Mortgage Application Demand Surges 12.6 Percent

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, total mortgage loan application volume rose 12.6 percent last week, following the previous week’s decline. Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, said the East Coast suffered large decreases following the effects of the hurricane but rebounded strongly last week. The Refinance Index was up 13 percent over the previous week and the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 11 percent. Also, average mortgage rates reached a new survey low. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances fell to 3.52 percent from 3.61 percent the week before. The refinance share of total mortgage activity rose to 81 percent. More here and here.

October Housing Scorecard Finds Market On The Mend

Each month, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development release a housing scorecard that highlights key market data and the results of federal recovery efforts. In October, the scorecard found positive price trends, low inventory, high affordability, increases in sales, and mortgage rates near record lows. Federal foreclosure prevention and mortgage modification programs have resulted in more than one million permanent HAMP modifications, saving homeowners a median of $541 on their monthly mortgage payment. Despite the strength of recent housing data, however, the report also cautions that the recovery will take place over time due to continued fragility in the market. Still, more than 18 million homeowners have refinanced their loans since April 2009 and home equity posted a sharp gain in the second quarter of this year. More here.

Job Creation Holds Near Four Year High In October

Gallup’s Job Creation Index gauges whether American workplaces are adding or shedding employees by asking nearly 17,000 adults via telephone survey whether their employer is hiring or not. In October, the index moved up a point from September, remaining near the highest levels recorded since mid-2008. The index has now been hovering near those highs since March of this year. October’s results found 35 percent of American workers saying their employers are expanding the size of their workforce, while 16 percent reported their employer was letting workers go. Regionally, the Midwest and South continued to outpace the East and West, which has been a consistent trend since late 2010. More here.

Americans Growing More Confident In Housing Market

Americans are growing ever more confident in the housing market, according to Fannie Mae’s October 2012 National Housing Survey. The survey gauges consumers’ attitudes toward owning a home, renting, prices, mortgage rates, household finances, and overall confidence in the economy. October’s results found Americans’ expectations on the rise. Among the highlights, only 10 percent of respondents said they expect home prices to fall over the next year, the lowest level in the survey’s history. Participants also believe it is a good time to buy a home and an increasing number said it’s a good time to sell. Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae, said increasing household formation and an improving labor market has added additional momentum to the housing recovery. According to Duncan, expected increases in home prices and rent may encourage more consumers to buy, which would add further strength to the recovery. More here and here.

East Coast Storm Slows Mortgage Demand

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, mortgage application demand fell last week due to the effects of the storm on the East Coast. The Market Composite Index, which measures total mortgage loan application volume, was down 5.0 percent from the previous week, due to a 5.0 percent drop in both the Refinance and Purchase Index. Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, said the storm had a significant impact on application volumes on the East Coast, with dramatic declines in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. According to Fratantoni, many other areas of the country experienced increases in application volume. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 3.61 percent from 3.65 percent the week before. The MBA’s survey covers more than 75 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications. More here and here.

Improving Markets Index Adds 22 Metros In November

The National Association of Home Builders Improving Markets Index identifies metropolitan areas that have experienced at least six consecutive months of improvement in housing permits, employment, and home prices since their respective bottoms. In November, the list of improving markets expanded by 22 metros bringing the total for the month to 125. It was the third consecutive monthly gain and nearly 100 cities better than last November’s total. Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the NAHB, said the housing recovery is firmly taking root and helping generate jobs and growth across the country. The geographic diversity of the index also improved, with 38 states and the District of Columbia now represented on the list. New additions to the index include San Diego, Calif.; Gainesville, Ga.; Omaha, Neb.; Louisville, Ky.; and Charlotte, N.C. More here.

Home Prices Continue Climb In October

Each month, Trulia’s Price and Rent Monitors are among the earliest indicators of trends in home prices and rental costs. October’s results found yet another sign that home values are on the rise across the country. Asking prices for available homes increased 2.9 percent from last year and, excluding foreclosures, were up 3.6 percent. Seven cities saw price gains of 10 percent or more. Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist, said with asking prices rising again in October, sales prices should be just 1.1 percent lower than in January 2009 by the end of the year. Nationally, price gains were outmatched by rent increases, which gained 5.1 percent over last year. More here.

Housing Outlook Calls For More Market Momentum

According to the outlook of a group of economists recently gathered by the National Association of Home Builders, the housing market is recovering steadily and should continue to gain momentum though next year and beyond. David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist, said we’re seeing a more robust housing sector than other parts of the economy due to rising home prices across the nation. The NAHB is forecasting a 21 percent increase in housing starts this year and an additional 26 percent climb in 2013. Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, believes low mortgage rates, job market gains, and less economic uncertainty will lead to an acceleration in GDP growth as well as new home construction. A big part of this optimism is the housing market, Zandi said. Also, NAHB’s vice president of forecasting and analysis, Robert Denk, said that housing production should be 55 percent back to normal by the end of next year. More here.

Economic Confidence Ends October On An Upswing

Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index reached its highest level since 2008 during the last week of October. And though confidence ranked higher many times prior to 2008, when Gallup tracked Americans confidence on a periodic rather than daily basis, it is the most positive reading since the financial crisis and resulting recession. The Index measures confidence based on Americans’ perceptions of both current economic conditions and the nation’s outlook. According to the most recent results, 45 percent of Americans now say the economy is getting better, while 49 percent say it’s getting worse. Despite the most positive outlook in four years, Gallup expects Americans will require additional economic growth before confidence moves into positive territory. More here.

Purchase Loan Demand Edges Up From Last Week

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, total mortgage loan application volume fell last week though purchase demand edged up slightly. The Market Composite Index, which measures both refinance and purchase loan volume, was down 4.8 percent, largely due to a 6.0 percent drop in refinance activity. But though down from the previous week, refinance volume still accounts for 80 percent of applications and remains at elevated levels. Purchase loan demand was up 1.0 percent. Also, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages ticked up to 3.65 percent from 3.63 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 and here.