As the first quarter of 2015 comes to an end, it is safe to contend that Q1 2015 compared to the same time period the prior year is much more favorable leading into the peak selling season of Q2 and Q3. This Week in Real Estate covers a wide spectrum of topics from consumer confidence to new construction sales to the ever pending interest rate increase. Below are a few of the highlights from the last, full week in March that influence our business:
* February new-home sales highest in seven years. Builders signed contracts on more homes in February 2015 than any time since early 2008 according to the Census Bureau and HUD. February seasonally-adjusted annual new home sales topped out at 539,000, up 7.8 percent from a healthy 500,000 in January. Full story…
* Mortgage applications rise 9.5 percent from one week earlier. Stoked by the lowest interest rates in several weeks the volume of applications for mortgages to both purchase and refinance homes increased by the largest percentages than at any time since early January. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 9.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. The Refinance Index increased 12 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 5 percent from one week earlier to its highest level since January 2015. Full story…
* 5 quotes from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s speech at the San Francisco Fed on Friday. Janet Yellen offered a cautious message on the prospect of interest rate increases in a speech this week, saying the central bank expects to begin raising rates this year and then proceed gradually after that. Here are five key quotes from her prepared remarks. Full story… http://blogs.wsj.com/briefly/2015/03/27/5-quotes-from-janet-yellens-speech-to-the-san-francisco-fed/
* U.S. consumer sentiment at 93.0 in March vs. 92.0 estimate. Consumer optimism reached a 10-year peak of 95.5 in the first quarter of 2015, its highest level since 2004. “While there is a widespread expectation that interest rates will begin to rise later in the year, few consumers anticipated that the size of the increases will dampen their credit sensitive purchase plans.” Full story… http://www.cnbc.com/id/102540745?__source=mnd|news|&par=mnd
* Rising rents are finally forcing Millennials to buy houses. Expect the open-house crowds to skew a little younger during this year’s spring homebuying season. Millennials made up 32 percent of the U.S. housing market in 2014, up from 28 percent two years earlier, and have pulled ahead of the older Generation X as the largest segment of buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors. About 5.2 million renters say they expect to purchase a house in 2015, up from 4.2 million a year earlier. The U.S. rental vacancy rate hit a 21-year low at the end of last year, according to the Census Bureau, giving landlords leverage to charge more. Full story…
Have a productive week!