Stocks hit record highs again this week. Numbers were boosted this week by remarks made by new Fed chief Janet Yellen at her Senate confirmation hearing in which she stated she believes it is too soon to end the Fed’s stimulus program. This makes six straight weeks of rising Dow and S&P numbers with both seeing record closing numbers again this week. The Dow ended the week at 15,961.71 up 1.98% from last week’s 15,761.78 close. The Nasdaq was up 1.27% to3,985.97 from last week’s close of 3,919.23. The S&P 500 was up 1.56% over last week, closing at1,798.18 compared to last week’s close of 1,770.61.
Data from the Labor Department showed that prices for U.S. exports fell 0.5% last month, the seventh decline in eight months. Analysts had expected a slight increase. The price of imports into America declined 0.7% due to a sharp drop in oil prices. The Commerce Department released data indicated that the U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in September with imports rising to their highest level in almost a year.
The 10-year Treasury note yield rate hit a high of 2.80% on Monday but closed Friday at 2.71%down from last week’s 2.77%. It was at 1.58% a year ago.
This week saw a continued modest rise in interest rates. According to the Freddie Mac Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year-fixed rate was up this week to 4.35% from 4.16% . The 15-year-fixed rose to 3.35% from last week’s 3.27%. A year ago the 30-year fixed was at 3.34% and the 15-year was at 2.65%. Jumbo rates are about 1/2% higher.
DataQuick released numbers this week which showed a plateau in local real estate prices. The median sale price for the six counties in the Southland area (Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura and San Diego) across Southern California was reported at $383,750 last month,21.8% higher than last year but virtually unchanged from June according to the LA Times. The Times also reported that the share of absentee buyers — mostly investors — dropped in October down to 26.5% of homes sold last month, compared with a 32.4% in January. Sales declined 4.4% from a year earlier from 21,075 sales to a total of 20,150 existing and newly built houses and condos but were up 5.4% from 19,112 sales in September. This number includes distressed sales. With distressed sales removed, conventional sales are up 32% year over year. There are fewer foreclosed homes available. Homes that had been foreclosed within the last year made up 6.3% of existing home sales, down from 16.3% a year earlier and the lowest level since May 2007, DataQuick said. Short sales also fell, from 27.2% of the resale market last year to 12.9% in October.
The data also showed that there was an increase in sales of the number of homes that sold in the typical move-up range — $300,000 to $800,000 . They rose 15.5% over a year ago. Homes priced $800,000 and above jumped 32.9%. However sales of homes costing less than $300,000 declined 32.2% compared with last October. Investors nabbed many of the lower priced homes and also homeowners in the more affordable areas still may be working their way out from being underwater.
Zillow released data on days on market and found that homes sold in the U.S. in September spent a median of 86 days on Zillow, 30 days less than the 116 days calculated a year ago. Los Angeles was named as one of the 10 fastest moving markets, with an average of 64 days spent on the market.
In his annual statement at the National Association of Realtors conference last week, chief economist Lawrence Yun predicted that for 2014 home sales will remain roughly flat at around 5.1 million units while prices will rise by 6% and interest rates will head to 5.4% by the end of 2014. He also stated that he anticipates that the sales of newly built homes will increase by 18.5%. Sales of new homes have been historically low in the past few years but Yun sees believes there will be a rise in new home construction fueled by an increased need for inventory.
The latest report from RealtyTrac showed 1,784 foreclosures in the six-county region, down 57%year over year but up 2% over September. In Los Angeles County, one in every 1,018 homes was in foreclosure during the month.
Rents continue to rise in Los Angeles. The LA Times reports that the average apartment rent in the three-month period ended Sept. 30 reached $1,688 a month, a 2.6% increase from the same period last year, according to a new report from Marcus & Millichap. On average tenants are paying nearly 6% more than they did before the recession.
All in all it was a quiet economic news week. I hope you have a good weekend!
If you’d like more information on the San Fernando Valley or Los Angeles, or to have help looking for your next home, please feel free to reach out! I’m happy to help, no obligation.