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Case-Shiller Shows Slowing Growth In Home Prices… Two Months Ago

Case-Shiller Change In Home Values June-July 2010

For the 17th straight month, the Case-Shiller Index reports that home values are rising across the United States. As compared to June, July’s prices were up by 4 percent.

However, despite the improvement, July’s Case-Shiller Index showed weaker as compared to prior months.

  • In June, just 3 cities posted year-to-year reductions in home value. In July, 10 of 20 did.
  • In June, just 1 city posted a month-to-month reduction in home value. In July, 7 of 20 did.

As a spokesperson for Case-Shiller said, values “crept forward” in July. But not that it matters — the Case-Shiller Index is a better tool for economists than it is for homeowners in Eagle. This is for 3 reasons.

First, the Case-Shiller Index is on a 60-day delay but real estate sales are based on prices today. A lot can change in 60 days, and it often does. Therefore, the Case-Shiller Index is a better snapshot of the former market than the current one.

Second, the Case-Shiller Index is geographically-limited. It tracks just 20 cities, ignoring some of the largest metropolitan areas in the country including Houston, Philadelphia, and San Jose. Smaller cities like Tampa are included.

And, lastly, national real estate data remains somewhat useless anyway. All real estate is local, rendering citywide statistics too broad to have any real meaning to an individual. To find out what’s happening on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood level, you can’t look to a national survey — you have to look to a local real estate agent instead.

New Home Sales Unchanged In August; Market Stabilizing

New Home Supply August 2009 - August 2010Existing Home Sales rebounded last month after a lackluster July. New Home Sales data, by contrast, did not.

After an upward revision to July’s data, New Home Sales remained unchanged at 288,000 units in August. It marks the second-lowest number of units sold in a month since 1963, the year government started its record-keeping.

At the current pace of sales, the newly-built home inventory would be depleted in 8.6 months.

The August New Home Sales was weaker-than-expected, but both Wall Street investors and Main Street economists are shrugging it off. The numbers were foreshadowed by weakening housing figures from earlier this summer.

For example:

  1. Building Permits dropped between March and June
  2. Housing Starts dropped between April and July
  3. Homebuilder confidence continues to sag

Together, these three data points suggest that the market for new homes will be soft through at least this month.

With New Home Sales fading and colder months ahead, it may be an opportune time for home buyers in Boise to look at new construction. Builders are eager to move inventory and the cost of materials remains low.

Buying “new” may never be cheaper — especially with mortgage rates as low as they are. The 0.750 percent drop in rates since January has shaved $188 off of a $200,000 mortgage’s monthly cost. That’s $2,250 per year in savings.

As home supplies dwindle and mortgage rates rise, finding “great deals” in new construction will undoubtedly get tougher. Take advantage of today’s market conditions, combined with builder pessimism. It may be the right combination at the right time to get that new home for cheap.

Mortgage Rates for Boise Idaho This Week : September 27, 2010

Fed Funds Rate September 2007-September 2010Mortgage markets improved last week as markets digested a bevy of data from the housing sector, plus the scheduled Federal Open Market Committee meeting

In back-and-forth trading, conforming mortgage rates in Idaho bottomed out Wednesday before rising through Friday’s afternoon close. Rates still managed to eke out improvement on the week overall.

According to Freddie Mac, mortgage rates remain near their lowest levels of all time.

Despite low rates, however, rate shoppers are finding it a challenge to lock the “best price”. This is because Wall Street is conflicted about the future of the U.S. economy and, as a result, mortgage pricing has been extra volatile.

For as much data that points to economic growth, there are numbers that suggest a pullback, too. Traders are undecided in either direction and mortgage pricing reflects it. It’s not uncommon for mortgage rates to vary by as much as 3/8 percent in a given week.

This week, without much new data due for release, prepare for even swifter swings in rates. In the absence of “numbers”, momentum- and trend-trading should amplify the market’s normal drops and spikes.

A sampling of the week’s economic data includes Tuesday’s Consumer Confidence report and Case-Shiller Index, Thursday’s Jobless Claims and Gross Domestic Product data, plus Friday’s consumer income and spending figures.

Notably missing from the week’s economic calendar is the jobs report which is typically issued on the first Friday each month. The release is delayed a week to October 8.

If you’re still floating a mortgage rate or have yet to commit to a refinance, consider that mortgage rates are primed to rise. They’ve been falling for 22 weeks and when the market turns, it’s expected to turn quickly.

Talk to your loan officer about your refinance options while mortgage rates are still low.

Existing Home Sales Rebound In August, Give Hope For Autumn

Existing Home Supply (August 2009 - Augsut 2010)Sales of existing homes in recovered in August, perhaps the result of a post-tax credit normalization.

As compared to July, Existing Home Sales rose 8 percent in August, buoyed by falling interest rates and slow-to-rise home prices. There’s lot of “good deals” out there and home buyers in Meridian are taking advantage.

The housing gains are relative, however. August’s total units sold barely crossed 4 million and still trails the average figures of the last few years by close to 1 million units.

Despite that, the August Existing Home Sales report can be considered a strong one. This is for several reasons:

  1. Sales volume increased in August without tax credit or government intervention
  2. Sales growth is not limited by geography. All 4 regions — Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and West — showed improvement last month.
  3. Repeat buyers are driving the market, representing 48 percent of sales, up from forty-three percent in July.

And, perhaps most important to the housing market market, the number of available home resales dropped by almost one full month last month.  At the current sales pace, the national inventory would be depleted in 11.6 months.

For home buyers, the data presents an interesting opportunity. With average mortgage rates rising from their best levels ever and home affordability cresting in places like Northend , this autumn may represent the turn-around point for the housing market nationwide.

If you’re planning to move in early-2011, consider moving up your time frame.

Housing Starts Rise In August, But By Less Than The Headlines Report

Housing starts September 2008 - August 2010The number of single-family Housing Starts rebounded in August, climbing 4 percent from July’s 14-month low.

A “Housing Start” is defined as a home on which construction has started and the August increase represents 18,000 single-family units nationwide.

If you only read the headlines, however, you would think the data was stronger. This is because the Housing Starts data is actually a composite of 3 types of homes — single-family, multi-family, and apartments — but  the press tends to lump them all three together.

As a sampling, here are a some headlines on the story:

  • US Stock Futures Rise After Housing Starts Surge (WSJ)
  • Housing Starts At 4-Month High, Hint At Stability (Fox)
  • Housing Starts Jump 10.5% In August (Marketwatch)

Now, it’s not that the news is wrong, per se, it’s just not necessarily relevant.  Few home buyers  are buying multi-family homes or entire apartment complexes. Most buy single-family and, for the first time since April, single-family starts are on the rise — just not by as much as you’d believe from the papers.

Even still, we can’t be entirely sure that the August Housing Starts data is accurate anyway.

A footnote in the Department of Commerce report shows that, although single-family starts are said to have increased 4 percent, the data’s margin of error exceeds its actual measurement, meaning the data has “zero confidence”.

In other words, starts may have dropped in August, but it’s something we won’t know for sure until revisions are made later this year.

It Takes a Village…

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Ninja Negotiation Tips (a fun 2 minute video)…


Mortgage Mojo for Serious Boise Home Buyers:  Grab your popcorn, here’s a fun 2 minute video sharing one powerful negotiation strategy used by serious home buyers and top real estate agents.

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