Consumer confidence reached a five-month peak in December, paralleling the growth in builder confidence, which reversed a four-month decline. This upswing is responding primarily to positive economic indicators such as cooling inflation, a resilient job market, and declining interest rates. The Commerce Department reported Last Week in Real Estate that single-family housing starts surged by 18 percent in November compared to the previous month, hitting an annual rate of 1.14 million units – the quickest pace since April 2022. This marks the third consecutive monthly increase in single-family housing starts, surpassing home completions for the first time since spring 2022. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped for the eighth week in a row, staying below seven percent for the second consecutive week, following seventeen weeks above that threshold. Below are a few newsworthy events from the third week of December that influence our business: SINGLE-FAMILY STARTS SURGE ON FALLING INTEREST RATES. Single-family construction surged in November as lower mortgage rates helped to assuage affordability concerns and unleash pent-up demand for housing. Overall housing starts increased 14.8% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.56 million units. Within this overall number, single-family starts increased 18% to a 1.14 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. However, single-family starts are down 7.2% year-to-date. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, increased 6.9% to an annualized 417,000 pace. NAHB is forecasting approximately a 4% gain for single-family starts in 2024. Overall permits decreased 2.5% to a 1.46-million-unit annualized rate in November. Single-family permits increased 0.7% to a 976,000-unit rate. However, single-family permits are down 8.4% year-to-date. Multifamily permits decreased 8.5% to an annualized 484,000 pace. The number of single-family homes actively under construction is rising again. There are now 680,000 single-family homes under construction, the highest count since June 2023. Read the full story here. MORTGAGE RATES DROPPED TO THEIR LOWEST LEVEL SINCE JUNE. U.S. mortgage rates continued to plunge this week. After dropping under 7% last week for the first time since mid-August, rates fell again this week. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate fell to an average of 6.67% in the week ending December 21, down from 6.95% the previous week, according to data from Freddie Mac released Thursday. It was the eighth-straight week of declines, dragged lower by the anticipation of Federal Reserve rate cuts beginning next year. “Lower rates are bringing potential homebuyers who were previously waiting on the sidelines back into the market,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist said in a statement. “A rise in homebuilder confidence, followed by new home construction reaching its highest level since May, signals a response to meet heightened demand as current inventory remains low,” Khater said. Read the full story here. U.S. CONSUMER CONFIDENCE JUMPS TO FIVE-MONTH HIGH; HOME SALES EKE OUT GAINS. U.S. consumer confidence increased to a five-month high in December, with Americans growing more optimistic about current and future business conditions as well as the labor market, which could help to underpin the economy early next year. The jump in confidence reported by the Conference Board on Wednesday occurred across all age groups and household income levels. Though consumers continued to worry about inflation, many were planning to buy motor vehicles, houses and major appliances like refrigerators and clothes dryers over the next six months. The improvement in confidence was likely driven by rising stock markets, a decline in the average rate on the most popular mortgage from 23-year highs as well as lower gasoline prices. That fits in with economists’ expectations that the economy would avoid a recession next year. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index increased to 110.7 this month, the highest reading since July. Read the full story here.
Take advantage of superior service and the convenience of one-stop shopping for the best loan and insurance coverage to fit your needs. Home warranty coverage is available through America’s #1 home warranty company,
American Home Shield.