Fed: Rates Increased for Second Time This Year

Jun 13, 2018 by

As predicted by all officials, the Fed raised rates for the second time in 2018—from 1.75 percent to 2 percent. The remainder of 2018 and 2019 may see more gradual hikes, with analysts predicting two more increases by year’s end in order to curb future inflation concerns following reports of a strong labor market and economic conditions.

“In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 1-3/4 to 2 percent. The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting strong labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation,” according to a Fed statement.

“Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability,” the statement continued. “The Committee expects that further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate will be consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions and inflation near the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective over the medium term.”

Indicators point to a healthy market with a declining unemployment rate and strong job gains.

“Job gains have been strong, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has declined. Recent data suggest that growth of household spending has picked up, while business fixed investment has continued to grow strongly. On a 12-month basis, both overall inflation and inflation for items other than food and energy have moved close to 2 percent. Indicators of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed, on balance,” according to a Fed statement.

The impact on mortgage rates? The cost of borrowing may continue to rise from the current average of 4.54 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, which dipped for the second consecutive week according to Freddie Mac—a short-term departure from the recent string of increases and which led to a 4 percent increase in purchase applications.

“We are still in the middle innings of rising interest rates; consumers should expect another three or four rounds of interest rate increases over the next 18 months” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), in a statement. “Mortgage rates will consequently continue to nudge higher. Fortunately, the economy is strong and wages are rising. If housing supply can be increased through more home building, then the negative impact of rising interest rates can be mitigated.”

Dominguez_Liz_60x60_4cLiz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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Midyear Update: Flat Forecast for Home Sales This Year

May 20, 2018 by

For the foreseeable future, the housing market will be plagued by scarce supply, according to presenters at the 2018 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, held recently in Washington, D.C.

With the economy and employment encouraging growth, home sales will be subdued, though still on an uphill track, according to National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, who discussed the market during the Residential Economic Issues and Trends Forum. A forecast by Yun projects 5.6 million sales in 2018—a 1.8 percent increase—and another 5.7 million in 2019. Home sales were up 1.1 percent in 2017 and 3.8 percent in 2016, according to NAR.

“Overall fundamentals remain solid, driven by a growing economy and steady job creation, which will sustain home sales in 2018 slightly above last year’s pace,” Yun said. “The worsening housing shortage means home prices are primed to rise further this year, too, hindering affordability conditions for homebuyers in markets across the country.”

Affordability is at its lowest in six years, according to the NAR Housing Affordability Index, and is expected to worsen. The disparity between earnings and home prices is severe: incomes increased 15 percent from 2011 to 2017, while home prices rose 48 percent. Affordability will be further tightened by increasing mortgage rates, which Yun expects will rise to 4.6 percent by year-end.

“Challenging affordability conditions have prevented a meaningful rise in the homeownership rate after having fallen to a 50-year low a few years ago,” said Yun. “To increase homeownership, more home construction is needed, which could be boosted by delivering regulatory relief to community banks, removing the lumber tariff, re-examining stringent zoning laws and training more workers for the construction industry.”

According to the forecast, ground-breaking is projected to reach 1.3 million starts in 2018, and 1.4 million starts in 2019—hardly an inroad.

The biggest cohort of homebuyers—millennials—are particularly struggling, with homes in their price point all but swallowed up, said Danielle Hale, chief economist at®, who joined Yun. According to data from®, there are 250,000 less properties in the starter tier (priced under $ 200,000) today than there were in 2015.

There is a brighter horizon, however.

“We are starting to see new listings grow in recent months,” Hale said. “The inventory shortage isn’t over—it took us years to get into an inventory rut, so it’s going to take us years to get out of it—but we do see signs of a turnaround.”

Hale and Yun were also joined by Jessica Lautz, director of Demographics and Behavioral Insights at NAR. According to Lautz, African American and Hispanic/Latino individuals, as well as those with college debt, are more challenged than others when it comes to homeownership.

“The homeownership rate amongst some ethnic groups hasn’t rebounded since the recession, and the ongoing affordability crisis has hampered potential buyers under 35, especially those with student debt, from accessing mortgage credit and making home purchases,” Lautz said.

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DeVita_Suzanne_60x60Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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Zillow Posts Banner Year. Did You?

Feb 12, 2018 by

Zillow Posts Banner Year.  Did You?

The post Zillow Posts Banner Year. Did You? appeared first on National Real Estate Post.

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Existing-Home Sales: A Dim End to a Bright Year

Jan 24, 2018 by

Existing-home sales in December dimmed, but, for the year, were at a record not seen in 11 years, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reports.

Existing-home sales in December totaled 5.57 million, a 3.6 percent decrease from November, but a 1.1 percent increase from one year prior. Inventory decreased 11.4 percent to 1.48 million, 10.3 percent lower than one year prior.

“Existing sales concluded the year on a softer note, but they were guided higher these last 12 months by a multi-year streak of exceptional job growth, which ignited buyer demand,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “At the same time, market conditions were far from perfect. New listings struggled to keep up with what was sold very quickly, and buying became less affordable in a large swath of the country. These two factors ultimately muted what should have been a stronger sales pace.

“Closings scaled back in most areas last month for this same reason,” Yun says. “Affordability pressures persisted, and the pool of interested buyers at the end of the year significantly outweighed what was available for sale.”

“Last year was a banner year for home sales,” says Joseph Kirchner, senior economist for®. “Strong employment and millennial demand pushed them to their highest level in 11 years. The drop we saw in December home sales is not surprising after the spikes we’ve seen over the last two months. Many unsuccessful summer buyers stayed in the market well into the fall, which led to higher October and November sales. Unfortunately, the fall frenzy didn’t leave much for December buyers, which is what you’re seeing in [these] numbers. You can’t buy a home if there’s nothing to buy.”

“Excluding the run-up to the housing bubble, last year was the best year for home sales so far,” says Ruben Gonzalez, economist for Keller Williams. “The current strength of the employment situation and consistent economic growth leads us to believe that the fundamentals driving demand for homes in 2018 will remain strong. Low inventory remains an issue for existing homes and may constrain sales if it persists throughout the year. We have seen persistent but slow improvement in construction of new homes, but so far demand for existing homes continues to outpace the addition of new inventory, especially in the entry-level price ranges. Overall, we look forward to 2018 being another strong year for home sales, likely similar in magnitude to the previous two years.”

Inventory is currently at a 3.2-month supply. Existing homes averaged 40 days on market in December, 12 days less than one year prior. All told, 44 percent of homes sold in December were on the market for less than one month.

“The lack of supply over the past year has been eye-opening, and is why, even with strong job creation pushing wages higher, home price gains—at 5.8 percent nationally in 2017—doubled the pace of income growth and were even swifter in several markets,” says Yun.

The metropolitan areas with the fewest days on market and most views in December, according to’s Market Hotness Index, were San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif., Colorado Springs, Colo., and Stockton-Lodi, Calif.

The median existing-home price for all types of houses (single-family, condo, co-op and townhome) was $ 246,800, a 5.8 percent increase from one year prior. The median price for an existing single-family home was $ 248,100, while the median price for an existing condo was $ 236,500.

Single-family existing-home sales came in at 4.96 million in December, a 2.6 percent decrease from 5.09 million in November and a 1.0 percent increase from 4.91 million one year prior. Existing-condo and -co-op sales came in at 610,000, an 11.6 percent decrease from November and a 1.7 percent increase from one year prior.

Twenty percent of existing-home sales in December were all-cash, with 16 percent by individual investors. Five percent were distressed.

All four of the major regions had lower sales in December, with existing-home sales falling 7.5 percent to 740,000 in the Northeast, with a median price of $ 261,400; 6.3 percent to 1.33 million in the Midwest, with a median price of $ 191,400; 1.7 percent to 2.30 million in the South, with a median price of $ 221,200; and 1.6 percent to 1.20 million in the West, with a median price of $ 367,400.

First-time homebuyers comprised 32 percent of existing-home sales in December, up from 29 percent in November.

“Rising wages and the expanding economy should lay the foundation for 2018 being the turning point towards an uptick in sales to first-time buyers,” Yun says. “However, if inventory conditions fail to improve, higher mortgage rates and prices will further eat into affordability and prevent many renters from becoming homeowners.”

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