According to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey released This Week in Real Estate, the U.S. homeownership rate is on a “sustainable upward trend” at 64.2%, just 2.1% below the 25-year average rate of 66.3%. Below are a few highlights from the fourth week of April that influence our business:
* Homeownership Rate Stable at 64%. According to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS), the U.S. homeownership rate was 64.2% in the first quarter 2018, which is statistically no different from its last quarter reading. The rate of homeownership appears to be on a sustainable upward trend after reaching a cycle low of 62.9% in the second quarter of 2016. Compared to the peak of 69.2% in 2004, the homeownership rate is still down 5%, and remains below the 25-year average rate of 66.3%. On an annual basis, homeownership increased among all age groups under 55. The share of millennial who own a home increased from 34.3% a year ago to 35.3% in the first quarter 2018. However, it slipped 0.7% from a three-year high of 36% in the last quarter 2017.The homeownership rates of households ages 35-44 experienced a 0.8% increase, followed by the 0.6% gains registered by households ages 45-54. The non-seasonally adjusted homeowner vacancy rate remained low at 1.5% in the first quarter 2018, down by 0.1% from last quarter 2017. At the same time, the national rental vacancy rate held at 7%.
* Existing-Home Sales Climb 1.1 Percent in March. Existing-home sales grew for the second consecutive month in March, but lagging inventory levels and affordability constraints kept sales activity below year ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors. Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.60 million in March from 5.54 million in February. Despite last month’s increase, sales are still 1.2 percent below a year ago. Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist, says closings in March eked forward despite challenging market conditions in most of the country. “Robust gains last month in the Northeast and Midwest – a reversal from the weather-impacted declines seen in February – helped overall sales activity rise to its strongest pace since last November at 5.72 million,” said Yun. The median existing-home price for all housing types in March was $250,400, up 5.8 percent from March 2017 ($236,600). March’s price increase marks the 73rd straight month of year-over-year gains. Existing-home sales in the West declined 3.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.23 million in March, but are still 0.8 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $377,100, up 7.9 percent from March 2017.
* Mortgage Rates Climb to Highest Level in Over Four Years.
Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey on Thursday, showing average mortgage rates continuing the upward trajectory seen in most of early 2018. Sam Khater, Freddie Mac chief economist, says mortgage rates increased for the third consecutive week, climbing 11 basis points to 4.58 percent. “Mortgage rates are now at their highest level since the week of August 22, 2013,” he said. “Higher Treasury yields, driven by rising commodity prices, more Treasury issuances and the steady stream of solid economic news, are behind the uptick in rates over the past week.” Added Khater, “Despite the increase in borrowing costs, demand for home purchase credit remains solid. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported in their latest mortgage applications survey that activity was up 11 percent from a year ago.”