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Economic Center Blog

Mind The Gap…Between Household Formation And Home Building

By Mark Fleming on June 20, 2018

Closing the Housing Stock Gap

Today’s Census Bureau report sends an optimistic message about the housing market. Building permits increased 8.0 percent since this time last year, while housing starts rose 20.3 percent. The year-over-year increase in housing starts tells us that an increase in new housing supply is on the way. The pace of housing completions, at a 1.29 million seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR), is particularly important as it brings new supply that can offset current housing shortages.

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Topics: Housing, Homeownership, housing starts, insider

Will First-Time Home Buyer Demand Withstand Rising Rates?

By Mark Fleming on June 12, 2018

Given the strong likelihood of rising mortgage rates in 2018, many savvy real estate market observers are curious how rising rates may impact demand, especially among millennial first-time home buyers. As part of our quarterly First American Real Estate Sentiment Index (RESI), we recently surveyed title insurance agents and real estate professionals across the nation for their perspective on how sensitive they thought first-time home buyers were to rising mortgage rates and at what rate they would withdraw from the market.

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Topics: Housing, millennials, Real Estate Sentiment Index, insider

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

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

The Link Between Wage Growth And House-Buying Power

By Mark Fleming on May 5, 2018

Yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the employment situation report for April. Here are the highlights. Total non-farm payroll jobs increased by 164,000 in April. In fact, total non-farm payroll jobs have now increased every month since October 2010. Since that date, the U.S. economy has added more than 17.5 million jobs. The unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 percent, a 17-year low, in April and average hourly earnings are up 2.6 percent over a year ago for production and non-supervisory employees. So, why would an uptick in wages matter to a housing economist? Read on.

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Topics: Housing, income, insider, employment situation, jobs report

Two Trends Signal Housing Supply Relief On The Way

By Mark Fleming on April 18, 2018

It’s no secret that the limited supply of homes for sale is the biggest issue facing the housing market today. From a short-term perspective, this month’s overall pace of housing starts, 1.32 million units, may modestly alleviate the supply shortage. Housing starts increased 1.9 percent month over month and are 10.9 percent higher compared with March 2017. Housing completions, the number of net new homes added to the housing stock, increased by 1.9 percent compared with a year ago, which provides some immediate relief for the supply shortage.

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Topics: Housing, Homeownership, housing starts

Will Wage Growth Continue -- One Number May Tell The Story

By Mark Fleming on April 6, 2018

Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the employment situation report for March. Here are the headlines. Total non-farm payroll jobs increased by 103,000 in March. Total non-farm payroll jobs have increased every month since October 2010. Since that date, the U.S. economy has added more than 17.5 million jobs. The unemployment rate remained again unchanged at 4.1 percent, a 17-year low, and average hourly earnings are up 2.4 percent over a year ago for production and non-supervisory employees. While the number of jobs created may seem disappointing, the data continues to paint a positive picture of the economy, but those are not the numbers that really matter.

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Topics: Housing, income, insider

What Does The First Release Of Housing Data In 2018 Say About The Housing Market?

By Mark Fleming on January 20, 2018

The end of 2017 brought mixed news for housing starts, according to Thursday’s release of December 2017 housing starts data, which marked the first report on national housing data this year.

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Topics: Housing, Homeownership, housing starts

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