Existing Home Sales Rise 4.4% In March, Median Prices Over $750K Growing At >30%

Ah, Spring is here and existing home sales rose 4.4% in March.

While existing home sales are still around pre-bubble levels (2002), the median price of existing home sales are now above the peak of the housing bubble.

Climbing median prices with slowly recoverying existing home sales? How about lack of inventory as a suspect. Inventory of existing homes is still around 2000/2001 levels.

Here is something different. Median prices for existing home sales under $500,000 are tepid to declining.

But median prices for homes over $750,000 rose at over 30% in March.

Low inventory + super low interest rates?

I call this the “Yellen Meteor” in home prices.

Wells Fargo Mortgage Applications Fall To Lowest Since 2005* (The Wells Fargo Mortgage Wagon ISN’T Coming!)

It is reporting season for American banks and Wells Fargo’s came out today. first-quarter-earnings-supplement

Of particular interest is the decline in residential mortgage applications for Wells Fargo, the lowest since 2005. Because that is the last year for which there is data on Bloomberg for Wells Fargo.*

Mortgage originations? About the same as Q1 2016, but substantially below levels seen in 2012. Q1 2017 is the second lowest level of originations sine 2005.

It just isn’t Wells Fargo. Take Bank of America. But Wells claimed their niche was the residential mortgage market while other banks retreated from the market.

Low wage growth coupled with regulatory overreach by Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has diminished residential mortgage lending by the banks.

So, the Wells Fargo (mortgage lending) wagon isn’t coming. And it isn’t for other big banks either. But PROFITS increased for mortgage bankers  in 2016.

While Wells Fargo was still the leading mortgage originator in Q3 2016, shadow bank Quicken is challenging Chase for 2nd place with PennyMac challenging US Bank for 4th place in the mortgage origination derby.

Maybe Dan Gilbert, the CEO of Quicken Loans and the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, should adopt the Wells Fargo wagon song for Quicken! Because it seems that Wells Fargo’s wagon isn’t bring the home loans as expected.

MBA Residential Mortgage Application Index Hits Highest Level Since May 2010 .. And It Is Only April!!

As mortgage interest rates hit a new 2017 low, we now see mortgage purchase applications rising to its highest level since May 2010.

This new level is in spite of mortgage originations for borrowers with credit scores under 620 playing a lesser than during the financial crisis. Although mortgage originations for borrowers with credit scores under 620 are at their highest level since March 2010. So both mortgage purchase applications (SA) and under 620 credit score mortgage borrowers are at their highest levels since 2010.

With the worst wage recovery after a recession in modern history, expanding the “credit envelope” is about the only way to expand mortgage lending.

In other words, mortgage credit for borrowers under 620 FICO score is expanding at the fastest pace since Dodd-Frank and The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau were created in 2010.

Elizabeth Warren, architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

 

US construction spending rose to nearly 11-year high?? (how about slowed to 3% YoY)

According to the US Census Bureau (as interpreted by Fox News). US construction spending rose to nearly an 11 year high.

WASHINGTON – U.S. developers ramped up construction spending in February to the largest amount in nearly 11 years, led by more building of homes, highways and schools.

The Commerce Department says construction spending rose 0.8 percent in February to the highest level since April 2006, after two months of declines.

Builders are rapidly putting up more homes in response to strong demand that has pushed up prices for existing homes. Yet it hasn’t yet been enough to relieve a shortage of homes for sale. The accelerated building could boost the economy this year.

State and local governments spent 0.9 percent more on construction, driven by roads, schools and recreational buildings.

The federal government, meanwhile, cut construction spending for the second straight month and has cut back 9 percent from a year ago.

Here is the report from the Census Bureau.

The 11-year headline from Fox is really overselling the report.

In fact, construction spending has slowed dramatically YoY to 3% for February 2017.

Non-residential construction spending? It slowed to under 1% in February YoY.

Residential construction spending actually rose 6.36% YoY, but still remains considerably lower than the 22.6% YoY in August of 2015.

The more accurate headline should have been “Construction Spending Slows.” But that is not a feel-good business headline.

But I suppose that Fox News’ headline is better than the Pawnee Sun headline.

Freddie Mac Serious Delinquencies Fall To Lowest Since June 2008 As Home Prices Grow At 5.87% YoY Clip

Freddie Mac reported that the Single-Family serious delinquency rate in February was at 0.98%, down from 0.99% in January.  Freddie’s rate is down from 1.26% in February 2016.  That is the lowest reading since June 2008.

Notice how tame serious delinquencies were during the housing/credit bubble. The US seems to be repeating the housing bubble in terms of house price growth and low serious delinquencies, but without the higher levels of mortgage originations to borrowers with credit scores less than 620.

Bear in mind, the Case-Shiller reading is for January and it is almost April. Be that as it may, home price growth is at 5.73% YoY versus wage growth at 2.3% YoY, over 2x. And yes, Seattle, Portland and Denver lead the nation in YoY growth in home prices. The slowest growing cities? New York City and Cleveland (the Shooting Guards JR Smith/Iman Shumpert effect having been traded from the Knicks to the Cavaliers).

It says here that when home prices are growing at two times wage growth it would mean we have a housing bubble … again.

 

 

 

New Home Sales Rise 6.1% MoM in February (Mostly In Midwest) Following -3.7% Decline in Existing Home Sales

New home sales rose by 6.1% in February, greater than expected.

The biggest winner? The Midwest! (Home of the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians and … Pawnee Indiana!)

The growth in new home sales has lagged existing home sales since 2009.

But in terms of median price, median price for new home sales has been accelerating from median price for existing home sales since 2009.

Existing home sales? Down 3.7% MoM in February.

The Midwest includes Pawnee Indiana!

US 1-Unit Housing Starts Increase 6.47% In Febuary, Back To 1993 Levels (Despite 25% Increase In Population Since 1993)

According to the US Census Bureau, housing starts rose 2.96% in February.

However, 1-unit (detached) housing starts rose 6.47%, finally getting back to 1993 levels. However, the US population rose 25% from 1993 to 2015.

Of course, there is also multifamily housing which fell -7.69% in February. But the general trend in multifamily starts has been higher in recent years than before the financial crisis and housing bubble.

Housing starts in the West rose 35.71% in February while other regions were down. Authorizations (permits) showed the same pattern except for the Midwest which rose 25.38% with all other regions declining.

After all, with the Cleveland Cavaliers as the reigning NBA champions and the Cleveland Indians making it to the World Series (before losing to the Chicago Cubs), it is not surprising that housing permits are up in Ohio.

Oh wait. I forgot about the Cleveland Browns that won only one game last year. Perhaps they should change their name to the Cleveland Gremlins.