This Week in Real Estate: August 7, 2017


For only the second time in 11 years, and for the second consecutive quarter, the number of owner-occupied households grew faster than renter households over the year according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Quarterly Housing Vacancies and Homeownership Report released This Week in Real Estate. Below are a few highlights from the first week of August that influence our business:

* Pending Home Sales Recover in June, Grow 1.5 Percent. After declining for three straight months, pending home sales reversed course in June as all major regions, except for the Midwest, saw an increase in contract activity, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, climbed 1.5 percent to 110.2 in June from an upwardly revised 108.6 in May. At 0.5 percent, the index last month increased annually for the first time since March. The PHSI in the Northeast inched forward 0.7 percent to 98.0 in June, and is now 2.9 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index decreased 0.5 percent to 104.0 in June, and is now 3.4 percent lower than June 2016. Pending home sales in the South rose 2.1 percent to an index of 126.0 in June and are now 2.6 percent above last June. The index in the West grew 2.9 percent in June to 101.5, but is still 1.1 percent below a year ago. Heading into the second half of the year, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, expects existing-home sales to finish around 5.56 million, which is an increase of 2.6 percent from 2016 (5.45 million).
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* Solid Job Gains in July. In July, the number of employed persons increased by 345,000; the number of unemployed persons was little changed; the number of persons not in the labor force declined by 156,000. All of these favorable changes accounted for the decrease in the unemployment rate and the increase in the labor force participation rate. The unemployment rate was back to the 16-year low of 4.3%, from 4.4% in June. Residential construction employment is now 2.7 million, broken down as 767,000 builders and 1.93 million residential specialty trade contractors. The 6-month moving average of job gains for residential construction now was close to 3,000 a month. Over the last 12 months home builders and remodelers have added 118,300 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point of industry employment following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 717,200 positions. In July, the unemployment rate for construction workers climbed to 6.1% on a seasonally adjusted basis, from 5.1% in June. After reaching a peak rate of 22% in February 2010, the unemployment rate for the construction occupation had been on a general decline and remained relatively low recently.
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* Beyond Bottom? Homeownership Rate Creeps Back Up. The homeownership rate crept up close to a full percentage point from one year ago to 63.7 percent in the second quarter, encouraged by more owner household formation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s recent Quarterly Housing Vacancies and Homeownership report. The owner household formation rate over took the renter household formation rate in the first quarter, and remained ahead in the second quarter—evidence that the shift toward owner-occupied is more than a one-off trend. Roughly 87 percent of housing was occupied in the second quarter, with 55.5 percent owner-occupied and 31.6 percent renter-occupied. The rate in the second quarter was again highest in the Midwest, at 68 percent, and the South, at 65.5 percent, though both regions have seen minimal movement year-over-year. Rates have gone up year-over-year in the Northeast and West, at 60.4 percent and 58.9 percent in the second quarter, respectively.
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Have a productive week!


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