Financing Home Improvements.

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Mortgage Applications increased almost 5 percent last week, with purchase applications up 2 percent and refinance applications up 10 percent. Last week we saw mortgage rates rise slightly, highlighting how obtaining a mortgage is often due to lifestyle circumstances.

Speaking of refinances, more homeowners should be utilizing the equity in their home. A third of homeowners used credit cards to finance home improvements last year, with millennials the most likely to do so. The unfortunate: 62 percent plan to pay it off “over time.” However long that means. How much are homeowners charging? $1,500 to $4,800 on the median $10K home renovation cost. Highlight: median not mean. Those who did $50K or more of home renovations typically charged 28 percent of the costs.

Pending Home Sales—measuring signed contracts on existing single-family homes, condos, and co-ops, and typically a good indicator for the Existing Home Sales report—were up half a percent in September, stronger than expectations of an unchanged report.

New Home Sales decreased 5.5 percent in September, greatly missing expectations of only a 0.6 percent decrease. What’s odd: September saw the highest level of inventory in 7.5 years with 327K new homes for sale, making this a very weak and disappointing report regarding the new home construction market. We would have hoped for more. Given the size of the new construction market in the Southeast, some argue the storms faced in the Southeast played a contributing role to this disappointment. However, they’re not the sole reason. It’s more likely builders noted a cooling market—happens every fall—and have tapered off their efforts before winter comes.

The FHFA (Federal Housing Finance Agency) released their House Price Index, showing home prices rose 0.3 percent in August but were down to 6.1 percent annual change—note this is a decrease in rate and not a negative change in home appreciation, there’s a difference. Home price appreciation is still very strong and healthy.

Initial Jobless Claims for last week were reported at 215K claims. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Report for October will be released November 2nd and expectations are for a strong report.


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