Morning Report: Housing inventory at a record low

Vital Statistics:

 

  Last Change
S&P futures 3839 5.3
Oil (WTI) 52.10 0.14
10 year government bond yield   1.07%
30 year fixed rate mortgage   2.83%

Stocks are flattish this morning as earnings continue to come in. Bonds and MBS are up.

 

We have a big week of data coming up, along with the FOMC meeting. In terms of data, we will get home prices tomorrow, the FOMC decision on Wednesday, fourth quarter GDP on Thursday, and personal incomes / spending on Friday. The Fed meeting should be uneventful given Jerome Powell’s “now is not the time” language, referring to scaling back bond purchases.

 

Existing Home Sales rose 0.7% in December to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.64 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. This is the fastest pace since 2006. “Home sales rose in December, and for 2020 as a whole, we saw sales perform at their highest levels since 2006, despite the pandemic,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “What’s even better is that this momentum is likely to carry into the new year, with more buyers expected to enter the market.” I think Yun is right there – all signs point to an exceptionally strong Spring Selling Season, which is right around the corner. FWIW, NAR sees mortgage rates hovering around 3% in 2021, which is low enough for the refinance party to continue.

Total inventory fell to 1.07 million units, which is a 23% drop from a year ago, and represents under a two month supply of homes. This is the lowest amount since 1982, when NAR first started compiling these statistics. Tight inventory means higher prices, and the median home price was up 13% YOY to $309,800. With home prices rising affordability remains a concern, and I think the Fed is going to take that into account and hold down rates as long as it can.

Housing starts are rising, which should help alleviate the shortage, however it will take a couple years at least to get back to some semblance of balance. Housing construction should be great for the economy, and we could be looking at some strong performance between the stimulus and housing once the COVID crisis is out of the way. That said, one in three small businesses have shut over the past year, and that will be a drag.

 

The mortgage IPOs keep coming. United Wholesale completed its merger with a SPAC, and now Home Point is filing to go public. Loan Depot is another candidate.

 

The regulatory state is mulling whether to extend the Community Reinvestment Act to non-banks.

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