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Please enjoy this quick update on what happened this week in the housing and financial markets.

 

 

  • Activity in the services sector rose slightly in December, climbing to 55 from 53.9 in November, as businesses felt relieved by a partial trade agreement with China.
  • The U.S. trade deficit fell more than expected in November, hitting the lowest level since President Trump took office. A reduced deficit could help employment and improve currency value.
  • Stocks rallied this week as tensions eased between the U.S. and Iran. A flight to safety had helped mortgage rates late last week, seeing rates hit the best levels in a month.

 

 

  • Housing inventory recently hit a 2-yr low, falling by 12% year-over-year in December. The median home list price was $299,950.
  • Freddie Mac has announced a new online homebuyer course, called CreditSmart Homebuyer U. Completing the course satisfies Freddie Mac's homeownership education requirements.
  • Statistics show that new home sales are stronger in growing cities. A recent study by CoreLogic shows states with the largest population growth have the most sales.

 


Please enjoy this quick update on what happened this week in the housing and financial markets.

 

 

  • Rates, including those for mortgage loans, hovered near historic lows in 2019 and helped propel the stock market to record highs. Stocks in 2019 gained almost 29%, the most since 2013.
  • Confidence among consumers climbed to the highest level in 5 months in December, as Americans grew more optimistic about the economy and their personal finances.
  • Jobless claims dropped to a 4-week low at the end of last year, the latest signs that the labor market remains robust. This was the 3rd straight drop in unemployment filings.

 

 

  • The Case-Shiller National Home Price Index rose 3.3% year-over-year in October, rising from September's pace. Prices are 15% higher than the last peak in July 2006.
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency also released data supporting higher home prices, with a 0.2% increase month-over-month in October and a 5% increase year-over-year.
  • Estimated October construction spending of $1.29 billion was 1.1% higher than the previous year. Single-family housing starts were up 2% over September.

 


Please enjoy this quick update on what happened this week in the housing and financial markets.

 

 

  • Orders for durable goods (products designed to last at least 3 years) fell 2% in November from October. This is the biggest month-over-month decline since May.
  • Stock indexes ticked higher in holiday-thinned trading as investors looked ahead to a promised trade breakthrough between the world’s biggest economies in January.
  • Jobless claims fell last week in a sign of ongoing labor market strength. Claims have been volatile in recent weeks around the holiday season and end of the year.

 

 

  • New home sales rebounded in November, suggesting low mortgage rates continued to support the housing market. Sales activity in the prior month was weaker than reported.
  • According to the credit reporting agency Experian, the average American credit score surged to an 8-year high of 682 in 2019, hitting its highest level since 2011.
  • Housing affordability fell slightly in October compared to September, but affordability conditions improved year-over-year. The overall median sales price was $273,600.

 


Please enjoy this quick update on what happened this week in the housing and financial markets.

 

  • A phase one trade deal with China was announced late last week and is expected to be signed in January. Trade talk headlines have caused volatility in mortgage rates.
  • Manufacturing data this week points to increased orders, shipments and work hours for employees. Easing trade tensions likely support a turnaround in manufacturing.
  • Jobless claims dropped from a 2-year high last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength. Claims remain near the lowest levels in about a half century.

 

 

  • Housing starts increased more than expected in November, and permits for future construction hit a 12-1/2-year high. Housing starts jumped 13.6% year-over-year.
  • Despite inventory shortages in some areas and an unexpected dip in November, existing home sales still rose 2.7% from a year ago.
  • Seniors who own a home saw housing wealth grow by 0.3% in the 3rd qtr, equating to $24 billion. The increase brought senior housing wealth to a record high of $7.19 trillion.

 


Please enjoy this quick update on what happened this week in the housing and financial markets.

 

 

  • The Fed kept policy rates unchanged at this week's FOMC meeting and also signaled that rates are unlikely to change in 2020 with moderate economic growth.
  • Consumer prices increased more than expected in November, mainly due to higher gas costs. Price increases drive inflation, which pressures mortgage rates higher.
  • Stocks continue to hit record highs as a phase one trade deal with China seems to be moving closer to completion. If not postponed, more tariffs take effect Dec 15th.

 

 

  • Builders continue to move away from basements. A recent survey shows 60% of new single-family homes in 2018 were built on slab foundations and 14% with a crawl space.
  • Sustainable features are the latest trend to attract buyers. Favorites include low-flow toilets and showerheads; multipane windows; and electric charging stations.
  • First-time buyers are on the rise, up from a year ago. FTB's comprised 39% of all single-family home buyers and 55% of purchase mortgages in the 3rd quarter.

 


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