Last week’s economic reporting included the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index reports on building permits issued and housing starts, The National Association of Realtors® reported on sales of previously owned homes, and weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also published.
NAHB: Builder Confidence Improves in September
The National Association of Home Builders reported an index reading of 80 for its September Housing Market Index. Analysts expected September’s index reading to match August’s reading of 76. Builders continued to face supply chain challenges and labor shortages amid growing concerns over rising home prices and affordability for would-be home buyers.
Component readings for the Housing Market Index also showed rising builder confidence. The index for current housing market conditions rose five points to an index reading of 87; builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months rose three points to 84. The gauge for buyer traffic in new single-family housing developments rose four points to an index reading of 65.
Robert Dietz, the chief economist for the NAHB, said “Policymakers must focus on fixing the broken supply chain. This will spur more construction and help ease upward pressure on home prices.”
Continuing supply chain problems caused some builders to limit building due to concerns over materials costs and availability. Shortages of small and medium homes would cause home prices to rise just as interest rates are expected to rise. These conditions add to concerns over affordability for first-time and modest-income home buyers.
NAHB HMI readings over 50 indicate that most builders surveyed have a positive outlook on housing market conditions.
September sales of previously-owned homes rose to 6.29 million homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to August’s reading of 5.88 million previously-owned homes sold and expectations of 6.10 million previously-owned homes sold. Increasing sales of pre-owned homes indicated that severe shortages of available homes during the pandemic were easing.
Mortgage Rates Rise, Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week as rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.09 percent; rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged three basis points higher at 2.33 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell one basis point to an average rate of 2.54 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Initial jobless claims fell to 290,000 claims filed from the previous week’s reading of 296,000 first-time claims filed. Analysts expected 300,000 first-time claims to be filed. Fewer continuing jobless claims were filed last week; 2.48 million ongoing jobless claims were filed as compared to 2.60 million ongoing jobless claims filed in the previous week.
This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings from S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, reports on sales of new and previously-owned homes, and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be published.