4/23: MetroIntelligence Economic Update by P. DUFFY

Existing home sales fell 8.2 percent in March, but still up 0.8 percent year-on-year

March sales of existing homes fell 8.2 percent from February as the economic impact from Covid-19 cast a chill over the housing market. Still, sales were up 0.8 percent year-on-year. Sales prices — based mostly on agreements made in February and January — rose 8.0 percent year-on-year, as the inventory timeline rose from 3.0 to 3.4 months.



Pending new home sales fell 33.1 percent in March and 23.9 percent year-on-year

The New Home Pending Sales Index for March shows new home contracts declined 33.1 percent from February and 23.9 percent year-on-year. Although sales in the first part of March tracked expectations, once the shelter-in-place orders were set mid-month in many states, overall transaction volume started to slow.



Mortgage applications and interest rates remain mostly flat in weekly report

The Market Composite Index decreased 0.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier, with purchase loans rising 2 percent (but down 31 percent year-on-year to its lowest level since 2015), and refinance activity dipping 1 percent (but 225 percent higher year-on-year). The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages remained unchanged at 3.45 percent.



Percentage of mortgage loans in forbearance jumps 60 percent in weekly survey

The total number of loans now in forbearance jumped from 3.74 percent of servicers’ portfolio volume in the prior week to 5.95 percent as of April 12, 2020. By comparison, only 0.25 percent of all loans were in forbearance for the week of March 2.



Gallup: Economic Confidence Index slides another 54 points in April

Americans’ evaluations of the economy have abruptly turned negative amid the coronavirus pandemic. Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index for April is now -32, down from +22 in March. The 54-point drop is the largest one-month change in Gallup’s trend dating back to 1992, and it comes on the heels of last month’s 19-point drop, which had been one of the largest monthly declines to date. Notably, prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, economic confidence was the highest it had been in 20 years.


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