Kathleen "KK" Howley is HousingWire's real estate editor. Previously, she covered housing as a senior contributor for Forbes and a senior reporter and columnist for Bloomberg News. While at Bloomberg, she won the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism for reporting on the 2008 financial crisis. She also won the New York Press Club's Newswire Award for best continuing coverage of a story, and several awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.
A shortage of entry-level homes will stymie the housing market this year, nullifying much of the impact of lower mortgage rates, according to a forecast by Diane Swonk, Grant Thornton chief economist. "The housing market will tread water in 2019 as supply constraints and affordability problems offset any gains from slightly lower mortgage rates," Swonk said.
Housing starts in March fell to the slowest pace in almost two years, according to a report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Commerce. The decline was led by single-family starts while multifamily starts, a category including condominiums and apartments that tends to be more volatile, remained unchanged from the prior month.
Republican tax reform that capped mortgage and property deductions has curtailed the housing market, according to a blog post from economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. While a 7.6% decline in the sales of new single-family homes from 2017’s fourth quarter through the end of 2018’s third quarter could be attributed to a 70 basis point rise in mortgage rates, the drop was larger than periods of similar rate gains in 2013 and 2016.
Homebuilder confidence in the market for new single-family homes rose in April as so-called buyer traffic increased to new developments. The index measuring current sales conditions rose to 69 points from 68, while buyer traffic jumped to 47 from 44. Expectations for the next six months fell to 71 from 72.
About 60% of people looking to buy a home are willing to consider a property that needs renovating as rising prices make it harder to afford a turnkey listing, according to Realtor.com. Most of them were inspired to take on the projects by watching TV home renovation shows on networks like HGTV, according to the report.
Wells Fargo, the biggest U.S. bank originator of mortgages, had its best first quarter in five years without much help from its home-loan business. Look for that to change next quarter, based on the mortgage pipeline Wells Fargo reported. The San Francisco bank said it had $32 billion of unclosed first-lien mortgages that will go on its books in the current quarter, compared with $24 billion it reported for the same period a year earlier.
A rent control battle is fermenting in Boston, 24 years after the practice was abolished in a statewide referendum. Althea Garrison, who became an at-large city councilor in January to replace a member elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in the midterms, introduced a measure this week to cap the amount landlords can charge for apartments.
While members of the Federal Open Market Committee voice a unanimous call for "patience" at the end of their March 20 meeting, details about the meeting released Wednesday showed some dissenting opinions. "Several participants noted that their views of the appropriate target range for the federal funds rate could shift in either direction," the minutes said.
Sellers of houses near or below the U.S. median price of about $250,000 are going to see strong demand in the so-called spring selling season, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. The high end of the market – homes priced above $750,000 – will have a tougher time, he said.
HUD’s objectives are sometimes distributed by factors ranging from politics, socio-economic disparities and even natural disasters. When American homeowners fall victim to any of these elements, HUD is not only there to offer a helping hand, but often serves as the tool that leads to recovery.