Saturday, March 26, 2011

Real Estate Market Update -- PV Brokers Palos Verdes

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Real Estate Market Update

Market Comment

Mortgage bond prices rose last week helping mortgage interest rates improve.  Flight to safety buying of US debt instruments helped rates improve as the Japanese stock market struggled.  Oil prices eased a bit early in the week.  However, clashes in Saudi Arabia Thursday sent prices back above $100/barrel.  Core inflation readings remained relatively in check however the headline figures exceeded expectations.  The Fed?s recent statement noted ?short-term? increases in food and energy prices but indicated the spikes are not expected to spill over to the core.  Despite the mixed data mortgage bonds ended the week better by about 1/4 of a discount point.

The weekly jobless data and Treasury auction will receive a lot of attention this week amid continued global economic uncertainty.



Date & Time



Existing Home Sales

Monday, March 21,
10:00 am, et

Down 6%

Low importance.  An indication of mortgage credit demand.  Significant weakness may lead to lower rates.

New Home Sales

Wednesday, March 23,
10:00 am, et


Important.  An indication of economic strength and credit demand.  Weakness may lead to lower rates.

Weekly Jobless Claims

Thursday, March 24,
8:30 am, et


Important.  An indication of employment.   Higher claims may result in lower rates.

Durable Goods Orders

Thursday, March 24,
8:30 am, et

Up 0.8%

Important.  An indication of the demand for ?big ticket? items.  Weakness may lead to lower rates.

10YR TIPS Treasury Note Auction

Thursday, March 24,
1:15 pm, et


Important.  $11 billion of notes will be auctioned.  Strong demand may lead to lower mortgage rates.

Q4 GDP 3rd estimate

Friday, March 25,
8:30 am, et


Very important.  The aggregate measure of US economic production.  Weakness may lead to lower rates.

U of Michigan Consumer Sentiment

Friday, March 25,
10:00 am, et


Important.  An indication of consumers? willingness to spend.  Weakness may lead to lower mortgage rates.

Existing Home Sales

The National Association of Realtors releases existing home sales data near the end of each month.  The data is derived from a sampling of MLS data across the nation.  The release shows the current sales rate for existing single-family, coops, and condos.  A national figure and 4 regional figures are provided.  The NAR Chief Economist indicated in February the current methodology used to calculate the benchmarks will be revised in the near future.  There is no timetable for the revision.

The housing market is a critical component of the US economy.  A house is usually one of the largest assets a consumer owns.  Housing usually leads market recoveries.  Unfortunately the housing industry remains in transition as the effects of massive foreclosures still weigh heavily.  Most analysts agree that the housing market will remain wobbly for some time.  The important thing to remember is that housing is a ?local? issue.  The maxim about housing being strongly tied to  ?location, location, location? still holds true.  The overall housing market shows signs of trouble while there are areas that don?t follow the overall trend.

While the data usually isn't a big market mover it still has the potential to result in some market volatility.  The release usually includes remarks from the Chief Economist regarding prices, inventory, and interest rates.

In addition, the above-consensus housing starts print was less robust than meets the eye as the entire gain (and then some) was a surge in multi-family. Multi-family is a volatile series, and the strength, to some degree, is a reflection of a tightening rental market. Though affordability is at a multi-decade high and the benefits of ownership vs. renting is at a 10-year high, the bad taste of lower home prices continue to impact the residential real estate market. In fact, single-family starts dropped by 4,000 in January! January housing permits stood at only 562,000, in line with consensus but down by 100,000 from December 2010 (which was buoyed by anticipatory permiting ahead of the implementation of new building codes in 2011). Of late, foreclosures have begun to reaccelerate, and the shadow inventory will continue to weigh on housing activity throughout the year. Housing, from my perch, is scrapping along the bottom even though production has been well under household formation for some time.


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