This Week in Real Estate: March 20, 2017


Favorable news This Week in Real Estate from the new construction sector as builder confidence hits a 12-year high and single-family housing starts reach its highest level since late 2007. Below are a few highlights from the second full week of March that influence our business:

* Builder Confidence Hits 12-Year High. Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes jumped six points to a level of 71 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the highest reading since June 2005. All three HMI components posted robust gains in March. The component gauging sales conditions increased seven points to 78 while the index charting sales expectations in the next six months rose five points to 78. Meanwhile, the component measuring buyer traffic jumped eight points to 54. Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Midwest increased three points to 68 and the South rose one point to 68. The West dipped three points to 76 and the Northeast edged one point lower to 48.
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* MBA: Mortgage Applications Rise Three-Weeks Straight. Mortgage applications increased three-weeks straight as the market gears up for the spring home-buying season. The latest update from the Mortgage Bankers Association Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending March 10 found that applications increased 3.1% from one week earlier. This is similar to the previous week’s 3.3% increase in applications. Both refinance and purchase applications rose, helping boost overall application volume. The Refinance Index increased 4% from the previous week, while the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 2% from one week earlier. Mortgage interest rates for most products jumped close to two-year highs. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($424,100 or less) now sits at its highest level since April 2014, growing to 4.46% from 4.36%. Also reaching its highest level since April 2014, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $424,100) increased to 4.44% from 4.27%.
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* Single-Family Housing Starts Reach Highest Level Since Late 2007. Nationwide housing starts rose 3 percent in February from an upwardly revised January reading to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.288 million units, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department. Single-family production increased 6.5 percent to 872,000 units – its highest reading in nearly a decade – while multifamily starts fell 3.7 percent to 416,000 units. “This month’s gain in single-family starts is consistent with rising builder confidence in the housing market,” said Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “We should see single-family production continue to grow throughout the year, tempered somewhat by supply-side constraints such as access to lots and labor.” Regionally in February, combined single-family and multifamily housing production (starts) rose 35.7 in the West. Starts fell by 3.8 percent in the South, 4.6 percent in the Midwest and 9.8 percent in the Northeast. Regionally, overall permits rose 25.4 percent in the Midwest. Permits fell 10 percent in the West, 10.4 percent in the South and 22.3 percent in the Northeast.
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Have a productive week!

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