Jobs Data — Fed Almost Finished?
On Friday we had the last jobs report before the Federal Reserve Board meets again next week to consider whether to raise interest rates one more time in 2018. Heading into the report, market analysts were pegging the probability of a hike at close to 80%. The volatility in the stock and oil markets did not seem to sway market analysts much with regard to feeling that the Fed would back off. With the jobs numbers out, the probability of a rate hike initially trended lower, but was still greater than 70%.
The fact that the economy added 155,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate remained at 3.7%, was seen as somewhat disappointing. Additional data included the revision downward of previous reports by 12,000 jobs and wage inflation at 0.3% monthly and 3.1% on an annual basis. Wage inflation is a major indicator being watched by the Fed.
Usually, when we get close to a possible rate hike, long-term rates are moving upward in anticipation of the move. However, rates have been falling since a recovery from a spike in early November. There was also a spike in early October, but rates eased back then as well. The stock market volatility certainly has been a major factor in keeping rates in check recently. Overall, the trend has been higher this entire year, with the Fed raising short-term rates in the face of strong economic news. Because the Fed has provided hints that they are coming closer to slowing down the rate increases, this has also helped keep long-term rates stable.
The number of For Sale by Owner transactions fell to a record low of seven percent of all home sales in 2018, down from eight percent last year, according to the National Association of Realtors®’ 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. FSBOs—homeowners who try to sell their properties themselves without a real estate agent—have decreased dramatically since 1981, when they accounted for 15 percent of all home sales. Today, consumers rely heavily on real estate agents, with 87 percent of home buyers using real estate agents last year, according to NAR’s report. Sellers—90 percent of whom listed their homes in the MLS—placed high priority on the following five benefits of using a real estate professional: market the home to potential buyers (20 percent), price the home competitively (20 percent), sell the home within a specific time frame (19 percent), find a buyer for the home (14 percent), and help fix the home to sell better (14 percent). Sellers by far say the agent’s reputation is the most important factor selecting an agent, at 31 percent. Sellers also placed high value on the agent’s trustworthiness and honesty (19 percent) and whether the agent was a friend or family member (15 percent). Most FSBOs, on the other hand, say they decided not to use an agent because they sold to a friend, relative, or neighbor, according to the NAR report, which also showed that FSBOs typically sold for less than the selling price of homes represented by an agent. Source: NAR — Want to View an Article Entitled — “First Home? The Right Realtor® is the Key”? Contact UsMore than 70 percent of homeowners said the best way to add value to their existing properties is by spending money on home improvements, according to a survey from NerdWallet. Americans spent nearly $450 billion on home improvements between 2015 and 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau data cited by NerdWallet, on 113 million projects. Those projects included everything from kitchen repairs to repairing roofs. Most Americans opt to hire professionals to carry out the renovations, but 43 million homes were repaired by homeowners between 2015 and 2017 – accounting for almost 40 percent of total home improvements. The most popular do-it-yourself projects were landscaping, bedroom additions and renovations, recreational room additions, bathroom remodels and fence additions. The majority of Americans consider a home their most important investment. Source: Fox Business
ATTOM Data Solutions, Irvine, Calif., said 14.5 million U.S. properties were “equity rich” in the third quarter, up by more than 433,000 from a year ago, representing nearly 26 percent of all financed properties. The company’s quarterly U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report showed equity rich properties were up from 24.9 percent in the previous quarter but down from 26.4 percent a year ago. It also reported 4.9 million U.S. properties remained seriously underwater–where the combined estimated balance of loans secured by the property was at least 25 percent higher than the property’s estimated market value, representing 8.8 percent of all financed properties. The share of seriously underwater homes was down from 9.3 percent in the previous quarter but up from 8.7 percent a year ago. “As homeowners stay put longer, they continue to build more equity in their homes despite the recent slowing in rates of home price appreciation,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with ATTOM Data Solutions. Source: Mortgage Bankers Association