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Updated: 8 min 43 sec ago

The Latest on Employment Conditions

Fri, 01/10/2014 - 13:22

In each Economic Update, the Research staff analyzes recently released economic indicators and addresses what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update discusses the latest data on the unemployment rate.

  • The unemployment rate plunged in December to the lowest level in five years.  The latest 6.7 percent jobless rate is almost back to normal.  The mystery, however, is that very few jobs were created over the month.
  • The all-important payroll jobs grew by only 74,000 in December.  That is much less than the 200,000 or so that are needed each month to move the job market into a noticeably improved state.
  • The principal reason for the deep fall in the unemployment rate is due to nearly ½ million people leaving the labor force in the past three months.  When people are not looking for work, even though they are without a job, they are no longer officially classified as being unemployed.  The opposite side of the coin – the employment rate, measuring what proportion of the adult population has a job – remains stuck at recession levels.  Only 58.6 percent of adults have jobs compared to 63 percent prior to the Great Recession.   In this sense the job market has only been treading water over the past five years with no meaningful progress.
  • As to job creation over a longer period, from the low point in 2010 a total of 7.5 million net new jobs have been added to the economy.  Note that 8 million jobs were lost during the Great Recession, so we have not yet fully recovered all the jobs that were shed several years ago.  Moreover, every year there are fresh high-school and college graduates looking for jobs.
  • Improvements in the housing sector led to about 100,000 net new jobs over the past 12 months in residential construction and for general contractors.  In the more sluggish commercial real estate arena, only 20,000 jobs have been added.
  • In other sectors, rental leasing jobs have increased solidly by 46,000.  The low apartment vacancy rates naturally require more workers for property management.  Federal government jobs have fallen by 80,000.  Given that the defense spending has been taking the biggest blow over the past year, many military and defense related jobs may have been shed.    Finally, Hollywood is hemorrhaging as there are 23,000 fewer jobs (a big 6 percent plunge) in the motion pictures and sound recording industries.  Smiles at Oscars could be of the sad kind.
  • Despite the mixed news on employment, the direction is clearly for the better.  The net 2.2 million new jobs and the likely 2 million or so in the current year will provide support for home sales and increased leasing of commercial buildings.

The Latest on Housing Affordability

Fri, 01/10/2014 - 10:25

At the national level, housing affordability is up for the month due to a break in mortgage rates and home prices gains but affordability will be down for the year. What is affordability like in your market?

  • Housing affordability is up for the month of November as mortgage rates and the median price for a single family home in the US decreased slightly from October.  In spite of the decrease, the median single-family home price is up 9.4 % from last year keeping prices moving at a high year-over-year pace.
  • As a result of higher home prices and mortgage rates that are up 25.1%, nationally, affordability is down from 203 in November 2012 to 170.3 in November 2013.
  • Home prices are expected to slow down while inventory figures improve. Income levels are up and should help consumer confidence before rates begin to rise for the coming year.
  • By region, affordability is up from one month ago in all regions. The Midwest had the biggest gain in affordability at 3.4%.  From one year ago, affordability is down in all regions. The West saw the biggest decline in affordability as a result of having the largest price gain at 15.9 %.
  • Mortgage rates are expected to increase as the Fed reduces bond purchases and eventually begins to tighten monetary policy.  For a look at how the housing market might respond to a change in rates, I recommend this Stress Test by Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.
  • What does housing affordability look like in your market?  View the full data release here.
  • The Housing Affordability Index calculation assumes a 20 percent down payment and a 25 percent qualifying ratio (principle and interest payment to income).  See further details on the methodology and assumptions behind the calculation here.

Job Indicators: Off to a Good Start in 2014

Thu, 01/09/2014 - 13:48

In each Economic Update, the Research staff analyzes recently released economic indicators and addresses what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update discusses the latest in unemployment insurance claims data.

  • The job market appears to be sustaining the gains made in 2013 as the year starts. Fewer initial claims for unemployment insurance were filed in the week ending January 4 with filings recorded at 330,000, a decrease of 15,000 claims from the previous week.  The January number is also lower than the average number of claims filed in 2013. Fewer unemployment claims filed means fewer job losses.

  • Another positive job indicator is the net increase of 238,000 payroll jobs in December based on information provided by ADP, a payroll processing company. This data is not considered “official.” The official tally by the Department of Labor comes out tomorrow morning. Based on ADP, around 200,000 jobs are expected to be created. The economy needs about that much to speed up the decline in the unemployment rate.

Mortgage Purchase Applications

Wed, 01/08/2014 - 13:36

In each Economic Update, the Research staff analyzes recently released economic indicators and addresses what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s second economic update discusses mortgage purchase applications.

  • Applications to purchase homes slipped 0.5% from last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to data released this morning by the Mortgage Bankers Association. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage climbed nearly 40 basis points, from 4.1% to 4.53%, from the beginning of November through the first week in January. The steady climb has weighed on consumer sentiment and affordability.
  • In a bit of a surprise, conventional purchase mortgage applications ticked upward by 0.1% while applications for government financed loans fell 1.9%.
  • Yesterday the MBA announced that its index of mortgage credit availability improved by a modest 0.6% for the month. Credit availability has had a small improvement since its low in 2012 with more lenders offering lower down payment loans to highly qualified borrows, but credit access remains well below levels seen in 2007.
  • Mortgage applications fell in four of the last six weeks following the steady rise in mortgage rates. Rates are roughly at the same level as in August. Rates are likely to rise through the spring as the Federal Reserve tappers its purchases of mortgage backed securities and Treasuries. This action will press up on mortgage rates, eroding affordability in an environment of tight credit.

State and Metro Employment Conditions

Wed, 01/08/2014 - 11:30

In each Economic Update, the Research staff analyzes recently released economic indicators and addresses what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update discusses the latest in employment conditions.

  • The national economy continues to heal and move ahead.  A total of 7.5 million net new jobs have been added in the past 4 years following the disastrous 8 million net job cuts during the Great Recession.  In the past 12 months, 2.3 million net new jobs have been added, representing a growth rate of 1.7 percent for the country as a whole.
  • Some states and metro markets are doing much better than the national job growth rate while others are faring much worse.  North Dakota continues to shine due principally to massive new oil and gas production.  The southern states of Texas, Florida, and Georgia have robust job growth.   Alabama and D.C. (just the city proper and not the suburbs) are stalled with net zero job creation.  Alaska lost some jobs.  Puerto Rico is under tremendous stress with 4.3 percent fewer jobs, portending a possible government bankruptcy like one experienced in Detroit.
  • Among the metro markets, several small Florida markets are on fire (Sebastian-Vero Beach growing at +8.1%; Naples +7.9%; and Port St. Lucie +6.1%).  The energy cities of Odessa and Midland are also moving fast with a 5% growth rate.  Among the large cities, there are three standouts:  Tampa-St. Petersburg (+3.3%), Houston (+3.1%), and Nashville (+3.1%).
  • The table below shows the ranking of states and U.S. territories:

REALTORS® Expect Prices to Increase Modestly in Next 12 Months

Mon, 01/06/2014 - 08:54

REALTORS® generally expect modest price increases in the next 12 months with demand easing and more inventory coming into the market. The median expected price increase is 3.7 percent [1].

Some REALTORS® saw the forecasted slowdown as a welcome brake to the rapid home price growth amid the modest growth in consumer incomes and jobs. Local conditions vary, and conditions can change as the economy changes. See the November REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey report for more information.

[1] The median is the middle value. A median expected price change of 4 percent means that 50 percent of respondents expect prices to increase above 4 percent while the other 50 percent expect prices to increase (or decrease) at less than 4 percent.

Latest Construction Spending Data

Thu, 01/02/2014 - 11:29

In each Economic Update, the Research staff analyzes recently released economic indicators and addresses what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update discusses the latest construction spending data.

  • More construction occurred in November. Good news in terms of some anticipated increases of new housing in the upcoming months and in terms of job creation prospects for construction workers and general contractors. From one year ago, the value of completed construction rose by 6 percent. A huge 16 percent gain was observed in residential home and apartment construction while commercial construction barely budged.
  • Though construction activity has risen by about 15 percent from the low point three years ago, total construction jobs have increased by only 6 percent. That is, given the less than full recovery, more physical work is done by each of the current job holders.
  • Digging deeper into the data of different segments, one finds long-term declines in the construction of religious service buildings and amusement-recreation parks. America, perhaps, may be becoming less religious and more angry.
  • Taken for granted in rich countries, better construction in durable methods have saved many lives from natural disasters. It was not uncommon to witness a death of 100,000 or more in the aftermath of a hurricane or earthquake a century ago. For example, a few seconds of an earthquake in Tokyo in 1923 took 140,000 lives. Even today, death tolls are many magnitudes higher in poorer countries than in richer countries when a natural disaster strikes because of the differences in building codes. Some new office towers in San Francisco are being built with “sliding” floors so that it can be more earthquake resistant. Therefore, kudos to all the architects who are improving our lives.

Investors Continue To Be Active in the Residential Market

Tue, 12/31/2013 - 12:57

Investors remain active in the existing home sales residential market. About 19 percent of REALTOR® respondents reported a sale to an investor in November 2013. The share of investors has generally stayed at about this level since 2008. Cash sales account for about 70 percent of purchases made by investors, who are frequently mentioned as winning in bidding against first time buyers, who generally need to obtain a mortgage.

Existing-Home Sales Decline in November, but Strong Price Gains Continue

Sat, 12/28/2013 - 10:34
  • NAR released a summary of existing home sales data showing that overall existing home sales fell by 4.3 percent from October to November 2013, and are 1.2% percent lower than November 2012. This was the third straight month of declines; all regions observed a decrease in sales from October.
  • The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $196,300 in November, up 9.4 percent from November 2012. All regions showed growth in prices, but the Midwest and South regions are showing the most deceleration in price growth.
  • November’s inventory figures fell slightly from October, but are up 5.0% from a year ago. Months’ supply is up slightly in all regions, but the West is dealing with the most pressure on inventory.
  • Though sales were down again this month, there is still a projection of sales above 5 million, which would be the strongest sales figure since 2007.
  • See the full NAR Existing Home Sales press release here and data tables here.
  • Find a full graphical summary of the data here.

Prices Still Rising But at Subdued Pace

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 12:38

About 87 percent of REALTORS® who responded to NAR’s monthly survey reported constant or rising prices compared to prices a year ago for a typical transaction. However, prices are increasing at a more subdued pace. Approximately 12 percent of reported sales in November were of properties that sold at a net premium compared to the original listing price, compared to 20 percent in mid-2013. See the November REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey report at http://www.realtor.org/reports/realtors-confidence-index.

REALTORS® Confidence Index in November Reflects Tempered Market Expectations

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 10:40

Confidence about current market conditions was essentially unchanged from October to November. The index for single family sales registered at 59 (58 in October) . The indexes for townhouses/duplexes was at 42 while the index for condominiums stayed at 38. An index of 50 marks “moderate” conditions [1]. See the November REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey at http://www.realtor.org/reports/realtors-confidence-index.

However, REALTORS® appear to be more confident about the outlook for the next 6 months, but this appears to be tied to the seasonal upswing in the spring. The 6-month outlook index for single family rose to 64 (60 in October). The index for townhouses surged to 56 (45 in October ) and the index for condominiums increased to 43 (40 in October).

[1] An index of 50 delineates “moderate” conditions and indicates a balance of respondents having “weak”(index=0) and “strong” (index=100) expectations. The index is not adjusted for seasonality effects.

Housing Equity 2013

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 07:34

With the end of 2013 closing in, it is time to take stock of the impact from the strong 2013 housing market. Home price growth was robust in 2013 compared to 2012 and is currently forecast by NAR Research to finish the year 11.3% stronger. This improvement is important for the market as it has created equity for homeowners, boosted buyer confidence, and pulled many underwater homeowners into positive equity positions.

A borrower who purchased a median priced home[1] in 2004 and held it for nine years, the current median tenure of a homeowner according to NAR’s annual Profile of HomeBuyers and Sellers, would have $28,114 in equity from the combined benefit of price appreciation and paying down the mortgage principle. A borrower who bought a median price home in 2012 would have more than $23,000 in equity.

It is important to note that borrowers who purchased in 2006 and 2007 at the peak of the market and thus those who experienced the sharpest price declines are now nearly in positive equity. A person who purchased in 2006 and owned through 2012 (not pictured) would have been underwater by roughly $28,200, but by 2013 this gap was down to $4,700. Continued price growth in 2014 will help to further ameliorate this gap. Homeowners who purchased since 2007 are in positive equity.

Even through the visitudes of the great recession, for most homeowners housing remains an effective vehicle for building equity and wealth.

[1] With a 10% downpayment at the prevailing average 30-year fixed mortgage rate

The Latest on Housing Starts

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 13:41

In each Economic Update, the Research staff analyzes recently released economic indicators and addresses what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update discusses the latest on housing starts data.

  • Some relief to inventory shortage is in the offing.  New home construction rose sizably in the latest data.  More new supply is still needed, however.
  • Housing starts rose to 1.09 million units (annualized pace) in November, the strongest activity in nearly six years.  Single-family units are up 26 percent from one year ago while multifamily units are up by 39 percent.
  • There is pent-up household formation that is ready to burst out on a sustained basis, provided the economy continues to create jobs.  Both rental housing demand and owner-occupied housing demand will be rising in the upcoming years.  Based on past experience, about 1.5 million housing starts are needed each year.  So, today’s figure though encouraging is still insufficient.
  • Large publicly listed companies like Lennar and Toll Brothers are building after raising capital on Wall Street.  But many smaller mom-and-pop homebuilders are having difficulty obtaining construction loans from local banks because of increased financial regulatory burdens.  As a result the big guys are taking advantage of the fact that the smaller homebuilders cannot access capital.  An unintended consequence from the gigantic Dodd-Frank financial market reform?
  • Home prices have been rising too fast and are now beginning to hurt affordability.  One clear way to tame the home price growth is to have more supply, which in turn will help lead to a more sustained housing recovery.  A chance of an oversupply is virtually zero because shadow inventory has also been falling sharply.  The tapping of construction loans therefore is critical to bring additional new supply and help the local small-time homebuilders.

Latest Housing Affordability Data

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 11:57

At the national level, housing affordability is up slightly for the month but higher mortgage rates and home prices have pushed affordability lower from a year ago. What is affordability like in your market?

  • Housing affordability is up for the month of October in the U.S. and all 4 regions as prices increased slightly from September. The median single-family home price is up 12.7 % from last year as October marks the eleventh consecutive month of double-digit year-over-year price gains for single-family homes.
  • Nationally, affordability is down from 203.7 in October 2012 to 165.4 in October 2013.
  • Mortgage rates are down from last month and up 25.8% from a year ago. Lower rates help affordability but an increase in inventory will help ease the pressure on home prices.
  • By region, affordability is up from one month ago in all regions except the Northeast, where there was a 5.0% decrease in affordability. The Midwest had the biggest gain in affordability at 2.7%. From one year ago, affordability is down in all regions. The West has had the largest price gain at 16.7 % while the Northeast had the smallest at 7.4%.
  • For a look at how the housing market might respond to higher rates, I recommend this Stress Test by Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.
  • What does housing affordability look like in your market? View the full data release here.
  • The Housing Affordability Index calculation assumes a 20 percent down payment and a 25 percent qualifying ratio (principle and interest payment to income). See further details on the methodology and assumptions behind the calculation here.

Latest Consumer Price Inflation

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 09:21

In each Economic Update, the Research staff analyzes recently released economic indicators and addresses what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update discusses the latest on industrial production data.

  • Homeowner equivalency rent is rising at its highest pace in 6 years. The latest rise of 2.4 percent in December from 12 months ago is a pace that has not been seen since the autumn of 2008. Moreover, the trend is accelerating such that an over 3 percent gain in this figure is likely by this time next year.
  • Apartment rents are also rising solidly with a 2.8 percent gain, which would be near a 6-year high. This is market exchange. The homeowner equivalency rent is not the market rate but imputed based on what homeowners would be able to charge if they were to rent out their home.
  • Medical services are rising at the slowest pace in about 40 years. It is unclear what is going on here or whether it will trend higher next year.
  • Gasoline prices were 6 percent lower than one year ago. Massive oil production from North Dakota and Texas has been contributing to added supply in the market.
  • Some prices are accelerating while others are holding steady or slipping. The broad overall consumer price inflation, for example, was minimal at 1.2 percent.
  • The Federal Reserve wants to see the inflation rate at around 2 percent. It considers the 3 percent inflation mark as the red line not to cross. However, the biggest weight on consumer price inflation is from rents. If the rising trend continues and if there is a reversal in energy prices then inflation will easily cross the red line by the end of next year. The Fed will have to be less accommodating in its monetary policy. In short, mortgage rates will be rising in upcoming years.
  • Expect a 5.2 to 5.5 percent mortgage rate on a 30-year fixed by the end 2014, and higher than 6 percent by the end of 2015.

The Latest on Industrial Production

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 12:59

In each Economic Update, the Research staff analyzes recently released economic indicators and addresses what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update discusses the latest on industrial production data.

  • Manufacturing production set an all-time high in the past month.  This portends well for further employment gains in the broader economy, which will then support the real estate market.
  • The manufacturing sector plunged sharply a few years ago, with industrial production falling 18 percent in a short timeframe. Since then, slow but steady gains over the past four years have resulted in retouching the peak production activity.
  • Though nowhere near the prior peak, the production of construction-related supplies has risen by 23 percent from the low point of a few years ago.  Further increase is expected going into 2014 as housing starts will have to and will clearly improve because of the housing inventory shortage.
  • Even though manufacturing production is charting new highs, employment is not.  Manufacturing employment has only recovered only about a tenth of the job losses that occurred in the recession and further the total employment across all sectors is still below the level of five years ago.  Increased uses of automation and technology are leading to productivity gains, though at the expense of fewer workers getting hired.
  • The energy renaissance in North Dakota, Texas, and Louisiana, along with natural gas drilling in Ohio and Pennsylvania, are the principal sources of increase in industrial production.   Generally, oil is fungible and prices should equalize everywhere.  But due to too much production in the U.S. and due to an inability to export oil to foreign countries, U.S. oil prices are notably cheaper compared to the international oil price in the London exchanges.  Texas crude is $97 per barrel while London Brent crude is $111.
  • World events can move quite unexpectedly.  Whales were hunted down to near extinction during the time of Moby Dick.  After exhausting the Atlantic Ocean, whales from the south Pacific were hauled all the way to Nantucket, Massachusetts to extract whale oil, which was needed for lighting.  But the whaling industry and Nantucket soon crashed when oil was discovered in Pennsylvania.  What new energy source is around the corner in the future?

Latest on Unemployment Insurance Claims Filed in Week Ending Dec 7

Thu, 12/12/2013 - 13:11

In each Economic Update, the Research staff analyzes recently released economic indicators and addresses what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update discusses the latest unemployment insurance claims.

  • Initial claims for unemployment insurance filed in the week ending December 7 spiked up to 368,000, an increase of 68,000 claims from the previous week. The increase is surprising, given the drop in the unemployment rate (to 7 percent) in November. One cannot read too much into this one data point, and for now, the long-term trend has been one where claims have been on a decline with the 4-month moving average level at 328,750, which is hovering at the 300,000 level that most analysts consider as normal.

  • On a related issue, there are 1,248,932 people who will be impacted by the removal of federally-funded unemployment insurance under the proposed budget that came out of the bicameral budget committee. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program provides additional weeks of federally-funded benefits for unemployed workers in states that have unemployment rates of 6 percent or higher [1]. Based on October 2013 data, 36 states and the District of Columbia have unemployment rates of at least 6 percent and would therefore be the most affected if this program is not funded.


[1] Tier 1: 14 weeks
Tier 2: 14 weeks if the state unemployment rate is 6% or higher
Tier 3: 9 weeks if the state unemployment rate is 7% or higher or if insured unemployment rate is 4% or higher
Tier 4: 10 weeks if the state unemployment rate is 9% or higher or 6% insured unemployment rate

Latest Mortgage Applications

Wed, 12/11/2013 - 11:31

In each Economic Update, the Research staff analyzes recently released economic indicators and addresses what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update discusses the latest mortgage applications data.

  • Mortgage applications for both home purchase and refinances rose slightly in the past week. From one year ago, applications for home purchase are down by 10 percent while applications for refinances are lower by a whopping 68 percent. Refinance activity is already touching a decade low and is likely to fall even further next year as mortgage rates increase.
  • Mortgage rates will go from a 4 percent average in 2013 to about a 5 percent average in 2014, based on NAR projections.
  • Home buying has been completed not only using mortgages but also via all-cash. The cash transactions fortunately have been about one-third of the market in the current environment of extra underwriting stringency.
  • Going into 2014, lenders will lend more focus to home purchase applications since refi business will undoubtedly collapse. Banks have huge cash reserves. Mortgage default rates among recent home buyers of the past 3 years have been at historic lows. Market incentives are clearly there for more lending for home purchases.
  • The one big unknown, however, is coming from Washington in terms of new mortgage regulations and of the increased lawsuit risks from any small deviation from government directives. A right balance should be pursued to assure consumer protection and rein in the excesses of private sector risk taking. However, too much regulation and too many lawsuits also carry the risk of lessening lending.
  • It is worth noting that lenders are not the bad guys. They are channeling people’s savings into other people’s borrowing. A historical lesson is also worth remembering. To gain popular support and to show his distaste for lenders, the Roman Emperor Hadrian held a public bonfire. It was going to be the burning of all the loan documents. As a result all debtors were quickly relieved of their obligations. This action, however, marked the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire. No one in their right mind would further lend afterwards. Without lending, there is no innovation. The Dark Middle Ages, where life was short, brutish, and nasty, descended in Europe and was to last for about thousand years.

Latest Diffusion Index of Foot Traffic

Tue, 12/10/2013 - 09:51

For the third consecutive month, the diffusion index for foot traffic held roughly steady. This plateau follows a sharp mid-summer decline in the wake of a 1% increase in mortgage rates. Rates eased in October, but crept upward in late November, which could weigh on future trends.

Every month SentriLock, LLC. provides NAR Research with data on the number of properties shown by a REALTOR®. Foot traffic has a strong correlation with future contracts and home sales, so it can be viewed as a peek ahead at sales trends two to three months into the future. For the month of November, the diffusion index for foot traffic eased 2.5 points to 48.1.

Mortgage rates started the month low, but ticked upward in the later part of November on positive economic news and anticipation of a potential taper of asset purchases by the Federal Reserve. However, foot traffic held relatively steady for the 3rd consecutive month. Inventories remain tight in some markets like San Diego, which would constrain an increase in local foot traffic. But several markets across the Midwest have slowed relative to last year. Markets that continue to expand are doing so modestly.

The index eased just under the “50” mark in November which indicates that more than half of the markets in this panel had stronger foot traffic in November of 2013 than the same month a year earlier. This reading does not suggest how much of a decrease in traffic there was, just that the majority of markets experienced less foot traffic in November of 2013 compared to a year earlier.

The post-rate-spike recovery appears to have taken root. However, rates did ease in October and early November. Still, traffic remained strong despite the disruption of the government shutdown. Rates have since increased closer to 4.5% which could weigh on traffic in the coming months if the increases continue.

American Communities: Key People and Housing Availability

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 13:09

Summary of Recent REALTOR® University Presentation

In a Brown-Bag presentation to REALTOR® University, Lisa Sturtevant, Director of the Center for Housing Policy, discussed that the vitality of America’s communities depends on whether the people filling key roles can afford housing. She indicated that renting or buying a typical home in many U.S. metro areas may be a challenge for the police offices, nurses, teachers, janitors and others who provide much of the urban backbone.

Dr. Sturtevant discussed the “Paycheck to Paycheck” program, which analyses housing costs and affordability in terms for over 200 metro areas and 76 occupations. “Paycheck to Paycheck” is comprised of an online, interactive database and accompanying report prepared by the Center for Housing Policy – the nonprofit research affiliate of the National Housing Conference (NHC) – comparing wages for selected occupations with the income needed to buy or rent a home.

An accompanying report, Paycheck to Paycheck: Is Housing Affordable for Americans Getting Back to Work?, explores trends in housing affordability for workers in the five most common jobs in the industry sector doing the most hiring: accountants, groundskeepers, janitors, office clerks and security guards: See the data for 209 U.S. metro areas.

The report notes that over the past year, the income needed to buy a median-priced home dropped by at least three percent in more than half of the metro areas studied, due to a combination of low home prices and falling mortgage interest rates. Credit constraints, difficulty amassing down payments, market uncertainty and other concerns may keep low- and moderate-income workers from buying homes in otherwise affordable housing markets.

The REALTOR® University presentation is available at http://www.realtor.org/videos/realtor-university-speaker-series-paycheck-to-paycheck-tool-highlights-video

REALTOR® University Brown-Bag presentations are open to the public. A schedule is available from Stephanie Davis (sdavis@realtors.org), (202) 383-1033.

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