After Bruising Election, Housing Stats Mostly Mixed

Posted By Arthur Murray on January 17, 2017 at 4:46 pm
After Bruising Election, Housing Stats Mostly Mixed

Much changed in the national government during the November 2016 elections, but so far, the numbers across the housing market have been mixed. Initially higher interest rates combined with a lack of homes for sale accounted for some market damage. But mortgage rates have since fallen, new home sales are up, and some regions fared better than others.

Following are relevant numbers on housing sales, construction, foreclosures and more.

Mortgage rates

As of Jan. 17, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage was sitting at 4.04 percent, down slightly from 4.17 percent on the same date in December, according to The effect for homebuyer? If the purchase was for a $250,000 home, with a 20% down payment, the monthly payment (restricted to principal and interest only) would be nearly $959 a month; on Dec. 17, the monthly payment would have been about $975.

Home sales

Pending home sales: The numbers are for transactions in which a contract has been signed but the sale has not closed. In November, the total dropped 2.5 percent from October, according to the National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index. The decrease was to the lowest level in nearly a year. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says a lack of inventory and higher mortgage rates fueled the slowdown. “The budget of many prospective buyers last month was dealt an abrupt hit by the quick ascension of rates immediately after the election,” he said in a press release. “Already faced with climbing home prices and minimal listings in the affordable price range, fewer home shoppers in most of the country were successfully able to sign a contract.”

The report did have some good news. The Northeast experienced month-over-month and annual increases in pending sales. Nationally, Yun expects 5.42 million existing home sales for 2016, up from 5.25 million in 2015.

Existing home sales: These transactions increased by 0.7 percent in November, according to NAR, to an annual rate of 5.61 million homes. The annual rate in November 2015 was 4.86 million.


Housing affordability: In November, the median price of an existing single-family home was $236,500, a slight rise from $235,600 in October but an increase of nearly 7 percent from November 2015. The median price differs substantially across regions, as you can see in the chart below:

Median home price Monthly Principal and Interest Payment as a % of income
Northeast $262,900 $972 14.5
Midwest $181,300 $685 11.6
South $211,200 $793 14.8
West $349,200 $1,299 21.0

Source: National Association of Realtors

Median sales price of a foreclosure home: In November, this stood at $131,400, up about $1,400 over the month before, according to RealtyTrac. That price is about 40 percent lower than the median sales price for non-distressed homes.

More housing indicators

National Housing Scorecard: This monthly report, compiled by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, says new home purchases rose 5.2 percent in November to about 592,000. That’s an increase of 16.5 percent from the same month of 2015. Foreclosure starts began on 60,400 homes, up 6.9 percent from October. However, that was still down 9.3 percent from November 2015.

Housing starts and building permits: According to the National Association of Home Builders, nearly 1.1 million housing units were started in November. Of those, about 820,000 were single-family homes. Also in November, slightly more than 1.2 million building permits were issued.

GoodCall® will continue to monitor these numbers.

Arthur Murray
Arthur is managing editor of GoodCall, directing its newsroom. He has nearly 30 years of newspaper and magazine experience. A native of Virginia, Arthur attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated with a bachelor's in journalism.

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