What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 31, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week August 31 2015Last week’s economic news included several reports related to housing. The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for June rose to 4.50 percent as compared to May’s reading of 4.40 percent. Denver, Colorado was the only city to post double-digit year-over-year growth. FHFA also released its House Price Index for June. Home prices for properties associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose at a year-over-year rate of 5.60 percent in June as compared to May’s reading of 5.70 percent.

New Home Sales, Pending Home Sales Rise in July

Commerce Department data revealed that new home sales increased in July to a year-over-year reading of 507,000 against expectations of 510,000 new home sales and June’s revised reading of 481,000 new homes sold. The original reading for June was 482,000 new homes sold. New home sales provided a strong indicator of recovering housing markets as July’s reading was 25 percent higher than it was one year ago.

Pending home sales moved into positive territory in July after June’s reading of -1.80 percent. Pending home sales for July grew by 0.50 percent. Pending home sales are an indicator of future closings, so this is good news as the peak buying and selling season wanes.

The national median home price rose to $285,900 in July, which was two percent higher year-over-year.

Mortgage Rates, New Unemployment Claims Fall

Mortgage rates fell across the board last week. Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by none basis points to 3.8r percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also fell by nine basis points to 3.06 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 2.90 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at an average of 0.60 percent and fell from an average of 0.50 percent to 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Weekly jobless claims were also lower last week with 271,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 271,000 new claims filed and the previous week’s reading of 277,000 new claims filed. Last week’s reading was the 25th consecutive week of new jobless claims readings under the benchmark of 300,000 new claims filed; this is the longest stretch for new jobless claims under the 300,000 new claims benchmark in more than fifteen years.

New jobless claims rose by 1000 new claims to a seasonally adjusted average of 272,500 according to the four-week average. Analysts note that the four week average smooths out volatility that can occur with week-to-week readings.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report, ADP and the federal Non-farm Payrolls reports. The national unemployment rate will be released along with regularly scheduled reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Continue to Outpace Inflation

You Ask, We Answer: How the New FICO Score System Might Impact a Typical Mortgage BorrowerDenver, Colorado continues to woo homebuyers as home prices rose by 10.20 percent as of June according to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index. The Mile-High City was the only city included in the index that posted double-digit year-over-year growth in June. San Francisco, California posted a 9.50 percent year-over-year gain in home prices and Dallas, Texas rounds out the top three cities posting highest year-over-year home price growth with a reading of 8.20 percent.

Denver’s home prices were impacted by the city’s rapidly expanding economy and demand for homes coupled with a slim supply of homes for sale. According to the National Association of Realtors®, there is approximately one month’s inventory of homes available in Denver as compared to the national average of five months. 

Cities experiencing the least year-over-year growth in home prices according to the 20-City Home Price Index were Chicago, Illinois with a year-over-year growth rate of 1.40 percent, Washington D.C. with a year-over-year reading of 1.60 percent in home price growth and New York, New York with a reading of 2.80 percent growth in home prices year-over-year.

The 20-City Index indicated national home prices grew by five percent year-over-year in June, with a month-to-month increase of one percent from May to June.

Detroit Leads Gains in Month-to-Month Home Prices 

Detroit, Michigan led month-over-month home price growth with a May to June reading of 1.80 percent. Cleveland, Ohio and Portland Oregon posted month-to-month gains of 1.50 percent followed by Atlanta, Georgia and Denver Colorado; each city posted month-to-month home price gains of 1.30 percent. 

As economic conditions continue to improve, prospective homebuyers face obstacles including tight mortgage approval standards and home prices growing at approximately twice the rate of inflation.

FHFA: Home Prices Dip in June

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac slipped to a year-over year growth rate of 5.60 percent in June as compared to May’s reading of 5.70 percent. The agency also reported that home prices rose by 1.20 percent during the second quarter of 2015; this was the sixteenth consecutive quarterly increase in home prices.

FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis noted that home prices continued to exceed inflation and were rising in spite of higher mortgage rates.

In general, analysts regard longer term readings as more reliable than month-to-month readings that reflect more volatility based on day-to-day influences.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 24, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week August 24 2015Last week’s economic events included a number of readings on housing related topics. The National Association of Home Builders released its report on builder confidence in housing markets, Housing starts reached their highest level since the great recession, and existing home sales exceeded expectations and the prior month’s reading. The Federal Reserve released minutes for its most recent FOMC meeting, which indicated that while a majority of FOMC members are leaning toward raising the Fed’s target federal funds rate, concerns over certain aspects of the economy continue to keep the Fed from citing a date for raising its target interest rate.

Home Builder Confidence Nears Highest Reading in 10 Years

The National Association of Home Builders reported its highest level of builder confidence in housing market conditions since November of 2005. August’s reading was 61 as compared to an expected reading of 59 and July’s reading of 60. Any reading over 50 indicates that housing market conditions are good. NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said that August’s readings were consistent with builder expectations of gradual improvement in overall housing market conditions. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose by one point to a reading of 61; confidence in buyer foot traffic in new housing developments rose 2 points to 45 and the reading for expected home sales conditions over the next six months was unchanged at a reading of 70.

Builder confidence as shown by the three-month rolling average indicated that builder confidence increased by three points for a reading of 63 for the West; the Midwest also posted a gain of three points for a reading of 58. The South posted a two point gain in builder confidence for a reading of 63. In the Northeast, builder confidence held steady at 46.

Existing Home Sales Hit New Post-Recession High in July

According to the National Association of Realtors®, sales of pre-owned homes reached a new post-recession record in July. Sales of previously owned homes rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.59 million sales as compared to expectations of 5.48 million sales and June’s reading of 5.48 million sales. Sales of existing homes have risen for three consecutive months and are 10.30 percent higher year-over-year. Higher home prices are helping homeowners move up to larger homes, but analysts said that first-time buyers are still struggling to buy due to strict mortgage requirements and high demand for homes.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts Higher, Building Permits Lower

The Commerce Department reported that June housing starts increased from 1.20 million in May to 1.21 million in June; this is a month-to-month increase of 0.20 percent. Economists had expected a dip in housing starts to a rate of 1.185 million on an annual basis. Single family housing starts rose by 12.90 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 782,000 starts.

Building permits slipped in July by 16.30 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million permits issued. Permits for single family homes, which account for nearly 75 percent of permits issued, fell by 1.90 percent to an annual rate of 679,000 permits issued. Demand for multi-family homes such as condos and apartments is rising as would-be home buyers sit on the sidelines and many millennials prefer to rent. In spite of these factors the rate of building permits issued rose by 7.50 percent year-over-year.

Building permits issued rose by 7.70 percent in the South, and rose by 20 percent in the Midwest. In the West, permits issued declined by 3.10 percent in July, while the Northeast posted a decline of 27.50 percent in building permits issued. This was not a surprise as builders rushed to take out permits before a tax credit expired in June.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell for fixed rate mortgages and ticked upward for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.93 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates fell by two basis points to 3.15 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 2.94 percent. Discount points were unchanged across the board at 0.60 percent for 30 and 15-year fixed rates and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic news includes the Case-Shiller 10 and 20 city home price index reports, FHFA’s house price report for home sales connected with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and pending home sales. Core inflation numbers will also be released; this is significant as the Fed has set 2.0 percent annual inflation as one of its indicators for raising the Federal funds rate. Freddie Mac’s survey of average mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims will be released on Thursday, and this week wraps up with the consumer sentiment report on Friday.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 27, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 27 2015Last week’s scheduled economic news releases were limited as no news was released on Monday or Tuesday, but good news did arrive in the form of a dip in mortgage rates for fixed rate loans. The National Association of Realtors® reported higher sales of pre-owned homes and FHFA reported that home price growth associated with mortgages held or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac held steady in May.

Sales of Pre-Owned Homes and FHFA House Prices Rise

According to the National Association of Realtors®, June sales of existing homes reached their highest level since February 2007. Sales of used homes reached a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million previously owned homes sold against expectations of 5.42 million homes and May’s reading of 5.32 million pre-owned homes sold. By comparison, sales of existing homes remain about 24 percent below a pre-recession peak. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® cited improving labor markets and home buyer concerns over rising mortgage rates as factors contributing to May’s reading for existing home sales.

FHFA, the federal agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices associated with sales of homes financed with loans owned or backed by Fannie and Freddie rose by 0.40 percent month-over-month in May and held steady with April’s revised reading of 0.40 percent. FHFA home prices rose by 5.70 percent year-over-year in May.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that average rates for 30 and 15-year mortgages fell while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage ticked upward by one basis point. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points to 4.04 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.21 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate rose by one basis point to 2.97 percent. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent, 0.60 percent and 0.50 percent respectively.

Expected reports on weekly jobless claims and new home sales were not released last week.

What’s Ahead

Scheduled economic reports for this week include the usual weekly reports on jobless claims and mortgage rates along with the Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for May and the Commerce Department’s report on pending home sales. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve has scheduled an announcement on Wednesday, and reports on consumer confidence and consumer sentiment will also be released next week.

Good News! Existing Home Sales, FHFA Home Prices Increase

Good News Existing Home Sales FHFA Home Prices IncreaseHousing markets show continued signs of strengthening according to reports released on Wednesday. The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of pre-owned homes rose to 5.49 million in June as compared to May’s revised reading of 5.32 million pre-owned homes sold and expected sales estimated at 5.42 million sales. Expectations were based on May’s original reading of 5.35 million sales. June’s reading was the highest since February of 2007. Readings for existing home sales are calculated on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Buyers Gain Confidence in Labor Markets, Rush to Beat Rate Hikes

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® said that buyers may be influenced by rising mortgage rates and encouraged by improving job markets. Analysts expect the Federal Reserve to raise its target federal funds rate this fall, which means that mortgage rates along with consumer lending rates will rise.

The national median home price rose by 6.50 percent annually to $236,400, also a record reading.

While this news paints a rosy picture for housing markets, challenges remain. Strict mortgage standards are an obstacle for first time and moderate income buyers as well as for buyers with less than stellar credit scores. While construction of new homes is increasing, the majority of projects are apartment complexes. 41 percent of housing starts in June were multi-family projects with five or more units. This data falls in line with stricter mortgage standards and a trend for millennials, an expected group of first-time homebuyers, preferring to rent in large cities rather than moving to suburban areas.

FHFA House Prices Rise in May

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that home prices associated with mortgage loans owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was unchanged from April’s revised reading of 0.40 percent month-to-month home price growth. April’s month-to-month reading was originally reported at 0.30 percent. FHFA home prices were up 5.70 percent year-over-year in May.

FHFA reported that year-over-year home price growth was positive in all nine census divisions, with the lowest growth rate of 0.90 percent in the Mid Atlantic division and the highest growth rate of 8.40 percent in the Pacific division.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 29, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 29, 2015Last week’s economic news was largely positive as both new and existing home sales beat expectations. FHFA reported that home price growth held steady in May, while weekly jobless claims edged up, but were lower than expected.

New and Existing Home Sales Exceed Expectations

According to the Commerce Department, new home sales reached 546,000 on an annual basis for May. This surpassed expectations for 525,000 new homes sold and April’s revised reading of 534,000 new homes sold. Expectations were based on the original reading of 517,000 new homes sold in April.

Existing home sales rose by 5.10 percent in May to a seasonally-adjusted annual reading of 5.35 million sales and hit their highest level in five and a half years. The National Association of Realtors reported that this was the fastest pace of sales for previously-owned homes since November 2009. Expectations were based on an April’s original reading of 5.04 million sales, which was later revised to 5.09 million existing homes sold.

With wages and hiring picking up, more first-time buyers are expected to enter the market. Economists said there are signs that mortgage credit is becoming more available as lenders gain confidence in stronger economic conditions. A larger supply of available homes was also cited as driving sales of previously owned homes higher.

FHFA: Home Prices Show Steady Growth in May; Mortgage Rates Mixed

The Federal Finance Housing Agency (FHFA), the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices related to mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac held steady with a growth rate of 5.30 percent year-over-year reported in May. This was the same year-over-year home price growth rate that the agency posted in April.

Freddie Mac reported mixed developments for mortgage rates. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 4.02 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.21 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage also fell by two basis points to 2.98 percent. Average discount points were 0.70, 0.60 and 0.40 percent respectively.

Last week’s economic reports ended on a high note with June’s Consumer Sentiment Index reporting a reading of 96.1 as compared to expectations of 94.6 and May’s reading of 94.6. All in all, last week’s economic news provided further indications of stronger economic conditions that should provide the confidence to ease mortgage credit requirements and enable more first-time buyers to purchase homes.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reports include date on pending home sales, Case-Shiller’s Home Price Index reports and construction spending. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will also release the monthly Non-Farm Payrolls report and National Unemployment reports. No economic news is scheduled for Friday, July 3 due to the Independence Day holiday.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 1, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week June 1 2015Last week’s economic reports included the Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, FHFA’s House Price Index and Pending Home Sales from the Commerce Department. The details:

Home Prices Dip in March, Pending Home Sales Up

According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Housing Market Index, the national reading for average home prices dipped in March. The 20-City Index moved from February’s year-over-year home price growth of 4.20 percent to an average year-over-year home price growth rate of 4.10 percent in March. San Francisco, California reclaimed the top spot for home price growth of 10.30 percent year-over-year.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported results that mirrored the Case-Shiller report. The FHFA House Price Index tracks purchase-only transactions for homes connected with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The March reading for home price growth slipped to 5.20 percent year-over-year as compared to February’s reading year-over-year growth rate of 5.50 percent. Lingering winter weather conditions were seen as a contributing factor to lagging home prices.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department provided some good news for pending home sales. April’s pending sales reading increased to 3.40 percent from the March reading of 1.20 percent. Pending home sales are considered an indicator of future closings and suggest that the peak home selling and buying season is gaining momentum.

Sales of new homes in April brought spring home sales to their highest level in seven years. New home sales rose to an annual rate of 517,000 homes sold in April as compared to expected sales of 490,000 new homes sold and March’s reading of 484,000 new homes sold. The Midwest led the charge where new home sales surged by 36.80 percent. The latest readings for pending and new home sales suggest that 2015 can expect a healthy sales activity during the spring and summer.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Rise

Average mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.87 percent; discount points dropped from 0.70 percent to 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points to 3.11 percent with discount points lower at 0.50 percent than the previous week’s average of 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 2.90 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 282,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 270,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 275,000 new claims filed. In spite of the higher reading for new jobless claims, analysts said that layoffs are few and far between. New jobless claims hit their highest level in five weeks, but remain close to a 15-year low. The four-week rolling average of jobless claims increased by 5000 new claims to a reading of 271,500 new jobless claims filed. The four-week average is considered a more reliable source for tracking unemployment trends as it evens out highs and lows that occur in weekly readings.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reports include Construction spending and several labor-related news topics including Non-Farm Payrolls, the National Unemployment Rate and Average Hourly Earnings. Analysts expect improving labor conditions to further bolster housing markets.

Case-Shiller Home Prices: San Francisco, Denver see Double-Digit Increases

Case Shiller Home Prices San Francisco Denver see Double Digit IncreasesSan Francisco, California where home prices rose 10.30 percent year over year in March, and Denver, Colorado with an even 10 percent gain in year-over-year home prices led the Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index for March. Rounding out the top-five cities for year-over-year home price growth were Dallas Texas at 9.30 percent, Miami, Florida at 8.70 percent and Tampa, Florida with a year-over-year average gain in home prices at 8.10 percent. San Francisco’s reading for March was the first double-digit increase in home prices since last July.

The five lowest year-over-year price gains occurred in Washington, D.C. and Cleveland, Ohio tied at gains of 1.0 percent, New York City with a year-over-year gain of 2.70 percent, Minneapolis, Minnesota with a gain of 3.00 percent and Phoenix, Arizona with a year-over-year increase of 3.10 percent.

Overall, the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index rose by 5.0 percent year-over-year and by 0.90 percent in March. Analysts said that while home prices remain 16 percent below their pre-recession peaks, home prices are 31 higher than the lows recorded in March 2012.

When asked if house prices are in a bubble, David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Index Committee said that “The only way to tell if housing prices were in a bubble is looking back after it’s over.” Mr. Blitzer said that adjusted for inflation, home prices have increased on average by one percent per month since 1975, and that the current 4.10 percent monthly growth of home prices could suggest a bubble. Mr. Blitzer cautioned that home price increases are outpacing increases in personal income and national wage growth, a circumstance which reduces the pool of potential home buyers due to affordability issues.

FHFA House Price Index Posts 5.2 Percent Gain Year-Over-Year

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that as of March, prices for homes connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages rose by 5.20 percent year-over-year. The agency also said that average home prices increased by 1.30 percent in the first quarter of 2015.

Home prices were 5.0 percent higher in the first quarter of 2015 than for the first quarter of 2014. This data is consistent with the unrelated Case-Shiller home price data for March. FHFA reported that home prices rose in 48 states between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015. The states with the top rates of year-over-year home price growth were:

Colorado 11.20 percent

Nevada 10.10 percent

Florida 8.70 percent

Washington 7.60 percent

California 7.50 percent

The Mountain Division led the nine Census Bureau Divisions in home price growth with a growth rate of 2.60 percent in the first quarter and a year-over-year growth rate of 6.80 percent.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 27, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week April 27 2015Last week’s housing related reports included the FHFA Home Price Index, the National Association of Realtors® Existing Home Sales report and The Commerce Department’s report on new home sales. Results were mixed, but suggest that housing markets are strengthening.

FHFA Home Prices Up in February, Existing Home Sales Highest in 18 Months

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose from a 5.10 percent increase in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.40 percent in February.

The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of previously owned homes rose to 5.19 million in March as compared to expectations of 5.08 million sales and February’s reading of 4.89 million sales of pre-owned homes.

March sales represented a 6.10 percent gain over February sales; this was the highest volume of existing home sales in 18 months. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, said that if strong sales of pre-owned homes continue, 2015 could be the best year for existing home sales in nearly a decade.

New Home Sales Lag in March

The Department of Commerce reported that new home sales fell from February’s reading of 543,000 new homes sold to 481,000 new homes sold in March. Analysts expected a March reading of 503,000 new homes sold. This was the slowest pace for new home sales since November, but year-over-year, sales of new homes were 19.40 percent higher year-over-year. The national median home price fell by 1.70 percent to $277,400 year-over-year.

Sales of new homes decreased by 33 percent in the Northeast and fell by 16 percent in the South. New home sales fell by three percent in the West and rose by six percent in the Midwest. At the current sales pace, there is a 5.3 month supply of new homes for sale as compared to a 4.6 month supply in February. Analysts said that stagnant wage growth contributed to fewer home sales.

Mortgage Rates Lower, Weekly Jobless Claims

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage lenders, average mortgage rates fell across the board last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.67 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also dropped two basis points to an average of 2.92 percent; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 2.84 percent. Discount points for a 30 year mortgage fell to 0.60 percent; points for a 15-year mortgage were higher at 0.60 percent and average discount points for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell from 0.50 to 0.40 percent.

Weekly jobless claims came in at 295,000 new claims filed; analysts expected a reading of 288,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading was 294,000 new claims filed. Spring break holidays were blamed for higher jobless claims and March job growth hit its lowest in more than a year. Analysts caution against reading too much into weekly fluctuations and prefer to use the four-week rolling average to identify trends in unemployment claims.

What’s Ahead

This week’s housing related economic reports include Case-Shiller 10 and 20 City Housing Market Index reports, the customary post-meeting statement from the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and pending home sales data.

FHFA: Home Prices Rise 0.30 Percent in January

FHFA Home Prices Rise 0.30 Percent in JanuaryThe Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that home prices rose by a seasonally-adjusted rate of 0.30 percent in January, and were 5.10 percent higher as compared to home prices in January 2014.

FHFA oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and its home price report is based on sales of homes financed by mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Month- to- Month FHFA Home Prices Mixed

Month to month home price data was mixed for January. Home prices ranged from -0.40 percent in the Middle and South Atlantic census divisions to +2.30 percent in the East South Central census division.

Month-to month readings are considered more volatile than year-over-year home price readings. Year-over-year readings for all nine U.S. census divisions were positive and ranged from a 1.70 percent increase in the Middle Atlantic division to an increase of 8.20 percent in the Pacific division. This suggests that overall, home prices are gaining, but slowly.

Commerce Department: New Home Sales Hit 7-Year Peak

In an unrelated report, the Commerce Department reported that February sales of new homes reached a seven-year peak with 539,000 sales of new homes expected on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. This was significantly higher than the expected reading of 455,000 new home sales and was also higher than the revised reading of 500,000 new home sales in January.

Analysts said that this positive reading may indicate a robust sales for the peak spring and summer home buying season. The reading for new home sales in February was nearly 25 percent higher than for February 2014.

In spite of this good news, analysts cautioned that the new home sales numbers are often volatile, and future revisions could result in lower sales figures for new homes.

With jobs increasing and mortgage rates remaining relatively low, more homebuyers may enter the market and boost home sales. Tight mortgage lending standards remain an obstacle for would-be buyers with less than stellar credit scores.