New-Home Sales Hit 10-Year High – According to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau, sales of newly built single-family homes rose 18.9 percent last month. This represented the highest sales rate since October 2007, with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 667,000 units. Compared to last year, new-home sales are 8.6 percent above their level during the same period in 2016. “New-home sales have bounced back from a few soft months and have returned to the strong growth trend we saw earlier this year,” says National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “As existing home inventory remains tight, we can expect new homes sales to continue to make gains in the months ahead.”
Single Female Buyers Back at Record Levels – Based on the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, single women are making up a bigger share of sales. Single females comprised 18 percent of sales this year, which matches the highest share since 2011. Single women were the second most common household buyer type, behind married couples at 65 percent. Single women tend to purchase slightly pricier homes than single men, despite earning less, according to the report. “Solid job prospects, higher incomes, and improving credit conditions translated to continued momentum in the growing share of single female buyers,” according to NAR’s report. Single men, on the other hand, aren’t as likely to buy alone. For the second consecutive year, the overall share of single male buyers was 7 percent, which is below unmarried couples at 8 percent.
Borrowers More Cautious as Rates Rise – According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage rates inched higher last week, prompting more buyers and homeowners to retreat from taking out loans. Total mortgage application volume, which includes refinancing and home purchases, dropped 2.6 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. The index is now 20 percent lower than a year ago. Refinances saw the largest drop last week at 5 percent. Refinance applications are 38 percent lower than the same week a year ago, when interest rates were lower. Mortgage applications for home purchases dropped 1 percent during the week. However, purchase applications are still 10 percent higher than a year ago. The average on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to its highest level since July last week at 4.22 percent, the MBA reports.
Despite Odds, Ownership Rate Moves Higher – The U.S. Census Bureau reported that despite tight housing inventories and rising home prices, the homeownership rate rose slightly in the third quarter and reached the highest level since 2014. The homeownership rate rose to 63.9 percent in the third quarter, up slightly from 63.5 percent a year ago, the Census Bureau reported. While the uptick isn’t considered statistically significantly, economists were still somewhat upbeat that the homeownership rate has now moved up for a second consecutive quarter. Also, more Americans are showing a preference for owning a home. The number of owner households increased by 755,000 from a year ago, while the number of renter households fell by 348,000, according to the Census Bureau report.