The U.S. Census Bureau and HUD announced This Week in Real Estate that supply chain and labor challenges contributed to a decrease last month in the annualized rate of housing starts by 7% to 1.53 million units. However, on a year-to-date basis housing starts in the West are up 27.7% and permits are up 28.2% compared to the same time period last year. In other news, mortgage delinquencies in the second quarter dropped to 5.47% of all outstanding loans to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2020. Below are a few newsworthy events from the third week of August that influence our business:
Housing Starts Down in July, Supply Chain Challenges Remain in U.S. According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau this week, supply chain and labor challenges helped to push overall housing starts down 7.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.53 million units. The July 2021 reading of 1.53 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if development kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts decreased 4.5 percent to a 1.11 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, decreased 13.1 percent to a 423,000 pace. On a regional and year-to-date basis (January through July of 2021 compared to that same time frame a year ago), combined single-family and multifamily starts are 27.7 percent higher in the Northeast, 20.8 percent higher in the Midwest, 18.5 percent higher in the South and 27.7 percent higher in the West. Overall permits increased 2.6 percent to a 1.64 million unit annualized rate in July. Single-family permits decreased 1.7 percent to a 1.05 million-unit rate. Multifamily permits increased 11.2 percent to a 587,000 pace. Looking at regional permit data on a year-to-date basis, permits are 24.9 percent higher in the Northeast, 23.0 percent higher in the Midwest, 25.9 percent higher in the South, and 28.2 percent higher in the West. “Permits for single-family homes dropped slightly over the month but were higher than a year ago and remain higher than the level of starts. The pace of construction should continue to increase, particularly if supply-chain constraints begin to loosen.”
Mortgage Rates Barely Budge, Remain Below 3%. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage held near last week’s average and continues to average near historical lows and under 3%. “Mortgage rates stayed relatively flat this week,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Housing is in a similar phase of the economic cycle as many other consumer goods. While there is strong latent demand, low supply has caused prices to rise as shortages restrict the amount of sales activity that otherwise would occur.” 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.86%, with an average 0.7 points, down slightly from last week’s 2.87% average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 2.99%.
Mortgage Delinquencies Sink to Pandemic Low as U.S. Jobs Return. Mortgage delinquency rates plunged in the second quarter to the lowest level since the pandemic began, as the improving economy helps distressed homeowners get out of trouble. The seasonally adjusted delinquency rate dropped to 5.47% of all loans outstanding, down from 8.22% a year earlier and the lowest since the first quarter of 2020. “It appears that borrowers in later stages of delinquency are recovering due to several factors, including improved employment and other economic conditions,” said Marina Walsh, MBA’s vice president of industry analysis.
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