Washington Weekly Update - March 20, 2017

March 17, 2017

March 20, 2017

Week Ahead

Monday is the first day of SPRING and a young person’s’ fancy turns to …. housing and mortgages (with apologies to Tennyson).  The key spring home-selling season is officially underway as we get housing numbers for the final winter months in the week ahead.  

Here’s how it shapes up:


Spring Begins: March equinox at 6:29am ET


Existing Home Sales (February)   10am ET

Collingwood Group Chairman Tim Rood dissects Home Sales and More 12pm FBN’s Cavuto


New Home Sales (February)  10am ET

Market Reports

Results from the Fannie Mae Economic & Strategic Research (ESR) Group’s March 2017 Economic Housing Outlook show growth forecast unchanged.  According to the report, the full year economic growth is projected at 2.0 percent, unchanged from last month, while the forecast for current quarter growth is down slightly due to weaker-than-expected consumer spending data.

Results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) show mortgage rates rising for the second consecutive week. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.30 percent for the week ending March 16th. This time last year, the FRM averaged 3.73 percent. The 15-year FRM averaged 3.50 percent for the week. Year-over-year, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.99 percent.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) Home Survey reported renters are lukewarm about buying. Fifty-six percent of renters said now is a good time to buy, which is down both from last quarter (57 percent) and a year ago (62 percent). Younger households, renters and those living in the costlier West region – where prices continue to spike – are the least optimistic.

Mortgage applications increased during the week ending March 10th, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).  The Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey saw a 3.1 percent increase in total mortgage applications.  The Refinance Index increased 4 percent and the unadjusted Purchase Index increased 3 percent.  The refinance share of total mortgage applications increased to 45.6 percent last week.

The MBA’s Builder Applications Survey (BAS) reported new home purchase mortgage applications increased year over year. The BAS showed mortgage applications for new home purchases increased 2.2 percent compared to February 2016. Compared to just one month before, applications increased by 16 percent.

The US Department of Labor announced last week that initial unemployment insurance claims decreased from the previous week ending March 11, 2016.  The four-week moving average was 241,000 an increase from last week’s average.  The insured unemployment rate was 1.5 percent for the week ending March 4, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate.

CoreLogic released the National Foreclosure Report for March 2017. In their 10-year report, 7.8 million homes were lost to foreclosure. The seriously delinquent rate stands at 2.6 percent, its lowest level since before the crisis. Of all homes with a mortgage, 0.9 percent of homes are in the foreclosure inventory.

The Conference Board Employment Trends Index increased in February. After decreasing in January, the index now stands at 131.39, up from 129.91. The change represents a 3.1 percent gain in the ETI compared to a year ago.

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S increased. The LEI increased 0.6 percent in February to 126.2. The Economic Index (CEI) for the U.S. increased 0.3 percent in February to 114.9, while the Lagging Economic Index (LAG) for the U.S. increased 0.2.


HUD and the Census Bureau announced new residential construction activity in February. Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,213,000. This is 6.2 percent below the revised January rate of 1,293,000, but is 4.4 percent above the February 2016 rate of 1,162,000. Privately owned housing starts in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,288,000, while privately owned housing completions in were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,114,000.