The National Association of REALTORS® reports that after four straight months of declines, Existing Home Sales were unchanged in August from July at an annual rate of 5.34 million units. That was below the 5.37 million expected. Flat sales were due to a balance of gains in the Northeast and Midwest and losses in the South and West. From August of last year, sales were down 1.5%. The median existing home price in August was $264,800, up 4.6% from $253,100 of August 2017. Unsold inventory of existing homes in August was at a 4.3-month supply, below the 6-month supply considered normal.
Mortgage rates continued to edge higher in the latest week as Bond prices fell due in part to a strong U.S. economy, an uptick in wage growth along with a strong labor market. Freddie Mac reports that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.65% this week with an average 0.50 in points and fees. Freddie Mac said, "Purchase applications have risen on an annual basis for five consecutive weeks. However, given the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas, the next few months of housing activity will likely be somewhat volatile."
Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits continue to hover near lows seen in the late 1960s, when the labor market was smaller. The Labor Department reports that Weekly Initial Jobless Claims fell to 201,000 in the latest week, down 3,000. It was the lowest number since November 1969. The jobs market is at or near full employment due to a strong U.S. economy.