The Home Buyer's Korner

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March 17th, 2014

What Home Buyers Need to Know for the Week of March 17, 2014

Guy looking up in colorUnusually severe winter weather conditions affected housing-related indicators as home builders and home buyers continued to stay on the sidelines.  However, last week’s economic reports effecting home purchasing provided some upbeat news as compared to the recent slumps.

Employment is probably the most major factor in the decision for buying a home for most of us. Want-a-be-home buyers received a vote of confidence last week as January’s job openings increased by one million for January as compared to December’s reading of 39 million jobs looking for workers.

Weekly jobless claims fell from 324,000 to 315,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported expectations of 330,000 new jobless claims, making this report was good news. Weekly reports are more volatile than monthly statistics; analysts typically track employment trends by reviewing rolling averages of several weeks’ new jobless claims data, but with spring right around the corner and a hard winter things are looking up.

Like gas prices Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose as well last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by nine basis points to 4.37 percent. 15-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.38 percent; this was an increase of six basis points. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 3.09 percent, up from the previous week’s reading of 3.03 percent. Discount points dipped from 0.70 to 0.60 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and remained unchanged for 15-year and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages at 0.60 and 0.40 percent.

Retail Sales increased for the first time in three months according to the Commerce Department. February retail sales surpassed expectations of a 0.20 percent gain and came in at 0.30 percent. January figures were downwardly adjusted to -0.60 percent. Retail sales exclusive of automotive sales were also higher at 0.30 percent than expectations of 0.10 percent.

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment index was slightly lower at 79.9 than expectations of 80.8. This was the lowest reading in four months, and was attributed in part to higher gas prices and consumer concerns over developments in Ukraine.

What’s Ahead for the Week?

The NAHB Home Builder Index for March, Housing Starts and Building Permits for February, and Existing Home Sales are set for release.

On Wednesday, the Fed’s FOMC statement will be released and Fed Chair Janet Yellen will give a press conference. The Fed is expected to continue its ongoing tapering of quantitative easing.

Weekly Jobless Claims and Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey round out the week.

If you’re interested in learning more about home ownership in your city be sure to visit our local Google+ Communities. Here you’ll find great information from real estate agents, mortgage lenders and general contractors in your neighborhood.