Last week’s economic news included readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, readings on new and pending home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. The holiday break on Thursday and Friday curtailed some economic reports.
Case-Shiller Reports Uptick in September Home Prices
Home prices rose 0.10 percent to a year-over-year growth rate of 3.20 percent in September. Rates of home price growth showed a new geographic trend with smaller cities showing higher home price growth than the coastal cities that dominated rapid home price growth in recent years. Homebuyers seeking affordable options turned inland and southward where home prices are less expensive.
Home prices in Phoenix, Arizona rose 6.00 percent year-over-year in September and claimed the top spot for home price growth in Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index. Charlotte, North Carolina held second place in home price growth with a reading of 4.60 percent year-over-year.
Tampa, Florida rounded out the top three cities with home price growth of 4.50 percent year-over-year. September’s readings indicate slowing home price growth as compared to double-digit growth rates that dominated Case-Shiller Home Price Indices in the past.
Analysts said that while low mortgage rates are helpful to home buyers, strict mortgage requirements and home price growth rates continued to outstrip inflation and wage growth.
New and Pending Home Sales Dip in October
The Commerce Department reported 733,000 sales of new homes in October; this was lower than 738,000 new homes sold in September but exceeded analysts’ forecasts for 705,000 sales. Fewer homes are sold in the fall as peak home-buying season winds down and winter holidays approach; September’s reading for new homes sold was upwardly revised from the original reading of 701,000 new homes sold.
The National Association of Realtors® reported fewer pending home sales in October with a negative reading of -1.70 percent as compared to September’s reading of +1.50 percent. Factors contributing to fewer purchase contracts signed included shortages of available homes and higher mortgage rates in October.
Pending sales are home sales for which purchase offers have been made and the sale is awaiting completion. Pending home sales are a gauge of future mortgage loan volume and completed home sales.
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims
Freddie Mac reported mixed movement on average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.68 percent and were two basis points higher. The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages was unchanged at 3.15 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages rose four basis points to 3.43 percent.
New jobless claims fell sharply last week from 228,0000 claims filed the prior week to 213,000 first-time claims filed last week. The dip in new jobless claims brought last week’s reading near to a post-recession low.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on construction spending, public and private-sector jobs and the national unemployment rate. The monthly reading on consumer sentiment will be released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.