During the first quarter of 2014, 65.5 percent of new and existing homes sold were affordable to a family earning the U.S. median income of $63,900, according to the National Association of Home Builders Opportunity Index. The improvement over the previous quarter was largely due to a dip in the national median home price and the fact that average mortgage rates remained steady during this period. But the slight increase in the number of affordable homes – up from 64.7 percent at the end of last year – is also an encouraging sign for the housing market going into the spring and summer season. David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist, said the first-quarter results are another indicator that this is an opportune time to buy a home, as home prices and mortgage rates are expected to rise through the end of this year and into next. Also in the release, the national median home price fell from $205,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013 to $195,000 in the first quarter of this year. More here.
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After an unexpected spike in December, builder confidence in the market for newly-built, single-family homes fell a point to 56 in January, according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. The index – derived from a monthly survey conducted for the past 25 years – scores builders’ perception of the current market on a scale where any number above 50 indicates more builders view conditions as good than poor. Rick Judson, NAHB’s chairman, said January’s results show that confidence is holding at a solid level. According to Judson, the fact that many markets are showing improvement bodes well for future sales of new homes. Still, all three index components suffered declines in January. The index gauging current sales fell one point to 62, while future sales dropped two and buyer traffic slipped three points. Regionally, the three-month moving averages found the Northeast and West both up four points. The South was unchanged at 56 and the Midwest fell a point to 58. NAHB chief economist David Crowe believes rising home prices, historically low mortgage rates, and significant pent-up demand will continue driving the recovery in the year ahead. More here.
Nationwide, housing and economic activity is 86 percent back to normal, based on current permits, prices, and employment data. In fact, more than 35 percent of all markets tracked by The National Association of Home Builders Leading Market Index are operating at 90 percent or better of their previous normal. The index tracks 350 metro areas across the country and identifies those that are now approaching or exceeding their previous norms. According to the most recent release, 56 out of those 350 have returned to or surpassed their normal levels of economic and housing activity. And nearly half of the improved markets are areas with populations less than 500,000. David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist, said 45 percent of metro areas are recovering at a faster pace than the nation as a whole, with smaller markets leading the way. The results are a good sign that the housing recovery’s progress will continue in 2014. More here.
All three components of the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index improved in December. The three index components, which measure current sales conditions, sales expectations, and traffic of prospective buyers, are scored on a scale where any number above 50 indicates more builders view conditions as good than poor. According to the most recent release, the current-sales component jumped six points to 64, while the index measuring expectations for future sales rose two points to 62 and traffic of prospective buyers increased three points to 44. David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist, said the recent spike in mortgage rates has not deterred consumers, as rates are still near historically low levels. Crowe believes this month’s gain is due, in part, to the release of pent-up demand caused by the uncertainty surrounding October’s government shutdown. Overall, builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved four points to a reading of 58. More here.
The National Association of Home Builders Housing Opportunity Index measures the percentage of new and existing homes that are affordable to families earning their areas’ median income. According to the most recent index, 64.5 percent of homes sold between the beginning of July and the end of September were affordable for a family earning the median U.S. income of $64,400. This is down from 69.3 percent in the second quarter. David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist, said the more than year-long steady increase in home prices is primarily responsible for recent decreases in affordability. According to Crowe – though affordability has come down from its peak in early 2012 – a family earning the median income can still afford a majority of the homes available in the current market. More here.
Builders were slightly less optimistic about the market for newly built, single-family homes in October, according to the National Association of Builders’ Housing Market Index. The Index measures builder confidence on a scale where any number above 50 indicates more builders view conditions as good than poor. In October, the Index fell two points to 55. According to NAHB chief economist, David Crowe, the government shutdown contributed to the slip in confidence. Crowe said the shutdown and uncertainty regarding the nation’s debt limit caused builders and consumers to take pause. Still, the component measuring sales expectations for the next six months posted a reading of 62 and current conditions were scored at 58. Rick Judson, NAHB’s chairman, said builder optimism remains above 50 and there are still signs of pent-up demand in many markets across the country. Judson believes the drop in confidence is due to temporary uncertainty and challenges with regard to cost and availability of labor. More here.
A gathering of economists recently brought together by the National Association of Home Builders forecast continued gains for the housing market, despite obstacles that are impeding its recovery. David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist, said the cards are in play for a decent and fairly strong recovery in 2014 and particularly in 2015. According to Crowe, housing has been growing at two, three, and four times the rate of the rest of the economy in recent quarters. That growth, spurred by a double-digit increase in home prices as well as rising household formations, has led to an increasingly healthy market and optimistic forecasts from experts and analysts. Still, labor shortages, tighter inventory and credit, higher material prices, and inaccurate appraisals are hurting new and existing home sales. And economic uncertainty tied to the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate also threaten housing’s progress. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, feels Congress will resolve these issues quickly but cautions that, if they don’t, it challenges the economic outlook and could result in another recession. More here.