The national housing market is continuing to stabilize. According to Freddie Mac’s Multi-Indicator Market Index (MiMi), half of the markets across the country are showing positive gains. While the national MiMi value of 74.4 indicates a weak housing market overall, the index posted a 0.51 percent improvement from August to September. Year-over-year, the index is up 3.68 percent. Since the market’s all-time low of 59.8 in September 2011, the market has rebounded 24.4 percent.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is on the upswing as builder confidence climbed four points on the index to 58. Builders are more confident in today’s market because consumers are more confident. Low interest rates, reasonable home prices, and an improving job market make home buying not only an attractive option but a viable one. As a result, builders are seeing more committed buyers walking through their sales centers and signing contracts. The news is welcome after the slow start to 2014. For the past five months, the HMI has stayed north of the 50-point mark. Economists with the NAHB expect builder confidence to continue to climb in the new year.
How Low Can They Go?
At the beginning of December, mortgage rates dropped to the lowest levels of the year. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.89 percent, the lowest rate posted since May 2013. At the same time last year, mortgage rates were 4.46 percent. Economists have long maintained that mortgage rates will increase, and they predict that rates will climb to five percent by the end of 2015.
Good News for Most
For the second straight month, existing-home sales rose in October. According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales climbed 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.26 million. For the first time in a year, sales are above year-over-year levels. Most areas of the country experienced gains in sales. In the Northeast, existing-home sales rose 2.9 percent month-over-month and 4.4 percent year-over-year. Sales climbed 5.1 percent in October in the Midwest, a 2.5 percent increase over October 2013 sales. The gains continued in the South, where sales jumped 2.8 percent from a month earlier and 5.3 percent from a year earlier. Only the West posted a drop in existing-home sales. Month-over-month, sales declined 5.0 percent; when compared with October 2013, sales are down 3.4 percent. NAR economists believe existing-home sales will continue to improve. Low interest rates, stabilizing price growth, and an improving housing supply should convince buyers that now is the right time to purchase a new home.