Last week saw September Housing Starts UP 0.3% to an annual rate of 610,000 units, well ahead of the expected 580,000 unit pace. Even better, starts are UP 4.1% over a year ago. Interestingly, the September gain was totally driven by a healthy 4.4% rise in single family starts, while multi-family starts dropped 9.7%. But multi-family starts are volatile month to month, and are actually up 100.0% compared to a year ago, while single family starts are off 10.8% during the same time frame.
Next week will be the true test, one that we would expect will see the market trade sideways to a little better (slightly improving mortgage pricing). Overall, we think this is the low probability trade as QE2, even though it is fully priced in, is a force to be reckoned with. When the Government is the buyer of choice, most follow the ant age, “Don’t fight the Fed.”
As promised, last week's reports gave us a complete picture of the housing market in August. Housing Starts rose 10.5% month-over-month to a 598,000 annual rate, well ahead of the expected 550,000 number. Building Permits, which reflect builder sentiment further out, grew a more modest 1.8% month-over-month to a slightly smaller 569,000 annual rate. Thursday, Existing Home Sales came in UP 7.6% over July, at a 4.13 million annual rate. But let's remember, July was a record low, so this gain still left sales down 19% from August a year ago. The median price for Existing Homes, however, ticked up 0.8% year-over-year, as reported by the National Association of Realtors.
After falling for several weeks, stronger than expected economic data caused Austin mortgage rates to turn a little higher late this week. Upside surprises in important labor market, housing, and manufacturing reports were negative for the Austin mortgage market and positive for stocks.
The Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly survey showed purchase loan applications UP 1% from the week before, refinance applications UP 6%, and Austin mortgage rates at record low levels
Last week began nicely with June New Home Sales UP 23.6% to an annual rate of 330,000, well ahead of expectations. This was a sharp rebound from May when New Home Sales sank to record lows not seen since 1963. This volatility of course is all about the homebuyer tax credit (requiring a contract by April 30 and a closing by June 30, now extended to September 30). Consequently, new homes sold at a 422,000 pace in April, fell to a 267,000 pace in May, then went to 330,000 in June.
Tuesday, June Housing Starts came in down 5.0% from May to a 549,000 annual rate. This was below expectations, but still up 15.1% from the low they hit in April 2009. Most of the drop came from volatile multi-family starts. Single-family starts were down a mere 0.7%. Most significantly, housing completions shot up 26.2% in June, the biggest monthly gain going back to the late 1960's. Builders clearly shifted focus from starting to finishing, as they pushed to close sales qualifying for the homebuyer tax credit. Finally, Building Permits were UP 2.1% for June, beating expectations, so things are looking up for the months ahead.
Last week's Inside Lending reported that on Friday, the President signed into law a bill that extends to September 30 the closing deadline for claiming the federal homebuyer tax credit. We want to add he signed a second bill that retroactively reinstates the National Flood Insurance program, which expired May 31, until September 30. This news is important for home buyers who are shopping in areas where flood insurance is necessary to get a mortgage. It would obviously behoove these buyers to close before September 30.
With Austinmortgage rates near their best levels, the prudent move is for Austin homebuyers and Austin refinances to lock in their interest rates
With Austinmortgage rates near their best levels, the prudent move is for Austin homebuyers and Austin refinances to lock in their interest rates. The employment report is the most volatile, highest profile piece of economic data in the field and with the market looking for a strong number, the probability that mortgage pricing will be worse this time tomorrow is high.
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