Today’s payroll flop — only 20,000 real jobs created in May — will take some time to settle all the way in. Immediately: 10-year T-notes are 3.22% (from 3.36% yesterday and 3.99% six weeks ago), and the best mortgages below 5.00%.
The payroll report has confirmation: new unemployment has held high for five months; May retail sales look soggy and auto sales flubbed in May.
In days ahead, the entire recovery camp from government to stock-pushers has more than explaining to do. It must change its mind.
All in one fur-ball: How can mortgage rates be so low, and home prices so low, home affordability the best ever measured, yet housing defies recovery? One unifying answer: credit. Not enough, and wildly too tight. The credit dearth is perfectly rational. At default rates like these, nobody knows what new loan is safe to make, and underwriting has been overtaken by hand-shaking, eye-glazed panic. The horrifying conundrum: new loans will inevitably produce new losses, yet without enough new loans, losses on existing ones will be greatly higher.
The good thing for us is hidden in the above. Rates are at all-time lows and home affordability has never been better, the perfect storm. And even though it may not seem like it, we’re lucky here in California. Throughout the rest of the country the loss of the $8,000 home buyer tax credit has taken it’s toll as purchase applications are down sharply from a month ago (even though prices are the same and rates are lower) but we have another $10,000 tax credit available to use here in California! The local Sacramento area market is actually looking up with an every so slight month-over-month and year-over-year price increases in housing. Uber-low rates, dropping unemployment rates, and value in home prices coupled with that free $10,000 tax credit available to many Californian homebuyers should help that continue until the economy and national housing starts to pick up as well.
The glass is half empty, but it’s actually more than half full. Somehow…