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|Thursday, June 26, 2014|
BY ERIC FRUITS | OB BLOGGER
Is it a blip, or a trend?
That is the toughest question that economists have to answer when trying to forecast where the economy is going.
Last year, the housing market in Oregon—and the U.S. as a whole—was blasting off. The Case-Shiller index of home prices ended the year 13 percent higher than at the beginning of the year. A homebuyer who paid $250,000, would have added almost $33,000 in equity over the course of the year. According to past observation, that additional wealth (on paper, at least) would ultimately translate into increased consumer spending which would, in turn, boost the economy.
More detail on the Portland market shows that last year saw a number of home sales that had not been seen the days of the housing boom of the mid 2000s. Last year, 23,500 home sales were recorded, which is about the same value as the last half of 2006 and the first half of 2007.
Even more striking, 2013 saw the average house selling in less than 30 days after it hit the market. It seems that sellers could plant a “For Sale” in the morning and get a phone call with an offer before they went to bed that night.
But, was last year a blip or a trend?
This year, housing has seems to have slowed. The number of transactions seems to have flattened out and the number of days on the market about doubled since last year. Prices do no seem to have the double-digit growth seen a year ago.
Is the current slow down a blip or a trend? Is the market tapping the brakes, or slamming them?
The tough winter elsewhere stalled out housing starts in the first part of the year. That’s a blip. But other things point to potentially troubling trends.
In the second half of last year, mortgage interest rates began to rise, largely because of expectations that the Fed’s bond-buying program, known as quantitative easing, or QE, was coming to an end. And, it does have to end. But, we don’t know when and we don’t know how. Nevertheless, mortgage interest rate are a little less than one percentage point higher this year than they were the same time last year. For a $200,000 mortgage loan, the payment this year is about $100 more per month than for a loan obtained last year.
In addition to rising interest rates, mortgage lending remains somewhat tight. Last year lenders reported loosening lending standards for much of the year. This year has seen a slight tightening of lending. (Or, more precisely, lending is not getting looser.) The combination of higher interest and tighter credit has tapped the brakes on the housing market.
We know that mortgage interest rates will rise, but we don’t know when or by how much. Credit standards will likely remain tight so long has employment and income opportunities remain stagnant or sluggish. Without a boost to employment opportunities and a renewed interest in returning to work, housing and much of the rest of the economy will remain blipping along a series of small ups and downs.
Friday, August 22, 2014
BY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
When business intersects with family, a host of situations can arise. Without a clear vision and careful planning, hard-earned investments can become stressful burdens.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY KLINT FINLEY
Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson builds a 21st-century trade school.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY
Craft beer comes to Mount Angel.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY KIM MOORE
The ubiquitous fast-food restaurant may be on the decline.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
Tom Cox interviews Steve Balzac, author of "Organizational Psychology for Managers."
Friday, August 15, 2014
In this week's poll, we asked readers: "Who should pay for the troubled Cover Oregon website?" Here are the results.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Kim Ierian, President of Concorde Career Colleges, and Deborah Edward, Executive Director of Business for Culture & the Arts, share their recent reads.
|A Taste of Heaven|
|A Good Leap Forward|
|Fast Food Slows Down|
|Startup or Grow Up?|
Is your business ready to join us in the call for action? This opening panel includes Oregon businesses who will discuss why they signed the Oregon Climate Declaration, the investments they are making to reduce carbon emissions, and how their actions are affecting their companies.
Get ready for two days of special events produced with the EPA, Portland Timbers and ISOS before and after the GoGreen Conference on October 16.
First Call Resolution targets employee well-being and client satisfaction.
How six leading foundations are working together for a better Oregon.
Vigilant enters a New Year with a new president.
Sussman Shank is proud to announce that eight attorneys have been selected by their peers for inclusion in the 2015 edition of Best Lawyers in America, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession.
Lane Powell Shareholder William T. Patton has been appointed to the board of directors for Cascade AIDS Project, an organization that provides educational services and outreach to thousands of Oregonians living with HIV/AIDS.