Posted On April 13, 2018
Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week. Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions declined. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) released the minutes from its March meeting and the overall tone was optimistic. The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed job openings dipped.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) mortgage application survey dropped for the week ending 4/6. New purchase application submissions declined 2.0% and refinance application submissions declined 2.0% for a composite decrease of 1.9%. Despite the leveling off of interest rates, some shoppers are having trouble finding a home in a competitive market. Housing professionals were somewhat surprised with last week’s declines, especially in the midst of home buying and selling season. However, Fannie Mae’s chief economist Doug Duncan wrote, “On the whole, a slight majority of consumers continue to express optimism regarding the overall direction of the economy.”
The Federal Open Market Committee released the minutes from its March meeting on Wednesday. Based on the report, the economic outlook has strengthened, and more rate hikes are expected as inflation returns to the 2% threshold.
In February, job openings fell slightly to a level of 6.052 million. Companies hired about 5.5 million workers and laid off about 5.2 million. About 3.2 million workers quit voluntarily, leaving the quit rate unchanged at 2.2%. The labor market is increasingly tightening. With the unemployment rate at the lowest level in over 17 years, employers’ biggest struggle is finding skilled workers to fill open positions.
Next week, several important housing reports are scheduled for release including the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index and housing starts and building permits. In the midst of one of the most competitive spring selling seasons in recent decades, the upcoming reports should shed some light on how builders are keeping up with sustained home buyer demand.