Home Price Appreciation Continues To Push Forward. CoreLogic revealed This Week in Real Estate a notable acceleration in home prices, registering a year-over-year increase of 5.2% in November, with a 0.2% uptick from the previous month. This follows a 4.7% annual gain observed in October. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released on Thursday indicates a 0.3% rise in the core Consumer Price Index (CPI) for December, aligning with expectations. Excluding the volatile categories of food and energy, the core CPI shows a 3.9% annual increase, marking the lowest since May 2021. It is noteworthy that the Federal Reserve’s target inflation rate is 2%, as measured by the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index. In November, the PCE recorded a 2.6% annual measurement. Below are a few newsworthy events from the second week of January that influence our business: U.S. HOME PRICE INSIGHTS – JANUARY 2024. Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased year over year by 5.2% in November 2023 compared with November 2022. On a month-over-month basis, home prices increased by 0.2% in November 2023 compared with October 2023. The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices will decrease on a month-over-month basis (-0.2%) from November 2023 to December 2023 and increase on a year-over-year basis by 2.5% from November 2023 to November 2024. “Home price appreciation continued to push forward in November, despite the new highs in mortgage rates seen over the year. And while the annual growth reflects comparison with last year’s declines, seasonal gains remain in line with historical averages. This continued strength remains remarkable amid the nation’s affordability crunch but speaks to the pent-up demand that is driving home prices higher. Markets where the prolonged inventory shortage has been exacerbated by the lack of new homes for sale recorded notable price gains over the course of 2023,” said Dr. Selma Hepp, chief economist for CoreLogic. Read the full story here. INFLATION DATA KEEPS LOW RATE HOPES ALIVE. The much-anticipated Consumer Price Index (CPI) was released this week. For those seeking evidence that inflation will soon be back at the Fed’s target level, it wasn’t the triumph it might have been. Even so, rates managed to move lower. Mortgage rates and, indeed, most rates are determined by trading levels in the bond market. Bond yields/rates move higher when inflation is high, and the market has been waiting on signs of lower inflation before trading in a way that allows interest rates to move lower. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is the biggest name in monthly inflation reports. It’s caused big reactions in rates many times over the past few years. In recent months, it’s been showing more and more promise regarding a return to inflation levels that would allow for significantly lower rates. This week’s report definitely stopped short of providing resounding confirmation that inflation is defeated. That said, it didn’t send any signals that were too troubling either. With that in mind, it’s not too surprising that rates actually didn’t move much in response to CPI. If anything, the initial impulse was toward slightly higher rates. It wasn’t until the following day’s Producer Price Index (PPI) that bond traders saw better evidence of calmer inflation. Both CPI and PPI have been moving lower, but PPI is now all the way back down to target levels. Read the full story here. U.S. MORTGAGE APPLICATIONS JUMP 10 PERCENT IN THE FIRST WEEK OF 2024. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 5, 2024, the Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 9.9 percent from one week earlier. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased six percent from one week earlier. The holiday adjusted Refinance Index increased 19 percent from the previous week. “Despite an uptick in mortgage rates to start 2024, applications increased after adjusting for the holiday,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “The increase in purchase and refinance applications for both conventional and government loans is promising to start the year but was likely due to some catch-up in activity after the holiday season and year-end rate declines. Read the full story here.
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