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Man looking confusedThe news has been full of articles forecasting a crash in home prices. Mortgage rates have roughly doubled since this time last year which has kept many buyers out of the market. Fewer buyers means less demand and less upward pressure on prices and significantly slowed the number of purchases. So, the talking heads are quick to predict a housing crash is just around the corner. (Some have been predicting a crash since 2017 – it makes good headlines.)

I don’t think we will see a crash any time soon, if ever. Why? While there is definitely less demand, there is still insufficient supply of homes to meet the number of people looking for their first home. The number of people who are at the “prime home buying age” has been steadily increasing. And, new homes are not being built in enough quantity. Additionally, sellers of existing homes are holding off. The high rates would make the mortgage on their replacement home very expensive, too.

The limited supply of homes, even with lower demand, puts a safety net under the market. Prices in some areas may come down a bit (more in the “hot” markets), but the conditions are simply not there for a 2008-style crash. If you are waiting for housing prices to crash and then grab a good deal, you are likely to be disappointed.

House with for sale signWith fewer buyers, there are opportunities to find a home right now without a lot of competition. Even though rates have gone up a lot, they have been coming down in recent weeks, and I predict this trend will continue. And, as rates come down there will be more buyers, once more, chasing after the limited supply of homes. This could cause prices to stabilize and possibly increase by yearend.

This is a perfect time to re-engage in a home search. By spring, the traditional start of the home-buying surge, you might find a lot of other buyers in the market for the home you want.

If you would like to see whether you are qualified for a purchase now, please give me a call. I’m happy to help friends and family, too. There are a number of programs that can make a home more affordable. We can go over the best options for you. Real estate has always been a long-term way to build a solid financial future.

We can get you a loan in California, Florida or Texas. Reverse mortgages too.

Disclaimer: This is my opinion from the data I have examined, but is not intended as financial advice. If you are looking to purchase a property, I would encourage you to work with a professional real estate agent in your area. I can recommend several to you

Credit score documentI can often get borrowers a much better rate if they can just improve their credit scores. There are a number of actions that can improve your score. Most important is to make all bill payments for loans and credit cards on time. I’d be happy to share some other key ways to improve your credit, just give a call.

I’m always available to help you with mortgage, real estate or credit questions. Home financing is a big decision, and I want to help you make the right one.

Sizzling panIf you are looking to buy a home, you probably know that prices are very high. They have increased by 24% in Southern California since last year, with the median home price in LA County at $775,000 (according to the LA Times).

It is still a very competitive market with the buyers out numbering the homes for sale. It has become the norm that the final sales price is often much higher than the listed price. For that reason, it’s very important that you get pre-approved before you even talk to a realtor, so you know how much you can offer. I can get you pre-approved, often for more than you thought. Call me and we can quickly see how much you can buy.

Fortunately, mortgage rates have come back to the low levels seen at the beginning of the year. This definitely makes it easier to qualify for a home purchase, and helps homeowners refinance to get lower payments. Even if you refinanced last year, current lower rates might be a money saver. And folding your high credit card debt into a new loan can actually lower your overall payments. Call me and let’s see how much money you can save.

How Much Will Your Child Tax Credit Be?There are millions of homeowners that are parents waiting for their advance child tax credits to arrive; however, they might not be sure exactly how much money they are going to get. This makes it difficult to set a budget. Some parents could expect to receive $300 per month between now and December. The rest of the credit should arrive after filing their tax returns next year. How much will parents receive?

The Process Of Calculating A Child Tax Credit

Because of recent changes in federal tax laws, the expanded child tax credit has increased the limit from $2,000 (the limit in 2020) to a maximum of $3,600; however, not every parent is going to receive $3,600.

Children under the age of five years are eligible for the maximum amount of $3,600. Children who are in secondary school (between the ages of six and 17 years) are eligible for a maximum payment of $3,000 per child. Children who are 18 years of age or in college full-time (up to age 24) are eligible for a one-time payment of $500 each.

In addition, these payment amounts will vary depending on the adjusted gross income of the family. Keep in mind that these numbers are estimates only and could vary from family to family. Anyone with questions or concerns about how much money they are going to receive should speak with a tax professional for more information.

Will Expanded Child Tax Credits Be Expanded In The Future?

Fortunately, there are online payment portals available, saving families the trouble of filing an amended tax return for these payments; however, will these payments be extended into the future? There is a possibility that Congress could decide to extend the duration of monthly child tax credits in upcoming stimulus bills. With millions of people still collecting unemployment benefits, the government might be forced to extend child tax credits to make life easier for the millions of people who are suffering.

Right now, families should not assume these tax credits are going to get extended until Congress passes formal legislation. While the government might decide to pass another law similar to the American Rescue Plan, passed earlier this year, nothing is guaranteed. Families should budget for this year’s child tax credit accordingly.

Understanding Appraisals and What to Do If Your Home Doesn't Appraise for Its Purchase PriceIt can be a bit of a surprise if your home turns out to be valued at less than the purchase price offered, but this is the type of thing that can occur in an appraisal situation. While this can change everything from your contract to the amount of your down payment if your home has been appraised at less than you envisioned, here are some options you may want to consider.

Review The Appraisal Contingency Clause

If an appraisal contingency clause is built into the terms of your contract, this means that the terms of your contract can be re-evaluated and re-negotiated if an appraisal happens to come up short. While this is meant primarily to protect the homebuyer against a lower appraisal, it doesn't mean that the terms of a new deal can't be met for the good of both parties.

Get A Second Appraisal

It's entirely possible that the initial appraisal is accurate, but it doesn't necessarily hurt to get a second opinion in the event that the first appraisal seems too low. While you can work in conjunction with your lender to get a second appraisal, you may need to pay for it the second time around in order to get your initial purchasing price. Whether it happens to be good news or bad news, it can be worth the peace of mind to know how to proceed.

Consider A Lower Price

It's less than ideal when your home is appraised for less than the purchase price, but this doesn't have to be a deal breaker when it comes to selling it. While you may be able to get away with a higher price for your home in a hot real estate market, if things have cooled off, this can be an important time to re-negotiate the deal you've got. If a potential buyer likes your home and has already made an offer, they may be happy to decide on new contract terms.

It can be quite disappointing if your home is appraised at a value that is less than the offer you've received, but this doesn't necessarily mean that you'll have to put your home back on the market. Whether you and the potential buyer decide to re-negotiate or get a second opinion, there are options that can be beneficial for both parties. If you're currently going through the appraisal process, you may want to contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 7, 2021Last week’s economic reporting included readings on construction spending and public and private-sector employment data. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

Census Bureau Reports Construction Sending Up by 9.8 Percent Year-Over-Year

Construction spending rose by nearly 10 percent year-over-year in April. Overall construction spending rose by $1.542 billion on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Construction spending rose by 0.20 percent in April, which fell short of the expected 0.50 percent reading, and was lower than the March reading of 1.0 percent growth in construction spending.

Residential construction spending increased by one percent in April as compared to the March reading of 2.60 percent. Spending on single-family construction rose by 1.30 percent in April as compared to the March reading of 2.20 percent. Rapidly rising construction costs were fueled by higher lumber costs, but builders said that increasing costs for steel, copper, and plastic also drove higher spending. Builders expect supply chain delays and rising prices to continue impacting all types of construction projects.

Mortgage Rates Inch Up, Jobless Claims Mixed

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week, but average rates remained below three percent. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by four basis points to 2.99 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged  2.27 percent and did not change from the previous week’s reading.  The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was five basis points higher at 2.64 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.20 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 385,000 new claims filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 405,000 initial claims filed. Continuing claims rose to 3.77 million claims as compared to the previous week’s reading of 3.60 million ongoing jobless claims filed.

Jobs Increase as Unemployment Rate Falls

The government’s Non-Farm Payrolls report showed 559,000 public and private-sector jobs added in May; ADP reported 978,000 private-sector jobs added in May as compared to April’s reading of 654,000  private-sector jobs added. The national unemployment rate fell to 5.80 percent in May as compared to April’s reading of 6.10 percent and an expected reading of 5.90 percent. 

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings on inflation and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.

The Pros and Cons of Paying Your Mortgage Bi-weekly Vs. Monthly When applying for a new mortgage or after closing, many may have the option to choose between a single monthly mortgage payment or smaller bi-weekly payments. There are benefits and drawbacks associated with both options, and some personal financial considerations may need to be reviewed in order to make a decision that is best for the individual. With a closer look at the pros and cons of both options, homeowners or home mortgage applicants can make a more informed decision.

Easy Budget Management For Some

With a single monthly mortgage payment, there is often a need for those who get paid two or more times per month to properly budget so that they can comfortably manage the large mortgage payment with all of their other expenses throughout the month. With bi-weekly payments, the two smaller payments may be easier for some who are paid multiple times per month to manage and budget for. When an individual gets paid one time per month, the individual pay prefer to make the single payment each month.

Faster Debt Reduction

With a monthly payment schedule, 12 full payments will be made per year, and this is in contrast to a bi-weekly schedule which will result in the equivalent of 13 full payments being made per year. Essentially, the extra full payment that will be made with a bi-weekly payment schedule will result in faster debt reduction and in greater accumulation of equity over time. This can improve the homeowner's financial standing over time.

Lower Interest Charges Over The Life Of The Loan

Because the principal balance will be reduced at a faster rate over time with bi-weekly mortgage payments, the total interest that is assessed on the loan will be reduced in comparison to monthly payments. Depending on the size of the loan and the interest rate on the loan, this may equate to a savings of tens of thousands of dollars or more in some cases.

Each homeowner's or home applicant's financial situation will be unique, and factors related to income, payment schedule, the desire to increase equity quickly and more should all be carefully considered. Bi-weekly payments often can be established during the loan application process, but they may also be set up after closing. Those who are interested in establishing affordable mortgage payments can speak with a mortgage representative about some of the different options available.

In The Current Housing Market, Prospective Buyers Must Remain PatientThe housing market has been through many ups and downs during the past 12 months. Now, buyers are facing a unique challenge as they try to find the right house in the perfect seller’s market. Right now, real estate is extremely competitive, as low inventory has continued for several months.

As mortgage rates remain low, more people are looking for homes, increasing the competition. Some people are reluctant to sell because they know they will face the same challenges of trying to find a new home themselves. As a result, the housing market has record-low inventory making it difficult for buyers to find the right house in their budget.

Builders Have Not Constructed As Many New Homes

While a reluctance to sell is one reason why the housing market has become competitive, it is not the only one. There has also been a lack of new homes built during the past decade. From 2000 to 2010, builders constructed more than 12.6 million new homes, creating more inventory for those looking to buy. From 2010 to 2020, only 6.5 million new homes were constructed.

This number is significantly lower than the rate of new household formation, which has continued to go up. The result is an extremely competitive market for anyone looking to purchase a house in the current market. While builders are working hard to keep up with demand, it will take some time for them to catch up.

Buyers Must Remain Patient During This Challenge Time

Because the housing market is so competitive, many buyers find themselves facing bidding wars, where multiple buyers make offers on the same home. This drives up the sale price of the house, increasing property values in the surrounding area. This simply makes it more competitive for those still looking to buy.

Therefore, buyers need to remain patient. Low inventory will not remain at a low forever, and builders continue to construct new homes. It takes between four and eight months to build new homes, and more houses will come on the market as families consider moving in the wake of the pandemic. Patience is the key to finding the right home in the current market.

Case Shiller: Home Prices Rise at Fastest Pace Since 2005March readings for S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Indices rose to their highest level since 2005 in March. National home prices rose by 13.20 percent year-over-year as compared to February’s reading of 12.00 percent growth. The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index reported average year-over-year home price gains of 13.30 percent in March. Phoenix, Arizona continued to lead the 20-City Index with a year-over-year home price growth of 20 percent. San Diego, California followed with home price growth of 19.10 percent; Seattle, Washington reported year-over-year home price growth of 18.30 percent.

How the Covid Pandemic Impacted  Home Prices

Real estate pros said that the Covid epidemic continued to impact housing markets as homeowners were more willing to list their homes as Covid cases decreased. Demand for single-family homes increased as homebuyers shopped for larger homes in less-congested metro areas. The pandemic opened more opportunities for working from home, which increased buyer interest in larger homes with amenities including home offices.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, home prices for single-family homes owned or financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose by 12.60 percent from the first quarter of 2020 through the first quarter of 2021.

As Covid cases fall more Americans will either return to their workplaces or re-evaluate their employment and housing situations. Demand for homes will exceed the supply of available homes for the foreseeable future, but the current high demand for homes may soften as families return to work and school and covid-related fears ease.

Home Price Growth May Slow, but Prices Unlikely to Drop

Rapid home price growth is likely to slow as more home sellers and buyers enter the market in the aftermath of the pandemic. Analysts don’t see major dips in home prices as demand continues to exceed supplies of new and previously-owned homes. Homebuilders face ongoing obstacles including labor shortages and rapidly rising materials prices that impact their ability to provide enough homes to meet demand.

Affordable homes are in short supply as pre-owned homes are often subject to bidding wars and cash sales due to buyer competition for fewer available homes. First-time and moderate-income buyers are joined on the sidelines by buyers who depend on mortgages to buy homes; they typically can’t compete with cash sales. As real estate markets return to pre-pandemic conditions, home prices may gradually plateau, but there isn’t much relief in sight for homebuyers needing to finance their home purchases.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 1, 2021Last week’s economic reports included readings on home price growth, new and pending home sales, and inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller Reports Highest Gains in Home Prices Since 2005

March home prices grew at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 13.20 percent according to S&P Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index for March. National home prices gained 12.00 percent year-over-year in February; the corresponding 20-City Home Price Index reported that Phoenix, Arizona held the top spot for home price growth for the 22nd consecutive month; home prices rose by 20.00 percent year-over-year. San Diego, California followed with 19.10 percent growth in home prices, and Seattle, Washington posted year-over-year home price growth of 18.30 percent for third place in the 20-City Home Price Index.

All cities participating in the 20-City Index reported faster growth in March home prices than in February. Rapidly rising home prices pressed new home sales down from the March reading of 917,000 new homes sold to a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 863,000 new homes sold in April. The inventory of new homes for sale dipped to a 3.80 month supply in April as compared to a 4.60 month supply of new homes available in March. Builders faced continuing obstacles including high materials and labor costs that reduced their ability to produce the volume of homes needed to meet ongoing demand.

Pending home sales were -4.40 percent lower in April as compared to expectations of a 1.00 percent increase in pending sales; Pending home sales rose by 1.70 percent in March. High competition for homes and fewer available homes along with higher prices sidelined prospective buyers as affordability concerns increased.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by five basis points to 2.95 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.27 percent and were two basis points lower. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at 2.59 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and  0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.20 percent.

First-time jobless claims fell to 406,000 initial claims filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 444,000 new claims filed. Continuing jobless claims fell to 3.64 million claims filed from the prior week’s reading of 3.74 million continuing jobless claims filed.

Inflation rose by 0.50 percent in April, which matched analysts’ expectations. Core inflation, which excludes food and fuel sectors, rose by 0.70 percent and exceeded expectations of 0.60 percent April. The March reading for core inflation showed 0.40 percent growth. The Federal Reserve has an annual goal of two percent inflation; current readings indicate that inflation may rise above the two percent benchmark if the current pace of inflation continues.

What’s Next

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on construction spending and readings on public and private-sector jobs growth. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be published.



Buying a Home Where Someone Passed AwayA key factor that often drives the sale of new homes versus existing ones tends to be cultural. Rather than being financially-driven or associated with location factors, many homebuyers will steer clear of existing homes where someone has passed away. The primary fear tends to be concerns about a leftover spiritual residual in the home that could affect the new homeowners. Despite the abundance of TV shows about ghost-chasers and similar, the stigma of a dead person’s home has been around for centuries and is still alive and well today.

Understanding Property History

While sellers of existing homes will tend to try to limit or omit discussion about the former occupants, focusing on the property description and details instead, it is never a bad idea to have a grip on the history of a home and the related surrounding location. This applies heavily to homes in older neighborhoods that have been around for decades and may have had already more than one long-term owner. Local news and property records can be searched easily online, providing a basic review of whether anything newsworthy happened at the location, most notably crime.

Crime-affected properties are probably the most challenging given that crimes don’t just close neatly. Details could be hidden that can trigger new investigations decades later and would be very disruptive to the homeowner finding them after a sale. The issue isn’t so much that someone died as the law enforcement process ripping apart everything again looking for evidence. Avoidance is probably a good idea in these cases.

Sickness or Age are Common Cases

The high majority of homes with someone passing away, especially older homes when people passed away with families present, tend to be the usual situation. In these cases the big factor is to make sure you’re comfortable with the home personally. In most cases the house has been emptied, cleaned out, restored and make salable again, so the stigma is not really physical but more about personal preference and comfort. While this article won’t tread into the realm of arguing whether spiritual presence is real or not, how comfortable you are in the home with a past is really what matters the most.

Homes Aren’t the Only Locations With History

Note as well, homes are not the only places with history. If you’ve ever stayed in older hotels, apartments or condominiums, you’ve likely stayed or lived in a location temporarily that may have had an assortment of activity in it before you arrived. Homes have a stigma because it involves a long-term commitment in one place, but people regularly stay in rental locations and vacation spots where life just happens on a regular basis, including someone passing away.

Existing Homes Are Not Perfect, But They Have Character

At the end of the day, if there is a presence in a home you’re uncomfortable with, choose a different location to buy. Trust your gut when walking through a home if you feel something off; chances are you may be picking up something with your senses versus logic and sight. On the other hand, if you like history, an existing home could be an interesting adventure into a life before yours to explore, find out about, and learn more about your community as well. And it could be a rewarding pastime to chase.

Why Refinance

To refinance a mortgage means to pay off your existing loan and replace it with a new one.

There are many reasons why homeowners opt to refinance, from obtaining a lower interest rate, to shortening the term of the loan, to switching mortgage loan types, to tapping into home equity.

Each has its considerations.

Lower Your Mortgage Rate
Among the best reasons to refinance is to get access to lower mortgage rates. There is no "rule of thumb" that says how far rates should drop for a refinance to be sensible. Compare your closing costs to your monthly savings, and determine whether the math makes sense for your situation.

Shorten Your Loan Term
Refinancing your 30-year fixed rate mortgage to a 20-year fixed rate or a 15-year fixed rate is a sensible way to reduce your long-term mortgage costs, and to own your home sooner. As a bonus, with mortgage rates currently near all-time lows, an increase to your monthly payment from a shorter loan term may be negligible.

Convert ARM To Fixed Rate Mortgage
Homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages may want the comfort of a fixed-rate payment. Mortgage rates for fixed-rate mortgages are often higher than for comparable ARMs so be prepared to pay more to your lender each month.

Access Equity For Projects, Debts, Or Other Reasons
Called a "cash out" refinance, homeowners can sometimes use home equity to retire debts, pay for renovations, or use for other purposes including education costs and retirement. Lenders place restrictions on loans of this type.

A refinanced home loan can help you reach specific financial goals or just put extra cash in your pocket each month -- just make sure that there's a clear benefit to you. Paying large closing costs for small monthly savings or negligible long-term benefit should be avoided.

Many lenders offer low or no closing costs options for refinancing. Be sure to ask about it.

Family Matters: How to Choose the Perfect Home for a Large or Growing Family Selecting the right home to purchase for a family is a monumental task, and this process can seem even more challenging for those with a large or growing family. A common goal may be to give everyone ample space to stretch out and feel relaxed, but some home buyers may also be focused on other factors like location, cost and even the general style of the home. While choosing the perfect home for a large or growing family is not easy, the process can be simplified by focusing on a few points.

Focus On Storage Space

There are few things that can make home life more miserable in the coming years than a lack of storage space. When a large family does not have adequate storage space in closets, the attic, the garage and cabinets, their items will likely find a home on the counters, on the floor and in other undesirable locations. Home buyers can consider looking for a home that has more storage space than is needed right now to ensure that the new home can accommodate growing needs over the years.

Think About Function Over Size

Many people who are looking for a new home will focus on finding a home that has a specific minimum square footage or a minimum number of bedrooms, but function is generally more important. For example, if a home has bar-style seating at the kitchen counter, the family may not need as large of a breakfast room to accommodate its needs. The family may also get more use out of a home that has a second living area, such as a game room, rather than a formal dining room that may rarely be used.

Choose The Right Floor Plan

In addition, consider reviewing the floor plan of the home carefully. Many prefer to have the kids' rooms away from the master room, a study placed away from the kids' game room or an open area where the kitchen and family room are connected so that a parent can oversee the kids while making meals. Home buyers should consider how they live and their likes and dislikes about their current space to determine which floor plan is best for them.

Deciding which home to purchase is rarely easy to do, but your trusted real estate professional can assist home buyers with this process. Those who are searching for a new home for a large or growing family can call their local real estate agent for further assistance.

Looking to Close Faster? Follow This Easy Guide to Speeding Up the Mortgage ProcessIf you're buying a home, you'll want to try to get your mortgage processed as quickly as possible. Improperly filed mortgage applications are one of the biggest reasons why home sales get delayed, and if you have a hard move-out date already set, it's critical that your mortgage process goes smoothly.

With careful planning, though, you can shorten the mortgage process and get your financing approved faster. Here's what you need to do to speed up the approval.

Get Your Paperwork in Order Before You Apply

One of the biggest reasons why mortgages get delayed is because the applicant is missing a vital piece of paperwork. Something like a missing pay stub or a forgotten home insurance document can hold up the mortgage process, so make sure you have everything you need before applying for your mortgage.

When you apply for your mortgage, you'll need pay stubs dating back four weeks, plus a bank statement for the last 30-60 days. Note that you'll need the actual statement from your bank – online screenshots don't qualify. You'll also need a homeowner's insurance declaration document and any legal documents pertaining to your finances, like a divorce decree.

Keep Your Finances Consistent Once You've Applied

Once you've started the mortgage approval process it's critical that you keep your finances fairly consistent, as major changes will mean your mortgage lender will need to restart the evaluation process. Try to avoid making larger than usual bank deposits, and don't take out a new loan or credit card. Keep your credit card usage similar to where it's been in the past.

If you do end up making major changes to your finances, make sure you send the proper documentation to your lender as soon as you can. Call ahead of time to make sure you know what you need to send.

Don't Forget to Mention Assets and Debts

Before your mortgage is approved, your lender will want to take a thorough look at your existing debts and assets. If you exclude information, your lender will need to spend extra time untangling the situation and determining your proper finances. Make sure you tell your lender about any and all investment properties you own, mortgages on other homes, or loan and credit card balances that are past due.

Getting a mortgage is a complicated process, but having your documents in order can speed things up and ensure you get your mortgage on time.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 24, 2021Last week’s economic reporting included readings from the National Association of Home Builders, data on sales of existing homes, and reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Unchanged in May

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index reading for May was unchanged from April’s reading of 83. Readings higher than 50 indicate that most home builders were positive about housing market conditions.

Component readings for builder confidence in housing market conditions in May were mixed; builder confidence in current market conditions was unchanged with an index reading of 83; builder confidence in market conditions in the next six months rose one point to 81 and builder confidence in buyer traffic in new single-family housing developments dropped one point to 73. Readings for buyer traffic rarely exceeded 50 before the pandemic.

Robert Dietz, NAHB’s chief economist said that costs of land, labor, and building materials were expected to rise throughout 2021 and would drive home prices higher. Lower interest rates, shortages of pre-owned homes for sale, and interest in relocating to less congested suburban and rural areas continued to increase demand for single-family homes against severe shortages of homes for sale. Rapidly rising home prices squeezed first-time and moderate-income home buyers out of the market and caused some sales to fall through.

Sales of previously-owned homes fell in April and supported concerns about shortages of available homes. 5.85 million homes were sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, which was lower than the expected reading of 6.02 million sales and the March reading of 6.01 million sales of previously-owned homes. Rising home prices and short supplies of homes for sale continued to create high demand for homes.

Housing Starts Fall in April; Building Permits Issued Rise

The Commerce Department reported a sharp decrease in housing starts in April with 1.57 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. March housing starts were revised downward to 1.73 million starts, but this did not affect April’s reading being the highest pace of housing starts since 2006. Housing starts fell in the Midwest and South and rose in the Northeast and West.

Building permits held steady in April at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 1.76 million permits issued. Analysts expected 1.77 million building permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Rise; Jobless Claims Mixed

Mortgage rates rose last week as rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by six basis points to 3.00 percent on average. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.79 percent and were three basis points higher. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at an average rate of 2.59 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.70 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims fell to 444,000 initial claims filed last week from the previous week’s reading of 478,000 new claims filed. Continuing jobless claims rose to 3.75 million claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of  3.64 million ongoing jobless claims filed.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reporting includes readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, data on new and pending home sales, and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.

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