Last week’s economic reports included S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, along with readings on new and pending home sales. Recurring weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.
Case-Shiller: Pacific Northwest Shows Fastest Home Price Growth
According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for August, home prices in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington grew fastest year-over-year. Portland posted an August index reading of 11.70 percent and Portland followed closely with a reading of 11.40 percent. Denver, Colorado rounded out the top three cities with the fastest rates of home price growth with a year-over-year reading of 8.80 percent. The 20-City Home Price Index rose 0.30 percent year-over-year to 5.30 percent in August.
Low inventory of available homes poses challenges for housing markets, but Case-Shiller reported that the national home price index was 0.60 percent lower than its peak reading in 2006. The 20-City Home Price Index was 7.10 percent lower than the 2006 peak. This provides a positive context for healthy home price growth, but concerns linger about a repeat of the housing bubble that burst and caused home prices to crash.
David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P Index Committee said that a new housing bubble is unlikely. Home buyers are not taking out huge mortgages as was common prior to the Great Recession; mortgage lenders have adopted stricter qualification standards to help ensure that borrowers can afford their mortgages.
New Home Sales Rise in September
Sales of new homes rose to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 593,000 sales in September according to the Commerce Department. Although lower than analysts’ expected reading of 600,000 sales, September’s reading surpassed August’s reading of 575,000 sales. August’s reading was downwardly revised from its original reading of 609,000, which suggests that new home prices are growing at a slower rate than expected.
High demand for homes boosted September’s reading for pending home sales, which represents homes under contract for sale that have not closed. Pending home sales increased in September with a reading of 1.50 percent growth as compared to August’s negative rate of -2.50 percent. Pending home sales provide indications of future completed sales and mortgage loan volume.
Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall
Mortgage rates were lower last week according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell five basis points to 3.47 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 2.78 percent, which was one basis point lower than the prior week’s reading. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was also one basis point lower at 2.84 percent. Average discount points were 0.60, 0.50 and 0.40 percent respectively.
In spite of growth in home prices and volume of sales, consumer confidence slowed in October. October’s index reading of 98.60 as compared to an expected reading of 101.00 and September’s reading of 103.50. Analysts said that uncertainty over the upcoming presidential election contributed to October’s lower reading.
Next week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on inflation, construction spending core inflation, and labor reports. Non-farm payrolls, ADP employment, national unemployment rates will also be released. Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates report and new jobless claims will also be released.