The Real Estate News Brief: Fed’s Plan for Rate Hikes, Single-Family Rent Growth, and Metro Migration Among Homebuyers


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In this Real Estate News Brief for the week ending June 19th, 2021... what the Fed is saying about rate hikes and tapers, how much single-family rents have grown, and where homebuyers are moving.

Economic News

We begin with economic news from this past week. The Federal Reserve is starting to make plans for rate hikes and tapering due to the risks of higher inflation. In a statement after its monthly meeting it said that it might hike short term interest rates two times in 2023. It also continued to say that recent price hikes were temporary, but Fed Chief Jerome Powell said in the news conference that inflation could rise faster and last longer than he and his colleagues had anticipated. The Fed had forecast an annual rate of 3% this year, but it recently surged in May to a 13-year high of 5%. Powell also said that the Fed has had its first discussion about tapering. It is currently purchasing $80 billion in Treasurys and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities to help stimulate the economy. (1)

The job market recovery had a slight setback last week. Wall Street Journal economists had predicted initial jobless claims to continue their decline, but the Labor Department reported an increase of 37,000. Continuing claims were also up by a small amount to a total of about 3.5 million. And there’s still a total of 14.8 million people collecting state or federal benefits of some kind. (2)

Many are collecting an extra $300 a week from a federal program that’s set to expire in September. Because it’s been difficult to fill all the jobs that are available, 25 states say they are opting out of that program early, as an incentive for people to get back to work. (3)

Housing starts were higher in May, but lumber prices and labor shortages kept those numbers lower than economists expected. The Census Bureau says they were up 3.6% to an annual rate of 1.57 million. And then permits were down 3%, which is also a reflection of the trouble that builders are dealing with. (4) But they may get a break on lumber pricing. They have dropped significantly in just the past two weeks. The Wall Street Journal reports that lumber futures for July are down 41% to around $1,000 for a thousand board feet. That’s from a high of around $1,700 in early May. (5)

Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates shot up on Thursday, after comments from Fed Chief Powell. According to Mortgage News Daily, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage jumped to 3.25%. Earlier in the day, Freddie Mac had posted it’s weekly results for the average interest rate and it was still below 3%. (7)

In other news making headlines...

Single-Family Rent Growth Doubles

Single-family rent growth doubled during the pandemic with a one-year period. CoreLogic says rent growth rose from 2.4% in April of last year to 5.3% in April of this year. That includes both townhomes and detached homes. As CNBC reports, that’s the fastest rate of growth in almost 15 years, mostly due to strong demand for larger homes with yards. (8)

If you separate the numbers for stand-alone detached homes, the gains are even larger. CoreLogic says those rents are 7.9% higher, with Phoenix topping the list at 12.2%. Tucson, Las Vegas, and Atlanta were right behind Phoenix. Two big-city decliners include Boston, with a 5.9% drop in single-family rents, and Chicago, with a 2.6% decline.

Moving to a Different Metro

A new report from Redfin shows that homebuyer interest in moving to a different metro that began during the pandemic, continues at an elevated level. (9) Based on where users are searching, 31.4% of those people were interested in moving to a new metro in April and May. That’s up from 26% in the first quarter of last year, and only one-tenth of a percent less than the first quarter of this year. The top five destination cities include Phoenix, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Austin, and Miami.

That’s also pushing prices higher in those destination cities. Redfin says that prices in Austin are up 42.4% year-over-year. That’s the largest increase among all the cities that Redfin was tracking. Phoenix prices had the second largest increase. They were up 33.3%. Sacramento was fifth on the list with prices rising 29.3%.

Redfin chief economist, Daryl Fairweather, says: “Even though homes in popular destinations are much more expensive than they were a year ago, it’s still well worth it for many people to leave expensive coastal cities in favor of inland metros.”

States with the Most Shopping Centers

Have you ever wondered how many shopping centers and malls there are in the United States? According to a report by the International Council of Shopping Centers, the U.S. has just over 115,000 of them. And 27% of them can be found in just three states. (10)

California has the most wth 15,285. Texas is second with 12,834. And Florida is third, with 10,843. Those three states also pay the most in sales tax as well.

You’ll find links to our sources in the show notes for this episode at

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