Home builder confidence increased in April to an index reading of 63, which was one point higher than for March and the highest reading in six months. Analysts said that April’s reading revealed more about housing market conditions in the past six months than it was an indicator of future market conditions.
Members of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee voted to hold the target range of the federal funds rate to its current range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent. The minutes of the most recent Committee meeting cited softening domestic and global economic conditions as reason for not raising the target federal funds range.
Home price indices issued by S&P Case-Shiller showed further slowing in home price growth in January. The national home price index showed 4.30 percent home price growth for the three months ended in January. Analysts expected home prices to grow 4.20 percent for the same period in cities surveyed by Case-Shiller. More cities reported declines in home prices than those that posted gains in home prices.
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The mortgage interest rate represents the cost of borrowing money to purchase a property. Mortgage interest rates are not fixed; that is, they fluctuate from one period of time to the next.
Builder sentiment held steady in March as headwinds in housing markets affected homebuilder confidence, but National Association of Home Builders Chairman Greg Ugalde said that builders were looking forward to a “solid spring home-buying season.” Builder sentiment mirrored February’s index reading of 62; analysts expected an uptick to 63.
Case-Shiller Home Price Indices reported the slowest rate of U.S. home price growth since November 2014. According to the 20-City Home Price Index, Home prices grew by 4.20 percent year-over-year and were 0.20 percent higher in December as compared to November. The 20-City Home Price Index fell short of analysts’ expected gain of 4.80 percent year-over-year. Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index reported home prices increased 4.70 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.
After raising the target range for the federal funds rate in 2018, the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee did not raise the Central Bank’s key interest rate at its meeting of January 29 and 30. While Committee members did not raise the Fed’s key rate, members were divided on the interest rate decision.
Home price growth continued to struggle in November, with Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index moving from October’s reading of 5.30 percent annual growth to 5.20 percent growth in November. This was the lowest reading since January 2015.
After two months of declining builder confidence, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index gained two points in January with a reading of 58. Component readings of the HMI were also higher with builder confidence in current market conditions rose two points to an index reading of 63. Builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months rose three points to 64.