Last week's housing market data centered on Standard & Poor's S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. This showed home prices UP in July for the fourth month in a row, but the pace of their gain had slowed from prior months. With the expiration of the government's home buyer tax incentives, some observers wonder if the S&P/Case-Shiller will keep moving up. The composite 20-city index, a broad measure of U.S. home prices, showed a 3.2% increase year over year, the sixth month in a row it posted an annual gain.
Last week, housing market news was thin on the ground. It was good to see that fixed-rate mortgage rates dropped again, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of conforming mortgages, which came out Thursday. The report was accompanied by encouraging words from Freddie Mac's chief economist Frank Nothaft, who said: "The Federal Reserve recently reported positive news in both the housing market and the overall state of the economy in its January 13 regional economic report....Economic activity improved in 10 of its 12 districts. Home sales...increased due in part to the home-buyer tax credit and house prices appeared to have changed little since its last report." The bottom in home pricing appears to have formed in many areas of the country.
Over the last few weeks, many economists have been raising their forecasts for economic growth in 2010. The economic data released this week generally did not support this outlook, however, producing some daily volatility. As a result of the weaker than expected data, mortgage rates ended the week a little lower.
Last week gave us more proof the country's housing market is heating up. According to Freddie Mac's quarterly national Conventional Home Price Index (CMHPI), home prices were UP 0.9% in Q3 for their second quarterly increase in a row!
Finally, we had the good news covered in last week's Inside Lending Bulletin that the Senate passed an extension of the first-time homebuyer $8000 tax credit, with higher qualifying income limits and adding a $6500 credit to buyers who have owned their homes at least 5 years. Let's hope the House passes it too. Finally, the House and Senate extended the ability of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration to back conforming loans in high-cost areas, up to $729,750 through all of 2010. These higher limits would have expired at the end of this year.
Although the home price numbers are good, uncertainty with the 8K stimulus plan and continued high unemployment will need to be monitored
Hey what do you know, a little green on the screen! Case Shiller Home Price Index painted the screen with an improvement of 1.2% while the year on year figure was down 11.3%. The number were a bit better than consensus, showing signs of stability creeping back into the housing market. 17 of the 20 market surveyed showed positive price improvement with Charlotte, Las Vegas, and Cleveland the only decliners. Although the numbers are good, uncertainty with the 8K stimulus plan and continued high unemployment will need to be monitored.
Stronger than expected economic data, solid earnings reports, and upward revisions to the Fed's growth forecast propelled the Dow stock index above the 10,000 level for the first time since October 2008. However, these same factors were unfavorable for Austin mortgage rates, and they ended the week modestly higher.
Another good week for the housing market. The S&P/Case Shiller home price index was up for the third month in a row and the rate of annual decline fell for the sixth month in a row! Price increases were reported in 18 of 20 metro areas measured. Many now feel this data indicates the worst of the price declines are behind us. David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor's, said: "These figures continue to support an indication of stabilization in national real estate values."
Earlier today, Consumer Income hit the skids, falling 1.3% while Spending rose .4%. The Income component was the largest monthly decline since January 2005. Pure and simple, it reflects declining wage and salary disbursements.
From our technical view, the chart looks more like “crack the whip” than any type of symmetrical trading. Last Friday caught a bid from month end buying (portfolio extension needs), Monday gave it all back as stocks traded and closed above 1000 on the S & P chart, and today’s rally has been derailed by Pending Home Sales.