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Economic Center Blog

Quoted On Forbes.com: Rising Rates Can Increase Housing Demand

By FirstAm Editor on June 7, 2018

First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming was quoted Tuesday in a feature article on Forbes.com, explaining how rising rates can increase housing demand.

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Topics: Housing, In The News, Interest Rates, millennials, affordability, home buying

Unadjusted House Prices Are Higher Than Ever, But What Is The Real Story?

By Mark Fleming on May 24, 2018

As the home-buying season continues, the inventory of homes for sale remains historically low, while demand is increasing. Not surprisingly, house prices continue to rise. In March, unadjusted house prices increased by 6.4 percent compared with a year ago and they are now 8.7 percent above the housing boom peak for unadjusted house prices reached in 2007. But, does that tell the real story?

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Topics: Real House Price Index, affordability, insider

Interview On CNBC: Explaining The Link Between Rising Rates, Housing Supply And Affordability

By FirstAm Editor on May 18, 2018

First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming was interviewed yesterday on CNBC and explained the link between rising rates, housing supply and affordability.

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Topics: Housing, In The News, Interest Rates, millennials, affordability

What Does California's Solar Panel Mandate Mean For Affordability, And April Housing Starts Data Signal Optimism

By Mark Fleming on May 17, 2018

California moved to the center of the new residential construction solar system last week as it became the first state to mandate solar panels on new residential homes. The mandate is part of California’s “Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan,” which includes the goal that both residential and commercial construction be zero net energy by 2030. The jury is split as to whether the benefits of the new requirement will outweigh the costs. On one hand, the mandate will significantly expand mainstream use of solar power. However, it will add thousands of dollars to the cost building a new of home when the shortage of affordable housing is a significant concern in California. Clean energy advocates claim lower energy bills will more than offset the extra cost. We put this notion to the test.

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Topics: Housing, Homeownership, affordability, housing starts, insider

What Does The Change In The 10-Year Treasury Note Mean For Housing Affordability

By Mark Fleming on May 7, 2018

At the May Federal Reserve (Fed) meeting last week, all eyes were on the 10-year Treasury yield. In late April, that yield topped 3 percent for the first time in more than four years. With yields on the rise, housing market participants expect this to mean higher interest rates from central banks. It’s often overlooked that the popular 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage is benchmarked to the 10-year Treasury bond. In fact, as shown in the chart below, since the end of the recession, the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage has on average remained 1.7 percentage points higher than the 10-year Treasury bond yield. So, if that trend remains consistent, if the 10-year Treasury yield rises above 3 percent, then the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rate should also rise to 4.5 percent.


“The recent increase in the 10-year Treasury yield indicates higher mortgage rates are likely in the very near future. But, even as mortgage rates increase, we remain well below the historical average of about 8 percent for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage – and house-buying power remains strong.”

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Topics: Interest Rates, Real House Price Index, Federal Reserve, affordability, insider, mortgage rates

The Powerful Forces Reducing Affordability

By Mark Fleming on April 23, 2018

Last week, the average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rose 5 basis points to 4.46 percent, reaching its highest level since January of 2014. The consensus among economists is that the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage will approach 5 percent by the end of this year. All else held equal, this will make housing more expensive. However, some perspective is important. The historical average for the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage is about 8 percent so, even with the expected increase, mortgage rates will still be low by historical standards.

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Topics: Real house prices index, affordability, insider

Will The Tax Code Changes Influence House Prices Or Market Supply And Demand?

By Mark Fleming on March 13, 2018

The impact of the new tax code on the housing market has been heavily studied and debated in academic, policy and political circles, with most agreeing that the changes remove any significant tax differences between homeowners and renters for the majority of U.S. households. But, what do the people handling real estate transactions every day think?

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Topics: Real Estate Sentiment Index, affordability, insider

What Does Faster Inflation And Rising Mortgage Rates Mean For Housing?

By Mark Fleming on March 9, 2018

As the March Federal Reserve (Fed) meeting approaches, overall positive economic conditions are troubling those who follow the Fed closely. Many might pose the question, why would positive economic conditions be troubling?

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

How Wage Growth Both Helps And Hurts Housing Affordability

By Mark Fleming on February 26, 2018

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that average hourly earnings increased in January by 2.9 percent compared with a year ago. This was a big splash of economic news that had ripple effects on the housing market, as the 2.9 percent increase in wages surpassed expectations.

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Topics: Real House Price Index, affordability

Where Is House-buying Power The Strongest?

By Mark Fleming on February 14, 2018

Whether you plan to buy a modest studio or a four-bedroom penthouse, how much you can afford to borrow primarily rests on two main factors: income and interest rates. Income growth seems to be increasing, thus increasing affordability. However, the near certainty of future rate hikes will likely be a drag on affordability.

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