US Job – Payroll Growth Trailed Forecasts Ahead of Shutdown

October 26, 2013

The 148,000 increase followed a revised 193,000 gain in August that was larger than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent, the lowest level since November 2008.

Stocks and Treasuries climbed as the report supported expectations that the Federal Reserve won’t hurry to reduce monthly bond purchases aimed at spurring growth and employment. Progress in the labor market depends on how quickly the economy can bounce back from the loss of business and confidence caused by the budget battles in Washington.

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US – Single-Family Rental Market Trying to Prove It’s Sustainable

October 25, 2013

The recent initial public offering by real estate investment trust American Homes 4 Rent, which captured $706 million, raises more questions than answers about the long-term viability of the single-family rental home market.

Even the Federal Housing Finance Agency—whose Real Estate Owned Pilot Initiative, launched two years ago, has transferred 1,763 REO properties to new owners—seems ambivalent about future demand. 

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US – NAHB Offers Reasons for Optimism About Housing’s Full Recovery

June 27, 2013

The nation’s growth “is finally being driven by housing again,” proclaimed David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist, during the association’s Construction Forecast Webinar. Home prices have been rising, partly the result of tightening inventory of completed new homes, which in turn is stimulating demand. Employment—a major factor in home-buying decisions—continues to strengthen, albeit incrementally. And housing’s recovery is now national in scope.

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US – Rise of Renter Class Drives Construction Activity

April 15, 2013

FORTUNE —  Renters (as opposed to buyers) are still driving the rebound of the residential construction industry.

Construction of single-family homes rose to a nearly five-year high in February, the Commerce Department reported. Single-family home building, which made up about 66% of housing starts last month, rose 0.5% to a rate of 618,000 units — the highest level since June 2008. This follows a 31.5% rise in single-family construction in the last year.

Although this might suggest buyers are driving home building again, renters are still playing an unusually large role in the home construction industry — a trend that’s lasted since 2007 when the housing market collapsed. Construction of multi-family homes, typically destined for the rental market, make up about 33% of all residential construction today. That’s markedly higher than the average of nearly 20% over the past two decades.

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US – NAR: Rental, For-Sale Markets Rise Together

April 15, 2013

The apartment and for-sale housing markets usually compete with each other.  But what’s happening today is different, according to the economists at the National Association of Realtors (NAR). “Rental demand and housing sales are rising at the same time,” says NAR spokesperson Walter Maloney.

What’s behind the seeming contradiction?  The number of households is growing again after years of lagging behind the growth in the population. For years, graduates have been moving back home or sharing dwellings with roommates. Now, more people are striking out on their own.  And this formation of new households is creating strong demand for both rental and for-sale housing.

Lots of demand

The for-sale housing market is recovering faster than seemed possible just last year. Many economists expected for-sale home prices to drop in 2012, such as the analysts at Freddie Mac. Instead prices rose more than 7 percent, according to indexes kept by both Case Shiller and the Federal Housing Administration. The number of sales is also rising quickly, despite the small number of homes on the market.

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US – Home Construction Boom Led By Apartment Demand

February 7, 2013

Total housing starts rose 12% vs. November to an annualized 954,000, the Commerce Department reported. That’s the most in 4-1/2 years and far above the 887,000 expected. Construction on housing with five or more units shot up 23%. Single-family starts were up 8%.

The strong construction figures and a five-year low in jobless claims helped push the S&P 500 to a fresh five-year high. That’s despite a weak report on mid-Atlantic manufacturing.

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US – Commercial Lending Condition in 2013

February 7, 2013

While rent hikes in 2013 probably won’t match the robust rates seen the past couple years, rock-bottom debt pricing should continue unabated in 2013.

Rocco and others do caution that certain underwriting policies may tighten up a bit at as single-family homes–and the active construction pipeline–absorb some of the resilient renter demand. For instance stalwarts Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are already becoming somewhat more restrictive with early-term interest-only periods than they were just a few months back, observes Phillip Wintner, CFO at Kennedy Wilson Multifamily.

Wintner notes that 10-year fixed deals from the GSEs tend to be in the 3.5 percent vicinity at higher leverage, with tighter spreads available at more conservative loan to value ratios. And Fannie’s magnetic adjustable program is proving particularly attractive, floating in the “low-200s” basis point (bp) range over Libor.

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