QUOTE OF THE WEEK… “Be bold in what you stand for and careful what you fall for.” –Ruth Boorstin, American writer and poet
INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE… All of us who boldly stand for a continuing housing recovery should be careful to not fall for some of the negative spin put on last week’s report that Existing Home Sales were down 1.9% in September. The naysayers quickly pounced on this as evidence we should brace for a housing slowdown. But wait a minute. September sales were at the third highest monthly level since late 2009, when the home buyer tax credit was about to go away. The two months that scored higher than September were this July and August, so the dip comes after two very strong reports.
The fact is, Existing Home Sales are at a 5.29 million annual rate, up 10.7% over a year ago. The median price is up 11.7% from a year ago, the tenth month in a row of double-digit year-over-year gains. The months’ supply is at 5.0, versus the 5.4 level of a year ago. For those worried about affordability, HousingWire recently reported thatthe average household can afford to live in at least 80% of the homes on the market. Buyers, no longer worried about values dropping, pushed purchase mortgage applications up 1% for the week ending October 18, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
BUSINESS TIP OF THE WEEK… McKinsey & Company research says word of mouth is responsible for 50% of all purchase decisions. So it makes sense to put 50% of your marketing effort toward people who can recommend you to others.
>> Review of Last Week
GAME ON!… With the partial government shutdown over, the game was back on in Washington. The game was also back on for Wall Street investors who spent the weeksending the S&P 500 to another all-time high. The tech-heavy Nasdaq reached a 13-year peak and the Dow rose for the third week in a row to its best close since September 19. The bullish push came from the market’s belief that the Fed will delay tapering its bond buying program at least until 2014. Investors like the fact that this will keep interest rates low and the economy stimulated.
The need for economic stimulation remains obvious. The September Employment Report finally came in with just 148,000 jobs added for the month, down from 193,000 new jobs in August. Durable Goods Orders excluding transportation were also off in September, while the final Michigan Consumer Sentiment reading forOctober came in almost 10 points lower than the final number for September. But weekly Initial Unemployment Claims fell by 12,000 to 350,000, and the Trade Deficit, at $38.8 billion, is $5.2 billion smaller than a year ago.
The week ended with the Dow up 1.1%, to 15570; the S&P 500 up 0.9%, to 1760; and the Nasdaq up 0.7%, to 3943.
The lukewarm September jobs report was enough to send investors scurrying to the safe haven of the bond market. The FNMA 3.5% bond we watch ended the week up .22, at $102.22. National average mortgage rates dipped to four-month lows in Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ending October 24.Remember, mortgage rates can be extremely volatile, so check with your mortgage professional for up to the minute information.
DID YOU KNOW?… The chief economist for a national online real estate site said the median time on the market for all homes sold in September was 50 days, down from 70 days in September a year ago.
>> This Week’s Forecast
RETAIL, PENDING HOME SALES, AND MANUFACTURING SLIP WHILE THE FED MEETS… We have a week packed with reports. Overall Retail Sales and Pending Home Sales are forecast off for September. Factory activity is also predicted down for October by both the national ISM Index and the Midwestern Chicago PMI, althoughIndustrial Production and Capacity Utilization should grow in September.
But the big focus will be Wednesday’s Fed meeting. No one expects a change in theFOMC Rate Decision or any tapering of the Fed’s bond buying program, but their policy statement will be scrutinized. At least inflation is forecast still tame by theConsumer Price Index (CPI).>> The Week’s Economic Indicator Calendar
Weaker than expected economic data tends to send bond prices up and interest rates down, while positive data points to lower bond prices and rising loan rates.