Freddie Mac recently released its monthly outlook for September which noted that housing remains a bright spot for the U.S. economy.
"The housing market remains a bright spot for the U.S. economy, with solid job gains and low mortgage interest rates sustaining the economy's momentum in September,” says Sean Becketti, Chief Economist, Freddie Mac. “In most markets, low mortgage rates have more than offset the rise in house prices, preserving homebuyer affordability for the typical household. Homeowners are also taking advantage of low rates and house price appreciation that is increasing their home equity. The share of cash-out refinances grew to 41 percent in the second quarter of 2016, compared to 38 percent in the first quarter and 15 to 20 percent during the housing crisis."
Specifically, the report shows that Freddie Mac is anticipating the 30-year fixed rate mortgage to average 3.6 percent in 2016. This will be the lowest annual average in over 40 years. The report states that the current record low annual average was in 2012 with a percentage of 3.66. Additionally, Freddie Mac reports that falling mortgage rates from 4 percent at the end of 2015 to about 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2016 have more than offset the rise in house prices in most markets. The report highlights that this has helped to preserve homebuyer affordability.
The report also states that Freddie Mac is revising their forecast of home price appreciation to 5.6 percent and 4.7 percent in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The GSE states that this is up from last month's forecast of 5.3 percent for 2016 and 4.0 percent for 2017. In regards to cash-out refinance activity, Freddie Mac shows this market sector to be on the rise in the second quarter, with an estimated $13.3 billion net dollars of home equity converted to cash during refinancing. This is up from $11.4 billion in the first quarter of 2016, according to the report, but noted as substantially less than the peak cash-out refinance volume of $84.0 billion during the second quarter of 2006.
In addition to these points, Freddie Mac discusses the conditions of the labor market, stating that despite a disappointing August employment report, the market “keeps chugging along”. Specifically, the report shows year-over-year job gains are over 2 million and the unemployment rate remains below 5 percent. In addition, the GSE states that job gains are now being translating into some modest real income gains with average hourly earnings up 2.4 percent year-over-year. This is a reported 2.3 percent increase from last year. Finally, the GSE reports that the best signal of labor market strength in their opinion is the fact that total job openings in July were 5.9 million, the highest on record.
To read the entire Freddie Mac September 2016 Outlook click HERE.