Last week’s economic news brought several reports related to housing. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for August rose by two points to 55, which was its highest reading in seven months.
Components of the NAHB HMI include builder surveys on conditions related to upcoming sales of new homes, which rose by two points for a reading of 65. Builder sentiment concerning present sales conditions also rose by two points to 58.
Builder views on prospective buyer traffic rose from 39 to 42. Readings above 50 indicate that more builders viewed housing market conditions as positive as negative.
NAHB cited job growth and low mortgage rates as conditions driving higher builder confidence in market conditions.
Housing Starts, Building Permits Up in July
According to the Commerce Department, housing starts and building permits rose in July. Housing starts increased to 1.09 million from June’s reading of 945,000 and exceeded expectations of 975,000. This reading reflects higher builder confidence and could contribute to easing demand for housing as new homes expand the inventory of available homes.
Construction of single family homes accounts for about 75 percent of new home construction. July’s reading was 656,000 single family housing starts on an annual basis. Regionally, housing starts declined by 25 percent in the Midwest, but rose by 44 percent in the Northeast, 29 percent in the South and 18.60 percent in the West.
Building permits issued in July rose to an annual rate of 1.05 million, which was an increase of 8.10 percent over June’s reading of 973,000 permits issued. Permits for single family homes increased by 0.90 percent to a reading of 640,000 permits annually.
July’s readings for housing starts and building permits are in line with overall economic growth and suggest that housing markets may improve in coming months as the supply of new homes increases.
Let’s add more icing to the cake. The National Association of REALTORS® reported that existing home sales rose to 5.15 million on a seasonally adjusted annual basis against predictions of 5.00 million existing homes sold and June’s reading of 5.05 million sales of previously owned homes.
Mortgage Rates Fall, FOMC Minutes Indicate Economic Improvement
Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage rates reported that average rates fell across the board: The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to 4.10 percent with discount point lower at 0.50 percent.
The rate for a 15-year mortgag