Weekly Mortgage and Real Estate Report – Week of October 2, 2017

ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
Clouded Jobs Report 

The jobs report is a very significant economic indicator. Yet, it seems that every monthly jobs report takes on some extra form of significance. This one is certainly no exception, with the report coming in the midst of the recovery from two natural disasters hitting major population centers within the United States. Hurricanes Irma and Harvey caused major damage to some of the largest states in America — Florida and Texas — as well as affecting several other population areas.

Along with major damage, lives were changed radically. It is anticipated that we will certainly see the effects of these disasters in our economic numbers, and the jobs report should be the first major indicator. It was no surprise that initial claims for unemployment were up in the weeks after the hurricanes hit and that these additional claims were concentrated in the affected areas. The numbers may not be affected radically on a national level, but there are likely to be major changes regionally and these will affect the national numbers. How much? We will know by Friday.

The good news is that these numbers should be temporary, as many jobs will be created in the rebuilding of affected areas. So, the markets will be prepared for one or two down months, but should be anticipating a rebound pretty quickly. The Federal Reserve Board meets two more times this year and most are expecting one more rate increase in December. The size and extent of the damage and rebound may very well be one of the determining factors in this decision.

REAL ESTATE NEWS
  A new report projects that U.S. housing starts will reach a total of 1.6 million units in 2021 as strengthening consumer finances boosts construction. The “Housing: United States” report, released recently by Freedonia Focus Reports, showed that single-unit conventional housing represents the largest and fastest-growing segment. Starts for such units will be driven by growing household creation and gains in the economy. The report also said that the projected improvement in single-unit starts comes as many consumers have a preference for detached homes and other types of single-unit housing. Other housing options will dampen demand for single-unit housing, however, according to the report. These options include manufactured housing, which offers a substitute at a lower cost. Single-unit demand will also be affected by the availability of multiple-unit housing options like condominiums. The report further said that the number of young people based in urban areas who want to live in or near downtown will be a factor in single-unit demand as space in such areas for single-unit housing developments are unlikely to exist. Source: Mortgage Professional AmericaHispanics are increasingly making up what’s considered the typical American home buyer, Curbed.com reports. Latinos are expected to make up 52 percent of new home buyers between 2010 and 2030, largely driven by the country’s 14.6 million Latino millennials. Since 2000, the number of Hispanic households has jumped by 6.7 million, which comprises 42.5 percent of the country’s overall household growth. Hispanics’ “fervent desire to own a home” has fueled homebuying by Latinos across the country, demographers note. “The fact is, the majority of Latinos want to be home owners and will make up half of all new home buyers in the next 20 years,” Scott Astrada, director of federal advocacy at the Center for Responsible Lending, told NBC. “They have a central place in the housing market and finance system.” Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies’ “State of the Nation’s Housing” study predicts minorities overall will drive three-quarters of the gains in U.S. households. Latinos will likely account for one-third of those increases alone. Source: Curbed.com

Open floor plans, which typically combine the kitchen, living room, and dining room in one large, open area, have dominated home design trends in recent years. But now, buyers may be starting to shun this type of layout. “While [the open floor plan] was successful in allowing multiple generations to congregate, it also led to consolidated visual chaos,” New York-based designer Phillip Thomas said. Some designers say the “helicopter” parenting style—parents seeking to keep a more watchful eye over their children—may have led to the open floor plan’s popularity. But some parents may find they need more personal space. Jen Altman, a child and family psychologist in Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., says the pendulum is beginning to swing away from helicopter parenting, with many of her adult clients saying, “I just need 10 minutes to myself.” Such an attitude may be influencing a rise in the “broken floor plan,” which London architect Mary Duggan describes as large spaces with an element such as a three-quarter height wall to section off areas. Some designers may also use barn doors or pocket doors (sliding doors that tuck inside walls) to close off an open floor plan when needed. Pivoting glass and curtains are other ways to section off space. Source: The Wall Street Journal

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