Keeping you updated on all the latest news about real estate, housing and the economy with the biggest news for 3-3-2014…
Finally getting closer to pulling the trigger with reworking the property search function of the website. I am sure there will be hiccups but the blog is run on a different server and will stay up and running. So no need to worry about not getting your normal dose of real estate, housing and economic news.
Speaking of which there is a crapload of stuff to cover so let’s dive right in!
Case Shiller, Black Knight & FHFA on Home Prices
In case you missed last week’s HUGE post on home price reports from Case Shiller, Black Knight and FHFA let me recap:
- Case Shiller said US home prices closed the year of 2013 up 11.3%
- The Case Shiller December 2013 20-City Index is up 13.4% YOY
- The Case Shiller December 2013 10-City Index is up 13.6% YOY
- Black Knight said the average price of a home in December 2013 is up 8.4% YOY
- FHFA said house prices rose 7.7% from the 4th quarter of 2012 to the 4th quarter of 2013
And that is just little bit of what they had to say about US home prices.
Chicago Fed National Activity Index Down
Sad to report that the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago reported last week that their Activity Index fell to -0.39 in January 2014 from -0.33 in December 2013. 2 of the 4 broad categories of indicators that make up the index decreased from December, and two of the four categories made negative contributions to the index in January.
The Chicago Federal Reserve National Activity Index (CFNAI) is a weighted average of 85 existing monthly indicators of national economic activity. It is constructed to have an average value of zero and a standard deviation of one. Since economic activity tends toward trend growth rate over time, a positive index reading corresponds to growth above trend and a negative index reading corresponds to growth below trend.
The contribution from the consumption and housing category to the CFNAI moved down to –0.18 in January from –0.14 in December. Housing starts declined to 880,000 annualized units in January from 1,048,000 in December, and housing permits declined to 937,000 annualized units in January from 991,000 in the previous month.
Richmond Fed on Manufacturing Activity
More news about weakness in the economy came from the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank last week. They reported that manufacturing slowed, shipments and the volume of new orders decreased and hiring flattened. The also said that manufacturers were less optimistic about their future business conditions than they were a month ago.
Good News from ISM
The ISM just reported:
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in February for the ninth consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 57th consecutive month.
Sounds much better than the reports from the Chicago or Richmond Fed doesn’t it?
New Home Sales Up
We did get good news about new home sales last week. I also covered this is in last week’s mega post on home prices but to recap:
- Sales of new single-family houses in January 2014 were 9.6% higher than December 2013
- Sales of new single-family houses in January 2014 were 2.2% higher than January 2013
This is the highest level of new homes sales since 2008. So much for the people using winter weather as the cause for weak housing or real estate indicators. There may be more positive housing news ahead as builders said that some of the sales lost during winter months may be recouped during spring.
As usual I posted my weekly update on mortgage rates on Friday. Most of the rates I track increased slightly BUT there is no need for buyers to panic. Yes, every time mortgage rates increase it means less bang for the buyers buck. Just remember that mortgage rates are still at historically low levels. Buyers need to get their butts in gear but there is no need to panic.
Despite the super low rates, the number of mortgage applications from buyers last week reached the lowest level in nearly two decades according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Employment / Unemployment
The Department of Labor reported that weekly jobless claims also rose to 348,000 against projections for 335,000 new jobless claims. The four-week average for new jobless claims remained steady at 338,250.
The Department of Labor reminded everyone that weekly readings are more volatile than the four week average reading. Winter weather was once again blamed for the bad news. If we see improvements in the monthly employment report from the Department of Labor it could mean that mortgage rates will rise.
NAR Pending Home Sales
We ended the week with some bad news from the National Association of REALTORS®. The Pending Home Sales Index for January 2014 was s 9.0% below January 2013. They also said that the number of pending home sales increased by 0.10% from the December 2013 level. I have to remind you that the December 2013 numbers were at the lowest level since November 2011.
Also this is talking about homes under contract and NOT actual sales. It is counting your chickens before they hatch BUT it is a good indicator of what the future holds.
Construction Spending Increased
The Census Bureau reported that overall construction spending increased slightly in January 2014 from the December 2013 level. January 2014 construction spending is 9.3% higher than back in January 2013. Residential construction for January was 1.1% higher than December and 13.9% higher than January 2013.
This is very good news!
The stuff we need to watch this week:
- Federal Reserve’s Beige Book Report
- Weekly jobless claims
- Mortgage rate reports from Freddie Mac & the MBA
- Non-Farm Payrolls and National Unemployment reports for February
- ADP Employment Report
I am sure there is something else that slipped my mind. It will be covered here if it is about real estate or housing!
And please hit that subscribe button.