Monday, January 29, 2007

Kansas City Area Economic News from Carol Poppe

Here's Economic News for this week from Carol Poppe, VP of Residential Lending

REAL ESTATE: As is no surprise, new home sales plunged 17.3% in 2006, the biggest drop in 16 years. The median home price for December was still below the year-earlier price reading, another sign of weakness in the market. However, since the median home price hasn’t changed from a year earlier, some prognosticators feel we have hit the bottom. This is why conforming limits are unchanged from the year before, $417,000. Major homebuilders around the country, like Pulte Homes, saw sharp declines in earnings in 2006 with the slump. What this means to you is it is still a buyer’s market.
BONDS: The Bond prices slipped after this report hinted at stabilization in the housing market. Also the stock market slumped with fears that this information would revive worries about higher interest rates from the Feds. Strong economic growth is good for corporate profits but if growth is too strong, it will cause the Feds to start raising rates again to curb inflation. The Federal Reserve has a policy meeting this week (Tues. & Weds) which at this point, is expected to keep the interest rate unchanged. Since the middle of last year, the focus of the markets has been whether the Fed will be tempted to lower rates to stimulate the economy and avoid a recession. This would have been good for the real estate market. However, now, it is thought that we will see a continued pause, encouraged by solid job growth reports, higher payrolls, and tumbling oil prices. Durable good orders climbed in December, higher than expected. These are items that are meant to last more than 3 years. Excluding defense and aircraft orders, non-defense capital goods orders jumped, following declines in the previous two months. Motor vehicle and parts orders posted the strongest gains/month since August, 2004.
RESULTS: What all this means is that interest rates continue to edge slowly up, rather than the anticipated decline. Since it appears we are not going to see a decline in the second mortgage rates for awhile, be sure your buyers who are needing 95-100% financing look at all options, not just 80/20’s. There are some great new options out there for 100% financing which will give a lower payment than 80/20’s.

Carol Poppe,
VP/Mortgage Lending
10740 Nall Avenue • Suite 210 • Overland Park, KS 66211 Office: 913.652.7302 • Fax: 913.649.3222

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