The job market this year has steadily grown each month. Last month, 157,000 jobs were added to the recovering economy, and jobless claims have continued to decline weekly. Consumer confidence has also trended upward according to Economist Richard Curtin who said “consumer confidence continued to improve in February due to expected gains in employment.” Curtin also suggested that job growth has eased concerns about federal spending and payroll taxes. More here
Freddie Mac’s recently released Economic and Housing Market Outlook for October shows housing contributed 0.3 percentage points to GDP growth in the first half of 2012 after being a net drag from 2006 through 2010. The housing sector is also expected to contribute to growth during the second half of the year. Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s vice president and chief economist, said the recovery has been unlike any other over the past 65 years but we are now seeing housing resume its traditional role of leading the charge. Also in the report, Freddie Mac projects 7 million borrowers will refinance their loans in 2012, resulting in $15 billion in mortgage-payment savings over the first year. That savings will help further boost the economy by strengthening homeowners’ financial situations and overall consumer confidence. More here.
Last week, economic confidence experienced its greatest one-week improvement since Gallup began daily tracking in January 2008. Gallup’s index posted an 11-point spike in confidence, nearing a high for the year and ending an extended period where the index reflected Americans’ uncertainty about the economy. The gains coincide with a University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers report showing an uptick in consumer confidence in August. But, though consumers’ attitudes about their present financial situation improved, their outlook on the future and expectation of wage gains were unchanged. Many respondents cited reductions in outstanding debt, rather than increasing income, as the reason for their improved financial standing. More here and here.
The results of Fannie Mae’s August 2012 National Housing Survey show Americans are uncertain about the direction of the economy but are optimistic about the housing market. According to the latest survey, which polled 1,001 Americans to assesses their attitudes toward the economy, housing, and consumer confidence, fewer respondents feel the economy is on the right track, with just 33 percent saying its headed in the right direction. But despite the decreasing number of Americans expressing confidence in current economic conditions, an increasing number of participants see positive trends in housing data. Among the survey’s highlights, just 11 percent of respondents said they expect home prices to fall over the next year, the lowest level ever recorded. Also, a majority of Americans said now is a good time to buy a home and 18 percent said it was a good time to sell, the highest percentage recorded since the survey began in 2010. Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, said consumer attitudes toward the housing market remain modestly positive despite the muted economic recovery. More here and here.
The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development released their new home sales estimates for July. According to the data, sales of newly built single-family homes rose 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 372,000. June’s rate was was revised upward to 359,000. New home sales are now 25.3 percent higher than they were a year ago, further evidence of improvement in the market and gaining consumer confidence. The median sales price of new homes sold in July was $224,200; the average price was $263,200. At the current sales pace, there was a 4.6-month supply of new houses available for sale at the end of July. More here and here.
The housing recovery is real and broad based, according to a new national housing report. The report, which compiles MLS data from approximately 53 metropolitan areas across the country, found home sales have now risen for 12 consecutive months and prices have been climbing for the past five months. A combination of factors are drawing buyers and sellers back to the market, including record-low mortgage rates, attractive prices, and increasing consumer confidence. Of the 53 included metropolitan areas, 40 markets have seen higher sales compared to a year earlier and 31 report increases in both sales and prices. Also, the average number of days a home is on the market before selling is now 84, which is the lowest its been since August 2010. More here and here.
Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey polls 1,001 Americans each month to assess their attitudes toward homeownership, renting, mortgage rates, foreclosures, the economy, household finances, and overall consumer confidence. The results of June’s survey show Americans are increasingly optimistic about the housing market despite concerns about the broader economy and their personal finances. Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist, said consumers’ attitudes about the housing market continue to improve. According to Duncan, consumers are increasingly seeing the current environment as a unique opportunity to buy a home while prices are depressed, rental costs are increasing, and interest rates are near historic lows. According to the survey, Americans expect home prices to increase 2.0 percent over the next year. Among participants, 35 percent said prices would rise over the next 12 months, which is the largest percentage in the survey’s two-year history. Also, the number of respondents who said they would buy their next home if they were going to move rose 6.0 percent to 69 percent, which is the highest level ever recorded. The number of Americans who said it was a good time to buy a home increased to 73 percent. More here and here.
Each month, Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey polls more than 1,000 Americans to assess their attitudes toward homeownership, renting, the economy, household finances, mortgage rates, and overall consumer confidence. In May, the survey found Americans hopeful about the housing market and national economy, though somewhat pessimistic about their personal finances. According to the results, 72 percent of respondents say now is a good time to buy a home and 34 percent believe home prices will rise over the next 12 months. Americans expect prices to rise by 1.4 percent, which is the highest value yet recorded. The percentage of participants who said the economy is on the right track also hit an all-time high in May, reaching 38 percent. But despite continued positivity in consumer attitudes toward broader economic conditions, nearly half of respondents said they believe their personal financial situation will remain the same over the next 12 months and 32 percent said their expenses have increased significantly over the past year. More here and here.
Improvements in the labor market and overall economy have led to optimistic forecasts for the housing market in 2012. In their latest Economic and Housing Market Outlook report, Freddie Mac sees an awakened economy spurring housing forward after years of somewhat depressed conditions. Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s vice president and chief economist, says a variety of encouraging indicators suggest that the housing market may be feeling a nascent recovery and more neighborhoods may see stabilization of demand and values this spring. The report cites increases in housing starts and sales and continued gains in home builder and housing professionals’ confidence as evidence of an improved market. It also credits low mortgage rates and high affordability, along with consumer confidence and perceptions of the job market, as a reason behind increased housing demand. More here.
Barclays Capital recently upgraded their outlook on homebuilder stocks based on increased optimism in the housing market. Improvements in builder and consumer confidence, combined with economic growth and more favorable inventory levels, have homebuilders expecting a strong spring and summer for housing. Stephen Kim, an analyst with Barclays, says the spring selling season has arrived strongly enough to kick-start a positive feedback loop in housing for the first time since 2005. Barclays analysts expect 1 million housing starts by 2013 and gradual price increases over the next few years. More here and here.