Economic Center Blog
Welcome to the First American Economic Center Blog, a top source for the latest housing market research and analysis driven by Chief Economist Mark Fleming.

Recent Posts by Mark Fleming

Mark Fleming is the chief economist for First American Financial Corporation and leads First American’s Decision Sciences team.

How 2019 Became The Year Of Declining Fraud Risk

By Mark Fleming on September 26, 2019

Declining for the fifth consecutive month, the Loan Application Defect Index for purchase transactions continued its downward trend, falling 3.8 percent in August compared with July. The Defect Index for refinance transactions also fell, declining 4.3 percent compared with the previous month. The overall Defect Index, which includes both...

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Topics: Fraud Loan Application Defect Index

How Did Affordability Change During The Spring Home-Buying Season?

By Mark Fleming on September 23, 2019

School bells ringing don’t just mark the beginning of a new school year, but for those in housing, they also signal the end of the typical home-buying season, which begins in March. As the school year begins, the housing market is finishing the spring home-buying season with strong marks for affordability. Indeed, two of the three key drivers...

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Topics: Interest Rates Real House Price Index Affordability

How Can Existing-Home Sales Exceed Market Potential?

By Mark Fleming on September 18, 2019

The housing market exceeded its potential in August 2019, as actual existing-home sales were 0.8 percent above the market’s potential. Housing market potential increased relative to last month, but declined 1.9 percent compared with August of last year. While down compared with a year ago, existing-home sales have slightly outperformed market...

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Topics: Interest Rates Potential Home Sales tenure

What Is The Neutral Rate Of Interest And How Does It Influence The Federal Reserve?

By Mark Fleming on September 17, 2019

Many people understand the “natural rate of unemployment,” and if you don’t, you can probably guess what it is – the rate of unemployment when the labor market reaches equilibrium. What many people don’t know is that a similar concept exists in monetary policy.

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Topics: Interest Rates Federal Reserve

What Does The Refinance Boom Mean For Fraud Risk?

By Mark Fleming on August 29, 2019

The Loan Application Defect Index for purchase transactions continued its downward trend, declining 3.6 percent in July compared with June, the fourth consecutive month defect risk in purchase transactions has fallen. The Defect Index for refinance transactions also fell 4.2 percent compared with the previous month. The overall Defect Index,...

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Topics: Fraud Loan Application Defect Index

How Can Affordability Improve When House Prices Are Rising?

By Mark Fleming on August 27, 2019

Two of the three key drivers of the Real House Price Index (RHPI), household income and mortgage rates, swung in favor of increased affordability in June. The 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell by 0.8 percentage points and household income increased 2.4 percent compared with June 2018. When household income rises, consumer house-buying power...

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Topics: Interest Rates Real House Price Index Affordability