Builders Confidence Grows

Eye on Housing

The December NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose four points to 58 as builders recovered from hesitancies in October and November. The increase puts the index back up to the peak it reached in August before the rise in mortgage rates and the uncertainty caused by the debt and deficit debate cooled confidence. This December index is 37 points above the December 2011 level.

All three of the components also showed significant increases with current sales rising 6 points to 64, the highest since December 2005. Expected sales increased 2 points to 62 and traffic increased 3 points to 44.

The three-month moving averages for the four Census regions were down in three regions as the left over effect of the declines in October and November overwhelmed the most recent increases. The Northeast, Midwest and West each fell 1 point to 38, 59 and 59 respectively while the South increased…

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Falling Gas Prices Offset by Increasing Rents

Eye on Housing

In November, consumer prices were unchanged on a seasonally adjusted month-over-month basis according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A month-over-month drop in the energy index was offset by increases in other components in the all items index. Over the past twelve months, prices on expenditures made by urban consumers increased 1.2% before seasonal adjustments.

The energy price index decreased for the second straight month, decreasing in November by 1.0% following a 1.7% month-over-month decrease in October. The gasoline index, a component of the energy price index, experienced another large month-over-month decrease at 1.6%. The index for natural gas also experienced a large decrease of 1.8% after dropping 1.0% month-over-month in October.

In November, Core CPI, which excludes more volatile food and energy prices, rose by 0.2% month-over-month. Over the past twelve months Core CPI increased by 1.7%.


The shelter index rose 0.3% month-over-month in November…

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Home Equity Increasing


The Mortgage Corner

CoreLogic, a real estate analytics firm, today released new analysis showing approximately 791,000 more residential properties returned to a state of positive equity during the third quarter of 2013, and the total number of mortgaged residential properties with equity currently stands at 42.6 million.

This is helping November home sales in the South Coast, with closed transactions holding strong and huge price increases year-over-year, reports Gary Woods for MLS.

“Year over year sales are up just slightly from 2012 with the median sales price up to about $940,000 for approximately a 19 percent rise. The average sales price is also up going from about $1.36 million in 2012 to approximately $1.43 million in 2013 for a 5 percent rise while the numbers of escrows are down with 1,203 in ’12 to 1,168 in ‘13 with the median list price on those escrows up about 15 percent to…

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NE Union & Stanton, c1929

Vintage Portland

Our Number Man finds himself standing in front of three near-identical houses on the northwest corner of NE Union Avenue and Stanton Street in about 1929. This was probably in preparation for widening of Union Avenue, as seen in several other photos here recently.

A2009-009.1049 2911-2917 NE Union 1929(City of Portland Archives)

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Construction Sector Job Openings Reach Five-Year High in October

Eye on Housing

The number of unfilled construction sector positions (124,000) reached a five-year high according to the October BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).

While the increase in unfilled positions in 2013 is consistent with the increase in construction sector activity, particularly for home building, the data continue to reflect only modest growth in total employment thus far. The rise in the count of open positions is thus consistent with reports of local labor shortages.

For the construction sector, monthly gross hiring ticked up, rising from 299,000 to 307,000 from September to October. The hiring rate, as measured on a 3-month moving average basis, was  unchanged at 5.2%. The pace of construction hiring has slowed since the end of 2012, and this trend has continued into the fall of 2013.


Consistent with reports of some labor shortages for builders, the number of open, unfilled positions in the construction industry reached a five-year high. The total of unfilled positions in the sector…

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What You Need to Know About VA Mortgages

Michele Fritz


If you are either an active member of or are retired from the armed forces, I thank and salute you, and would like to inform you that if you are considering purchasing a property, a VA mortgage is worth looking into.

Zero Percent Down
While zero percent down is unheard of today in mortgage lending, it still happens with VA mortgages.  While it is zero percent down, there are still other expenses, such as closing costs and potential tax escrows that need to be considered.

In order to qualify, you will need to be able to provide a VA Certificate of Eligibility, which you can either obtrain from the VA or with the help of your mortgage professional.

Credit score profiles are similar to those required in order to obtain an FHA loan.  This means you would need a score of around 640, and would be ineligible if you have…

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