Tucson Mortgages Home Loan News 1-25-2021

By Todd Abelson NMLS #180858 on .

Week of January 18th, 2021 in Review

Nearly a year into the pandemic, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time remains elevated, unfortunately, as Initial Jobless Claims were reported at 900,000 in the latest week. While the number of people continuing to receive regular benefits, Pandemic Emergency benefits or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits did each decline, the drops were likely due to benefits expiring rather than people finding employment.

The housing market continues to be a bright spot in our economy, with homes in high demand around the country. Existing Home Sales, which measures closings on existing homes, were up 0.7% from November to December and 22% year over year. Sales would be even higher if there was more inventory, which currently sits at a record-low of just a 1.9 months’ supply. Typically, a 6-months’ supply is reflective of a healthy housing market.

However, there was some good news for homebuyers on the inventory front. Housing Starts, which measure the start of construction on homes, were up 5.8% in December, much stronger than expected. Perhaps even more importantly, starts on single-family homes (which are in especially high demand) were up 12% from November to December and nearly 28% year over year. Building Permits, which are a good future indicator of Housing Starts, were also up in December.

While builder confidence fell in January due in part to concerns about a changing regulatory environment, sentiment remains at a strong level. The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, which is a real-time read on builder confidence, fell 3 points from December’s revised figure of 86 to 83 in January. However, any number over 50 signals expansion so this is still a positive reading.

Lastly, there was some good news from the manufacturing sector, as the Philadelphia Fed Index was reported at 26.5 for January, which was much higher than expected.

 

Initial Jobless Claims Remain Elevated

Another 900,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time during the week ending January 16. While this was a decline of 26,000 from the previous week, Initial Jobless Claims remain extremely elevated nearly a year into the pandemic.

Continuing Claims, which are delayed a week and which measure people who continue to receive benefits, also declined by 127,000 to 5.1 million.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Claims, which provides benefits to people who would not usually qualify, dropped by 1.7 million after falling 941,000 in the previous week. That figure now stands at 5.7 million. Pandemic Emergency Claims, which extends claims by 13 weeks after regular benefits expire, decreased by 1.4 million to 3 million.

Unfortunately, with the surge in COVID cases around the country, the declines are likely due to benefits expiring. However, it’s unclear if people will be able to reapply as some of these benefits have been extended in the latest stimulus package. It will be important to monitor if these declines are temporary in upcoming Jobless Claims reports in the weeks ahead.

 

Inventory of Existing Homes Hits Record Low

 Existing Home Sales, which measures closings on existing homes, were up 0.7% from November to December, which was stronger than expectations of a 2% drop. Sales were also up 22% year over year.

Low inventory remains the biggest challenge for homebuyers, as there were only 1.07 million homes for sale at the end of December, equaling a record low of just a 1.9-months’ supply. This lack of supply helped homes sell fast in December, as they averaged just 21 days on the market, while foot traffic was up 24% year over year.

First-time buyers accounted for 31% of sales in December, down slightly from 32% in November. All-cash sales decreased from 20% in November to 19% in December, but still remain at a high level.

The median home price was $309,800, up 12.9% from December 2019. Note, this is not the same as appreciation. It simply means half the homes sold were above that price and half were below it. In December, sales of lower-priced homes were down 15%, while sales of homes above $1 million were up 90%. This dragged the median home price higher.

 

Strong Housing Starts a Good Sign for Low Inventory

Housing Starts, which measure the start of construction on homes, were up 5.8% from November to December, much stronger than the 0.8% gain expected. Starts were also up 5.2% compared to December of last year.

Perhaps even more importantly, starts on single-family homes were up 12% from November to December and nearly 28% year over year. This rise in starts will certainly help with the many homes that have been contracted but not built yet. And while more building is needed, the increase in starts is a positive step in the right direction to help with the low inventory challenges that persist around the county.

Building Permits, which are a good future indicator of Housing Starts, were also on the rise, up 4.5% from November to December and 17.3% year over year. Again, there was good news when it comes to permits for single-family homes, as they rose nearly 8% from November to December and 30.4% year over year.

 

Homebuilder Confidence Declines But Remains Strong

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, which is a real-time read on builder confidence, fell 3 points from December’s revised figure of 86 to 83 in January.

However, when we look at this number in context, it’s important to note that any reading above 50 signals expansion so confidence remains at extremely high levels overall. In addition, there are only three other readings higher over the past year, 85 in October, 90 in November and 86 in December. The reason for the drop in January is that builders are concerned about a changing regulatory environment.

All three components of the index declined in January, but they remain over 50 and in expansion territory. Current sales conditions fell two points to 90, sales expectations in the next six months dropped two points to 83, and prospective buyer traffic declined five points to 68.

 

Family Hack of the Week

If you’re looking for a fun and unique activity to do with your kids this winter, this easy to make ice lantern from Parents.com is sure to be a hit!

First, help your kids attach a balloon to a faucet and slowly fill it with water. Tie the balloon once it’s mostly filled. If you don’t have any balloons on hand, a bowl or bucket can work as well.

Next, place the balloon in your freezer, or outside if temperatures are below freezing. Set a timer and check the balloon with your kids ever two hours until the outer shell is frozen but a cavity of water remains in the middle. Depending on the temperature this may take six to eight hours, so a countdown clock could also be fun to watch during the day.

Once the outer shell is frozen, place the balloon in the sink and then cut it away. Help your kids turn the globe over to pour out the water.

After it gets dark, place an LED light or candle in the cavity of the globe and then put the globe outside on your porch. The globe should last several hours, depending how cold it is outside.

 

What to Look for This Week

More housing news is ahead this week, beginning Tuesday with November’s home price appreciation data from both the Case-Shiller Home Price Index and the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index. December’s New Home Sales data follows on Thursday and Pending Home Sales will be reported on Friday.

The first Federal Open Market Committee meeting of the year begins Tuesday, with the policy statement to follow on Wednesday, which always has the potential to move the markets. Wednesday also brings news on Durable Goods Orders for December.

On Thursday, the latest Jobless Claims figures remain crucial to monitor while we’ll also get a look at fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product.

Inflation news ends the week on Friday when December’s Personal Consumption Expenditures is released, along with data on Personal Income and Personal Spending. We’ll also get an update on regional manufacturing with the Chicago PMI for January.

 

Technical Picture

The Fed continues to provide stability to the markets with its ongoing purchases of Mortgage Backed Securities. Mortgage Bonds remain in a range between support at the 103.053 Fibonacci level and a ceiling of resistance at the 100-day Moving Average.

Todd Abelson - Tucson Mortgages

Tucson Mortgages Home Loan News 1-18-2021

By Todd Abelson NMLS #180858 on .

Week of January 11th, 2021 in Review

Jobless Claims continue to move in the wrong direction, as another 965,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time during the week ending January 9. This was well above estimates and, unfortunately, around five times the number of Initial Jobless Claims that were being filed each week before the pandemic began.

Inflation also made headlines, as it remained tame overall at both the wholesale and consumer levels in December per the latest Producer and Consumer Price Index reports. At the consumer level, Core CPI, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, was up only 0.1% from November to December while the year over year reading remained stable at 1.6%. Read on to learn why inflation data is critical to monitor when it comes to home loan rates.

The pandemic continues to impact manufacturers and retailers around the country. The Empire State Index (which shows the health of the manufacturing sector in the New York region) came in below expectations in January while December Retail Sales fell by 0.7% versus expectations of a 0.1% loss. Retail Sales in November were also revised lower by 0.3% to a loss of 1.4%.

Following suit, the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Index dropped 5.5 points in December to 95.9, which is a 7-month low. Most of the categories were lower, with those who expect a better economy falling 24 points to -16.

NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said, “Small businesses are concerned about potential new economic policy in the new administration and the increased spread of COVID-19 that is causing renewed government-mandated business closures across the nation.”

Plans for more stimulus are on the horizon, however. President-elect Biden released details for the American Rescue Plan, which are highlighted below.

 

Initial Jobless Claims Well Above Estimates

Another 965,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time during the week ending January 9, which was well above estimates of 765,000 claims and an increase of 181,000 from the previous week. California (+161K), New York (+56K) and Illinois (+45K) reported the largest increases.

Putting this into perspective, Initial Jobless Claims were around 200,000 a week pre-COVID, meaning claims are almost five times that amount nearly a year into the pandemic

Continuing Claims, which are delayed a week and which measure people continuing to receive benefits, increased by 199,000 to 5.3 million.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Claims, which give benefits to people who would not usually qualify, dropped by 941,000 to 7.4 million. Pandemic Emergency Claims, which extends claims by 13 weeks after regular benefits expire, also decreased by 325,000. Unfortunately, these decreases are likely due to benefits expiring rather than people finding employment.

 

Inflation Tame Overall in December

The Producer Price Index (PPI), which measures wholesale inflation, rose by 0.3% in December, which was lower than market expectations of 0.4%. On a year over year basis, headline PPI remained stable at 0.8%. Core PPI, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, was up 0.1% for the month and decreased from 1.4% to 1.2% year over year.

On the consumer side, inflation was up 0.4% from November to December per the Consumer Price Index report. The year over year reading increased from 1.2% to 1.4%. About 60% of the rise was due to gasoline prices.

The Core Reading, which again strips out volatile food and energy prices, was up only 0.1% from November to December while the year over year reading remained stable at 1.6%. The services sector has been hit especially hard by the pandemic, and when we take service inflation out of the picture, goods prices were up 1.7% year over year – the fastest pace since April 2012. This is because of supply chain issues companies are having, which is causing the cost of goods to rise.

Also of note, rents are rising 2.3% across the US, which is down from 2.4% from the previous month. While many markets are seeing rents rise at a faster pace, some of the major cities are seeing sharp declines, which is dragging down the overall figure.

Inflation is always important to monitor because it erodes the buying power of a Bond’s fixed coupon over time. This means that rising inflation can cause Bonds to worsen or move lower. Home loan rates are inversely tied to Mortgage Bonds, so when Bonds worsen, home loan rates can rise. Though many factors influence the markets, tame inflation can benefit Mortgage Bonds and help home loan rates remain low.

 

Highlights of Proposed Stimulus Plan

President-elect Biden released details for the American Rescue Plan. Among the highlights, his plan includes direct payments of $1,400. This would give many recipients a total of $2,000 when the amount is added to the $600 direct payments that were included in the bill which recently passed.

The boost to unemployment benefits would increase $400 (up from $300) through September. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Emergency claims would also be extended through September, after being previously extended to March in December’s package.

Minimum wage would also be increased to $15 per hour.

The proposal also includes another $25 billion to help renters (which is in addition to the $25 billion provided in December) and an extension of the eviction and foreclosure moratorium through September. People would also be able to apply for forbearance through the end of September.

Lastly, the proposal would expand the Child Tax Credit as well as make it refundable for the year.

 

Family Hack of the Week

Winter is the perfect season for baking. This easy homemade banana bread recipe is sure to become a family favorite.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Flour and butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup dried cranberries, 1 cup walnuts and 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture, and toss to coat.

Beat 1/2 cup unsalted butter in a stand mixer on medium until butter is fluffy. Slowly add 1 cup sugar and beat until well blended. Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time. Mash 2 ripe bananas in a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat banana mixture into butter, sugar and eggs. Slowly add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just blended. Be careful not to overmix.

Pour 1/3 of the batter into the loaf pan. Sprinkle in half of the nut mixture. Add another 1/3 of the batter. Add the remaining nut mixture and then cover with remaining batter. Run a fork through the mixture to combine, and then across the top to flatten it.

Bake for one hour or until toothpick inserted into loaf comes out clean. Turn out on to a rack, and cool for 30 minutes. Slice and enjoy!

 

What to Look for This Week

After the market closures Monday in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, housing news dominates the second half of the week.

On Wednesday, we’ll get a real-time read on builder confidence with the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for January, while Thursday brings news on Housing Starts and Building Permits for December. Ending the week on Friday, we’ll get the details on December’s Existing Home Sales.

Also of note, the latest Jobless Claims figures will be important to evaluate when they’re released on Thursday. Plus, Thursday also brings an update on regional manufacturing with the Philadelphia Fed Index.

 

Technical Picture

The Fed’s ongoing purchases of Mortgage Backed Securities continues to provide stability to the markets. After the morning star pattern and positive stochastic crossover, Mortgage Bonds remain in a range between a floor of support at the 200-day Moving Average and resistance at the 103.053 Fibonacci ceiling.

 

Todd Abelson - Tucson Mortgages

Tucson Mortgages Home Loan News 1-11-2021

By Todd Abelson NMLS #180858 on .

Week of January 4th, 2021 in Review

The spike in COVID cases continues to impact people and businesses around the country, causing job losses nationwide in December.

The closely watched Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed that there were 140,000 job losses in December, which was a lot lower than the 65,000 job gains that were expected. The Unemployment Rate remained unchanged at 6.7%, but there has been a lingering misclassification error that’s important to note, as explained below. The news wasn’t any better for private payrolls, as the ADP Employment Report for December showed a loss of 123,000 jobs in the private sector, which was below estimates.

Initial Jobless Claims declined by 3,000 in the latest week, as another 787,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time. However, the decline may have been due in part to people not filing for benefits during the New Year’s holiday week. Continuing and Pandemic Claims declined as well, but unfortunately these declines are most likely due to benefits expiring rather than people finding employment.

The housing market remains a bright spot in our economy, as home prices continue to show strong appreciation gains. Home prices increased 1.1% from October to November and 8.2% compared to November of last year per CoreLogic’s Home Price Index report. Within the report, the hottest markets were Phoenix (+12.6%), San Diego (+9.5%), and Washington DC (+8.2%).

Lastly, the minutes from the Fed’s December meeting were released. Of note, the Fed left open the possibility of additional Mortgage Bond and Treasury purchases. They also noted that whenever they do cut back on their purchases, they would follow what they did in 2013 and 2014 and taper them slowly to not shock the market.

 

December Saw Job Losses Versus Expected Gains

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a loss of 140,000 jobs in December, below expectations of 65,000 job gains. Understandably, the leisure and hospitality sector was hit hard due to closures and tightening pandemic restrictions.

Note that there are two reports within the Jobs Report and there is a fundamental difference between them. The Business Survey is where the headline job number comes from and it’s based predominately on modeling.

The Household Survey, where the Unemployment Rate comes from, is done by actual phone calls to 60,000 homes. It showed that the Unemployment Rate remained unchanged at 6.7%, but there has been a lingering misclassification error where people were classified as absent from work for other reasons and not marked as unemployed on temporary layoff when they should have been. Without this error, the unemployment rate would have been 0.6% higher or 7.3%.

The all in U6 Unemployment Rate, which includes total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, decreased from 12% to 11.7%.

Average hourly earnings increased from 4.4% to 5.1% year over year. Average weekly earnings, which we focus on more, rose from 5.9% to 6.3%.

Why do we focus on weekly earnings more?

Weekly earnings measure what people actually take home. The current data shows that this level of income can support much greater levels of appreciation than we are currently seeing without homes being unaffordable. Think of it this way. People don’t use their entire income for their mortgage payment, so the weekly earnings figure does not have to rise at the same pace as appreciation, which is currently around 8% nationwide as noted below.

 

Private Payrolls Decline in December

The ADP Employment Report, which measures private sector payrolls, showed that there was a loss of 123,000 jobs in December, which was below expectations. In addition, November’s report was revised slightly lower by 3,000 jobs, decreasing November’s job gains from 307,000 to 304,000.

Breaking down the numbers, small businesses (1-49 employees) lost 13,000 jobs, mid-sized businesses (50-499 employees) gained 37,000 jobs, and large businesses (500 or more employees) lost 147,0000 jobs.

 

Jobless Claims Decline For Wrong Reason

Another 787,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time during the week ending January 2, which is a decline of 3,000 claims from the previous week. However, it’s important to note that this data encompasses New Year’s week, so many people may not have been filing for claims.

Continuing Claims, which are delayed a week and which measure people continuing to receive benefits, declined by 126,000 to 5.072 million. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Claims (which gives individuals benefits who would not usually qualify for them) also dropped by 70,553 to 8.383 million while Pandemic Emergency Claims, (which extends claims by 13 weeks after regular benefits expire) decreased by 293,000.

Unfortunately, these declines are most likely due to benefits expiring rather than people finding work, as the spike in COVID cases continues to impact businesses and people across the country.

 

Strong Home Price Gains Continue

CoreLogic’s Home Price Index report showed that home prices increased 1.1% from October to November and 8.2% compared to November of last year. This is a significant gain from the 7.3% annual number reported for October. Within the report, the hottest markets were Phoenix (+12.6%), San Diego (+9.5%), and Washington DC (+8.2%).

In addition, lower-priced home values increased by about one and a half times faster than higher-priced home values, as that’s where the greatest level of demand is.

CoreLogic forecasts that home prices will rise 0.2% in December and 2.5% in the year going forward, which is better than the 1.9% annual forecast in the previous report. Remember, not that long ago they were expecting a 6.6% decline in home prices

 

Home Hack of the Week

The new year is the perfect time to declutter and start fresh. If you’re wondering how and where to begin, here’s an easy system from our friends at the Spruce that can help you get started and stay focused.

First, create a schedule and plan to tackle one room or area of a room at a time. You can even list 15-minute, 30-minute, 60-minute and longer projects, so you can handle things as you’re able.

Next, gather three boxes and label them as follows:

Donate. This is where you’ll place anything you plan to give away. Tape a piece of paper on the box and note any additional items that are too large to fit inside.

Repair. If you find items that need to be mended or fixed, store them here until you have time to take care of them. This will help you stay focused on the room at hand.

Put Away. As you’re sorting through items in one room, you’re bound to find things that belong elsewhere. Save yourself repeated trips around the house. Place those items in this box and wait to put everything away until you’ve completed the project you’re working on.

This time-saving process can help you quickly organize your home and make the most of your space.

 

What to Look for This Week

On Tuesday, we’ll get an update on how confident small businesses were feeling in December with the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Index.

Wednesday brings the first of two key inflation reports as the Consumer Price Index for December will be reported. The Producer Price Index, which measures wholesale inflation, follows on Friday.

On Thursday, the latest Jobless Claims figures remain crucial to monitor. Then Friday brings the latest news on how retailers fared with December’s Retail Sales. We’ll also get a manufacturing update for the New York region with January’s Empire State Index.

 

Technical Picture

The Fed’s ongoing purchases of Mortgage Backed Securities continues to provide stability to the markets. After testing all-time highs, Mortgage Bonds broke through key floors of support at their 25-day, 50-day and 100-day Moving Averages. They remain in a range between a ceiling of resistance at their 100-day Moving Average and the 103.05 Fibonacci floor.

 

Todd Abelson - Tucson Mortgages

Tucson Mortgages Home Loan News 1-4-2021

By Todd Abelson NMLS #180858 on .

Week of December 28th, 2020 in Review

The economic calendar was relatively quiet during the last week of 2020, but there was important data from the housing and labor sectors before we rang in the New Year.

Initial Jobless Claims declined by 19,000 in the latest week, with 787,000 people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time. Continuing and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Claims also declined but unfortunately, the declines may be for the wrong reason as noted below.

Home prices continue to appreciate nationwide, per the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which showed that home prices rose 8.4% on an annual basis in October. This was up from an already strong reading of 7.0% in September. Phoenix (+12.7%), Seattle (+11.7%) and San Diego (+11.6%) reported the highest annual gains among the 20 cities.

Home prices have appreciated in part due to low inventory and this lack of supply has also impacted sales. Pending Home Sales, which measures signed contracts on existing homes, came in below expectations, falling 2.6% from October to November. Perhaps more significantly, sales were 16.42% higher than November of last year – even though the supply of existing homes is down 22% over that same period.

Quite simply, if more homes were available, there would be more signed contracts and more sales.

Lastly, the government began sending the second round of stimulus payments to qualified recipients as part of the latest COVID relief package that was signed into law.

 

Jobless Claims Decline in Latest Week … But Why?

Another 787,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time during the week ending December 26, which is a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week.

Continuing Claims, which are delayed a week, also decreased, falling by 103,000 to 5.2 million. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Claims declined as well, dropping by 811,000 to 8.5 million. Remember that when regular benefits expire, people can file for pandemic unemployment assistance, which extends their benefits for another 13 weeks.

Unfortunately, the decrease in these claims is likely due to benefits expiring rather than people finding employment.

 

Home Prices Continue to Appreciate

The Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which is considered the “gold standard” for appreciation, showed that home prices rose 8.4% on an annual basis in October nationwide. This was up from an already strong reading of 7.0% in September.

The 20-city Index rose at the quickest pace in six years, rising from 6.6% to 7.9% year over year, with all of the cities showing strong gains. Phoenix (+12.7%), Seattle (+11.7%) and San Diego (+11.6%) reported the highest annual gains among the 20 cities.

The national reading of 8.4% is an extremely strong reading for appreciation. Look at it this way. Someone buying a $300,000 home that gains 8.4% in appreciation would benefit by just over $25,000 in just one year on appreciation alone. The equity gain with amortization would be even greater.

 

Low Inventory Impacts Pending Home Sales

Pending Home Sales, which measures signed contracts on existing homes, were down 2.6% in November from October. This was lower than the 0.3% drop expected, but sales are still up 16.42% year over year.

It’s important to note that the month-over-month decline was not due to a lack of demand, but a lack of supply, as the supply of existing homes is down 22% compared to November of last year.

Quite simply, if there were more homes on the market, there would be even more sales. Nonetheless, it is still impressive that sales are up 16.42% year over year with inventory down 22% through that same period.

 

Family Hack of the Week

Finding a snack that’s both healthy and delicious may seem like a challenge, but this homemade granola bar recipe from Allrecipes makes it easy. Plus, it’s a fun recipe to make if you’re looking for a cooking project to do as a family.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish.

Spread 2 cups of rolled oats and 1/2 cup of shredded coconut evenly on a baking sheet. Toast until browned, approximately 10 minutes, and then transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Mix 1/2 cup honey, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook and stir until smooth and then pour over the oats and coconut. Stir to coat. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish.

Bake until granola bars begin to dry. For crunchy granola bars, about 15 minutes, for chew granola bars about 10 to 12 minutes.

Cool completely before cutting and then enjoy!

 

What to Look for This Week

News from the labor sector dominates the first full week of the new year. On Wednesday, we’ll get an update on private payrolls with the ADP Employment Report for December. Thursday brings the latest weekly Jobless Claims figures, as usual. And on Friday, we’ll get the highly anticipated Bureau of Labor Statistics Jobs Report for December, which includes Non-farm Payrolls and the Unemployment Rate.

There will also be an update Tuesday on manufacturing with the ISM Index for December.

 

Technical Picture

The Fed’s ongoing purchases of Mortgage Backed Securities continues to provide stability to the markets. Mortgage Bonds have tested their all-time high at 103.953 and remain just below this tough ceiling of resistance.

 

Todd Abelson - Tucson Mortgages

Tucson Mortgages Home Loan News 12-28-2020

By Todd Abelson NMLS #180858 on .

Week of December 21st, 2020 in Review

The spike in COVID cases continues to impact businesses and employees around the country, as another 803,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time during the week ending December 19. However, this was a decline of 89,000 from the previous week. The number of people continuing to receive benefits also declined but remains at a staggering 5.3 million.

In the housing sector, sales of both new and existing homes fell from October to November, but both were much higher compared to November of last year, up nearly 21% and 26% respectively. Low inventory remains the biggest challenge for buyers, with inventory of existing homes reaching a record-low of just a 2.3 months’ supply, while just a 4.1 months’ supply of new homes were available.

This lack of supply has helped home prices appreciate. Prices for single-family homes with conforming loan amounts were up 1.5% from September to October and 10.2% annually per the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). The housing sector has been a bright spot in our economy this year.

Inflation remains tame as the Fed’s favored measure of inflation, Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), was flat in November and fell from 1.2% to 1.1% year over year.

Core PCE, which strips out volatile food and energy prices and is the Fed’s real focus, was also flat in November and remained stable at 1.4% on an annual basis. Remember inflation reduces the value of fixed investments like Mortgage Bonds. Since home loan rates are tied to Mortgage Bonds, it’s always important to keep a look out for news that inflation is on the rise.

The final estimate of third quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) came in at 33.4% on an annualized basis, which was slightly higher than the 33.1% expected. While this was a solid rise, remember that it follows a 31.4% drop in the second quarter. GDP would have to increase 50% to make back what was lost. And with the recent spike in COVID cases, fourth quarter GDP may not be as strong as was hoped.

Lastly, after months of negotiation, Congress passed a $900 billion stimulus deal. Read on below for some highlights of what’s included.

 

Initial Jobless Claims Decline in Latest Week

Another 803,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time during the week ending December 19, which was a decline of 89,000 from the previous week. Continuing Claims, which measures people who continue to receive benefits, also decreased by 170,000 to 5.3 million.

In addition, it’s important to note that people can file for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) once their regular benefits expire, which extends their benefits for another 13 weeks. These claims remained relatively stable in the latest week but are still at elevated levels.

Despite the weekly decline that was reported, the bottom line is that we are not seeing any real improvement in unemployment claims as 19 million people are still receiving some type of benefits.

 

Record Low Housing Inventory Remains a Challenge

Existing Home Sales, which measures closings on existing homes, were down 2.5% from October to November, which was in line with expectations. However, sales were up nearly 26% compared to November of last year.

Low inventory remains the biggest challenge for buyers, as there were only 1.28 million homes for sale. This is down 9% from October and a whopping 22% annually. Unsold inventory is at just a 2.3 months’ supply, which is a record low.

As a result, homes sold quickly in November as they averaged just 21 days on the market and 73% of them sold in under 30 days. The other 27% were probably not priced realistically.

The median home price was $310,800, up 14.6% compared to November of last year. Remember this is not the same as appreciation. The median home price simply means half of the homes sold were above and half were below that price. In November, sales on the lower end of the market were flat to lower, but sales for homes above $750,000 are up 85% year over year. This is why the median home price moved higher.

Also of note, the number of first-time homebuyers remained stable at 32%, even with the stiff competition for homes on the lower end.

Sales of new homes also declined 11% from October to November, which was lower than expectations. However, given the downward revision to October’s sales figures, sales in November were really down 16%.

On an annual basis, however, sales are up 20.8% compared to November of last year even with the big drop in inventory – which is down 13.4% year over year! Part of the reason inventory is so low is the lack of building during the beginning of the pandemic.

Quite simply, if there were more homes for sale there would be more sales.

The median new home price increased to $335,300, up 2.2% year over year. Again, this measures the middle-priced home that sold, not appreciation.

 

Home Price Appreciation Remains Strong

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released their House Price Index, which measures home price appreciation on single-family homes with conforming loan amounts. Home prices rose 1.5% from September to October and are up 10.2% year over year, which is even higher than the 9% annual reading in the previous report.

Note that while you can have a million-dollar home with a conforming loan amount, the report most likely reflects lower-priced homes, where supply is tightest and demand is strongest. This is why the annual appreciation data was even stronger than Case-Shiller’s Home Price Index.

 

Key Elements of the Stimulus Bill

After months of negotiation, Congress passed a $900 billion stimulus deal, which among other things includes direct payments of $600 to individuals who earn up to $75,000 and couples filing jointly who make up to $150,000. The bill adds another $600 for every child.

The bill will add a $300 federal unemployment supplement through mid-March and extends programs making freelancers and gig workers eligible for benefits. It also puts $284 billion into Paycheck Protection Program small business loans.

The bill also extends the federal eviction moratorium through January 31 and funds $25 billion in rental assistance.

 

Family Hack of the Week

Ringing in the New Year may look a bit different this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with family and friends virtually. These ideas from Parade will help you enjoy a memorable evening with loved ones.

Virtual game nights have become popular this year, with old favorites like Charades, scavenger hunts and trivia options great for video chat along with tons of online games to choose from.

Netflix and movie parties are another great option, and with all the ghoulish events of 2020, a zombie apocalypse theme could be a fun choice. Everyone can get creative with makeup and food to match the entertainment, with contests for best zombie walk, makeup and more.

A karaoke party is a great choice for music lovers. You can make a playlist of the best songs from the year, or the songs you want to represent 2021.

If you’ve spent the past year learning new skills like many people, consider hosting a virtual talent show for friends and family to showcase any artistic or musical hobbies you’ve learned this year.

Lastly, after the year we’ve had, everyone can use a little pampering. Ring in the new year with a virtual spa night, filled with face masks, mani-pedis and more.

 

What to Look for This Week

The last week of 2020 brings some important housing data. First in on Tuesday, the S&P Case-Shiller report will give us a read on how home prices appreciated in October. November’s Pending Home Sales follows Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, we’ll get an update on manufacturing this month in the Chicago region via the Chicago PMI, while Thursday will bring the latest Jobless Claims figures.

All markets will be closed Friday in honor of New Year’s Day.

 

Technical Picture

The Fed’s ongoing purchases of Mortgage Backed Securities continues to provide stability to the markets. Mortgage Bonds have moved higher from support at their 50-day Moving Average and are trading in a range between this support and the ceiling of resistance at their 25-day Moving Average.

 

Todd Abelson - Tucson Mortgages

Tucson Mortgages Home Loan News 12-21-2020

By Todd Abelson NMLS #180858 on .

Week of December 14th, 2020 in Review

Initial Jobless Claims are moving in the wrong direction, unfortunately, as the number of people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time increased in the latest week. While the number of people continuing to receive benefits did decline, read on below to see why this news is not as positive as it seems.

In housing news, builder confidence declined in December after setting record-highs in November, per the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. However, the reading is still the second highest on record and shows that builders remain positive about conditions.

The latest construction data also reflects the strong demand for housing. Housing Starts were up 1.2% from October to November and they also jumped 12.8% versus November of last year. The all-important single-family starts ticked up 0.4% to reach their highest level in 13.5 years. Building Permits, which are a good future indicator of Housing Starts, rose 6.2% from October’s revised rate, with single-family permits up 1.3% from October to November.

While housing remains a bright spot in our economy, retailers struggled in November due to the spike in COVID cases. Retail Sales fell 1.1%, much worse than the 0.3% drop expected, while Core Retail Sales (which excludes automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food service) fell 0.5%. This was also lower than the 0.2% gain expected. This report shows how crucial additional stimulus is for businesses and families to bridge the gap until vaccines are widely deployed.

The pandemic is also causing a slowdown in manufacturing in the New York and Philadelphia regions, as the Empire State Index came in below expectations in December at 4.9 while the Philadelphia Fed Index was reported at 11.1, also below estimates of 21.1.

Lastly, the Fed held its regularly scheduled Federal Open Market Committee meeting, which turned out to be somewhat of a non-event as highlighted below.

 

Jobless Claims Moving in the Wrong Direction

 

Another 885,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time during the week ending December 12, which is an increase of 23,000 claims from the prior week.

Continuing Claims, which are delayed a week, did decrease by 273,000 to 5.5 million. While on the surface this sounds like good news, unfortunately the decrease is for the wrong reasons.

When regular benefits expire, people can file for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which extends their benefits another 13 weeks – and that figure increased by nearly 700,000! This is just further evidence that a new stimulus deal and the vaccine distribution are crucial to help businesses and employees in the months ahead.

 

Builder Confidence Remains Strong

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, which is a real-time read on builder confidence, fell 4 points in December to 86 after setting a record high in November. Even though this was a pullback, it is still the second highest number on record. Any reading over 50 in this index that runs from 1-100 signals that more builders see conditions as good versus poor.

All three components of the index declined 4 points in December, with current sales conditions reported at 92, sales expectations for the next six months at 85, and buyer traffic dropping to 73. Again, despite the declines, these are still strong readings.

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz noted “housing remains a bright spot for a recovering economy.”

The latest construction data also supports the strong demand for housing, as Housing Starts rose 1.2% in November from October’s revised rate. Starts are also 12.8% higher than they were compared to November of last year. While starts on multi-family units led the way, single-family starts were up 0.4% and at their highest level in 13.5 years.

Building Permits, which are a good future indicator of Housing Starts, rose 6.2% from October’s revised rate and they were also up 8.5% year over year. Single-family permits ticked up 1.3% from October to November.

 

The Latest from the Fed

The Fed held its regularly scheduled meeting, which was something of a non-event as they noted they will continue to purchase Mortgage Backed Securities and Treasuries at their current levels (which has helped stabilize the markets), rather than expand their Bond buying program. Fed Chair Jerome Powell did note, however, that the Fed stands ready to buy more longer-dated maturity Bonds if they feel the economy needs it.

The Fed also reiterated that they are going to keep their benchmark Fed Funds Rate at zero until at least 2023 and that they would not jump the gun on rising rates, even if there are some transient blips of inflation due to COVD and demand coming back faster than supply. Note that the Fed Funds Rate is the rate the banks use when lending to each other overnight and it is not the same as home loan rates.

As far as their projections, the Fed thinks the unemployment rate will be 5% in 2021 and GDP will be 4.2%.

 

Family Hack of the Week

Nothing makes a morning quite like a stack of warm, homemade pancakes. And this recipe from Bon Appetit is perfect for enjoying happy holiday mornings with your family this season.

In a large bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon each of baking powder, baking soda and Kosher salt. In a medium bowl, whisk 2 large eggs, 1 1/4 cups buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of melted, unsalted butter and then add to dry ingredients. Stir until just combined, then add 1/2 lemon zest.

Heat a griddle or large skillet on medium and brush with oil. Scoop 1/3 cups of batter onto griddle. Cook pancakes until bottoms are golden brown and bubbles form on the top (approximately 3 minutes).

Flip and cook until cooked through and both sides are golden brown (approximately 2 additional minutes). Continue cooking in batches until all batter has been used.

Enjoy with maple syrup and any additional brunch favorites your family loves.

 

What to Look for This Week

The middle of the week is packed with a variety of important reports across many sectors of the economy.

On Tuesday, the final estimate for third quarter GDP will be reported along with Existing Home Sales for November. More housing news follows on Wednesday with November’s New Home Sales and the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s House Price Index. We’ll also get the latest data on inflation with November’s Personal Consumption Expenditures, along with Personal Income and Spending.

Finally on Thursday, November’s Durable Goods Orders and the latest weekly Jobless Claims figures will be released.

The markets will be closing early on Thursday and will be closed on Friday for the Christmas holiday.

 

Technical Picture

The Fed’s ongoing purchases of Mortgage Backed Securities continues to provide stability to the markets. Mortgage Bonds are being squeezed in a tight range between their 25-day Moving Average, which has been a solid floor of support, and overhead resistance at 103.70.

 

Todd Abelson - Tucson Mortgages

Tucson Mortgages Home Loan News 12-14-2020

By Todd Abelson NMLS #180858 on .

Week of December 7th, 2020 in Review

The rise in COVID cases and decline in Paycheck Protection Program money is having a worsening impact on businesses and workers around the country, unfortunately, as jobless claims trended in the wrong direction in the latest report. The number of people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time increased by 137,000 to 853,000. The number of people continuing to receive benefits also rose by 230,000 to 5.575 million.

However, hope is on the horizon as a federal advisory panel recommended emergency use of Pfizer’s vaccine, which could lead to distribution quickly as soon as it’s approved by the FDA.

Consumer inflation remained tame in November, per the latest Consumer Price Index report. Headline inflation was up 0.2% in November while the year-over-year reading remained unchanged at 1.2%. Core inflation, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, was also up 0.2% monthly while the annual reading was unchanged at 1.6%. Inflation was also tame at the wholesale level per November’s Producer Price Index. More below about why tame inflation matters to Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates.

While inflation remains tame now, there is a point to note from the latest National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Index, which dropped 2.6 points in November to 101.4, a three-month low. Within the report, those seeing higher selling prices rose 3 points to the highest level since May 2018, which is just 1 point from matching the highest since 2008. This data speaks to businesses not having enough people to help their supply meet demand, which is a sign that temporary inflation could be on the horizon.

Lastly, you may have heard recent reports in the media about an “affordability” crisis when it comes to home prices. The good news is that these reports are untrue, as explained below.

 

Initial Jobless Claims Rise in Latest Week

Another 853,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time during the week ending December 5, which is an increase of 137,000 claims from the prior week. California (+178K), Illinois (+106K) and New York (+63K) reported the largest increases.

Continuing Claims, which measure people who continue to receive benefits, also increased by 230,000 to 5.575 million.

In addition, remember that when regular benefits expire, people can file for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which extends their benefits for another 13 weeks. The number of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims did decline by 313,000, but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons as benefits are expiring.

 

Keeping an Eye on Inflation

The latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed that inflation at the consumer level was tame in November, up 0.2% from October. The year over year reading remained unchanged at 1.2%. Core CPI, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, was also up 0.2% on a monthly basis while the year over year reading was unchanged at 1.6%.

Also of note, rents are rising 2.4% across the US, which is down from 3.5% last year.

Inflation was also tame at the wholesale level, as November’s Producer Price Index showed that headline inflation increased by 0.1%, which was in line with market expectations. On a year over year basis, headline PPI increased from 0.5% to 0.8%. The Core rate, which again strips out volatile food and energy prices, was also up 0.1% for the month, and increased from 1.1% to 1.4% year over year.

While these numbers are still relatively low, the year over year readings could continue to move higher as demand outpaces supply for goods and services. Those higher producer costs could translate to higher consumer costs and inflation.

 Why does this matter?

Inflation erodes the buying power of a Bond’s fixed coupon over time, meaning rising inflation can cause Bonds to worsen or move lower. Home loan rates are inversely tied to Mortgage Bonds, so when Bonds worsen, home loan rates can rise. Though many factors influence the markets, tame inflation can benefit Mortgage Bonds and help home loan rates remain low.

 

The Affordability “Myth”

You may have heard some recent reports in the media about problems with home affordability. The truth of the matter is that the “problem” being reported about affordability is in fact a myth. Homes remain affordable today and in some cases are even more affordable today than they were a year ago.

What causes this confusion?

Sometimes, the media mistakenly looks at the significant move higher in the median home price, which is currently up 15% versus last year. But the median home price does not measure appreciation. Instead, it marks the middle price point of recent home sales.

Home prices have appreciated in the last year, but only 7% per the latest reports. Meanwhile, rates have fallen in this same period. This means that for many people, the monthly principal and interest payment to buy a home today could actually be lower than last year!

In addition, weekly earnings have risen 5.9%, so some people have even more money each month to put toward their mortgage and other monthly expenses.

The bottom line is that there is reason to feel positive and not negative about the housing market. With rates near all-time lows, there are great opportunities for people hoping to buy a home next year!

 

Family Hack of the Week

Like many traditions this year, holiday parties may be virtual for many of us. Here are some fun ways to make the occasion memorable.

A day of virtual decorating, baking and listening to holiday music together is sure to put everyone in the holiday spirit. You can even plan contests for best decorated cookies, tree, mantle and more.

Sharing holiday memories can also make everyone feel closer. Plan a card exchange before the party, whereby guests draw a name and write a card saying what the person means to them. Cards can be read aloud during the party or shared privately.

A game of holiday and seasonal trivia is always a fun idea, with prizes for who brings the most impressive stats. For example, per Guinness World Records, did you know that Residents of Bethel, Maine, and nearby towns completed the world’s tallest snowman (which was actually a snow woman) on February 26, 2008 and that it measured 122 feet and 1 inch tall, just a few feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty?

Lastly, watching holiday movies together is always a treat. From classics like A Christmas Story to newer favorites like Home Alone, you can plan a marathon filled with options everyone will enjoy.

 

What to Look for This Week

The middle of the week is jam-packed with key report across multiple sectors of the economy.

On Tuesday, we’ll get an update on manufacturing in the New York region with December’s Empire State Index, followed by the Philadelphia Fed Index on Thursday.

In housing news, we’ll get a real-time update on builder confidence Wednesday with the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for December, while Thursday brings the data on Housing Starts and Building Permits for November.

In addition, the Fed’s two-day meeting begins Tuesday with their Monetary Policy Statement being released Wednesday. November Retail Sales will also be reported on Wednesday, which will reveal how retailers fared given the uptick in COVID cases. And on Thursday, the latest jobless claims figures remain critical to monitor.

 

Technical Picture

The Fed continues to provide stability to the markets thanks to its ongoing purchases of Mortgage Backed Securities. Mortgage Bonds continue to ride the 25-day Moving Average, which has provided solid support in recent days. Bonds have room to move higher until reaching resistance at 103.953 and if Stocks continue to sell off, we could see Bonds move higher in this range.

 

Todd Abelson - Tucson Mortgages

Tucson Mortgages Home Loan News 12-7-2020

By Todd Abelson NMLS #180858 on .

Week of November 30th, 2020 in Review

The news on job creations in November was disappointing, as the spike in COVID cases continues to impact people and businesses across the country.

The closely watched Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed that there were 245,000 job gains in November, which was about half of market expectations. The Unemployment Rate did decrease from 6.9% to 6.7% – but unfortunately, the decrease was for the wrong reasons, as explained below. The ADP Employment report for November showed a gain of 307,000 jobs in the private sector, though this was also below estimates and a disappointment overall.

The number of people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time did decrease in the latest week, as did the number of people continuing to receive benefits. Unfortunately, however, both declines were for the wrong reasons, as noted below.

In housing news, Pending Home Sales, which measures signed contracts on existing homes, were down 1.1% from September to October. But the real story is the year-over-year data showing sales up 20.2% compared to October of last year. This is especially impressive, given that inventory is down 20% on an annual basis. Quite simply, low supply remains a challenge for homebuyers and if there were more homes on the market, there would have been more signed contracts.

Home prices also continue to appreciate, as CoreLogic’s Home Price Index report showed that prices increased 1.1% from September to October and 7.3% when compared to October of last year. This annual reading is a big improvement from the 6.7% year over year appreciation figure reported for September. CoreLogic has also modified their forecasts for the year ahead, as noted below.

Lastly, the latest ISM Index, which measures the health of manufacturing in the US, showed that we need to keep an eye on this sector in the coming months due to some signs of inflation. Remember, inflation is the enemy of fixed investments like Mortgage Bonds because it reduces their value. Home loan rates are tied to Mortgage Bonds, and while many factors influence the markets, it’s always important to monitor news about inflation.

 

November Job Creations Fall Short of Expectations

There were just 245,000 job gains in November, which was about half of market expectations, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Looking closely at the numbers, there are two reports within the Jobs Report and there is a fundamental difference between them. The Business Survey is where the headline job number comes from and it’s based predominately on modeling.

The Household Survey, where the Unemployment Rate comes from, is done by actual phone calls to 60,000 homes. The Household Survey also has a job loss or creation component, meaning it may be more reflective of actual job numbers, and the Household Survey showed there were 74,000 job losses.

The Unemployment Rate decreased from 6.9% to 6.7%, which was stronger than expectations of 6.8%. Unfortunately, the decline was for the wrong reasons, as the labor force shrunk by 400,000 people. This is why the unemployment rate improved even though the Household Survey showed that there were 74,000 job losses.

In addition, there has been a misclassification error where people were classified as absent from work for other reasons and not marked as unemployed on temporary layoff when they should have been. Without this error, the unemployment rate would have been 0.4% higher or 7.1%.

The all in U6 Unemployment Rate, which includes total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, decreased from 12.1% to 12.0%.

Average hourly earnings decreased from 4.5% to 4.4% year over year. Average weekly earnings, which we focus on more, rose by 5.9%, up from 5.7%. See below why this is important when it comes to home prices and appreciation.

 

Private Payrolls Also Below Expectations

The ADP Employment Report, which measures private sector payrolls, showed that there was a gain of 307,000 jobs in November, which was lower than the 420,000 expected. October’s report was revised slightly higher by 39,000 additional jobs, from 365,000 to 404,000, but overall this report was a disappointment.

After losing almost 20 million private jobs in March and April, we have only recaptured 10 million. Why are job gains fading? Unfortunately, the main reason is that companies are closing and the Paycheck Protection Program money that was keeping many of these companies afloat has run out.

 

Jobless Claims Declining for Wrong Reasons

Another 712,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time during the week ending November 28. While this is a decrease of 75,000 people from the previous report, the data is for Thanksgiving week when many people may not have filed. It’s also hard to make adjustments that are accurate to compensate for this.

Continuing Claims, which measures people who continue to receive benefits, did improve by 569,000 to 5.520 million. Note that this figure is delayed a week and did not include Thanksgiving week.

While the number of Continuing Claims has been improving in the past few weeks, it’s important to put this in perspective. When regular benefits expire, people can file for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which extends their benefits another 13 weeks – and that figure increased by 60,000. While there is still a net benefit of 500,000 people dropping off of Continuing Claims, in most cases this is due to benefits expiring and not people returning to work.

In addition, it’s estimated that by Christmas another 12 million individuals will see their benefits expire. Without a new stimulus plan, these people could face tremendous hardship.

 

Low Supply Impacts Pending Home Sales

Pending Home Sales, which measures signed contracts on existing homes, were down 1.1% from September to October. While this was less than the 2% monthly gain expected, sales were still up 20.2% compared to October of last year.

The decline in signed contracts from September to October is not due to a lack of demand but a lack of supply, with the supply of existing homes down 20% when compared to October of last year. When you think about it, it’s quite impressive that sales are up 20.2% year over year while inventory is down 20%.

Quite simply, if there were more homes on the market, there would have been more signed contracts.

 

Appreciation Forecasts on the Move

CoreLogic’s Home Price Index report showed that home prices increased 1.1% from September to October and 7.3% when compared to October of last year. This annual reading is a big improvement from the 6.7% year over year appreciation figure reported for September. The hottest markets were Phoenix (+12.1%), San Diego (+8.3%) and Washington DC (+ 7.1%).

Prices for single-family, detached homes rose by 7.9% year over year, while attached homes only rose by 4.5%. This supports the theme that condos are appreciating at a slower pace than standalone homes.

CoreLogic forecasted that home prices will rise 0.4% from October to November and 1.9% in the year going forward, which is a huge revision to their 0.2% annual forecast in the previous report. Also of note, not that long ago, CoreLogic was expecting a negative 6.6% annual appreciation.

Part of the change in forecast is related to something we’ve been discussing recently: birth statistics which show that the largest wave of millennials are heading into their prime homebuying years. As such, first-time buyers will be a big part of next year’s home purchases, which should continue for several years.

Note also that the weekly earnings figure discussed above measures what people actually take home and it shows that this level of income can support much greater levels of appreciation than we are currently seeing without homes being unaffordable. People don’t use their entire income for their mortgage payment, so the weekly earnings figure does not have to rise at the same pace as appreciation.

 

Family Hack of the Week

Hot chocolate is always a crowd pleaser, especially this time of year. If you ever want to spice yours up, this easy recipe from Allrecipes is the perfect choice.

In a saucepan, heat 6 cups of skim milk on medium low until its lukewarm. Add 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons of white sugar, stirring until dissolved.

Next, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves. And if you want to add an extra kick, also add 1/4 teaspoon chili powder.

Heat for another five minutes, stirring occasionally, and then enjoy with your favorite baked goodie and holiday movie marathon!

 

What to Look for This Week

We’ll see a quiet start to the week when it comes to data, but the second half features several reports to note. Thursday brings the latest weekly Jobless Claims data, which remains important to monitor given the struggles in the labor sector.

We’ll also get an update on consumer and wholesale inflation for November, starting Thursday with the Consumer Price Index, followed by the Producer Price Index on Friday. As noted above, these reports will be especially important to monitor due to the impact inflation can have on Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates, which are tied to them.

 

Technical Picture

The Fed continues to provide stability to the markets thanks to its ongoing purchases of Mortgage Backed Securities. Mortgage Bonds are trading in a very wide range between support at the 25-day Moving Average and overhead resistance at 103.953.

 

Todd Abelson - Tucson Mortgages

Tucson Mortgages Home Loan News 11-30-2020

By Todd Abelson NMLS #180858 on .

Week of November 23rd, 2020 in Review

It was a busy start to the week, as a cornucopia of news was reported ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The number of people filing for unemployment for the first time hit a five-week high, as Initial Jobless Claims reached 778,000 during the week ending November 21. This increase in new claims is likely a result of the spike in COVID cases. While the number of people continuing to receive regular benefits did decline, this unfortunately doesn’t mean the employment picture is improving, as explained below.

New Home Sales, which measures signed contracts on new homes, were down 0.3% from September to October, but there’s more to that headline than meets the eye. Sales in October neared 1 million units, plus they were up a whopping 41.5% compared to October of last year. This was quite a remarkable feat given the big drop in inventory, which is down 13.4% year over year!

Home prices continue to appreciate, lending more evidence to housing remaining the cornerstone of our economic recovery. The Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which is considered the “gold standard” for appreciation, revealed a 7% annual gain in home prices in September nationwide. Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index showed that home prices on single-family homes with conforming loan amounts rose 1.5% from August to September and are up 9.0% year over year. Tight supply and high demand certainly favor strong appreciation continuing in the months’ ahead.

The second estimate of third quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) remained flat at 33.1% on an annualized basis, which was in line with expectations.  One important thing to note, however, is that the 33.1% gain in the third quarter does not erase the -31.4% drop in the second quarter. GDP would have to increase almost 46% to make back what was lost. And on a related note, the minutes from the Fed’s November 4-5 meeting showed that the Fed identified downside risks in the lack of fiscal stimulus and a resurgence of COVID, both of which could negatively impact GDP in the fourth quarter.

Lastly, the Fed’s favored measure of inflation, Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), showed that inflation was tame in October. More about why that can be good news for Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates below.

 

Initial Jobless Claims Reach Five-Week High

Another 778,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time during the week ending November 21. This was an increase of 30,000 people from the previous week and a five-week high. New claims have increased over the past several weeks, likely due to the spike in COVID cases. California (+167K), Illinois (+65K) and New York (+47K) reported the largest increases.

Continuing Claims, which are filed by people who continue to receive benefits, did improve by 300,000 to 6.071 million. While this number has been improving in the past few weeks, it’s important to remember that when regular benefits expire, recipients can file for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which extends their benefits another 13 weeks.

The number of PEUC claims increased by 132,000, so the drop in continuing claims is not as good as the headline would lead us to believe. Plus, the larger story here is that many people are reaching the point where their regular benefits are due to expire. As such, we will likely see the number of Continuing Claims continue to improve, but this doesn’t really mean the employment picture is getting better, unfortunately.

 

Looking Past the New Home Sales Headline

New Home Sales, which measures signed contracts on new homes, were down 0.3% and essentially flat from September to October. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

September’s sales figure was revised 4.5% higher and sales in October neared 1 million units. In addition, sales are up a whopping 41.5% compared to October of last year – even with the big drop in inventory, which is down 13.4% year over year! Low inventory remains a challenge, with just a 3.3 months’ supply of new homes available for sale at the end of October. Typically, 6 months of supply is considered a healthy housing market.

The median home price increased to $330,600, up 2.5% year over year. Remember this is not the same as appreciation, which is near 7% as noted per the latest Case-Shiller data below. The median home price simply means half of the homes sold were above and half were below that price.

 

September a Strong Month for Home Appreciation

The Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which is considered the “gold standard” for appreciation, showed that there was a 7% annual gain in home prices in September nationwide, up from an already strong reading of 5.8% in August. The 20-city Index rose from 5.3% to 6.6% when compared to September of last year, with all of the cities showing strong gains. Phoenix (+11.4%), Seattle (+10.1%) and San Diego (+9.5%) reported the highest annual gains among the 20 cities.

The 7% national reading for appreciation means there is a huge opportunity in homeownership. For example, buying a $300,000 home that gains 7% in appreciation would mean a benefit of just over $21,000 in just one year on appreciation alone. The equity gain with amortization would be even greater.

There was also news from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) regarding home price appreciation on single-family homes with conforming loan amounts. Their House Price Index showed that home prices rose 1.7% from August to September and are up 9.0% year over year, even higher than the 8% reading in the previous report. Note that while, for example, you can have a million-dollar home with a conforming loan amount, the report typically represents lower-priced homes, where supply is tightest and demand is strongest. This is why the FHFA report shows even stronger annual appreciation than the Case-Shiller report.

Will the appreciation trend continue?

While single-family home construction is rising slowly, it is not even close to meeting the demand, especially in the lower-priced tiers. In addition, single-family building permits, which are an indicator of future construction, were basically flat in October, suggesting construction is not going to rise significantly in the winter months. This should exacerbate an already tight supply issue, with record low levels of inventory.

In addition, demand should continue to rise due to demographics as, based on birthrates, we should see an increasing number of first-time home buyers enter the market over the next several years.

 

Inflation Remains Tame

Personal Consumption Expenditures, the Fed’s favored inflation measure, showed that headline inflation was flat in October and fell from 1.4% to 1.2% year over year. The Core rate, which strips out volatile food and energy prices and is the Fed’s real focus, was also flat in October while decreasing from 1.5% to 1.4% compared to October of last year.

Why does tame inflation matter?

Inflation reduces the value of fixed investments, like Mortgage Bonds, meaning rising inflation can cause Bonds to worsen or move lower. Home loan rates are inversely tied to Mortgage Bonds, so when Bonds worsen, home loan rates can rise. Though many factors influence the markets, tame inflation can benefit Mortgage Bonds and help home loan rates remain low.

 

Family Hack of the Week

The holiday season typically brings a bevy of wrapping paper and gift bags, and often a big pile of leftovers in the process. Save yourself the hassle of sorting through these items next year with these easy organization ideas from our friends at HGTV.

Magazine racks are perfect for storing gift bags by holiday and event. Create decorative labels and you’ll easily be able to find wedding shower, birthday or holiday gift bags whenever you need them. Include matching tissue paper in each bag so you’ll have everything you need handy if you’re ever in a last-minute pinch.

Suit and pants hangers also work wonders for keeping gift bags organized and in easy reach. They can hold multiple bags while also keeping them flat and in good shape.

Tall laundry baskets can be repurposed into wrapping paper bins. The height will allow you to fit rolls large and small, and the handles will make it easy to carry your supplies around the house.

Folding lawn chair bags can come in handy beyond the summer months. They make great storage cases for wrapping paper. Plus, the strap can easily be hung on a wall or closet door hook for space-saving efficiency.

Lastly, don’t ignore your accessories. A plastic tote is great for storing things like gift tags, ribbon, tape and scissors.

 

What to Look for This Week

Housing news kicks off the week on Monday with Pending Home Sales for October, while we’ll get an update on manufacturing with the Chicago PMI and ISM Index for November on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

Then the labor sector will highlight the rest of the week. Wednesday brings the latest news on private payrolls with the ADP Employment Report for November. Look for the latest Initial Jobless Claims numbers as usual on Thursday, while Friday we’ll get the highly-anticipated Bureau of Labor Statistics Jobs Report for November, which includes Non-farm Payrolls and the Unemployment Rate,

 

Technical Picture

The Fed’s ongoing purchases of Mortgage Backed Securities continues to provide stability to the markets. After trading in a wide range, Mortgage Bonds moved close to a ceiling of resistance at 103.75. Meanwhile, the 10-year has broken beneath its 25-day Moving Average and has room to move lower until the next floor of support at its 50-day Moving Average.

 

Todd Abelson - Tucson Mortgages

Tucson Mortgages Home Loan News 11-23-2020

By Todd Abelson NMLS #180858 on .

Week of November 16th, 2020 in Review

Initial Jobless Claims rose slightly in the latest week, as another 742,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time during the week ending November 14. However, the number of people continuing to receive benefits did decline again, with Continuing Claims falling by 430,000 to 6.4 million. This decline in Continuing Claims does come with a caveat, namely the increase reported in the number of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) claims, as explained below.

There was more evidence that the housing sector remains the backbone of our economic recovery, as the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index, which is a real-time read on builder confidence, set a record high for the third month in a row. All three components of the index, including current sales conditions, sales expectations in the next six months and buyer traffic, moved higher.

In addition, Housing Starts (which measure the start of construction on homes) also came in strong in October, up 4.9% from September and beating expectations. All of the gain was among starts for single-family homes, which is the crucial area where supply is needed and which reached their highest level in 13.5 years. Building Permits, which are a good future indicator of Starts, were flat from September to October, but they did rise 2.8% year over year. Permits for single-family homes were also up 0.6% from September.

There was also news on existing homes, as sales were up 4.3% from September to October per the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Sales were also nearly 27% higher than October of last year. Low inventory remains the biggest challenge for buyers, sitting at a record low of 2.5 months’ supply. By comparison, a 6 months’ supply is considered reflective of a healthy housing market.

Lastly, Retail Sales will be important to monitor in the coming months, as sales were less than expected in October, rising just 0.3% from September’s downwardly revised rate. While the initial stimulus package and additional unemployment benefits certainly helped people earlier this year, we may see a continued pull back in spending if we don’t have another stimulus deal and as unemployment benefits expire. In addition, ongoing shutdowns may also affect sales as several states, including California, Washington, Michigan and Oregon, have implemented stiffer rules.

 

Initial Jobless Claims Rise in the Latest Week

Another 742,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time during the week ending November 14, which was an increase of 31,000 people from the prior week’s revised report. California (+158K), Illinois (+46K) and New York (+43K) reported the largest increase.

Continuing Claims, which measure people continuing to receive benefits, improved by 430,000 to 6.4 million. While this number has been declining in recent weeks, it’s important to note that people can file for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) when their regular benefits expire. PEUC extends benefits for another 13 weeks.

The number of PEUC claims increased by 233,000, so while the drop in continuing claims is positive, it does need to be taken in context. In addition, we don’t know if the decrease in Continuing Claims is reflective of people who are going back to work or people whose benefits are just expiring. And unfortunately, with the recent shutdown announcements from many states, the jobless claims picture may start to get worse.

 

Builder Confidence Reaches Record High

The NAHB Housing Market Index rose 5 points to 90 in November, setting a record high for the third month in a row. All three components of the index increased, with current sales conditions rising 6 points to 96, sales expectations for the next six months up 1 point to 89, and buyer traffic notching 3 points higher to 77. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion, and given that the index runs from 1-100, confidence among builders can’t get much higher.

NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke noted, “Historically low mortgage rates, favorable demographics and an ongoing suburban shift for home buyer preferences have spurred demand and increased new home sales by nearly 17 percent in 2020 on a year-to-date basis.”

Meanwhile, October Housing Starts (which measure the start of construction on homes) were up 4.9% from September, coming in stronger than expectations. They were also 14.2% higher than October of last year. All of the gain was among starts for single-family homes, which is the area crucial for supply, as single-family starts were up 6.4% from September to October and a whopping 29.4% compared to October of last year. Single-family starts are at their highest level in 13.5 years.

Building Permits, which are a good future indicator of Starts, were flat from September to October, but they did rise 2.8% year over year. Single-family permits were up 0.6% from September.

The bottom line is that the increase in single-family starts and permits will help to meet some of the demand among homebuyers. However, there is so much more demand than supply right now and this imbalance will continue to support home prices.

 

Existing Home Sales Rise but Inventory Challenges Remains

Existing Home Sales, which measures closings on existing homes, were up 4.3% in October, which was well above expectations of a 1.2% decline and the fifth consecutive month of gains. Sales were also nearly 27% higher than October of last year, and the level of sales is near the all-time high set in 2006 when there were twice as many homes for sale.

Speaking of inventory, challenges remain on the supply front as inventory is down nearly 20% from last October with a record low 2.5 months’ supply. By comparison, a 6 months’ supply is considered reflective of a healthy housing market. In addition, homes were only on the market for 21 days on average, with 72% of homes selling in October in under 30 days.

The median home price was reported at $313,000, which is another record and up 15.5% year over year. Note that this doesn’t mean homes are not affordable. It just means the middle-priced home that sold was $313,000, with half the homes selling below and half above that price. In October, a greater number of higher-priced homes sold (including twice as many million-dollar homes selling compared to last year), and as a result, the median home price moved higher.

Despite the strong competition for lower-priced homes, first-time buyers made up 32% of sales, a tick up from the 31% reported in September.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun noted, “Considering that we remain in a period of stubbornly high unemployment relative to pre-pandemic levels, the housing sector has performed remarkably well this year.”

 

Family Hack of the Week

Thanksgiving gatherings may be smaller than usual this year. If you’re looking for ideas for scaling down your serving of stuffing, this “Stuffin Muffin” recipe from Delish can help.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, then grease a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

In a medium skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add 1 pound of pork sausage (with casings removed) and cook until browned, breaking up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Add 1 medium diced onion and 1 1/2 cups of diced celery and stir for about 5 minutes until the vegetables have softened. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon each of thyme, rosemary and ground sage. Season with salt and pepper and then remove from heat and let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine 8 cups of bread cubes (about 1 loaf), the sausage mixture, 1 lightly whisked egg and 2 cups of chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then spoon evenly into muffin tins.

Bake until warmed through and golden on top, about 25-30 minutes and enjoy!

 

What to Look for This Week

A full slate of data will be released ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.

In the housing sector, Tuesday brings an update on appreciation with the Case-Shiller Home Price Index and the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index for September. October New Home Sales follow on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, look for the latest Initial Jobless Claims, third Quarter Gross Domestic Product as well as the following reports for October: Durable Goods Orders, Personal Consumption Expenditures (the Fed’s favored inflation reading), Personal Spending and Personal Income. The minutes from the Fed’s meeting earlier this month will also be released.

 

Technical Picture

The Fed continues to provide stability to the markets with its ongoing purchases of Mortgage Backed Securities. Mortgage Bonds continue to trade in a wide range between a dual-layer of support at their 25-day and 50-day Moving Averages and overhead resistance near the all-time high of 103.875.

Todd Abelson - Tucson Mortgages