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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Thursday: Housing Starts, Unemployment Claims, Philly Fed Mfg

by Calculated Risk on 6/19/2024 07:52:00 PM

• At 8:30 AM ET, Housing Starts for May.  The consensus is for 1.380 million SAAR, up from 1.360 million SAAR in April.

• Also, at 8:30 AM, The initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released.  The consensus is for 240 thousand initial claims, down from 242 thousand last week.

• Also, at 8:30 AM, the Philly Fed manufacturing survey for June. The consensus is for a reading of 4.5, unchanged from 4.5 last month.

The Art of the Soft Landing

by Calculated Risk on 6/19/2024 01:51:00 PM

Yesterday, Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Jan Hatzius wrote:
Last week's benign US inflation data reinforced our view that the Q1 spike was an aberration. Meanwhile, the labor market stands at a potential inflection point where a further softening in labor demand would hit actual jobs, not just open positions, and could therefore push up the unemployment rate more significantly. We thus continue to expect two Fed rate cuts this year (in September and December) ...
emphasis added
The "Art of the Soft Landing" requires that the Fed reduce rates quick enough to keep economic growth positive, and slow enough not to reignite inflation.  My view is a soft landing is achieved if growth stays positive, inflation returns to target, and the yield curve flattens or reverts to normal (long yields higher than short yields).

The good news is growth has stayed positive and inflation has moved closer to the 2% target.  However, the yield curve is still inverted, and we are not out of the woods yet.

10-Year Treasury Constant Maturity Minus 2-Year Treasury Constant MaturityHere is a graph of 10-Year Treasury Constant Maturity Minus 2-Year Treasury Constant Maturity from FRED since 1976.  

If Hatzius is correct that the reported pickup in Q1 inflation was an "aberration", it seems like the FOMC will cut rates soon (probably September).

Most market participants expect 2 rate cuts this year, with the first cut in September. 

NAHB: Builder Confidence Declined in June

by Calculated Risk on 6/19/2024 10:00:00 AM

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported the housing market index (HMI) was at 43, down from 45 last month. Any number below 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as poor than good.

From the NAHB: High Mortgage Rates Act as a Drag on Builder Confidence

Mortgage rates that continue to hover in the 7% range along with elevated construction financing costs continue to put a damper on builder sentiment.

Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes was 43 in June, down two points from May, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today. This is the lowest reading since December 2023.

“Persistently high mortgage rates are keeping many prospective buyers on the sidelines,” said NAHB Chairman Carl Harris, a custom home builder from Wichita, Kan. “Home builders are also dealing with higher rates for construction and development loans, chronic labor shortages and a dearth of buildable lots.”

“We are in an unusual situation because a lack of progress on reducing shelter inflation, which is currently running at a 5.4% year-over-year rate, is making it difficult for the Federal Reserve to achieve its target inflation rate of 2%,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “The best way to bring down shelter inflation and push the overall inflation rate down to the 2% range is to increase the nation’s housing supply. A more favorable interest rate environment for construction and development loans would help to achieve this aim.”

The June HMI survey also revealed that 29% of builders cut home prices to bolster sales in June, the highest share since January 2024 (31%) and well above the May rate of 25%. However, the average price reduction in June held steady at 6% for the 12th straight month. Meanwhile, the use of sales incentives ticked up to 61% in June from a reading of 59% in May. This metric is at its highest share since January 2024 (62%).
All three HMI component indices posted declines in June and all are below the key threshold of 50 for the first time since December 2023. The HMI index charting current sales conditions in June fell three points to 48, the component measuring sales expectations in the next six months fell four points to 47 and the gauge charting traffic of prospective buyers declined two points to 28.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast held steady at 62, the Midwest dropped three points to 47, the South decreased three points to 46 and the West posted a two-point decline to 41.
emphasis added
NAHB HMI Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the NAHB index since Jan 1985.

This was below the consensus forecast.

MBA: Mortgage Applications Increased in Weekly Survey

by Calculated Risk on 6/19/2024 07:00:00 AM

From the MBA: Mortgage Applications Increase in Latest MBA Weekly Survey

Mortgage applications increased 0.9 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending June 14, 2024.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 0.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 0.1 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 0.4 percent from the previous week and was 30 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 2 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 0.1 percent compared with the previous week and was 12 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage rates dropped last week following the latest inflation data and the FOMC meeting, with the 30- year conforming rate dropping to 6.94 percent and reaching its lowest level since the end of March,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s SVP and Chief Economist. “Purchase applications increased a small amount for the week, led by applications for conventional loans. Refinance application volume was also down slightly for the week but remains about 30 percent higher than this time last year.”

Added Fratantoni, “Purchase volume is still more than 10 percent behind last year’s pace, but MBA is forecasting a pickup in home sales for the remainder of the year as more inventory is hitting the market.”
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($766,550 or less) decreased to 6.94 percent from 7.02 percent, with points decreasing to 0.61 from 0.65 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans.
emphasis added
Mortgage Purchase IndexClick on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows the MBA mortgage purchase index.

According to the MBA, purchase activity is down 12% year-over-year unadjusted.  

Red is a four-week average (blue is weekly).  

Purchase application activity is up slightly from the lows in late October 2023, and below the lowest levels during the housing bust.  

Mortgage Refinance Index
The second graph shows the refinance index since 1990.

With higher mortgage rates, the refinance index declined sharply in 2022, and mostly flat lined since then with a slight increase recently.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Wednesday: Markets Closed, Homebuilder Survey

by Calculated Risk on 6/18/2024 07:27:00 PM

Mortgage Rates Note: Mortgage rates are from and are for top tier scenarios.

• All US markets will be closed in observance of Juneteenth National Independence Day

• At 7:00 AM ET, The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release the results for the mortgage purchase applications index.

• At 10:00 AM, The June NAHB homebuilder survey. The consensus is for a reading of 46, up from 45 last month. Any number above 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as poor than good.

Lawler: Early Read on Existing Home Sales in May

by Calculated Risk on 6/18/2024 04:26:00 PM

Today, in the Calculated Risk Real Estate Newsletter: Lawler: Early Read on Existing Home Sales in May

A brief excerpt:

From housing economist Tom Lawler:

Based on publicly-available local realtor/MLS reports released across the country through today, I project that existing home sales as estimated by the National Association of Realtors ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.13 million in May, down 0.2% from April’s preliminary pace and down 2.4% from last May’s seasonally adjusted pace.
There is more in the article.

4th Look at Local Housing Markets in May; California Home Sales Down 6% YoY in May

by Calculated Risk on 6/18/2024 01:28:00 PM

Today, in the Calculated Risk Real Estate Newsletter: 4th Look at Local Housing Markets in May; California Home Sales Down 6% YoY in May

A brief excerpt:

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is scheduled to release May Existing Home Sales on Friday June 21st at 10 AM ET. The early consensus is for 4.10 million SAAR, down from 4.14 million in April, and down from 4.23 million in May 2023.
Closed Existing Home SalesIn May, sales in these markets were down 0.8% YoY. Last month, in April, these same markets were up 7.1% year-over-year Not Seasonally Adjusted (NSA). However, there were two more working days in April 2024 than in April 2023, so seasonally adjusted, sales were down YoY last month.

Sales in all of these markets are down compared to May 2019.
This is a small year-over-year decrease NSA for these markets. There were the same number of working days in May 2024 compared to May 2023, so the year-over-year change in the seasonally adjusted sales will be about the same as the NSA data suggests.
More local markets to come!
There is much more in the article.

Industrial Production Increased 0.9% in May

by Calculated Risk on 6/18/2024 09:15:00 AM

From the Fed: Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization

Industrial production rose 0.9 percent in May. Manufacturing output posted a similar gain of 0.9 percent after declining in the previous two months. The index for mining increased 0.3 percent in May, and the index for utilities advanced 1.6 percent. At 103.3 percent of its 2017 average, total industrial production in May was 0.4 percent higher than its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization moved up to 78.7 percent in May, a rate that is 0.9 percentage point below its long-run (1972–2023) average.
emphasis added
Capacity UtilizationClick on graph for larger image.

This graph shows Capacity Utilization. This series is up from the record low set in April 2020, and above the level in February 2020 (pre-pandemic).

Capacity utilization at 78.7% is 0.9% below the average from 1972 to 2022.  This was above consensus expectations.

Note: y-axis doesn't start at zero to better show the change.

Industrial Production The second graph shows industrial production since 1967.

Industrial production increased to 103.3. This is above the pre-pandemic level.

Industrial production was above consensus expectations.

Retail Sales Increased 0.1% in May

by Calculated Risk on 6/18/2024 08:30:00 AM

On a monthly basis, retail sales were "virtually unchanged" from March to April (seasonally adjusted), and sales were up 3.0 percent from April 2023.

From the Census Bureau report:

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for May 2024, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $703.1 billion, up 0.1 percent from the previous month, and up 2.3 percent above May 2023. ... The March 2024 to April 2024 percent change was revised from virtually unchanged to down 0.2 percent.
emphasis added
Retail Sales Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows retail sales since 1992. This is monthly retail sales and food service, seasonally adjusted (total and ex-gasoline).

Retail sales ex-gasoline were up 0.3% in May.

The second graph shows the year-over-year change in retail sales and food service (ex-gasoline) since 1993.

Retail and Food service sales, ex-gasoline, increased by 2.6% on a YoY basis.

Year-over-year change in Retail Sales The change in sales in May was below expectations, and sales in March and April were revised down.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Tuesday: Retail Sales, Industrial Production

by Calculated Risk on 6/17/2024 07:00:00 PM

Mortgage Rates From Matthew Graham at Mortgage News Daily: Mortgage Rates Back Above 7% to Start New Week

Mortgage rates moved modestly higher to start the new week. With the average top tier 30yr fixed rate just under 7% on Friday, this meant a move to just over 7% today. [30 year fixed 7.05%]
emphasis added
• At 8:30 AM: Retail sales for May is scheduled to be released.  The consensus is for a 0.3% increase in retail sales.

• At 9:15 AM: The Fed will release Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization for May. The consensus is for a 0.2% increase in Industrial Production, and for Capacity Utilization to increase to 78.6%.