This Week in Real Estate: May 8, 2017


While a million plus more homes became “equity rich” compared to the same time period last year, as reported by ATTOM Data Solutions This Week in Real Estate, the unemployment rate for April dropped to the lowest level in a decade. Below are a few highlights from the first week of May that influence our business:

* Equity Rich Properties Increase 1.4 Million. ATTOM Data Solutions released is Q1 2017 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report on Thursday finding that at the end of Q1 2017, there were more than 13.7 million (13,718,473) equity rich U.S. properties – where the combined loan amount secured by the property is 50 percent or less than the estimated market value of the property – representing 24.3 percent of all U.S. properties with a mortgage. That is up nearly 1.4 million from a year ago, when there was 12.4 million equity rich properties representing 22.0 percent of all properties with a mortgage as of the end of Q1 2016. States with the highest share of equity rich properties were Hawaii (38.4 percent), California (35.8 percent), New York (34.6 percent), Vermont (32.8 percent) and Oregon (31.3 percent). The top 10 Metro areas for highest share of equity rich properties were San Jose, CA (51.3 percent), San Francisco, CA (46.6 percent), Honolulu, HI (39.9 percent), Los Angeles, CA (39.1 percent), Pittsburgh, PA (34.2 percent), San Diego, CA (33.6 percent), Portland, OR (33.6 percent), Austin, TX (32.1 percent), Seattle, WA (32.1 percent) and New York, NY (32.0 percent).
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* Nationwide Recovery Continues. The NAHB/First American Leadings Markets Index (LMI), released Thursday, rose .01 point over the quarter to 1.0. Over the past year, the LMI grew by .05 point. The index uses single-family housing permits, employment, and home prices to measure proximity to a normal economic and housing market. The index is calculated for both the entire country and for 337 local markets, metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). A value of 1.0 means the three components have individually, whether for the country as a whole or an individual metro area, achieved a level of recovery that combined averages 1.0. The current LMI Score combined with the upward trajectory of the Index was last observed in 2003, a period of normal. Over the housing boom years of 2004 – 2007, the LMI rose, peaking at 1.22 in 2006. The ensuing decline in the Index reflected the distress observed in the housing market and in the economy more generally. After falling to a low 0.78 in 2012, the LMI has been steadily climbing, in line with the overall economic recovery. Relative to 2003, a period when the Score of each of the LMI’s subcomponents reached 1.0, house prices are currently at 1.50, their peak level in 2007, while employment is currently at 0.98, .02 point below its peak level of 1.0. At 0.53 single-family permits are furthest away from normality. An alternative, but more speculative, interpretation of the trends in the components of the overall LMI is that the permits trend indicates that too few homes are in the pipeline to be built, contributing to the low housing inventory, while the prospects for housing demand, as suggested by the employment component, is closer to normalizing. Economic theory posits that, all else equal, in the presence of low housing inventory, healthy housing demand will be reflected in higher house prices.
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* Unemployment Rate Drops to Lowest Level in a Decade in April as Economy Adds 211,000 Jobs. The U.S. job market rebounded strongly last month and the unemployment rate fell to the lowest level seen in a decade, government data released Friday morning showed. Employers added 211,000 jobs in April as the unemployment rate ticked down to 4.4 percent, the lowest level since May 2007. The report offered a snapshot of an increasingly solid economy. The U.S. labor market is still expanding at a steady clip even after 79 straight months of job gains, helping to heal much of the damage still lingering from the recession. “The re-acceleration in jobs should assuage fears that economic growth is slowing in any meaningful way,” said James Marple, senior economist at TD Economics. Job gains were seen in mining and manufacturing, but the bulk of job growth in April came from the much larger sectors of leisure and hospitality, education and health, and business services. At 4.4 percent, the headline unemployment rate is now below the longer-term level targeted by the Federal Reserve. Broader measures of unemployment and underemployment also continue to improve. The U-6 rate, a measure that includes people who have given up looking for work, as well as those who are employed part time but would like to be full time, fell to 8.6 percent in the month, the lowest level seen since 2007.
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Have a productive week!

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