For the first time since at least World War II mortgage rates are below 4% while at the same time the unemployment rate is below 4%. As a result, CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft predicts This Week in Real Estate that home prices will increase at a faster pace over the next 12 months than they have in 2019. Below are a few highlights from the first week of October that influence our business:
CoreLogic Says U.S. Home-Price Gains Will Accelerate Through 2020. CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said the pace of home-price gains will quicken over the next 12 months as low mortgage rates give buyers the ability to pay more for properties. Home prices probably will increase 5.8% in the 12 months through August 2020, Nothaft said in an exclusive interview with HousingWire. That’s a faster pace than the 3.6% growth seen in August 2019 from a year earlier. Rates for fixed mortgages will probably stay below 4% through the end of 2020, Nothaft said. “We’re in a very special environment for housing demand – for the first time since at least World War II we have mortgage rates below 4% while at the same time the unemployment rate is below 4%,” Nothaft said. “That’s a golden period that will stimulate activity, and we expect sub-4 mortgage rates and sub-4 unemployment rate through at least the end of 2020.”
Mortgage Activity Posts Solid Year-Over-Year Gains. The Mortgage Bankers’ Association’s latest Weekly Application Survey, for the week ending September 27, 2019, showed sharp increases in the year-over-year gains in purchasing and refinancing activity of all mortgages, of 9.6% and 132.9%, respectively (seasonally adjusted). Throughout most of the current year since mid-March, refinancing activity on a year-over-year basis has been particularly strong this year, holding steady from late June through mid-August, and then surging in the fall. All mortgage activity, on a year-over-year, seasonally adjusted basis started in the negative territory at the beginning of 2019 but picked up quickly through the rest of the year, owing most of it to refinancing activity. Per the latest Weekly Application Survey’s report, the year-over-year gain in all mortgage activity stands at 57.1%. The share of refinancing activity, in turn, increased to 58.0% of total applications from 54.9% the previous week. Total market size of home refinances and purchases increased by 5,200 applications from the previous week to 326,700 applications, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.
Unemployment Falls to 3.5% in September. The job market is slowing but still showing solid gains as total employment increased by 136,000 and the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage points to 3.5%. Residential construction employment increased by 3,400 in September, after an increase of 100 jobs in August (revised). Total construction industry (both residential and nonresidential) employment totaled about 7.5 million in September. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Employment Situation Summary for September. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 136,000 in September, following an increase of 168,000 jobs in August. Monthly employment growth has averaged 161,000 per month for the first nine months of 2019, compared with the average monthly growth of 223,000 overall of 2018. Over the past twelve months, total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 2.1 million, with the average monthly growth of 179,000. In September, the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage points to 3.5%. It was the lowest rate since December 1969.