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Thursday, January 26, 2023

New Home Sales at 616,000 Annual Rate in December; Previous 3 Months Revised Down Sharply

by Calculated Risk on 1/26/2023 10:47:00 AM

Today, in the Calculated Risk Real Estate Newsletter: New Home Sales at 616,000 Annual Rate in December; Previous 3 Months Revised Down Sharply

Brief excerpt:

The next graph shows the months of supply by stage of construction. “Months of supply” is inventory at each stage, divided by the sales rate.

Active InventoryThere are 1.4 months of completed supply (red line). This is close to the normal level.

The inventory of new homes under construction is at 5.7 months (blue line). This elevated level of homes under construction is due to supply chain constraints.

And about 1.9 months of potential inventory have not been started (grey line) - about double the normal level. Homebuilders are probably waiting to start some homes until they have a firmer grasp on prices and demand.
As previously discussed, the Census Bureau overestimates sales, and underestimates inventory when cancellation rates are rising, see: New Home Sales and Cancellations: Net vs Gross Sales. So, take the headline sales number with a large grain of salt - the actual negative impact on the homebuilders is far greater than the headline number suggests!

This will reverse when cancellation rates start declining. When a previously cancelled home is resold, the home builder counts it as a sale, but the Census Bureau does not (since it was already counted).

There are a large number of homes under construction, and this suggests we will see a further sharp increase in completed inventory over the next several months - and that will keep pressure on new home prices.
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New Home Sales at 616,000 Annual Rate in December; Annual Sales down 16.4% in 2022

by Calculated Risk on 1/26/2023 10:09:00 AM

The Census Bureau reports New Home Sales in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 616 thousand.

The previous three months were revised down sharply.

Sales of new single‐family houses in December 2022 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 616,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 2.3 percent above the revised November rate of 602,000, but is 26.6 percent below the December 2021 estimate of 839,000.

An estimated 644,000 new homes were sold in 2022. This is 16.4 percent below the 2021 figure of 771,000.
emphasis added
New Home SalesClick on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows New Home Sales vs. recessions since 1963. The dashed line is the current sales rate.

New home sales are below pre-pandemic levels.

The second graph shows New Home Months of Supply.

New Home Sales, Months of SupplyThe months of supply decreased in December to 9.0 months from 9.2 months in November.

The all-time record high was 12.1 months of supply in January 2009. The all-time record low was 3.5 months, most recently in October 2020.

This is well above the top of the normal range (about 4 to 6 months of supply is normal).
"The seasonally‐adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of December was 461,000. This represents a supply of 9.0 months at the current sales rate."
New Home Sales, NSAThe last graph shows sales NSA (monthly sales, not seasonally adjusted annual rate).

In December 2022 (red column), 47 thousand new homes were sold (NSA). Last year, 61 thousand homes were sold in November.

The all-time high for December was 87 thousand in 2005, and the all-time low for December was 23 thousand in 2010.

This was at expectations of 614 thousand SAAR, however sales in the three previous months were revised down sharply. I'll have more later today.

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims decrease to 186,000

by Calculated Risk on 1/26/2023 08:37:00 AM

The DOL reported:

In the week ending January 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 186,000, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 190,000 to 192,000. The 4-week moving average was 197,500, a decrease of 9,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 750 from 206,000 to 206,750.
emphasis added
The following graph shows the 4-week moving average of weekly claims since 1971.

Click on graph for larger image.

The dashed line on the graph is the current 4-week average. The four-week average of weekly unemployment claims decreased to 197,500.

The previous week was revised up.

Weekly claims were below the consensus forecast.

BEA: Real GDP increased at 2.9% Annualized Rate in Q4

by Calculated Risk on 1/26/2023 08:32:00 AM

From the BEA: Gross Domestic Product, Fourth Quarter 2022 (Advance Estimate)

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 3.2 percent. ...

The increase in real GDP reflected increases in private inventory investment, consumer spending, federal government spending, state and local government spending, and nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by decreases in residential fixed investment and exports. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.

The increase in private inventory investment was led by manufacturing (mainly petroleum and coal products as well as chemicals) as well as mining, utilities, and construction industries (led by utilities). The increase in consumer spending reflected increases in both services and goods. Within services, the increase was led by health care, housing and utilities, and "other" services (notably, personal care services). Within goods, the leading contributor was motor vehicles and parts. Within federal government spending, the increase was led by nondefense spending. The increase in state and local government spending primarily reflected an increase in compensation of state and local government employees. Within nonresidential fixed investment, an increase in intellectual property products was partly offset by a decrease in equipment.

Within residential fixed investment, the leading contributors to the decrease were new single-family construction as well as brokers' commissions. Within exports, a decrease in goods (led by nondurable goods excluding petroleum) was partly offset by an increase in services (led by travel as well as transport). Within imports, the decrease primarily reflected a decrease in goods (led by durable consumer goods).

Compared to the third quarter, the deceleration in real GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected a downturn in exports and decelerations in nonresidential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and consumer spending. These movements were partly offset by an upturn in private inventory investment, an acceleration in federal government spending, and a smaller decrease in residential fixed investment. Imports decreased less in the fourth quarter than in the third quarter.
emphasis added
PCE increased at a 2.1% rate, and residential investment decreased at a 26.7% rate. The advance Q4 GDP report, with 2.9% annualized increase, was above expectations.

I'll have more later ...

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Thursday: GDP, New Home Sales, Durable Goods, Unemployment Claims

by Calculated Risk on 1/25/2023 09:00:00 PM

Mortgage RatesNote: Mortgage rates are from and are for top tier scenarios.

• At 8:30 AM ET, Gross Domestic Product, 4th quarter and Year 2022 (Advance estimate). The consensus is that real GDP increased 2.6% annualized in Q4.

• Also at 8:30 AM, The initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released.  The consensus is for 205 thousand initial claims, up from 190 thousand last week.

• Also at 8:30 AM, Durable Goods Orders for December. The consensus is for a 2.6% increase in durable goods.

• Also at 8:30 AM, Chicago Fed National Activity Index for December. This is a composite index of other data.

• At 10:00 AM, New Home Sales for December from the Census Bureau. The consensus is for 614 thousand SAAR, down from 640 thousand in November.

• At 11:00 AM, the Kansas City Fed manufacturing survey for January.

Freddie Mac: Mortgage Serious Delinquency Rate unchanged in December

by Calculated Risk on 1/25/2023 04:52:00 PM

Freddie Mac reported that the Single-Family serious delinquency rate in December was 0.66%, unchanged from 0.66% November. Freddie's rate is down year-over-year from 1.12% in December 2021.

Freddie's serious delinquency rate peaked in February 2010 at 4.20% following the housing bubble and peaked at 3.17% in August 2020 during the pandemic.

These are mortgage loans that are "three monthly payments or more past due or in foreclosure".

Fannie Freddie Seriously Delinquent RateClick on graph for larger image

Mortgages in forbearance are being counted as delinquent in this monthly report but are not reported to the credit bureaus.

The serious delinquency rate was at 0.60% just prior to the pandemic; this is almost back to that level.

Note that multi-family delinquencies have been increasing and were at 0.12% in December, up from 0.08% in December 2021.

Vehicle Sales Forecast: Vehicle Sales to Increase in January

by Calculated Risk on 1/25/2023 02:48:00 PM

From WardsAuto: U.S. Light-Vehicle Sales to Rise 5th Straight Month in January; Q1 Forecast for 4% Gain (pay content).  Brief excerpt:

The bottom line is raw volume is growing, albeit slowly, with a forecast year-over-year gain in January, as well as the entire first quarter. Because of the chaos of the past three years, January’s upward spike to a 15.6 million-unit seasonally adjusted annual rate from December’s 13.4 million is more a result of disruption to typical year-end seasonal trends than a sudden surge in demand.
emphasis added
Vehicle Sales ForecastClick on graph for larger image.

This graph shows actual sales from the BEA (Blue), and Wards forecast for January (Red).

The Wards forecast of 15.6 million SAAR, would be up 17% from last month, and up 3% from a year ago.

Vehicle sales are usually a transmission mechanism for Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy, far behind housing.  This time vehicle sales have been more suppressed by supply chain issues, but sales are probably now also being impacted by higher interest rates. 

Black Knight: Mortgage Delinquency Rate Increased in December; Prepayments at Record Low

by Calculated Risk on 1/25/2023 12:20:00 PM

From Black Knight: Black Knight’s First Look: Mortgage Delinquencies Closed 2022 Down 9% for the Year, While Prepayments Hit Third Consecutive Record Low

The national delinquency rate inched up 7 basis points in the month to 3.08%, but finished the year 30 basis points (-9%) below its December 2021 level

• Prepayment activity fell to 0.39% – with single month mortality (SMM) hitting its third consecutive record low dating back to 2000 when Black Knight began reporting the metric

• Serious delinquencies (90+ days past due) continued to improve nationally despite an 8.7K rise in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian, with 44 other states seeing seriously past-due volumes decline in the month

• Borrowers 30 days late increased by 40K, up 4.8%, while 60-day delinquencies stayed flat

• Foreclosure starts increased by 15% in the month to 26,900 – the third consecutive increase, but still 30% below pre-pandemic levels

• Foreclosure was started on 4.9% of serious delinquencies in December, up from November, but still 46% below the start rate seen in December 2019 prior to the pandemic

• Active foreclosure inventory rose by 2.3% in the month, though volumes remained subdued throughout 2022 after the record lows of 2021 due to widespread moratoriums and forbearance protections
emphasis added
According to Black Knight's First Look report, the percent of loans delinquent increased 2.3% in December compared to November and decreased 9% year-over-year.

Black Knight reported the U.S. mortgage delinquency rate (loans 30 or more days past due, but not in foreclosure) was 3.08% in December, up from 3.01% in November.

The percent of loans in the foreclosure process increased slightly in December to 0.37%, from 0.37% in November. 

The number of delinquent properties, but not in foreclosure, is down 146,000 properties year-over-year, and the number of properties in the foreclosure process is up 70,000 properties year-over-year.

Black Knight: Percent Loans Delinquent and in Foreclosure Process
In Foreclosure0.37%0.37%0.24%0.33%
Number of properties:
Number of properties
that are delinquent,
but not in foreclosure:
Number of properties
in foreclosure
pre-sale inventory:
Total Properties1,850,0001,808,0001,927,0003,429,000

AIA: Architecture Billings "Continue to Decline" in December

by Calculated Risk on 1/25/2023 10:06:00 AM

Note: This index is a leading indicator primarily for new Commercial Real Estate (CRE) investment.

From the AIA: Architecture billings continue to decline

Demand for design services from U.S. architecture firms continued to contract in December, according to a new report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The pace of decline during December slowed from November, posting an Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score of 47.5 from 46.6 (any score below 50 indicates a decline in firm billings). Inquiries into new projects posted a positive score of 52.3, however new design contracts remained in negative territory with a score of 49.4.

“Despite strong revenue growth last year, architecture firms have modest expectations regarding business conditions this coming year,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “With ABI scores for the entire fourth quarter of 2022 in negative territory, a slowdown in construction activity is expected later this year, though the depth of the downturn remains unclear.”
• Regional averages: Midwest (49.4); South (48.6); Northeast (46.5); West (45.5)

• Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (54.8); institutional (47.3); commercial/industrial (45.2); multi-family residential (44.3)
emphasis added
AIA Architecture Billing Index Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. The index was at 47.5 in December, up from 46.6 in November. Anything below 50 indicates contraction in demand for architects' services.

Note: This includes commercial and industrial facilities like hotels and office buildings, multi-family residential, as well as schools, hospitals and other institutions.

This index had been positive for 20 consecutive months but indicated a decline the last three months.   This index usually leads CRE investment by 9 to 12 months, so this index suggests a pickup in CRE investment in early 2023, but a slowdown in CRE investment later in 2023.

Note that multi-family billing turned down in September and has been negative for four consecutive months and is at the lowest level since May 2020.   This suggests we will see a downturn in multi-family starts sometime in 2023 (multi-family starts probably have already peaked).

MBA: Mortgage Applications Increase in Latest Weekly Survey

by Calculated Risk on 1/25/2023 07:00:00 AM

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

Mortgage applications increased 7.0 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 20, 2023. This week’s results include an adjustment for the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

... The Refinance Index increased 15 percent from the previous week and was 77 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 3 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 1 percent compared with the previous week and was 39 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage rates declined for the third straight week, which is good news for potential homebuyers looking ahead to the spring homebuying season. Mortgage rates on most loan types decreased last week and the 30-year fixed rate reached its lowest level since September 2022 at 6.2 percent,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “Overall applications increased with both gains in purchase and refinance activity, but purchase applications remained almost 39 percent lower than a year ago. Homebuying activity remains tepid, but if rates continue to fall and home prices cool further, we expect to see potential buyers come back into the market. Many have been waiting for affordability challenges to subside.”

Added Kan, “Despite a 15 percent increase in refinances, they were still 77 percent behind last year’s pace, as rates remained more than two percentage points higher, thus providing very little refinance incentive for most borrowers who are locked into lower rates.”
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($726,200 or less) decreased to 6.20 percent from 6.23 percent, with points increasing to 0.69 from 0.67 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans.
emphasis added
Mortgage Refinance IndexClick on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows the refinance index since 1990.

With higher mortgage rates, the refinance index declined sharply in 2022.

Three weeks ago, the refinance index was at the lowest level since the year 2000, but it has rebounded a little as rates declined.

The second graph shows the MBA mortgage purchase index.

Mortgage Purchase Index According to the MBA, purchase activity is down 39% year-over-year unadjusted.

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