The Data and Analytics division of Black Knight, Inc. released its latest Home Price Index (HPI) report, based on September 2017 residential real estate transactions. The Black Knight HPI utilizes repeat sales data from the nation’s largest public records data set, as well as its market-leading, loan-level mortgage performance data, to produce one of the most complete and accurate measures of home prices available for both disclosure and non-disclosure states. Non-disclosure states do not include property sales price information as part of their publicly available county recorder data. Black Knight is able to obtain the sales price information for these states by combining and matching records across its unique data assets.Monthly Appreciation Continues to Slow as US Home Prices Gain 0.16% in September; Year-Over-Year Growth Accelerates Slightly at 6.36%
– The rate of monthly appreciation declined again in September, falling by one-third from August and marking the sixth consecutive month of slowing growth
– New York home prices led all states for the third month in a row, seeing a 1.08% rise in home prices from August
– Half of the nation’s 20 largest states and 17 of the largest metros saw prices fall from last month
– Michigan saw the largest decline of all states at -0.61%, and the Detroit metro’s -0.58% decline led all metros; even so, Detroit home prices are up over 10% since the start of 2017
– All of the top 10 best-performing metros saw home prices grow by 1.1% or more in September, with Kennewick, Wash., leading the way at 1.99% monthly appreciation
– San Jose, Calif., continued to show very strong growth, with home prices there up more than 15% year-over-year and an HPI value of just over $1.03 million
– Seattle, Wash., and Las Vegas, Nev., followed, with home prices up 14 and 11.57% from this time last year, respectively
– The number of states and metros setting new home price peaks continued to fall, with just six of the 20 largest states and 11 of the 40 largest metros hitting new highs in September
Bitcoin eyes $10,000 as it rockets to new record high
Bitcoin’s vertiginous ascent showed no signs of abating on Monday, with the cryptocurrency soaring to another record high just a few% away from $10,000 after gaining more than a fifth in value over the past three days alone. The digital currency has seen an eye-watering tenfold increase in its value since the start of the year and has more than doubled in value since the beginning of October, lifted by the prospect of crossing over into the financial mainstream, amid a flurry of crypto-hedge fund launches. It surged as much as 4.5% on Monday to trade at $9,721 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange <BTC=BTSP>, before easing back to around $9,600 by 1155 GMT. Data compiled by Alistair Milne, the Monaco-based manager of the Altana Digital Currency Fund, showed US bitcoin wallet provider Coinbase added 300,000 users between Wednesday and Sunday, during the US Thanksgiving holiday. The total number of Coinbase users globally now stands at 13.3 million. “The Coinbase data is evidence that adoption is not slowing down,” Milne told Reuters. “Breaking $10,000 seems inevitable following the recent price action.”
Florida housing market remains strong with rising sales and constrained property inventory
The impact of Hurricane Irma on Florida’s housing market resolved by the end of October, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors. Sales, median prices, new listings and new pending sales rose even as the inventory of for-sale properties remained constrained in many areas. Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 20,543 last month, up 2% compared to October 2016. “Home purchases stalled by Hurricane Irma striking Florida in September resumed – and many of those sales closed in October,” said 2017 Florida Realtors President Maria Wells, broker-owner with Lifestyle Realty Group in Stuart. “Areas hit hardest by the hurricane will still take time to recover, but in other parts of the state, real estate activity has returned. Sellers were ready to put their homes on the market in October, with new listings for single-family existing homes up 9.8% year-over-year; new listings for existing condo-townhouse properties rose 14.6%. “Wherever you are, there is a local Realtor who can help you understand local market conditions and prepare for a successful home sale or home purchase.” The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $235,558, up 7.1% from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The statewide median price for condo-townhouse properties in October was $170,000, up 5.2% over the year-ago figure. October was the 70th month-in-a-row that statewide median prices for both sectors rose year-over-year. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in September 2017 was $246,800, up 5.6% from the previous year; the national median existing condo price was $231,300. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in September was $555,410; in Massachusetts, it was $380,000; in Maryland, it was $277,746; and in New York, it was $257,500.
Looking at Florida’s condo-townhouse market, statewide closed sales totaled 8,116 last month, up 2.2% compared to October 2016. Closed sales data reflected fewer short sales and foreclosures last month: Short sales for condo-townhouse properties declined 22.5% and foreclosures fell 42.8% year-to-year; short sales for single-family homes dropped 36.7% and foreclosures fell 42.3% year-to-year. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written. “Last month, we talked about how it’s not uncommon for Florida to see a quick rebound in sales of existing homes the month after a hurricane,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor. “And, according to the latest data, that’s exactly what happened in the Sunshine State in October. Both single-family home and condo-townhouse sales rose, boosted in part by closings that otherwise would have been completed in September if not for delays brought about by Hurricane Irma. “Because of the length of the home-selling process, we’ll likely see some reverberations of Irma’s impact statewide for a couple more months, but October’s statistics are very encouraging.” October’s for-sale inventory remained tight with a 3.8-months’ supply for single-family homes and a 5.6-months’ supply for condo-townhouse properties, according to Florida Realtors. According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.90% in October 2017; it averaged 3.47% during the same month a year earlier.
Oil falls on US drilling but OPEC cuts support market
Oil prices fell on Monday, with US crude easing from two-year highs on prospects of higher output, but losses were limited before an OPEC meeting that is expected to extend output limits. Brent crude oil was down 10 cents at $63.76 a barrel by 1430 GMT. US light crude was 70 cents lower at $58.25. US crude oil production has risen by 15% since mid-2016 to 9.66 million barrels per day (bpd), not far from top producers Russia and Saudi Arabia. Rising drilling activity means output is likely to grow further. US energy firms added oil rigs last week. The monthly rig count rose for the first time since July, to 747 active rigs, as producers were encouraged by rising crude prices. US crude touched $59.05 a barrel on Friday, its strongest since mid-2015, partly driven by the closure of the 590,000 bpd Keystone pipeline connecting Canada’s oil sand fields with the United States following a spill, which reduced stocks. Oil prices have risen sharply in recent months thanks to efforts to limit output by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers. OPEC and its allies cut production by 1.8 million bpd in January and have agreed to hold down output until March. OPEC meets on Thursday to discuss policy and most analysts expect some form of deal to extend the cuts. “A long-running barrage of bullish rhetoric from the oil cartel has cemented widely-held beliefs that supply curbs will be extended through to the end of next year,” said Stephen Brennock, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates.
CFPB thrown into disarray by Cordray
Over the long weekend, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau erupted into chaos as outgoing CFPB Director Richard Cordray appointed an acting director shortly before President Trump appointed an acting director. Previously, CFPB Director Richard Cordray announced in an email to the bureau’s staff that he will be stepping down from his position before the end of the month. When Cordray made his announcement, many, though not all, within the housing industry rejoiced, saying this meant a step in the right direction. Friday, Cordray announced he would leave the bureau for good by the end of the day, instead of the end of the month. He then promoted his chief of staff Leandra English as deputy director, according to an article by Renae Merle for The Washington Post. Cordray sent a letter to CFPB staff, explaining English would serve as the agency’s acting director until the Senate confirmed a replacement, the article states. From the article: “I have also come to recognize that appointing the current chief of staff to the deputy director position would minimize operational disruption and provide for a smooth transition given her operational expertise,” Cordray said in his letter. The move was widely seen by analysts as an attempt to block Trump from immediately putting a Republican in charge of the agency without Senate confirmation.
Then chaos erupted: Hours later, President Donald Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney, who currently serves as director of the Office of Management and Budget and has long been outspoken about his dislike for the CFPB, as the acting director. “The President looks forward to seeing Director Mulvaney take a common-sense approach to leading the CFPB’s dedicated staff, an approach that will empower consumers to make their own financial decisions and facilitate investment in our communities,” a White House statement said. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted out this, to back Trump’s right to choose the acting director: “The Vacancies Act gives @POTUS the authority to designate @MickMulvaneyOMB Acting Director of @CFPB, superseding Deputy Director”
The Office of Legal Counsel supported Trump’s right to appoint the acting director, of course: “The CFPB Director is an office filed by presidential appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate,” the office wrote in a letter to the president. More from the letter: “The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 provides the President with authority ‘for temporarily authorizing an acting official to perform the functions and duties’ of an officer of an Executive agency whose appointment ‘is required to be made by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate,’ and is the ‘exclusive means’ for authorizing acting service ‘unless’ another statute expressly designates an officer to serve in an acting capacity or provides alternative means for a designation an acting officer.” Trump announced he intends to bring the CFPB back to life, saying it was a “total disaster” under Cordray.