Residential construction spending year-to-date through July reported This Week in Real Estate totals $289.891 billion, $150.219 billion of it on single-family houses. Below are a few highlights from the first week of September that influence our business:
NAR’s Yun: Mortgage Rates May Tumble to Record 3.3% by 2019’s End. Fixed mortgage rates could fall to 3.3% by the end of the year as the nation’s economy slows, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors. That would put the rate just a smidge below the 3.31% seen in November of 2012 – the lowest average for a 30-year fixed mortgage in Freddie Mac data going back to 1971. “But lower rates may not help with affordability because home prices are re-accelerating higher, easily above the latest wage growth. Housing inventory has recently stopped rising, putting upward pressure on home prices of moderately priced homes,” Yun said. “But there is still a time to get the economy into a higher gear with the increased home building of affordable homes and lessening trade tensions.”
A Smaller Share of Prospective Buyers is Actively Looking For a Home. A national poll in the second quarter of 2019 revealed that 12% of adults are thinking about buying a home in the next 12 months. Of that group, 41% are already actively engaged in the process of finding a home to purchase, which is a smaller share than a year earlier, when 50% of prospective buyers were engaged in the search process. This finding suggests that the lower mortgage rate environment of 2019 has not had the expected effect of nudging more people to start looking for a home to buy. Across generations, about 40% of Millennials, Gen X’ers, and Boomer buyers have moved beyond just planning and begin the home search, compared to only 21% of Senior buyers. Geographically, prospective buyers in the Northeast are the most likely to be actively looking for a home (47%), followed by those in the West (43%), and those in the Midwest and South (both 39%). How long are buyers who are actively engaged in the search process hunting for a home? In the second quarter of 2019, 45% had been at it for less than 3 months while the other 55% had been trying to find the right home for 3 months or longer. Those shares were essentially unchanged from a year earlier, when they stood at 46% and 54%, respectively.
Residential Construction Spending Drops Further Off 2018 Pace. Construction spending inched up by 0.1 percent in July, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.289 trillion compared to $1.288 trillion in June. The July figure is 2.7 percent lower than the rate of spending in July 2018. On an unadjusted basis, spending for the month was $119.214 billion and for the year-to-date (YTD) stands at $733.782 billion, down 2.1 percent from the $749.888 billion spent during the first seven months of 2018. Private sector spending on residential spending was at an annual rate of $506.743 billion compared to $503.515 billion in June, an increase of 0.6 percent but down 6.6 percent from the prior July. Single-family construction was at a rate of $268.138 billion a 1.4 percent month-over-month gain but a decrease of 8.5 percent on an annual basis. For the YTD, total residential spending has totaled $289.891 billion, $150.219 billion of it on single-family houses. During the same period in 2018, the respective totals were $316.929 billion and $164.529 billion. These represent declines of 8.5 and 8.7 percent.