Homebuilder sentiment still at frothy levels. Retail Sales rebound!

Homebuilder sentiment edged slightly lower in April though it remains well into positive territory. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that its Housing Market Index came in at 69 in April, down from 70 in may and just below the 70 expected. Within the report it showed that the current single-family home sales index fell to 75 from 77. “Ongoing employment gains, rising wages and favorable demographics should spur demand for single-family homes in the months ahead,” explaines NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz.fea_chart_041618

After three straight months of declines, retailers across the nation reported that consumers spent their hard-earned dollars in March. Leading the boost was spending on automobiles and health and personal care items. Retail Sales rose 0.6 percent in March, above the 0.4 percent expected and up from the decline of 0.1 percent in February. Consumer spending makes up two-thirds of U.S. economic activity and is crucial to a healthy economy. The Retail Sales report is a measure of the total receipts of retail stores from samples representing all sizes and kinds of business in retail trade throughout the nation.

U.S. Stocks are rising to begin the week as investors feel that any post-strike fallout from the missile attack on Syria from the U.S., U.K. and France over the weekend will be minor. In addition, Bank of America reported solid earnings after JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo reported better-then-expected results on Friday. In addition, New York Fed President Bill Dudley said this morning that Stock market valuations don’t look overvalued, which is helping to support higher prices.


Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.


U.S. job growth surged in February as the labor market continues to tighten, though wage growth cooled. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Non-Farm Payrolls rose by 313,000 last month, well above the 210,000 expected. This was the largest gain since July 2016. December and January were revised higher by a tMen hands holding signs with Vacancy, Job, We are hiringotal of 54,000. Big job gains were seen in construction followed by retail and professional and business services.

However, wage growth cooled rising just 0.1%, below the 0.2% expected, while year-over-year slowed to 2.6% from the 2.9 percent in January soothing fears of wage inflation. Within the report, the Unemployment Rate remained at 4.1 percent; the Labor Force Participation Rate rose to 63% from 62.7%. The U6 number, a measure of total unemployment, remained at 8.2%. Overall, it was a solid report.

Solid Gains Seen in Home Prices

Home prices continued to rise in December due in part to high demand and a shortage in homes for sale on the market. The S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index rose 6.3 percent from December 2016 to December 2017, just below the 6.4 percent recorded in November. From November to December, prices were up 0.6 percent. David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index said, “Within the last few months, there are beginning to be some signs that gains in housing may be leveling off. Sales of Existing Homes fell in December and January. fea_chart_022718Pending Home Sales of existing homes are roughly flat over the last several months. New home sales appear to be following the same trend as existing home sales. While the price increases do not suggest any weakening of demand, mortgage rates rose from 4 percent to 4.4 percent since the start of the year. It is too early to tell if the housing recovery is slowing. If it is, some moderation in price gains could be seen later this year.”


Housing Inventory Hits All Time Low-Values Rise.

There were 1.48 million existing homes for sale in the United States as of December 31, 2017, a drop of 460,000 in the last six months of last year. The 1.48 million “for sales” is the lowest level reported in history for a statistic that has been tracked since 1999. The average supply during the fourth quarter was 3.5 months – down from 4.2 months in the fourth quarter of last year. where a 6-month supply is seen as healthy. “While tight supply is expected to keep home prices on an upward trajectory in most metro areas in 2018, both the uptick in mortgage rates and the impact of the new tax law on some high-cost markets could cause price growth to moderate nationally,” said Lawrence Yun, National Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist.Housing%20inventory.png

Serious mortgage delinquencies dropped in the final quarter of 2017 to the lowest level since the end of the Great Recession, reports credit rating agency TransUnion. The serious mortgage delinquency rate declined to 1.86% in the fourth quarter of 2017 from 2.28% in the fourth quarter of 2016. Mortgage delinquency rates have now dropped on an annual basis every quarter since the recession. This is contributed to recession era defaults working their way out of the system while recent originations underwritten to a very high standard.

U.S. Stocks are lower to begin the holiday shortened week weighed down by shares of Walmart after the giant retailer reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit. In addition, the notion of higher interest rates that leads to higher borrowing costs are also weighing on Stocks. The S&P 500 Index tallied up its best weekly increase in five years last week easing fears of a deeper correction after the steep losses took place in the beginning of February.

Housing Starts Jump! Rates Move Higher.

The Commerce Department reported on Friday that Housing Starts jumped 9.7% from December to an annual rate of 1.326 million units, above the 1.240 million expected. That was the highest level since October 2016 and up 7.3% from January 2017. Multi-dwelling starts, five or more units, surged 19.7% from December. Single-family starts, which account for the largest share of the market, rose 3.7% from December, up 7.6% from January 2017. Housing Starts rose in the Northeast, South and West but declined in the Midwest. 90
Fannie Mae reported on Thursday that it has increased this year’s 30-year fixed mortgage rate forecast by 30 basis points to an average of 4.40% as a result of the unexpected jump in long-term interest rates at the beginning of the year. However, Fannie Mae doesn’t expect mortgage rates to play much of a role in total home sales, especially with anticipated stronger disposable household income growth. The ongoing inventory shortages should continue to constrain sales despite positive home buying conditions.
Consumer Sentiment surged in early February as tax cuts outweighed the drop in Stock prices early in the month. The Consumer Sentiment Index rose to 99.9 from the January reading of 95.7 and above the 95.5 expected. It was the second highest level since 2004. Consumers were upbeat on the economy, rising incomes and rising employment figures. The largest proportion of households reported an improved financial situation since 2000, and expected larger income gains during the year ahead.

New Home Sales Soar in September

The Commerce Department reported on Wednesday that New Home Sales surged 18.9 percent in September from August to their highest level since October 2007. This was the largest monthly gain since January 1992! Sales came in at 667,000 units versus the 555,000 units expected. Sales were up 17 percent year-over-year. Currently, there is a five-month inventory of houses on the market, down from six-months in August. A six-month supply is seen as a healthy balance between supply and demand.


4 Ways to Fly Through Air Travel

Young black man smiling with cellphone

Airport security checkpoints are a standard part of air travel. And depending on the date, time and airport, some lines can seem daunting.

Here are four tips smart travelers should try:

Check out Precheck, especially if you’re a frequent flyer. The TSA Precheck program allows prescreened flyers to bypass many long lines. After submitting an application, finger printing, a background check and a small fee, your “known traveler number” status is good for five years.

Keep it handy. Place your government issued ID and boarding pass in an accessible place to avoid fumbling and wasting time in security lines and at boarding.

Make it easy on yourself. Wear slip-on shoes, keep your pockets empty and avoid metal (as in belt buckles, jewelry, change in your pockets, etc.). Get a TSA-approved laptop case. And, to avoid having to throw away expensive toiletries and beverages at the checkpoint, make sure your carry-on liquids comply with the TSA 3-1-1 Rule (i.e., liquids must be 3.4 ounces or less, and fit in one 1-quart transparent, plastic sealable bag).

Get text alerts and preprogram 800-numbers into your phone for airlines, hotels, car rentals or ground transport in case there is a flight change or delay. This comes in handy to know if you have more time to get through security, if you need to switch terminals or if you need to reschedule or cancel.

While some travel troubles are out of your hands, these tips can help make getting through your next trip a little easier!

Sources: TSA, Independent Traveler, USA TODAY


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