Residential Construction Loans Grow As Equity Climbs and Housing Appreciation Slows

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While home equity is still climbing, led by the Western region, appreciation is slowing down according to the CoreLogic Home Equity Report released This Week in Real Estate. Below are a few highlights from the first week of December that influence our business:

Active Home Buyers are Spending Significant Amounts of Time Looking for the Right Home

In the third quarter of 2018, 13% of adults in NAHB’s Housing Trends Report poll report planning to purchase a home in the next 12 months.  Of that group, 46 percent are not merely planning it, they are already actively engaged in the search for the right home to buy.  And they are spending significant amounts of time looking. In fact, 54% of those actively engaged in the process have been trying to find the right home for three months or longer. Why is it taking this long? The number one reason active home buyers gave in the third quarter of 2018 is they can’t find a home at a price they can afford (49%), followed by not being able to find a home with the desired set of features (40%). Not far behind, 38% can’t find a home in the right neighborhood. And finally, a critical question: what are these veteran house hunters, who have already actively looked for at least three months, going to do if their dream house remains elusive in the months ahead: 61% will continue looking for the ‘right’ home in the same preferred location, 37% will expand the search area, 23% is willing to accept a smaller/older home, and 16% might buy a more expensive home. One option that is not in the cards for most of them: giving up. Only 18% will stop trying to find a home.

Home Price Appreciation is Slowing Down: Equity is Still Climbing, Just Not as Fast as Before

The average homeowner gained $12,400 in equity in one year’s time, according to CoreLogic’s Home Equity Report for the third quarter of 2018. And while that’s not exactly nothing, it’s the smallest annual increase in two years. Last quarter’s report revealed an increase of $16,000 in home equity. CoreLogic analyzed data on more than 50 million U.S. properties with a mortgage. Its report revealed that homeowners with mortgages (which account for 63% of all properties) saw their home equity increase 9.4% from last year. While the rate of growth may be slowing, almost every state experienced some growth, with the Western region posting the most notable uptick. California homeowners gained an average of $36,500 in home equity, while Nevada, Washington and Oregon homeowners saw their equity increase by approximately $32,600, $27,000 and $9,000, respectively. The number of homes with negative equity also fell in the third quarter. The data shows that, year over year, negative-equity homes – or homes that have liens that exceed their value – fell 16% to 2.6 million homes. “On average, homeowners saw their home equity increase again this quarter, but not nearly as much as in previous quarters,” said CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft. “During the third quarter, homeowners gained an average of $12,400 compared to the second quarter when the average home equity wealth increase was more than $16,000.”

Continued Residential Construction Loan Growth 

The volume of residential construction loans increased by 2.8% during the third quarter of 2018, marking 22 consecutive quarters of growth. Furthermore, recent stabilization of year-over-year growth rates is an indicator of continued, modest growth for single-family construction. Tight availability of acquisition, development and construction (AD&C) loans has been a limiting or cost factor for home building growth, but easing credit conditions and a growing loan base have helped expand residential construction activity. According to data from the FDIC and NAHB analysis, the outstanding stock of 1-4 unit residential construction loans made by FDIC-insured institutions rose by $2.2 billion during the third quarter of 2018, raising the total stock of outstanding loans to $79 billion. On a year-over-year basis, the stock of residential construction loans is up 8%, which has been a useful indicator of the additional volume builders intend to add to construction activity. Since the first quarter of 2013, the stock of outstanding home building construction loans has grown by 95%, an increase of $38 billion.

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