The single-family housing market is recovering—slowly. The average 30-year fixed rate dropped over a percent from last year, giving a bit of relief to those wanting to find an affordable home. That number does not seem like much on paper: But when you’re used to bad news, hope, however small, is a relief. And the future of the single-family market has another bright spot as the pace of builders applying for permits continues to pick up.
The single-family housing market rebound continues, largely thanks to lower mortgage interest rates. The average 30-year fixed rate is currently 3.7% — whereas, just one year ago those rates were hovering around 4.8%. Although a 110-basis-point decline may seem small compared to rate changes of years past, home buyers have become significantly more sensitive to rates since the Great Recession.
Because of the lower cost of home buying, most housing metrics have improved in recent months. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, which measures builder confidence in the single-family market, climbed from a level of 60 a year ago to 70 this month.
In October, single-family construction starts expanded by 2% to a 936,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate. Despite the slow start for 2019, single-family starts are down only 1% on a year-to-date basis and approaching flat conditions for 2019 as a whole. Permits for single-family homes have been expanding since April, and the pace of starts has been improving since May.