Last week’s economic reporting included readings from the National Association of Home Builders, data on sales of existing homes, and reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Unchanged in May
The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index reading for May was unchanged from April’s reading of 83. Readings higher than 50 indicate that most home builders were positive about housing market conditions.
Component readings for builder confidence in housing market conditions in May were mixed; builder confidence in current market conditions was unchanged with an index reading of 83; builder confidence in market conditions in the next six months rose one point to 81 and builder confidence in buyer traffic in new single-family housing developments dropped one point to 73. Readings for buyer traffic rarely exceeded 50 before the pandemic.
Robert Dietz, NAHB’s chief economist said that costs of land, labor, and building materials were expected to rise throughout 2021 and would drive home prices higher. Lower interest rates, shortages of pre-owned homes for sale, and interest in relocating to less congested suburban and rural areas continued to increase demand for single-family homes against severe shortages of homes for sale. Rapidly rising home prices squeezed first-time and moderate-income home buyers out of the market and caused some sales to fall through.
Sales of previously-owned homes fell in April and supported concerns about shortages of available homes. 5.85 million homes were sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, which was lower than the expected reading of 6.02 million sales and the March reading of 6.01 million sales of previously-owned homes. Rising home prices and short supplies of homes for sale continued to create high demand for homes.
Housing Starts Fall in April; Building Permits Issued Rise
The Commerce Department reported a sharp decrease in housing starts in April with 1.57 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. March housing starts were revised downward to 1.73 million starts, but this did not affect April’s reading being the highest pace of housing starts since 2006. Housing starts fell in the Midwest and South and rose in the Northeast and West.
Building permits held steady in April at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 1.76 million permits issued. Analysts expected 1.77 million building permits issued.
Mortgage Rates Rise; Jobless Claims Mixed
Mortgage rates rose last week as rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by six basis points to 3.00 percent on average. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.79 percent and were three basis points higher. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at an average rate of 2.59 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.70 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims fell to 444,000 initial claims filed last week from the previous week’s reading of 478,000 new claims filed. Continuing jobless claims rose to 3.75 million claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 3.64 million ongoing jobless claims filed.
This week’s economic reporting includes readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, data on new and pending home sales, and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.