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Market Minute - May 20, 2019

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Housing/Real Estate Market 

April California home sales remained stagnant despite declining interest rates, yet median home price reached new high: Even as demand for existing single-family detached homes weakened and sales stumbled -0.1% when compared to March, the statewide median home price set another record high in April, hitting $602,920.

California housing affordability climbs in first quarter of 2019: C.A.R.’s Housing Affordability Index (HAI) showed slight improvement, with 32% of households cable to afford the median priced home compared to 28% in the last quarter of 2018. While a welcome improvement, affordability remains low and continues to be California’s #1 market challenge.

U.S. home sales expected to be stronger: NAR’s midyear forecast calls for rising home sales this year, driven by the continued economic expansion, increased wage growth, consistent year-over-year growth of inventory for the last 8 months, strong consumer confidence, a growing labor market, and low interest rates.

Builders’ sentiment improved, reflecting confidence in the economy: Despite the American home builders’ confidence year-to-date average of 62 still being lower from last year’s average of 67, May reported the highest reading of 66 in the last 7 months.

Housing starts rose almost 6% in April, but builders’ pace is still lagging last year’s pace: Construction of new houses increased to an annual rate of 1.24 million compared to a revised 1.17 million from March. However, building permits on the other hand barely rose 1%, suggesting that the growth in new construction moving forward will continue to be modest.

Macro Economy

California payrolls jump in April: Employment growth for the Golden State has been stable, but more moderate this year as payrolls rose 1.6% on a year-over-year basis and unemployment on the other hand remained unchanged at 4.3%. However, California continues to add a significant number of jobs each month.

NFIB small-business optimism index jumped to four-month high in April: 8 out of 10 components of the index increased, led by earnings trends. Meanwhile labor market indicators remained extremely positive, but hiring has begun to moderate.

Retail sales in April struggled to reach same level as March: U.S. retailers reported a 0.2% decline in sales, which points to consumers being cautious over how they spend their money and showing more restraint than las year.

Industrial productionslumped 0.5.% in April: The Fed announced that industrial capacity utilization fell sharply to 77.9% from an upwardly revised 78.8%. The report for the most part indicated an under performance particularly in automotive industry, chemical products and consumer energy products.

The consumer sentiment index increased in May to 102.4: Despite lackluster retail sales, consumers’ sentiment towards the economy improved from last month’s reading of 97.2 – to a 15-year high. The report also found that consumer expectations rose at fastest rate in more than seven years as it climbed from 87.4 in April to 96 in May.

Weekly jobless claims decline to lowest level in a month: The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits sank by 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 212,000. The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits also dropped by 28,000 to 1.66 million.  Hinting at a strong labor market with no signs of deterioration, punctuated by the lowest unemployment rate in half a century.

Real Estate Finance

Mortgage rates decrease slightly once again: The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for last week averaged 4.07% down from the week prior which saw a 4.10% interest rate. Rates are almost half a basis point lower than they were a year ago, which should continue to provide a window of opportunity for buyer thinking of homeownership.

Mortgage applications had a healthy increase of 15.6% in April from a year ago: Likely due to lower interest rates for the same time period, despite having slightly higher home prices.

Delinquencies in February are lowest in nearly two decades: CoreLogic’s Loan Performance Insights report indicated that loans 30 days or more delinquent were down to 4% from a 4.8% reported last year. The transition rates, which measure the share of mortgages that transition from current to 30-days past due remained unchanged from last year at 1%. This shows a healthy and strong mortgage market.

Past Market Minutes

May 13, 2019 - Slow but upward trending price growth, widening trade deficit, mortgage applications slightly up
May 6, 2019 - Low home price appreciation, weak income growth, dropping mortgage rates
April 29, 2019 - Existing and new home sales, economic growth, rates up, mortgage applications down
April 22, 2019 - Moderate CA sales and price, slow start for spring building, rising rates 
April 15, 2019 - Optimistic homebuyers, new home purchase applications, mortgage rates
February 11, 2019 - Over-asking-price home sales, consumer credit, trade deficit, mortgage application
February 4, 2019 - Residential construction, Feds Funds Rate, new home sales
January 22, 2019 - Home sales, consumer sentiment, and mortgage rates
January 14, 2019 - Home prices, job growth, interest rates
December 24, 2018 - Home sales, builder sentiment, stock market volatility 
December 17, 2018 - Delinquencies and foreclosures, job reports, inflation
December 10, 2018 - Construction spending, unemployment, mortgage applications
December 3, 2018 - Loan limits, national pending, gross domestic product, home delinquencies
October 29, 2018 - National pending, gross domestic product, mortgage applications
October 15, 2018 -  Construction spending, stock market, mortgage applications
October 1, 2018 - Revised permits, Chicago's fed, mortgage applications

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