People are making a little more money now and spending less of it. Will this put some money back into bank accounts and make them feel better on purchasing that new home? chart below show increase in Real Personal Income.
Good article on Morningstar listed below. Section listed below shows housing thoughts from article.
Lots of Housing Data, Not Many Insights
There was a plethora of housing data this week, but a soon to expire homebuyers' credit made the numbers less meaningful. Existing homes sales, new home sales, and housing prices all performed better than Wall Street's expectations; I suspected as much in last week's column. Existing home sales were up 7.8%, while new home sales were up a surprisingly strong 14.8% between March and April, and house prices really didn't change enough to move the needle. Credit or no credit, improved housing sales should lead to better sales of certain retail categories including appliances, building materials, and furniture in the months ahead.
I'm less worried now about the expiration of the homebuyers' credit than I was a month ago. I now believe substantially lower interest rates, a better employment situation, and higher consumer confidence could mitigate some of the negative effect of the credit's expiration. Toll Brothers (TOL ), a high-end home builder,reported that traffic and deposits taken both increased at double-digit rates in the first three weeks of May compared with the first three weeks of last year. The improvement came despite the expiration of the credit at the end of April (though a significant portion of Toll's homes were too expensive to qualify for the credit in the first place.) Also, the rates on U.S. 10-year Treasury bonds have decreased from a high of close to 4% in April to around 3.2% currently. Those bond rates are used to price residential mortgages. In fact, home mortgage rates have now dropped to about 4.8%, their lowest level since December of 2009. I suspect that lower rates combined with tame housing prices and rising incomes will drive housing affordability to a record high when the National Association of Realtors reports the affordability index next week. Also, consumer confidence measures from both the Conference Board and the University of Michigan showed strong improvements in May and approached record levels for this recovery. A strong May jobs report (due next week) could further bolster that confidence and in turn boost home sales in the months ahead. (See this recent video on housing.)