Weekly Mortgage Activity hit a lull as contracted average mortgage rates increased last week, but an important component data-point within the Mortgage Bankers Association report reminded us that better days lie ahead for housing. In fact, real estate market growth has already begun!
Our founder earned clients a 23% average annual return over five years as a stock analyst on Wall Street. "The Greek" has written for institutional newsletters, Businessweek, Real Money, Seeking Alpha and others, while also appearing across TV and radio. While writing for Wall Street Greek, Mr. Kaminis presciently warned of the financial crisis.
Relative tickers: Nasdaq: ITIC, NYSE: BAC, OTC: FMCC.OB, OTC: FNMA.OB, NYSE: GS, NYSE: MS, NYSE: WFC, NYSE: TD, NYSE: SRS, NYSE: URE, NYSE: IGR, NYSE: XIN, Nasdaq: RYHRX, Nasdaq: TRREX, NYSE: TOL, NYSE: HOV, NYSE: DHI, NYSE: BZH, NYSE: LEN, NYSE: KBH, NYSE: PHM, NYSE: NVR, NYSE: GFA, NYSE: MDC, NYSE: RYL, NYSE: MTH, NYSE: BHS, NYSE: SPF, NYSE: MHO, AMEX: OHB, NYSE: VNQ, NYSE: PNC, NYSE: JPM, Nasdaq: HOFT, NYSE: ETH, NYSE: PIR, NYSE: WSM, NYSE: HD, NYSE: LOW, AMEX: VAZ, AMEX: NKR, AMEX: MZA, AMEX: NXE, AMEX: NFZ, Nasdaq: XNFZX, Nasdaq: FSAZX, Nasdaq: AVTR, NYSE: AIV, NYSE: EQR, NYSE: AVB, NYSE: UDR, NYSE: ESS, NYSE: CPT, NYSE: SNH, NYSE: BRE, NYSE: HME, NYSE: MAA, NYSE: ELS, NYSE: ACC, NYSE: CLP, Nasdaq: AGNC, NYSE: SUI, NYSE: AEC, NYSE: PMT and AMEX: TWO, NYSE: SPG.
Real Estate Market Growth has Begun
Mortgage activity had benefited over recent weeks on the precipitous decline of mortgage rates. But last week, as average contracted rates on 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages increased to 4.69% (from 4.6%) and 3.78% (from 3.75%), respectively, activity lulled. The MBA’s Market Composite Index only inched ahead 1.1% against the prior week on a seasonally adjusted basis. Purchase activity continued higher as well, with the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index gaining 1.5% against the immediately preceding period.
As expected, the Refinance Index creeped just 0.9% ahead as rates moved higher. We expect most Americans have refinanced their mortgages over the last decade, and the latest deep drop in rates surely swept up some of those who should have refinanced previously. We expect many recent buyers locked in better rates over the last few weeks as well. The refinance share of the mortgage market still increased a tenth of a percentage point though, to 66.8%. The adjustable rate mortgage (ARMS) share of mortgages dropped to 5.8%, against 6.3% the week before.
Many might look to this lull in weekly activity as yet another sign of a still dreadful and dead housing market, but we noticed something important in this week’s MBA data. The Purchase Index marked a point 3.1% above its comparable from a year ago. Last week’s report showed the Purchase Index 1.7% above its prior year comparable. And the report from two weeks ago, which covered the period ending May 6, showed the Purchase Index 25.8% below the prior year comparable. What does this data trend tell us?
Last year’s First-Time Homebuyer Tax Incentive Program drove a spike in mortgage applications and home purchases last spring. However, we’re now approaching the point in the year where it stopped doing so. In effective terms, that spike from three weeks ago likely marked a prior year tax incentive deadline for home purchases to qualify for the program. With two sequential weeks of year-to-year growth now marked, and with the yearly rate of growth increasing, it seems we have entered the portion of 2011 that will drive the real estate market growth most industry organizations have forecast for this year.
This week’s reported New Home Sales growth for April had nothing to do with comparable softness though, and thus offers independent reason for a tasting of optimism. Furthermore, Toll Brothers’ (NYSE: TOL) earnings report from just a day ago showed signs of life in the high-end of the market. TOL marked increased deliveries, contract signings and price improvement in its reported quarter. Thus, it appears clear to us that the real estate market has already begun to grow again.
Study of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) economic forecasts shows the industry organization’s expectation for 7.7% growth in existing home sales this year. While the NAR sees slightly lower New Home Sales in 2011, it still sees the start of quarterly improvement this quarter. Speaking in annual terms, housing starts are expected to rise and even residential construction is expected to start up again. So, with my apologies to pessimistic blowhards, I must declare the real estate market is now off its bottom. At this point, it’s up to investors to look to profit or sit back and watch from the rear.
Editor's Note: Article should interest investors in Investors Title (Nasdaq: ITIC), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Freddie Mac (OTC: FMCC.OB), Fannie Mae (OTC: FNMA.OB), Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), Toronto Dominion (NYSE: TD), UltraShort Real Estate ProShares (NYSE: SRS), Ultra Real Estate ProShares (NYSE: URE), ING Clarion Global Real Estate Income Fund (NYSE: IGR), Xinyuan Real Estate Co. (NYSE: XIN), Rydex Real Estate Fund H (Nasdaq: RYHRX), T. Rowe Price Real Estate Fund (Nasdaq: TRREX), Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL), Hovnanian (NYSE: HOV), D.R. Horton (NYSE: DHI), Beazer Homes (NYSE: BZH), Lennar (NYSE: LEN), K.B. Homes (NYSE: KBH), Pulte Homes (NYSE: PHM), NVR Inc. (NYSE: NVR), Gafisa SA (NYSE: GFA), MDC Holdings (NYSE: MDC), Ryland Group (NYSE: RYL), Meritage Homes (NYSE: MTH), Brookfield Homes (NYSE: BHS), Standard Pacific (NYSE: SPF), M/I Homes (NYSE: MHO), Orleans Homebuilders (AMEX: OHB), Vanguard REIT Index ETF (NYSE: VNQ), PNC Bank (NYSE: PNC), J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Hooker Furniture (Nasdaq: HOFT), Ethan Allen (NYSE: ETH), Pier 1 Imports (NYSE: PIR), Williams Sonoma (NYSE: WSM), Home Depot (NYSE: HD), Lowes (NYSE: LOW), Nasdaq: XNFZX, Nasdaq: FSAZX, Avatar Holdings (Nasdaq: AVTR), Apartment Investment & Management (NYSE: AIV), Equity Residential (NYSE: EQR), Avalonbay Communities (NYSE: AVB), UDR Inc. (NYSE: UDR), Essex Property Trust (NYSE: ESS), Camden Property Trust (NYSE: CPT), Senior Housing Properties (NYSE: SNH), BRE Properties (NYSE: BRE), Home Properties (NYSE: HME), Mid-America Apartment (NYSE: MAA), Equity Lifestyle Properties (NYSE: ELS), American Campus Communities (NYSE: ACC), Colonial Properties (NYSE: CLP), American Capital Agency (Nasdaq: AGNC), Sun Communities (NYSE: SUI), Associated Estates (NYSE: AEC), PennyMac Mortgage (NYSE: PMT), Two Harbors (AMEX: TWO), Simon Property Group (NYSE: SPG), BB&T (NYSE: BBT), CIT (NYSE: CIT), Bank United (NYSE: BKU), First Citizens (OTC: FCNCA.PK), Synovus (NYSE: SNV), United Bankshares (Nasdaq: UBSI), Hampton Roads Bankshares (Nasdaq: HMPR), WesBanco (Nasdaq: WSBC), City Holding (Nasdaq: CHCO), Sandy Spring (Nasdaq: SASR), First Citizens (OTC: FCBN.OB), SCBT Financial (Nasdaq: SCBT), Wilmington Trust (NYSE: WL), WSFS Financial (Nasdaq: WSFS), Southside Bancshares (Nasdaq: SBSI), Stellar One (Nasdaq: STEL), Union First Market (Nasdaq: UBSH), Eagle Bancorp (Nasdaq: EGBN), First Bancorp (Nasdaq: FBNC), Ameris (Nasdaq: ABCB), The Bancorp (Nasdaq: TBBK), First Community (Nasdaq: FCBC), Capital City (Nasdaq: CCBG), Financial Institutions (Nasdaq: FISI), National Bankshares (Nasdaq: NKSH), Citizens & Northern (Nasdaq: CZNC), Charter Financial (Nasdaq: CHFN), Seacoast Banking (Nasdaq: SBCF), TIB Financial (Nasdaq: TIBB), American National (Nasdaq: AMNB).
Please see our disclosures at the Wall Street Greek website and author bio pages found there. This article and website in no way offers or represents financial or investment advice. Information is provided for entertainment purposes only.
Inquiries about Wall Street Greek content and advertising services can be emailed to Advertise @WallStreetGreek.com.