Builder Confidence Up For Sixth Straight Month

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index measures builder confidence in the market for new, single-family homes on a scale where any number above 50 indicates more builders view the market as good than poor. In October, the index increased to 41. It was the sixth straight month of gains and put confidence at its highest level since June 2006. Barry Rutenberg, NAHB’s chairman, said many builders are reporting increases in the number of serious buyers visiting their sales offices and the overall confidence measure is much higher than it was a year ago. October’s gains were driven by a five point increase in the component measuring traffic of prospective buyers, which rose to its strongest reading since April 2006. Regionally, builder confidence was up in three of four regions, with the Northeast unchanged from the month before. More here and here.

Americans Optimistic About The Economy, Housing Market

The results of Fannie Mae’s September 2012 National Housing Survey show consumers’ optimism about the economy and housing market continued to climb as the summer season wound down. Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae, said consumers are showing increasing faith in the housing recovery due to improved home-price expectations, gains in the job market, and low mortgage rates. Among the highlights of the survey, 41 percent of respondents said the economy is on the right track, which is the highest level ever recorded and an 8.0 percent jump from the month before. Also, home-price expectations remained positive for the eleventh straight month, with 37 percent of Americans anticipating rising home values over the next year. The percentage of respondents who said they’d buy rather than rent their next home increased to 69 percent and the number of participants who said it was a good time to sell rose to 19 percent. More here and here.

Foreclosure Activity Falls To Five Year Low

In September, foreclosure filings were reported on 180,427 properties, down 7.0 percent from August and 16 percent below last year’s level. September’s total was the lowest since July 2007 and helped lower third-quarter foreclosure numbers 5.0 percent from the second quarter and 13 percent from the third quarter of 2011. The numbers, from RealtyTrac’s U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, show it was the ninth straight quarter with an annual decrease in foreclosure activity. Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president, said analysts have been waiting for the other foreclosure shoe to drop but instead it’s being carefully lowered to the floor, making little noise in the housing market at a national level. More here.

Refinance Activity Remains Near Three Year High

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, refinance application demand slipped 2.0 percent last week but remains near three-year highs. The drop was matched by a 2.0 percent increase in purchase application demand, pushing purchase loan volume to the highest level since June. The Market Composite Index fell 1.2 percent from the previous week. Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, said mortgage rates remain historically low, which benefits both prospective homebuyers and those seeking to refinance. According to the survey, the average contract interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances increased to 3.56 percent from 3.53 percent the week before. The survey covers 75 percent of all U.S. residential mortgage applications and has been conducted weekly since 1990. More here.

Monthly Scorecard Says Housing Recovery Strengthening

Recent market data shows signs of a strengthening recovery, according to the latest housing scorecard released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The administration’s housing scorecard tracks key data and follows the progress of federal foreclosure-prevention programs. Erika Poethig, HUD’s acting assistant secretary, said the results of the September scorecard indicate that the housing market is showing important signs of recovery. Among the highlights, homeowner equity rose to its highest level since the third quarter of 2008, lifting 1.3 million families above water on their mortgages. Also, existing-home sales are now at their strongest pace in two years. Despite the recent positive turn, the report cautions that there is still fragility in the market and that the recovery will take place over time. More here and here.

Improving Markets Index Climbs To Record Level

The National Association of Home Builders Improving Markets Index identifies metropolitan areas that have seen six consecutive months of gains in housing permits, employment, and home prices. In October, the index reached the highest number of metros recorded since the list was created in 2011. A total of 103 markets made the list, up from 99 in September. Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said 11 new housing markets were added to the list in October, while 92 metros retained their spot. According to Rutenberg, the gains are an encouraging sign that the housing recovery is proceeding at a steady pace. A total of 33 states and the District of Columbia are now represented on the list. New markets added to the Index in October include Santa Cruz, Calif.; Abilene, Texas; and Savannah, Ga. More here.

Economic Confidence Bounces Back In September

Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index improved by eight points in September and nearly reached May’s record reading, which was the highest since Gallup began daily tracking in 2008. The monthly index is based on interviews with more than 14,000 adults nationwide and presents an accurate picture of consumers’ attitudes throughout the month. September’s gains are primarily due to a more optimistic outlook rather than an improvement in current conditions. Consumers’ economic outlook improved by 13 points while their rating of current conditions only rose three points. Gallup also cautions that the results may be unduly influenced by politics as we near the end of the election cycle. More here.

Home Price Report Finds Evidence Of Rebound

In yet another positive sign for national home values, CoreLogic’s August Home Price Index reveals a year-over-year increase of 4.6 percent and a month-over-month gain of 0.3 percent. The improvement marks the sixth consecutive price increase on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis. And, when excluding sales of distressed properties, prices nationwide were up 4.9 percent compared to one year earlier. Mark Fleming, CoreLogic’s chief economist, said he expects the price gains to continue in September and points out that the recent improvement has been increasingly geographically diverse. According to Fleming, only six states continue to show declining prices. CoreLogic is forecasting a 5.0 percent improvement for their upcoming September price report. More here and here.

Housing Inventory Down 19 Percent From One Year Ago

The total number of single-family homes available for sale is down to 1.84 million units, according to data through the end of August. The numbers, released by the National Association of Realtors, show that housing inventory is 18.68 percent below last year’s level and the median age of homes on the market has fallen nearly 12 percent. According to the report, low inventory and increasingly stable prices are evidence that the market is poised for additional growth. The data also shows that the recovery process has moved to the western states, with list prices rising in most California markets and metropolitan areas such as Phoenix, Boise City, Seattle, and Reno. More here.

Refinance Activity Reaches Three Year High

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, refinance activity surged last week as mortgage rates continued to fall. The Refinance Index increased 20 percent from the previous week and helped the Market Composite Index, which measures both refinance and purchase application volume, rise 16.6 percent. Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, said refinance application volume jumped to the highest level in more than three years as mortgage rates fell to another record low. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances dropped to 3.53 percent from 3.63 percent the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 4.0 percent. More here and here.