Monday Morning Cup of Coffee is a quick look at the news coming across the HousingWire weekend desk, with more coverage to come on bigger issues.
It’s that most wonderful time of the year. Industry forecasts are starting to roll in. Coming soon, HousingWire will have an exclusive preview of the first official forecast from Realtor.com’s chief economist, Jonathan Smoke.
But in the meanwhile, via Calculated Risk, it looks like most analysts are optimistic for 2015 so far.
As an added bonus, to look back at how these same prognosticators did in 2014, Bill McBride has put together a round up summary of their forecasts for 2014.
As for how 2014 will close, he offers this:
In 2014, new home sales will be around 440 thousand, and total housing starts will be close to 1 million. No one was close on New Home sales (all way too optimistic), and Michelle Meyer (Merrill Lynch) and Fannie Mae were the closest on housing starts (about 10% too high).
In 2014, many analysts underestimated the impact of higher mortgage rates and higher new home prices on new home sales and starts.
Speaking of mortgage rates, they dropped below 4% last week and the National Association of Realtors isn’t letting that opportunity go to waste. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.99% this week.
“If you are planning to buy a home in the next year, it’s better to do it sooner rather than later,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said.
Last week in the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., kicked off a raucous discussion of the merits or drawbacks of the Federal Housing Finance Agency pursuing principal reduction for homeowners in trouble.
Now the Los Angeles Times wonders whether the mortgage giants are softening in their hard stance against principal reduction, examining a case there and wondering if it’s a one-time deal or a new direction under FHFA Director Mel Watt.
On Friday, the Coronels, now living on Social Security and Jaime's pension as a union laborer, will throw a party to celebrate another Fannie Mae concession that lets them buy back their home for $280,000, far less than the $400,000-plus debt that had gone into default. The effect of the deal was to reduce the principal owed by the Mexican immigrants, enabling them to qualify for a new mortgage.
At HousingWire, this Thanksgiving week, we’re thankful for the ton of housing industry metrics that will be out this week.
Tuesday is the FHFA’s house price index. The FHFA purchase only house price index made a comeback with a 0.5% gain in August, following rise of 0.2% in July. August posted above market expectations for a 0.3% gain. The year-ago rate firmed to 4.8% from 4.6% in July. Regionally, seven Census regions reported gains in August while two declined.
The FHFA HPI covers single-family housing, using data provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The House Price Index is derived from transactions involving conforming conventional mortgages purchased or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Also Tuesday is the competing S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index (SA) contracted for a fourth straight month in August in Case-Shiller 20-city data, down 0.1%. Prices declined in 12 of the 20 cities, not much improved from July when prices declined in 13 of the 20 cities. Contraction in the August data was most severe in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Detroit with Chicago and Minneapolis also posting very soft year-on-year rates of only plus 2.9% and plus 3.9%, respectively.
The total year-on-year adjusted rate fell sharply, to plus 5.6% from plus 6.7 and 8.0% in the two prior months and a positive low double-digit trend going back to the beginning of last year. The 5.6% rate is the lowest since November 2012.
The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index tracks monthly changes in the value of residential real estate in 20 metropolitan regions across the U.S. The composite indexes and the regional indexes are seen by the markets as measuring changes in existing home prices and are based on single-family home re-sales.
Wednesday will see new home sales. New home sales have been volatile in recent months but saw back-to-back gains in August and September despite a large jump in August which suggested some comeback the next month. However, there was a dip from the initial August estimate. New home sales, at a 467,000 annual rate, managed to top August's great surge but only after August was revised sharply lower, from 504,000 to 466,000. Still, September's 467,000 rate was the best of the recovery, going back to July 2008 with August's 466,000 right behind in second place. Supply was stable in the report with 207,000 new homes on the market versus 204,000 in August while supply relative to sales is unchanged at 5.3 months.
Also Wednesday, it will be the NAR pending home sales index release. The pending home sales index has been pointing to continued modest growth in sales. Pending home sales were up 0.3% in September after a 1% drop in August. This was a small gain but nevertheless hints at growth ahead for existing home sales, final sales of which have been up-and-down all year.
Looking at pending sales, which are defined as contract signings, strength was led by a 1.4% rise in the South which is by far the largest housing region and the region where sales have been strongest. Right behind at plus 1.2% was the Northeast with the Midwest and West both showing declines at minus 1.2% and minus 0.8%. One subtle plus in the report was the year-on-year trend which, after spending most of the year in the minus column, was back on the plus side at 1.0%, modest but a move in the right direction.
No banks were closed for the week ending Nov. 21, according to the FDIC.