Numbers Count: Weekly mortgage data highlights

Mortgage Banking

Numbers count. They matter to bankers and to prospective homebuyers, sellers, and real estate professionals. Here’s my take on the key numbers on the housing market this week.

The numbers: Flying off the shelf

"Sold" sign in foreground with big stately yellow house and trees behind it.Properties in 12 major metro areas are still selling quickly (meaning in less than two months on the market), according to the realtor.com September National Housing Trend Report released Oct. 20. These markets also demonstrate strength in standard economic factors and share unexpected commonalities, including large populations of engineers and Baby Boomers. The 12 markets include: Oakland, where the median listing was 35 days; San Jose and San Francisco, at 36 days; Denver; Washington, DC; Seattle-Bellevue-Everett; Houston; Los Angeles-Long Beach; Austin-San Marcos; Omaha; San Diego; and Melbourne-Titusville-Palm Bay, Florida.

What counts: There are a few things that home buyers in a fast-moving market can do to help improve their odds of getting a house. Here are three tips that may strengthen your offer on a home:

1) Have a mortgage pre-approval from a lender so that any offer you make on a home includes a letter from a lender that supports your ability to get a mortgage.

2) Work with a reputable real estate agent who can advise you on the market.

3) Consider crafting a letter to submit with your offer introducing yourself and why you like the property or the neighborhood. Some buyers overlook the value of a well-thought-out letter. Sellers who are long-time homeowners often want their home to go to a buyer they feel a connection to. Maybe you lived in the area previously, or maybe you want that big backyard for your kids. Details about you and your interest in the property can help round out your financial offer.

U.S. Outlook: Disinflation — what do the tea leaves say?

Chief Economist

Last week we lowered our consumer price inflation forecast for 2015 by half a percentage point to 1.2%.

Graph showing fluctuations in the Import Price Index.Now is a good time to review in more detail what the latest tea leaves are saying about the direction of future U.S. prices.

For more on this and other economic developments to watch, see highlights of my weekly economic analysis below, followed by a link to the full U.S. Outlook report, delivered on Oct. 24.

Key observations:

  • Appreciation of the U.S. dollar is putting downward pressure on import prices.
  • The slowing rate of U.S. inflation (or disinflation) may delay Fed rate hikes until Q3 2015.
  • Bond investors appear to agree that disinflation is in our near future.
  • The Fed needs to be more vigilant against falling prices than rising prices.

Click here to read my full report.