. And in the week that ended December 17, the week that included the FOMC’s decision to raise rates, mortgage rates ticked up slightly again, from 3.95% to 3.97%, but Freddie Mac’s chief economist, Sean Becketti said that interest rates should remain at “historically low levels” throughout 2016, in spite of whatever moves the Federal Reserve is expected to make. And according to the latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey report from Freddie Mac, interest rates held steady for the second week in a row, with the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage actually falling slightly in the week that ended December 24, from 3.97% to 3.96%. 
Freddie Mac: Improving Mortgage Performance Equals Best MiMi in 15 Months. Housing markets across the country are steadily making their way into the stable range, according to Freddie Mac’s latest Multi-Indicator Market Index (MiMi). The MiMi monitors and measures the stability of the nation’s housing market, as well as the housing markets of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the top 100 metro markets. The most recent report said the national MiMi value now stands at 81.9, indicating a housing market that is on its outer range of stable housing activity. On a year-over-year basis, the national MiMi value has improved 6.31%. “The strong annual change of 6.31% is the best improvement we’ve seen in the MiMi on a year-over-year basis since July 2014,” said Freddie Mac Deputy Chief Economist Len Kiefer. “While strong home purchase applications and rising home values in some markets are contributing to this improvement, its largely more of a reflection of mortgage delinquencies continuing to decline at a steady pace, especially in those hardest hit markets, and a better employment picture overall,” he said. On an annual basis the leaders were Florida (+14.47%), Oregon (+12.2%), Colorado (+11.97%), Washington (+11.69%) and Nevada (+11.13%).
* Case-Shiller: Home Prices Continue Upward Trend. Home prices once again trended higher in October as positive economic news continues to support increases, according to the most recent S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions. Home prices posted a slightly higher year-over-year gain with a 5.2% annual increase in October, up from a 4.9% increase in September. “Generally good economic conditions continue to support gains in home prices,” said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Among the positive factors are consumers’ expectations of low inflation and further economic growth as well as recent increases in residential construction including single-family housing starts,” he continued. 
Have a productive week!

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