Existing home sales rose in September, with first-time buyers claiming a 34 percent share of home purchases, a high not seen in over four years.
After two straight monthly declines, Existing Home Sales in September jumped 3.2 percent from August. All major regions saw an increase in closings, as reported by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Limited inventory, however, still plagues many regions of the country. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, noted, “Unfortunately, there won’t be much relief from new home construction, which continues to be grossly inadequate in relation to demand.”
Speaking of new home construction, although September Housing Starts slipped 9 percent from August (to the lowest level in 18 months), single-family starts, which account for the largest share of residential housing, surged 8.1 percent. Starts on multifamily dwellings fell significantly. Building Permits, a sign of future construction, did beat expectations, rising 6.3 percent from August.
Inflation, Economic Growth Two Key Areas to Monitor
Wholesale inflation came in hotter than expected in September due to higher energy and food costs, as the September Producer Price Index (PPI) rose 0.3 percent. Consumer inflation also edged higher in September, though still on the tame side. From September 2015, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was up 1.5 percent, up from the 1.1 percent annual increase in August.
Inflation trends are important to watch because inflation reduces the value of fixed investments, like Mortgage Bonds. When inflation rises, it can impact home loan rates, since they are tied to Mortgage Bonds.
Meanwhile, the economy continues to speed up with preliminary GDP numbers closing 3rd quarter growth at 2.9 percent. GDP measures the pace of economic activity and represents the total dollar value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period. A reading of 2.5 to 3 percent is considered optimal.
The Bottom Line
The good news for homebuyers is that tame inflation and a cautious Fed. have helped keep home loan rates near historic lows, which helps offset rising home prices.