What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - July 24 2023Last week’s economic reports included readings on U.S. housing markets, housing starts, and building permits issued. Sales data for previously-owned homes were also released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims

Home Builder Confidence Ticks Up in July

The National Association of Home Builders reported a one-point gain in home builder confidence with an index reading of 56 for July. Analysts predicted a reading of 57 and June’s reading was 55. Readings over 50 indicate that most home builders are confident about current  U.S. housing market conditions. Overall homebuilder confidence rose for the seventh consecutive month in July.

Component readings of the Home Builder Confidence Index were mixed as builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose by one point and builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months fell by two points. Buyer traffic in new home developments rose by three points. The lack of previously-owned homes for sale boosted buyer interest in new homes. Homebuilders surveyed indicated that they are not offering as many buyer incentives as they did during the pandemic.

While home builder confidence remained positive,  issues including shortages of buildable lots and slim supplies of electrical transformer equipment presented potential obstacles to builders’ positive outlook. Mortgage rates near 7 percent also presented concerns for home builders, but most prospective buyers appear to have accepted higher rates. In related news, the Commerce Department reported 1.43 million housing starts in June as compared t the expected reading of 1.48 million starts and May’s reading of 1.56 million housing starts.

Fewer building permits were issued in June with 1.43 million permits issued as compared to expectations of 1.48 million permits issued and May’s reading of 1.50 million building permits issued.

Mortgage Rates and Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. The average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by 18 basis points to 6.78 percent, The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped by 24 basis points to 6.06 percent.

Jobless claims fell with 228,000 first-time claims filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 237,000 initial jobless claims filed.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reporting includes readings on U.S. home prices, sales of new homes, and pending home sales. The Federal Reserve will publish its decision on raising its key interest rate range. Fed Chair Jerome Powell is expected to give a press conference after the interest rate announcement. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be published.