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Freddie Mac: Index Shows Most Metro Housing Markets Are Improving

housing-forecastFreddie Mac released its most recent Multi-Indicator Market Index (MiMi) Wednesday, and the results are a positive sign for the housing industry overall.

The new report, which now covers 100 metro areas (rather than just 50, as in previous versions), reveals that 60 percent of the nation’s top housing markets are now showing a three-month upward trend.

Overall, the national MiMi value for February was 74.7, up 0.65 percent from January and 0.30 percent over the previous three months. Since last year, the MiMi value has jumped 3.53 percent.

Though the increases are minimal (the all-time high in the U.S. was 121.7), they still indicate the nation’s housing markets are moving in a positive direction. After all, the nation hit its lowest point just five years ago—in October 2010—with a MiMi value of just 57.4.

On a state-by-state basis, many areas are doing much better than the national value would suggest. Fourteen states, including North Dakota, Hawaii, Montana, and Wyoming, have MiMi values in the high-80s to mid-90s, while 18 of the 100 metro areas do as well.

According to the report, the most stable housing markets are located in Honolulu; Austin and McAllen, Texas; Los Angeles; and Fresno, California. Additionally, the most improved metros on a month-over-month basis were Detroit, Fresno, New Orleans, Milwaukee, and Portland, Oregon. Year-by-year, Las Vegas, Denver, Detroit, Palm Bay, Florida, and Stockton, California, saw the most improvement. Stockton improved by 14.15 percent.

According to Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac, expanding the MiMi to include 50 additional metro markets has help gather more comprehensive information on the state of the nation’s housing industry.

“By adding an additional 50 metro markets to the monthly MiMi,” Kiefer said, “we are able to capture greater insights into what's moving local housing markets heading into the spring homebuying season. The good news is after a slight stumble last month, nearly 60 percent of all markets are improving. Also, of the top 100 metro areas, over 60 are showing purchase applications up from the same time last year with over 20 of those metro areas showing double-digit percentage increases."

Kiefer said improving job opportunities seem to be an indicator of a stronger housing market.

"Likewise, the employment picture continues to improve in most markets, helping to support greater interest in purchasing a home, “Kiefer said. “For example, in markets like Fresno, California, Provo, Utah, and Portland, Oregon, the employment picture continues to improve, homebuyer affordability is also strong, and we're seeing purchase applications up nearly 20 percent compared to the same time last year.”

In addition to the MiMi results, Freddie Mac also released its weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) today. The survey revealed that fixed mortgage rates have decreased slightly, nearing closer to their 2015 lows. Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.65, down from 3.67 last week, while 15-year fixed mortgages dropped from 2.94 percent to 2.92.

Head to FreddieMac.com to see the full results of this month’s MiMi or PMMS.

About Author: Aly J. Yale

Aly J. Yale is a freelance writer and editor based in Fort Worth, Texas. She has worked for various newspapers, magazines, and publications across the nation, including The Dallas Morning News and Addison Magazine. She has also worked with both the Five Star Institute and REO Red Book, as well as various other mortgage industry clients on content strategy, blogging, marketing, and more.
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