U.S. Outlook: The housing sector healing continues

Chief Economist

How will the housing sector factor into U.S. economic growth in 2015?

Graph showing upward trend in home-builder confidence.In this week’s Outlook report, we take a closer look at where the housing recovery stands currently, and how essential it is for the economy.

Below are highlights of my weekly economic analysis, followed by a link to the full U.S. Outlook report, delivered on Nov. 21.

Key observations:

  • Mortgage applications, building permits, and existing home sales have had better-than-expected gains.
  • Demand for rental properties has increased dramatically in the last five years.
  • Homebuilder confidence in the West appears to be back on track.
  • One factor is still holding back demand for homeownership.

Click here to read my full report. (NOTE: There will not be an Outlook report next Friday. Happy Thanksgiving!)

Numbers Count: Weekly mortgage data highlights

Posted by Chad Royle
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.

Large brick home with snow-covered front yard.The numbers: Winter buying

Mortgage applications for the week ending Nov. 14 increased 4.9% from one week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey released Nov. 19. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, rose 4.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. The Refinance Index increased 1% and the Purchase Index increased 12% from one week earlier.

What counts: This jump in mortgage applications is a reminder that homes are still selling heading into winter. Here are a couple of winter home-buying tips:

1) If you’re house hunting now, keep in mind that in many markets listings dwindle the deeper we get into the snow and ice of winter. Also, in some markets there is a pre-holiday surge in closings as people hurry to buy and move into their homes before the holidays. This can make bidding a bit more competitive than buyers might expect this time of year.

2) Counter-balancing the potential pre-holiday pressure from buyers is potential seller motivations. Frequently, people listing their homes in the off-season need to move and are motivated to sell. Talk to your real estate agent to learn the sellers’ motivations if you are considering making an offer on a home. Perhaps they want a speedy close, and you can craft an offer that appeals to that type of motivation.