Economic news was impacted by the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday and the Presidential Inauguration on Friday. Readings released included reports on inflation, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and Commerce Department releases on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were released as scheduled.
Home Builder Confidence Dips as Inflation Ticks Upward
The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index dipped from December’s reading of 69 to 67. Ongoing challenges including a short supply of lots for development and inability to hire skilled labor were cited, but builders were also confident that market conditions will improve due to a pro-construction stance in the new administration’s policies.
Inflation rose by 0.10 percent to 0.30 percent in December against expectations that inflation would rise by 0.20 percent. November’s reading was also 0.20 percent. The Federal Reserve has long cited a goal for inflation to reach an annual rate of 2.00 percent; incremental month-to-month increases in inflation will help achieve the Fed’s benchmark. Core Consumer Price Index readings do not include volatile food and energy sectors and held steady with a reading of 0.20 percent, which matched expectations and November’s reading.
Housing Starts Increase as Building Permits Slip
According to the Commerce Department, housing starts rose to 1.226 million against an expected reading of 1.200 million housing starts and November’s reading of 1.292 million starts. Building new homes is a priority for home builders as housing markets have been hampered by a lack of available homes. High demand has driven up home prices in many areas and has caused a great deal of competition in highly desirable metro areas. This has permitted investors and other cash buyers to prevail in home sales where multiple offers were made.
Building permits were lower in December with a reading of 1.210 million permits issued as compared to 1.212 million permits issued in November. Winter weather and holidays likely contributed to the dip in permits issued.
Mortgage Rates Fall for Third Consecutive Week
Mortgage rates fell last week for the third consecutive week. 30-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.21 percent as compared to the prior week’s reading of 3.23 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates averaged three basis points lower at 3.34 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable mortgage rate was two basis points lower at 3.21 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent; average discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent.
New jobless claims fell sharply from 249,000 to 234,000 claims. Analysts had expected a reading of 245,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that layoffs reached their lowest level since the 1970’s. Job security is an important consideration for prospective home buyers; stronger job markets will likely positively impact housing markets.
Next week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on new and existing home sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released as usual.
Many people look at a smaller living space and think that there are a lot of limitations imposed. However, a more miniature home can offer up the opportunity to be inventive with design and get creative about your abode. Whether you live in small apartment now or are thinking of downsizing in the future, here are some ideal ways to make the most of your pint-sized pad.
Invest In Multi-Functional Pieces
It may be nice to have a stylish bar cart or a hefty china cabinet for your space, but there are certain kinds of home items that only serve one function and this is not necessarily useful with limited capacity. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, try purchasing items like a folding table tray that can serve as a coffee table or a bookcase that can hold dishes, books and other household items. This will enable you to maximize the space you have and create a uniquely modern design aesthetic.
Maintain An Organized Space
Every home has a little bit of clutter, but nothing will fill up a comfy space like having a lot of knick-knacks all over the place. Instead of making your home look smaller, ensure that you have vertical storage or closet space that can be effectively used for items that might often be left out. An organized space will not only make for a cleaner, more effortless looking apartment, it will give the allusion that you’ve got a few more square feet than you actually do.
Stick With Neutral Colors
It can be tempting to go with a bright color for an accent wall, but this can actually work against your space and make it look a lot smaller. Instead of something vibrant and eye-catching, stick with a neutral palette and go for shades like white, light grey and light brown so they can naturally expand your space. You can still choose to accent with bright colors, but you may want to leave them to your pillows or a vase so that they don’t take over your space.
It might seem like there are many limitations imposed with a smaller living space, but with so many people downsizing there are a variety of great design possibilities for a less sizeable home. If you’re currently staging your home and are planning to put it on the market, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.
January’s National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index dipped two points from December’s revised reading of 69 to 67; the index reading forecast for January was also 69.Analysts said that January’s reading was the second highest (after December 2016) since the peak of the housing bubble in 2005. January’s dip in builder sentiment was attributed to easing of builder enthusiasm, which spiked right after the U.S. presidential election. To put January’s home builder confidence reading in context, NAHB says that any index reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer have confidence in housing market conditions.
NAHB Sub–Index Readings for January
Three sub-index readings are used in compiling the NAHB Housing Market Index reading. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell three points to 72; builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months fell two points to 76. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments dropped one point to 51.
Builders surveyed continued to cite the cost of new lots for development and the lack of skilled labor as obstacles to higher builder confidence.
After releasing January’s index readings, the NAHB said that while January’s readings were lower than those for December, a majority of builders have expressed confidence that the new administration will reduce regulatory pressure on home builders. NAHB also cited home builder concerns over mortgage rates, which rose nearly a percentage point in November and December before falling. Despite ongoing concerns, builder sentiment has steadily improved over time. On average, builder confidence averaged a reading of 61 in 2016 against 2015’s average reading of 59 and the 2014 average reading of 52.
Builder Outlook Seen as Key to Easing Home Shortage
Real estate and mortgage pros have consistently said that building more homes is necessary to ease the ongoing shortage of available homes. NAHB’s Housing Market Index is closely followed as a benchmark of home builder confidence. Higher builder confidence in current and future housing market conditions is viewed as a potential indicator of home building activity, but housing starts have not been uniformly allied with builder confidence.
Shortages available homes creates high demand creates concerns for potential buyers seeking affordable homes. Rapidly rising home price, particularly in high demand metro areas, have sidelined buyers who cannot compete against buyers making cash offers on homes with rapidly escalating prices.
Many people are aware of the financial commitment that is involved when investing in a home, but what that amounts to is different for every person. From what you can afford to what a lender will allow, there are plenty of details involved in determining the right home for you. If you’re not quite sure what the right price is, here’s how to approach home ownership and determine your debt-to-income.
Calculating Your Debt-To-Income Ratio
You may not know what your DTI ratio is, but it has a lot to with how much home you can afford. In order to calculate this amount, add together all the debts you owe each month and divide them by your monthly pre-tax income. For example, if your credit card is $150 and your rent is $900, your debt amount would be $1050. Divide this amount by your income, say $2500, to get 0.42. This means your DTI ratio is 0.42 or 42%.
What Your DTI Means
While a DTI in the high 20s or low 30s is good, anything that hovers above 43 percent may serve as a red flag to the lender. The lower your DTI ratio is, the more likely it is that a lender will approve your mortgage application since you’ll have the disposable income to deal with financial hurdles. If your dream home has you hovering close to this amount, it may be a sign that it’s a bit out of reach.
How Do You Want To Live?
It’s quite common to be taken over when you find your dream home and decide to commit. However, buying a home is a huge financial commitment, and if you’re buying more than you can afford it may drain your well-being over time. Instead of diving in, determine other expenses that are likely to come up in the next few years, whether it’s travel, a child or a new car. It’s important to have the home you want and budget when buying it, but you’ll still need to financial wiggle room in case something comes up.
There are a lot of factors involved in determining how much house you can afford, but by calculating your DTI ratio and being aware of your spending plans, you’ll be well on your way to an ideal price range.
Last week’s economic reports included readings on job openings, retail sales and consumer sentiment in addition to weekly reports on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s survey of mortgage rates.
Job Openings Hold Steady in November; Quits and Hires Increase
According to the Labor Department, job openings held steady with a reading of 5.50 million openings in November, which matched October’s reading. Hires and quits showed more activity, which analysts deemed a healthy sign for the economy. Workers typically hold on to their current jobs in times of economic uncertainty, while they may be more comfortable with changing jobs in a strong economy. Increased “churn” in terms of quits and hires suggests that workers are gaining confidence in economic conditions and are more willing to change jobs. There were 1.3 unemployed workers for each job opening, which was lower than October’s reading of 1.4 unemployed workers for each job opening.
Retail Sales Higher in December
Retail sales grew by 0.60 percent in December, although analysts had expected o.80 percent growth. November’s reading showed 0.20 percent growth. Retail sales not including the automotive sector grew by 0.20 percent. Analysts had expected a reading of 0.50 percent based on November’s reading of 0.30 percent growth. Year-end promotions and incentives offered by auto dealers likely contributed to December’s increase in retail sales.
Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by eight basis points to 4.12 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates averaged seven basis points lower at 3.37 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were 10 basis points lower at an average of 3.23 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.
New jobless claims were lower than expected last week with a reading of 247,000 new jobless claims. 258,000 new claims were expected based on the prior week’s reading of 237,000 new claims filed. New jobless claims were lower than 300,000 new claims for the 97th consecutive week. The rise in new claims last week was attributed to delays in filing for benefits between Christmas and New Year holidays.
Consumer sentiment dipped in January to an index reading of 98.1 as compared to December’s reading of 98.2 and the expected reading of 98.8.
This week’s scheduled economic releases include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits will be released. Consumer Price Index readings are scheduled along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.