Tightening Rental Market, Lower Rates, Home Prices and More: The Week in Housing

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This week the housing market offered better rates, allowing refinancing to increase again. The Multi Housing Council released its quarterly survey, and Clear Capital declared an official double-dip in home prices.

Interest Rates Favorable Again

Mortgage rates were more attractive again for the week ending May 5th, 2011.  Freddie Mac reported a decrease in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate from 4.78% to 4.71%.  The 15-year fixed rate declined from 3.97% to 3.89%.

The rates this week were lower because of economic growth disappointing analysts.  However that could change. The ADP jobs report came out on Friday with the economy adding 244,000 new jobs.  Despite the increase, unemployment rose to 9.0% as the number of jobs being added hasn’t kept up with population increases.  I still believe we’re headed for a higher interest rate environment unless the economy slides further.

Refinance Activity Back Up

Refinance activity increased for the week ending April 29th, 2011.  Lower mortgage rates caused an increase in refinances and a slight bump in purchase activity, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.  The Market Composite Index was up 4.0% week-over-week, lead by refinances (up 6.0%) and followed by purchase money applications (up 0.3%).  When considering the 4-week moving average, refinances are flat, while purchase applications are down 2.4%.

Refinance activity is typically the sign of an unhealthy housing market and favorable interest rate environment.  Until substantial improvements happen in purchase money applications, we’re likely to only see slight improvements in home sales.  Of course any improvement at this point is good.

Multi-Family Index Proves Strong Rental Market

The National Multi Housing Council released its quarterly Survey of Apartment Housing Conditions.  The survey’s Market Tightness category registered a record 90 on a scale of 1-100.  That number represents very low vacancy and rising rents.  Also the Equity Financing category set a record at 76 showing that the market is flush with capital and financing options.

This is one of the strongest Apartment Housing Condition surveys in recent history.  The survey showed a very tight market with rising rents, better access to capital, surging debt financing and improving sales.  If you own single-family units, you’re likely experiencing lower vacancies and rising rents as well.  This is especially noticeable in high-quality areas where there is generally tighter supply.

Clear Capital Confirms Housing Double-Dip.

Home prices were affected by winter in the first quarter of 2011, according to Clear Capital.  Clear Capitals Home Data Index (HDI) fell in the month ending April, 2011.  The HDI showed home prices 0.7% below March 2009’s low signaling a double-dip housing market. Year-over-year home prices declined in the US 5.0%.  Further REO saturation stood at 34.5%.  Essentially over 1/3 of all home sales are foreclosure sales.  According to the HDI, the BEST performing cities were Charlotte, NC (-1.4%), Washington, D.C. (-1.6%), Tucson, AZ (-1.7%), Dallas (-1.7%).  The worst performing were Detroit, MI (-13.4%), Hartford, CT (-12.8%), Milwaukee, WI (-12.6%).

There’s no question home prices continue to decline.  This comes on the heels of contrasting data with regards to multi-family rent increases and tightening supplies.  When the prices do finally stabilize we should see price growth turn around quickly.  On a weekly basis it’s certainly hard to see the improvements in the market but there are several consistencies happening; a tighter rental market, lower early-stage delinquency, and record low home building. Because of this the fundamentals continue to improve in the housing space.

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About Author

Ryan Hinricher is a Real Estate Entrepreneur, Blogger, Change Advocate and Founder of Investor Nation, a concierge realty and real estate investment company focused on the needs of the residential investment home community.

7 Comments

  1. John Evan Miller on

    This is a very accurate account for the current happenings in the real estate arena; however, it sadly shows that home prices continue to fall, mortgage rates continue to tumble, and the housing crisis continues to be a big issue throughout the country.

    • John,

      I agree, things still look ugly in general, but there is much opportunity in the market. I think there are great trading/flipping opportunities and one can hold the rental market is strong.

  2. why would the real estate market “bounce back”? The evidence is quite to the contrary – we are moving to a new normal. Look at the numbers. And think of what happens when interest rates rise.

    Doesn’t mean there aren’t values out there, but anyone moving thinking prices are going to rise any time soon is toast.

    • Charles,

      Depending on the job market in a specific locality the real estate market could certainly bounce back. D.C. for example never busted as didn’t New York and sub-markets within certain metro areas.

      I fully agree that anyone looking to speculate on price rises and discount the income side is going to have a painful ride.

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