Builder confidence, housing starts slide
Homebuilder confidence took a hit this month, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index released Tuesday.
The index dropped to 58 from an upwardly revised 61 in January. A reading higher than 50 indicates that more builders have a favorable view of market conditions than those who don't.
"Though builders report (that) the dip in confidence this month is partly attributable to the high cost and lack of availability of lots and labor, they are still positive about the housing market," Ed Brady, NAHB chairman, says in a statement.
Separate data released Wednesday from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development show that housing starts dipped by 3.8% from December to January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.099 million units. However, last month's rate is 1.8% higher than the January 2015 rate.
"Rain, snow and El Nino all showed up during the month," Joel Naroff, president and chief economist for Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania, says in a blog post. "That weather played a major role in the construction decline can be seen by the minimal decline in permit requests."
Refinance apps dominate
Mortgage applications jumped 8.2% last week compared with the week prior, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly survey.
The unadjusted purchase index rose 2% and was 30% higher than the same week in 2015. Additionally, refinance activity reached its highest level in a year, comprising 64.3% of all applications.
The market has been more purchase-driven in the greater Boston area, Koss says.
"I think having a little bit warmer weather and also just a healthy economy coupled with a lack of inventory has made people very active on the buying side."
If you're thinking about buying but have been on the sidelines, don't resort to panic-buying because you fear missing out on a good interest rate.
"(Rates) are still historically good, whether they move up a half a point or go down a half a point," he says.