Job Market


Improved Job Report Sends Mortgage Rates Higher

Daily Real Estate News | Friday, October 14, 2011

 

After posting record lows the last few weeks, mortgage rates inched higher this week, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey. Yet, rates still remain near 60-year lows.

“An employment report that was better than market expectations helped to lift long-term Treasury bond yields and mortgage rates as well,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, notes. In September, the economy added 103,000 workers; however, the unemployment rate still remained high at 9.1 percent.

Here’s a closer look at rates for the week ending Oct. 13.

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.12 percent, with an average 0.8 point, moving up from last week’s record-hitting 3.94 percent average. A year ago at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.19 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.37 percent with an average 0.8 point–that’s up slightly from last week’s low of 3.26 percent average. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.62 percent.
  • 5-year adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.06 percent, with an average 0.6 point, and inching up from last week’s 2.96 percent. Last year at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.47 percent.
  • 1-year ARMs: averaged 2.90 percent with an average 0.6 point, a drop from last week’s 2.95 average. A year ago, 1-year ARMs averaged 3.43 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Read More:
Housing Can Be ‘Key Engine of Job Growth’

Men vs. Women: How They Differ in Real Estate

 
Daily Real Estate News | Friday, October 14, 2011 
 It’s the battle of the sexes in a new analysis by Trulia, which pits the sexes against each other to find out whether male or female real estate agents tend to list the most homes, whom tends to list the priciest homes for sale, and which sex is outnumbered in the industry.

Some of Trulia’s findings:

-Who dominates: More women work in real estate than men, according to Trulia. For example, Trulia found big pockets where females outnumbered men in the industry, such as in Mississippi and Oklahoma where there are 64 percent more women working as real estate agents than men.

-Who lists the most homes: Men tend to list more homes for sale, according to Trulia, when looking at the average number of homes that men and women put up for sale by state. For example, in North Dakota, men had 129 percent more homes for sale on the market than females.

-Who lists the priciest homes: Female real estate professionals tend to list more expensive homes than males, according to Trulia. In West Virginia, for example, homes for sale by female real estate agents were 63 percent more expensive than those listed with male agents. (Trulia notes in its article that pricing a home to sell factors in a lot of things about the property and neighborhood and does not necessarily reflect how aggressive an agent is on the pricing.)

Source: “Is Real Estate a Man’s or Woman’s World?” Trulia Blog (Oct. 13, 2011)

Read More:
More Women in Commercial Real Estate, But Pay Still Lags

Will the S&P Downgrade Affect Interest Rates?

Daily Real Estate News | Monday, August 08, 2011

 

Standard & Poor downgraded the U.S.’s credit rating on Friday, despite Congress reaching a deal in the final hours on the debt ceiling crisis last week. And now many of your customers may be asking: What does this mean for interest rates?“The impact on your wallet of the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the nation’s credit rating is similar to what would happen if your own credit score declined: The cost of borrowing money is likely to go up,” the Washington Post explained in the aftermath of S&P’s decision.

S&P downgraded the U.S.’s top-notch AAA credit rating for the first time in history, moving it down one notch to AA+; the rating reflects a downgrade in S&P’s confidence in the U.S. government’s ability to repay its debts over time. It’s not clear, however, whether S&P’s downgrade will instantly effect rates, analysts say.

The 10-year Treasury note is considered the basis for all other interest rates. And “the downgrade could increase the yields on those bonds, forcing the government to spend more to borrow the same amount of money,” the Washington Post article notes. “Many consumer loans, such as mortgages, are linked to the yield on Treasurys and therefore would also rise.”

Watch this video with NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun for more information.

While consumers who have fixed interest rate mortgages will be immune to any changes in borrowing costs, home buyers shopping for a loan or those with mortgages that fluctuate may see a rise in rates later on, some analysts say.

Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, told the Associated Press that he doesn’t expect the downgrade to drive up interest rates instantly since the economy is still weak and borrowers aren’t competing for money and driving rates higher. However, he expects in three to five years, loan demand will be much higher and then the downgraded credit rating might cause rates to rise.

Analysts are still waiting to see if the other rating agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, follows S&P’s lead in its downgrade of the U.S. credit rating. If so, the aftermath could be much worse, analysts say.

The debt deal reached by Congress last week was expected to save the U.S. from any credit rating downgrade. However, S&P said lawmakers fell short in its deal. Congress’ deal called for $2 trillion in U.S. deficit reduction over the next 10 years; S&P had called for $4 trillion.

Source: “5 Ways the Downgrade in the U.S. Credit Rating Affects You,” The Washington Post (Aug. 8, 2011); Questions and Answers on Standard & Poor’s Downgrading of U.S. Federal Debt,” Associated Press (Aug. 6, 2011); and S&P Downgrade Will Shake Consumer and Business Confidence at a Fragile Time, Economists Say,” Associated Press (Aug. 6, 2011)

Read More

Real Estate OK in Debt Deal But Risks Remain

Young Generation Hit Hard by Recession

Daily Real Estate News | Monday, August 08, 2011

 

The recession has hit the younger generation hard and is forcing them to delay many major life changes and purchases, according to a new survey. About 44 percent of Millennials — people aged 18 to 29 — say they will have to delay buying a home due to economic factors, according to a survey conducted by The Polling Co. Inc./WomanTrend.

About 75 percent say they have or will delay a major life change or purchase due to economic factors, and 30 percent say the bad economy has prompted them to delay changing jobs or cities. What’s more, nearly 25 percent say they will delay starting a family, and 18 percent say they will delay getting married.

Such delays by the younger generation has started to affect household formation. Many young professionals are moving back in with their parents to curb costs, which has caused household to grow in recent years after facing decades of declines.

“The impact of the poor economy, in human terms, has been devastating. This is especially true for young Americans, whose lives have been interrupted and dreams put on hold due to the lack of economic opportunity,” says Paul T. Conway, president of Generation Opportunity.

Source: “Young Americans Waylaid by Recession, Study Shows,” Los Angeles Times (Aug. 5, 2011)

Read more:

What Does Gen Y Want?

Commodity prices

Good news bears

Aug 8th 2011, 13:39 by The Economist online

A fall in commodity prices offers some cheer among the market gloom

THE equity markets may be suffering again as investors worry about sovereign debts and a slowing global economy. But the sell-off has also extended into the commodity market, particularly in oil: West Texas intermediate is trading at around $84 a barrel. This is a bearish story that is good news for western consumers. High raw-materials prices acted as a tax rise in the first half of the year; now they are falling the effect will be akin to a tax cut. There is just one caveat. The working assumption is that the recent sharp fall in the oil prices is caused by concerns about a slowing US economy; if it is really due to a sharp slowdown in emerging markets as well, equity markets will really have cause to worry.

Readers’ comments

The Economist welcomes your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful of other readers. Review our comments policy.

 

Welcome back to Earth !

BRL, you better find a parachute for you…

Deflation, your time has finally come, after 2.5 years of delay

We called it:
http://seekingalpha.com/article/285619-the-debt-downgrade-and-the-summer…

We’re outperforming today as we did all of last week.

I remember in 2008 petroleum peaked in May for their highest price in history. The cause was never explained.

This price exceeded 2004 levels when the Gulf refineries were smashed by a series of Hurricanes notable Katrina and Rita. The prices exceeded the outbreaks of Gulf War 1 and 2 with Iraq and even the 9/11 attacks. The price of oil exceeded Supertankers being attacked by terrorist teams, Iran mining the critical choke point of the Strait of Hormuz where 40% of World travels, Putin’s energy cut offs, or raging piracy off the Somalian coasts.

I want to propose an actor and a plot. Follow the Money. Who has the Wealth and Power and the Means and Motive? The world’s largest exporter of oil is Saudi Arabia.

And in 2008 they saw an opportunity to influence the election of the most powerful office in the world. The Saudis grew tired of Bush and the Republicans. And the Republican Presidential Candidate McCain seem to want to open up a third war front on Iran. The other candidate was named Hussein and may prove to be a tribal brother.

And when your only tool is a hammer, every thing looks like a nail. By reducing oil imports by 5%, the Saudis can affect oil prices world wide instantly and to astonishing effect. The Saudis used their control over oil supply to jigger a shortage, which lead to price spikes 6 months before the election and precipitated the American Great Recession of 2008. John McCain argued their was no recession under Republican leadership and was soundly trounced in the election.

But this Recession snowballed into the Nov 2008 banking crisis, Lehman Bros downfall, the mortgage crisis, AIG insurance crisis, Automaker bankruptcy and the unemployment morass. All because of oil spikes.

An incumbent President’s greatest opponent is the state of the economy in an election year. And the Saudis are again using their hammer this time to LOWER the price of oil to brighten the American economy and re-elect President Obama. We are puppets on a string.

Unfortunately, the law of unintended consequence, the Recession they brought on in 2008 is still around and may be into a double dip. The Saudis are at it again doing their best to suppress the price of oil to promote a recovery.

Surprise, Money is Power! And Economic issues can influence Politics. Strange things happen in election years. Yes, even foreign actors can also pull some stringshmTzic3YT/

Your assertion that the Saudis influenced oil price to rout the Republicans in American presidential election is clever, but simply UNTRUE. The Saudis, or more accurately King Abdullah and the House of Saud, most likely WANTED warmongering hawks in the White House again, so that the US could wipe Iran and its nuclear programmes off the map. Wikileaks showed that King Abdullah, while posturing as an Islamic patriot who wanted the US to moderate its Mideast policies, privately encouraged GWB to attack Iran. This explains the confusion and the disorderliness with which the Saudi diplomatic corps to Washington D.C. have been conducting themselves vis-a-vis the Iranian issue.

And in this day and age, it is unwise to assume that the power to set the price of oil is centralized in Riyadh, Caracas or whatever. Thousands of traders tinker with the price of crude, and other governments can simply flood the market with their strategic oil reserves to drive the price down.

On this blog we publish a new chart or map every working day, highlight our interactive-data features and provide links to interesting sources of data around the we

 

Hiring Like It’s 1999

The tech boom is fueling a surge in jobs and creative recruiting

By

 

Michael De Frenza scans the crowd of 50 or so well-dressed professionals mingling near a bar at the W Hotel in San Francisco’s South of Market District. De Frenza, a recent transplant to the Bay Area, is here in search not of a date—but of a job. In the five weeks since De Frenza, 34, returned to the area after a two-year stint in Toronto, he has received five offers. “I’m taking my time trying to find the right fit,” he says.

I Love Rewards, which provides companies with services to motivate employees, arranges cocktail parties like this one every other week at the W Hotel to help it recruit 40 people by Sept. 30 for a new West Coast sales outpost. “Just in time for us arriving in San Francisco, the market has gotten extremely hot,” says Razor Suleman, chief executive of the company. “San Francisco is coming back to the days when candidates have two or three job offers,” he says.

Competition for cloud computing engineers, security experts, and mobile developers as well as sales professionals in the technology industry has gotten so fierce in the past six months that companies are going to greater lengths to woo prospective employees. They’re throwing lavish parties, handing out free food at conferences, doling out $50,000 signing bonuses, and offering perks such as free haircuts and medical care at the office.

MORE SIGNING BONUSES

The tech sector is fueling a job boom that stands in stark contrast to the malaise of the general job market. The nationwide unemployment rate ticked up to 9.2 percent in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, the unemployment rate for tech professionals dropped to 3.3 percent, from 5.3 percent in January. “That’s pretty close to full employment,” says Alice Hill, managing director of technology career website Dice.com (DHX).

“It’s such a thin market, it feels like everybody is employed already,” says Adam Pisoni, co-founder and chief technology officer of Yammer, which sells software and services for social networking in the workplace. The San Francisco company is doubling its engineering staff. “Engineers have 10 recruiters calling them.” The company would like to hire between 50 and 100 engineers this year, Pisoni says.

Companies are employing a variety of strategies to attract talent. Saba Software (SABA) and Digital River (DRIV) recently paid C-level executives $50,000 signing bonuses. “While signing bonuses at tech companies are not uncommon, their use has become more prevalent recently as the economy has improved and competition for talent has heated up,” says Aaron Lapat, managing director of the technology practice at executive recruiting firm J. Robert Scott. Recruiters are also circling Cisco like vultures, anticipating the August layoffs in the hope of finding qualified employees.

BELLS AND MUSIC

Recruiting tactics from the late 1990s are starting to make a comeback, too. Last year, Appirio hired a taco truck and parked it at Dreamforce, an industry conference for cloud computing professionals. Attendees couldn’t help but notice the signs on the truck saying that Appirio was hiring as they waited in line for free tacos.

When Dreamforce happens again later this month, Appirio plans to ply attendees with more food, but the company wouldn’t divulge exactly what it plans to serve. Appirio anticipates that about 25,000 people will attend Dreamforce, the cloud computing trade show organized by Salesforce.com (CRM). “We assume that 10 percent are actively looking for a new job,” says Narinder Singh, Appirio’s chief strategy officer. The company hired 110 workers in the first half of this year and is looking for another 140 by year’s end.

World Debt Guide:  Owe Dear

The Economist online

Our interactive graphic shows how deeply in hock we all are

THE headlines are all about sovereign debt at the moment. But that is only part of the problem. Debt rose across the rich world during the boom, from consumers maxing out credit cards to financial firms taking on more leverage, and the process of reducing it is still at a very early stage.
The interactive graphic above shows the overall debt levels for a wide range of countries, based on data supplied by the McKinsey Global Institute. In theory there is no maximum level for debt relative to GDP, but Ireland and Iceland (not on this map) found the limit in practice when they hit eight-to-ten times GDP.

The debt is also broken down by sector. Note the huge size of Britain’s banks relative to its economy, and the high level of Spanish corporate debt. Note, too, Japan’s vast amount of government debt, not yet a problem but an obvious reason for jitters over the longer term.

Japan has the dubious distinction of topping our sovereign-debt vulnerability ranking below, which orders countries based on their primary budget balance, their debt-to-GDP ratio and the relationship between the yield on their debt and economic growth (if the former is larger than the latter, the debt burden is getting steadily worse). Britain does badly, too, although a tough austerity programme and the long duration of its outstanding debt protect it from a loss of confidence. Here’s the table:

The Fed’s plan of attack

By Kelli Galippo • Jul 21st, 2011 • Category: real estate newsflash

The Federal Reserve (Fed) is ready to dole out additional stimulus if need be ― that includes another round of Treasury bond buying (quantitative easing) or lowering interest rates. In the Fed’s biannual economic report to Congress, they indicated such measures will only be taken if the economy does not significantly improve or if deflation becomes a danger.

Fed representatives believe the second half of 2011 will show signs of an improving economy – more jobs and more sales. In the event they are wrong, stimulus measures are ready to be employed.

first tuesday take: The Fed’s responsibilities are threefold: dispense enough money into circulation, keep the labor market stable and maintain inflation at 2-3%. The efforts thus far to produce a growing jobs market (and thus improve real estate sales of all types) by injecting funds into the banking system through Treasury bond (T-bond) buying have proven less effective than they anticipated.

To complicate matters, 2008 legislation authorized the Fed to pay interest on bank reserves and that return has given lenders incentive to hoard their funds by placing them with the Fed rather than make loans. [For more information regarding the Fed’s purchase of Treasury bonds, see the October 2010 first tuesday article, The Fed purchases Treasuries, fends off deflation and the July 2011 first tuesday article, The Fed’s monetary policy, straight from the horse’s mouth.]

Will another round of Fed T-bond buying get lenders moving? It depends on how confident lenders feel about their pool of potential borrowers compared to the Fed. In the meantime, the Fed must continue monitoring the economy and be prepared to adjust their battle plan accordingly. Dropping interest payments on those 1.8 trillion in bank reserves on deposit with the Fed would quickly get lenders lending. [For more information regarding the Fed’s policies, see the June 2011 first tuesday article, Suspect behavior, why and how the Fed creates a recession.]

Re: “Federal Reserve chief hints at stimulus plan” from Mercury News

– ft

The rise and fall of real estate brokers and agents

By Bradley Markano • Jul 26th, 2011 • Category: Charts

This article reveals the historical population of DRE-licensed agents and brokers working in California, with explanation and forecasting about the future of real estate practice.

Chart last updated 7/26/11

  June 2011 May 2011 June 2010
Active Agents
194,950
196,804
211,875
Active Brokers
107,445
107,753
108,618

Information courtesy of the California Department of Real Estate (DRE)

The above chart tracks the number of active real estate brokers and agents licensed in California, based on data released monthly by the California DRE. These numbers exclude licensed brokers who do not use their licenses, and licensed agents who are not employed by a broker.

first tuesday analysis

In a stable market, a natural equilibrium develops in the ratio between active real estate brokers and agents. This ratio has historically found balance at the level seen on the above chart in 2002; approximately one active broker for every 1.5 agents.

After a protracted period of inflated agent numbers, the ratio returned to historic norms in 2011, with one active broker for every 1.8 agents in the first quarter of 2011. The crossover point on the chart, when the number of agents expanded dramatically, indicates the beginning of a real estate momentum bubble.

As real estate entered its boom phase of the market cycle, new agents arrived en masse with the optimistic belief that extra money could be made in real estate. At the peak of the boom, in late 2006, there were a total of 2.6 active agents for every active broker.

Keep in mind that these active licensee totals understate the real depth of the problem, as many licensees remained technically “inactive,” presenting themselves as licensees to speculate in property as principals or purchase property for family members without being employed by a broker. In October 2006, for instance, there were 261,683 active agents, but a total of 376,561 Californians held agent licenses. Compare this to the more stable period of January 2000, when there were 122,260 active agents and 196,524 total agent licensees.

Rather than just selling properties, the superfluous agents—active and inactive—also bought and flipped them, speculating in the market while operating as insiders pulling (or saving) a fee when they, their family members and their friends decided to purchase property they located. Even in late 2010 and early 2011, as we anticipate a return to core economic principles (supply vs. demand) and real estate fundamentals (price-to-rent ratios) in the housing market, the above chart shows the licensee population has already nearly returned to the standard 1.5:1 agent-to-broker ratio. Expect that to remain constant through the trough in licensee numbers which will develop going into 2016

Unemployment in East Bay Rises, But Not in San Ramon

The unemployment rates in Alameda and Contra Costa counties edged up slightly last month. Still, California added nearly 30,000 jobs in June, more than the country as a whole.

The East Bay economy is pretty well in sync with these languid summer days, employment data released Friday shows.

The unemployment rate in the Oakland-Fremont-Hayward metropolitan area was 10.9 percent in June, up slightly from 10.2 percent in May, according to figures from the state Employment Development Department.

There were nearly 5,000 fewer jobs available in the East Bay last month compared with a year ago.

The number of unemployed Contra Costa County shifted to a few percentage points up to 11 percent. San Ramon didn’t see any change. The rate here in June was 4.3 percent, the same as May.

The number of unemployed Alameda County residents increased by 5,500 from May to June to 80,900, according to the data.

California added nearly 30,000 jobs last month, beating the national job-growth figure. The United States added just 18,000 jobs in June.

The national unemployment rate stands at a stagnant 9.2 percent.

As the recession drags on, employers are finding ways to increase productivity with fewer employees, said Scott Peterson, deputy director of the public-private East Bay Economic Development Alliance.

“When you increase productivity, that’s a good thing, but only in the measure of getting more done and spending less money,” Peterson said.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean there’s much more job creation.”

Peterson said he’s hopeful that companies will start hiring again when the economy picks up, “but the difficulty is no one is really sure when that’s going to be.”

Some economic sectors did better than others in June.

Most of the jobs created in the East Bay last month were in the professional and business services sector (2,900 jobs) and the leisure and hospitality sector (2,600 jobs), according to the state data.

The beleaguered construction industry added 1,800 jobs last month. Most of the jobs gained were specialty trade contractors (1,200 jobs) — double the average number gained in this sub-industry between May and June over the last 21 years, according to Cindy Sugrue from the EDD’s labor market information division in Concord.

Sugrue said this could be thanks to significant highway construction in the East Bay.

Cuts to public school budgets over the past year have led to thousands of local jobs lost in that sector.

Local and state public schools lost 3,400 jobs over the past year, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the jobs shed from state government payrolls since June 2010, according to the data.

At the same time, private educational and health services gained 3,500 jobs over the past year.

California’s unemployment rate hit 12.1 percent and the nation’s went to 9.3 percent.

 

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