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Economic Center Blog

Mark Fleming

Recent Posts

Best Cities To Maximize Borrowing Power For First-Time Home Buyers

By Mark Fleming on December 11, 2017

It’s a near certainty that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will raise the short-term Federal Funds rate this week. The CME group estimates the probability of a 25 basis-point increase at 90.2 percent. Some may fret about how this will impact the housing market, but they are missing the point on mortgage rates and affordability for first-time home buyers.

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Topics: Interest Rates, Federal Reserve, affordability, insider, mortgage rates

What's Keeping The Market Below Potential?

By Mark Fleming on November 20, 2017

First American’s proprietary Potential Home Sales model examines October 2017 data and includes analysis from First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming on how the real estate market is performing versus its potential.

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Topics: Interest Rates, Homeownership, Potential Home Sales, mortgage rates

Five Best Cities For Economic Opportunity

By Mark Fleming on November 16, 2017

Amazon’s very public search to identify the best location for its second headquarters made me wonder - what criteria would be helpful for young professionals when making their personal decision on where to live and work? Affordable housing would be important. For example, you can buy so much more home in Texas or Ohio than you can in California. But, when making the decision about where to live, considering what and how many job opportunities exist is also a critical point. The most attractive places to live for young professionals would be where housing costs are reasonable and great job opportunities are abundant. In other words, the top cities for economic opportunity.

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Topics: Real House Price Index, affordability, insider

Many Experts Miss The Point On Mortgage Rates And Affordability For First-Time Home Buyers

By Mark Fleming on November 6, 2017

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met for the second to last time this year. As most prognosticators expected, the FOMC decided to leave the short-term Federal Funds rate unchanged. While good news for those with credit card debt, car loans and adjustable rate mortgages, the impact of FOMC inaction, or action for that matter, is less clear for the mortgage market. Additionally, Jerome Powell was nominated to be the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve and he is widely believed to hold a similar stance on monetary policy as the current chair, Janet Yellen.

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Topics: Interest Rates, Federal Reserve, affordability, insider, mortgage rates

Hesitant Homeowners And Hurricanes Hit Housing Market

By Mark Fleming on October 20, 2017

First American’s proprietary Potential Home Sales model examines September 2017 data and includes analysis from First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming on how the real estate market is performing versus its potential.

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Topics: Interest Rates, Homeownership, Potential Home Sales, mortgage rates

Will Quantitative Un-Easing Make Housing Unaffordable?

By Mark Fleming on September 20, 2017

This month, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will consider again whether to increase the benchmark Federal Funds Rate for a third time this year. As I stated when the FOMC was contemplating a rate increase earlier this year, increasing the short-term Federal Funds rate has little impact on longer term rates like the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. But, more importantly, the FOMC may start reducing its $4.5 trillion portfolio of bonds purchased during the global financial crisis through various rounds of quantitative easing (QE). Almost 40 percent of that portfolio is mortgage backed securities (MBS) that the Fed started buying in 2009. As explained by the FOMC in June, the “Quantitative Un-Easing” plan, could begin at any point this year with the reduction of $4 billion a month in MBS. The pace of MBS sales would increase by $4 billion each quarter up to a maximum of $20 billion per month.

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Topics: Housing, Interest Rates, Federal Reserve, insider

How Will Hurricanes Harvey And Irma Impact Housing Market Potential?

By Mark Fleming on September 19, 2017

First American’s proprietary Potential Home Sales model examines August 2017 data and includes analysis from First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming on how the real estate market is performing versus its potential.

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Topics: Interest Rates, Homeownership, Potential Home Sales, mortgage rates

We Crowd-Sourced The Reason For Housing Supply Shortages

By Mark Fleming on September 15, 2017

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – the shortage of houses on the market is making it difficult for Americans to find homes to buy, which is especially concerning for the Millennial first-time home buyer. There are many possible reasons for the housing supply shortage, ranging from fear of paying a higher mortgage rate to insufficient equity keeping sellers at bay. Frequent readers of this blog will be familiar with our “prisoner’s dilemma” theory for the housing supply shortage.

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Topics: Housing, Real Estate Sentiment Index, insider

What The Post-Katrina Real Estate Market Can Tell Us About Hurricane Harvey’s Impact On Houston

By Mark Fleming on September 8, 2017

As Hurricane Harvey’s flood waters finally recede, the degree of damage is becoming more apparent. The most recent estimates indicate that flood damage could be assessed as high as $37 billion and that 70 percent of that damage is to property that is uninsured. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), more than 30 counties and more than 100,000 properties have been impacted in some way. Harris County alone accounts for 68 percent of the affected or damaged properties. FEMA estimates that more than 12,000 properties in Harris County have major damage or are destroyed. When the flood waters are finally gone and all the costs are accounted for, Harvey is likely to be the costliest hurricane in U.S. history.

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Topics: Housing, insider

The Struggle Is Real For First-Time Homebuyers

By Mark Fleming on August 23, 2017

First American’s proprietary Potential Home Sales model examines July 2017 data and includes analysis from First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming on how the real estate market is performing versus its potential.

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Topics: Interest Rates, Homeownership, Potential Home Sales, mortgage rates