The most recent residential real estate data has come in very weak bringing some concerns surrounding the near term future for U.S. housing:
- Housing starts fell 9.2% and building permits fell 4.2%
- New home sales fell 8.1% with sales falling in every region
- Pending home sales fell 1.1% on an expectation of 1.1%. There was a 2.6% rise in existing home sales but the pending home sales (which fell 1.1%) provide an better estimate of the market moving forward
- Case Shiller home prices fell 0.3% month over month, which was the first drop since 2012 on expectations of a 0.3% gain
- Mortgage applications fell 2.2% for the week ending July 25
- Builder sentiment remains strong but could fall back down to the reality of mortgage apps:
- Housing starts on a long term chart remain at depression lows:
- The homeownership rate has continued its decline:
This is due in large part to many young Americans under 35 delaying purchases because they are drowning in college debt and struggling to save for a down payment.
The 30 year mortgage rate reached a short term top around 4.5% to start 2014, but has fallen back to about 4.15% in recent weeks. The weakness in housing is occurring alongside a decline in rates making the data important to watch in the months ahead.