Freddie Mac said today that the U.S.
housing market is sending mixed signals.
Most markets, according to the company's Multi-Indicator Market Index
(MiMi) remain weak even though mortgage delinquencies are declining and local employment
is improving. House price gains and
attractive mortgage rates are also apparently not motivating buyers.
The national MiMi value stands at
-3.01 points, improving only 0.05 point from March to April. The three month trend was an increase of 0.07
points, considered flat. However, on a
year-over-year basis, the MiMi improved by 0.65 points.
MiMi is designed to monitor and
measure the stability of the housing market nationally and in the states and 50
top metro markets relative to the long-term stable range in each. The index combines proprietary Freddie Mac
data with current local market data on home purchase applications,
payment-to-income ratios (changes in home purchasing power based on house
prices, mortgage rates and household income), proportion of on-time mortgage payments
and the local employment picture. The
data is used to produce a composite number for each locality. MiMi
also indicates whether each market is trending closer to, or further away from
its stable range. The nation's all-time
MiMi low of -4.49 was in November 2010 when the housing market was at its
Ten states and the District of
Columbia are in their stable range with North Dakota, Wyoming, the District of
Columbia, Louisiana and Alaska ranking in the top five. Four of the 50 metro
areas are also considered stable; San Antonio, Houston, Austin and New Orleans.
The most improved states
month-over-month were Illinois, Nevada and Tennessee all tied at +0.12, and
Ohio, Rhode Island, and Texas were each up 0.09. Compared to one year ago the most improving
states remained unchanged: Florida (+1.73), Nevada (+1.52), Texas (+0.98),
South Carolina (+0.95) and California (+0.89).
The areas most improved from the
previous month were Las Vegas and Providence (+0.13), Buffalo (+0.12) and
Chicago (+0.11), while Houston, Memphis, Nashville and San Antonio all tied at +0.10.
The most improving metros remained
unchanged from one year ago; Miami (+2.25), Orlando (+1.75), Las Vegas (+1.60),
Tampa (+1.46), and Riverside (+1.31).
Fourteen states and 21 metros showed
an improving three month trend in April compared to 42 states and the District
of Columbia and 44 metros which were improving on a three month timeline one
Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank
Nothaft said, "With the latest release of MiMi we're seeing very slow
improvement on the housing front with most markets still trying to move beyond
stall speed. The MiMi indicators that are improving across the board show the
local jobs picture getting better and seriously delinquent rates continuing to
come down. Both indicators are critical to decreasing distress in local
markets, but that's also putting more pressure on markets with thinning
inventory, especially where short sales have fallen off dramatically. However,
as you look at each of the individual markets MiMi tracks, they have their own
unique dynamics and show housing markets recovering at different paces."
Deputy Chief Economist Len Kiefer
called Texas a standout in the recent data with three of its cities making the
top five MiMi spots. However, he said
South Carolina, Rhode Island, and Ohio have also done well since the first of
this year. "In fact, those metro areas
that are closest to joining the handful of markets that have already achieved
their stable range of housing activity are Pittsburgh and Oklahoma City, as is
the state of Oklahoma. And solid jobs gains, attractive mortgage rates and good
affordability will help this trend spread to even more markets. However, income
growth and greater inventory is just as important if we're going to sustain any
type of meaningful housing recovery."