Housing Data Holds Steady, Fed Does too. Home Sales, NAR, New Home Sale, Housing Market, Las Vegas, NVTuesday, October 20th, 2015
Housing Data Holds Steady, Fed Does Too
Long-term housing data stayed solid in the third quarter, although some monthly data was disappointing.
August Housing Starts fell 3 percent from July and failed to meet expectations. Despite the decline, Housing Starts still kept pace above one million for the fifth straight month, signaling significant recovery after the housing bubble imploded in 2008. August Building Permits also were up 3.5 percent from July, reaching 1.17 million units.
August Existing Home Sales, as reported by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), also declined 4.8 percent from July to an annual rate of 5.31 million. This was below the 5.50 million expected. The disappointing drop comes after three straight monthly gains. Year-over-year sales, however, have risen for 11 consecutive months and are 6.2 percent above a year ago.
Finally, August New Home Sales surged to the highest rate since early 2008 and were up nearly 22 percent from August 2014. July’s numbers were also revised higher, signaling continued strength in the U.S. housing market.
FHA Eases Requirements for Some Borrowers
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced over 60 loan guideline changes and clarifications that impact charge-off accounts, late payments, self-employed borrowers who have experienced a drop in income, and more. The changes took effect on September 14, 2015. While the changes are subject to lender approval, some of the new rules may make it easier for borrowers to qualify for an FHA loan.
Fed Held Benchmark Rate Steady
Investors were once again awaiting action from the Federal Open Market Committee meeting in September. Like prior meetings this year, the Fed opted to leave its benchmark Fed Funds Rate alone.
The Fed Funds Rate is the rate at which banks lend money to each other overnight. While this rate is not tied directly to home loan rates, when the Fed Funds Rate rises, home loan and other consumer rates may follow suit, depending on the economy and market conditions.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen said it is unlikely the Fed Funds Rate will be raised at one of its remaining meetings this year. While Gross Domestic Product surged in the second quarter and other key indicators show signs of a strengthening economy, the September Jobs Report was weak.
In the meantime, home loan rates have started this fall near historic lows. But it’s important to stay tuned in to action from the Fed and economic news here at home and overseas—all of which can impact the markets and home loan rates. Stay informed with my next quarterly REALinsight Market Update coming in January.