Mortgage Professionals Should be Optimistic About the Future

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Th e M Rep o RT | 53 O r i g i nat i O n s e r v i c i n g a na ly t i c s s e c O n da r y m a r k e t ANALYTICS The laTesT Payrolls Jump by 321k in november Though it was the biggest gain recorded since January 2012, the unemployment rate remained flat at 5.8%. U .S. payrolls in November surpassed even the most optimistic forecasts, increasing at the highest rate in more than two years, according to a government estimate. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by a seasonally adjusted 321,000 in November, following an upwardly revised gain of 243,000 in October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics re- ported last month. It was the biggest jump since January 2012. September's employ- ment growth also got a revi- sion, climbing to 271,000. For November, econo- mists had predicted payrolls would grow by 230,000, with estimates ranging as high as 275,000. According to the Labor Department, job gains were widespread across most sec- tors, led by the professional and business services sector. Putting a damper on the good news was a climb in the number of unemployed Americans, which was esti- mated at 9.1 million, according to the government's house- hold survey. The unemploy- ment rate remained flat from October at 5.8 percent. About 2.8 million of those unemployed persons have been jobless for at least 27 weeks, down slightly from October but still elevated at a share of 31 percent. Meanwhile, the number of "involuntary part-time work- ers"—those working part-time for economic reasons but who desire full-time work— fell by 177,000 to 6.9 million. Overall, the civilian labor force participation rate held at 62.8 percent, keeping more or less in line with the trend of the past year. An estimated 2.1 million Americans remain "marginal- ly attached" to the labor force, meaning they want a job but have not looked for work in the last month. Among that group, nearly 700,000 gave up looking because they don't believe there's work available in their area. The U-6 unemployment rate, which includes both marginally attached people and involuntary part-timers, barely ticked down to 11.4 percent in November. Wages also presented a dismal picture. Average hourly earnings for all employees on nonfarm payrolls rose to $24.66 in November, up only 2.1 per- cent from November 2013. luxury Home sales maintain growth in Q3 Chicago and houston join California mainstays atop list of nation's leading luxury markets. e ven as total home sales fell year-over-year for another quarter, the luxury market continued to outperform in Q 3, according to Redfin. Nationwide, home sales fell 1.2 percent in the third quarter when compared to the same period in 2013, the brokerage firm reported. Sales have been down year-over-year for the first three quarters of 2014. At the same time, sales of homes priced at least $1 million continued to lift, rising 9 percent compared to a year earlier. "That's no surprise, given that the luxury housing market was the first to recover after the crisis and has been going strong ever since, ben- efitting from a booming stock mar- ket, low interest rates, and overseas investment," said Nela Richardson, chief economist at Redfin. Nevertheless, with foreign investment in the U.S. housing market waning, growth in the luxury market remains below the double-digit figures recorded through all of 2013 and early 2014. As a result of declining inter- national demand, many of the nation's top luxury markets are now seeing a dramatic decline in sales of million-dollar-plus homes—and while that segment only accounts for about 3 percent of the national housing market, a number of local markets are feeling the pinch. "This sector of the market, particularly in the places that have typically had strong foreign interest, will need traditional (and well-heeled) buyers to offset disap- pearing demand from internation- al investors," Richardson said. Not surprisingly, California's more active housing metros topped the list for million-dollar home sales in Q 3, led by San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Jose—the latter of which saw a 43.7-percent jump in luxury sales over the previous 12 months. San Diego and Newport Beach also made it into the luxury top-10, ranked at Nos. 5 and 10, respec- tively. A few of the nation's more affordable markets also happened to be among the top areas for luxury home sales, including Chicago and Houston. "The luxury home market in Houston is thriving in large part because of the strong and diverse job market," said Tara Waggoner, a Redfin agent. "Energy and technology companies like Exxon Mobil are hiring employ- ees away from the coasts. Those people are shocked at how much home they can get for $1 million in Houston."

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