The National Association of Home Builders' chairman Greg Ugalde issued the following statement after this yesterday's House and Ways Means Committee hearing in Washington DC on US-China trade:
"We commend Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) for raising concerns at today's hearing that tariffs on Chinese goods represent a $1 billion tax on housing and harm housing affordability. The hearing on U.S.-China trade only underscores the need for the administration to move quickly to resolve trade disputes that are needlessly raising the cost of key building materials and exacerbating the housing affordability crisis.
"U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer responded to Thompson's query on housing affordability by talking about softwood lumber. Lighthizer's reply essentially confirms that tariffs on imports of Canadian lumber; steel and aluminum; and hundreds of products from China commonly used in U.S. residential construction are contributing to the rising cost of building materials. These higher costs are putting homeownership out of reach of working American families. The administration must resolve these trade conflicts in a manner that will provide a fair deal to American home buyers and businesses."
According to HUD, the U.S. national vacancy rate in the first quarter 2019 was 7.0 percent for rental housing and 1.4 percent for homeowner housing. The rental vacancy rate of 7.0 percent was virtually unchanged from the rate in the first quarter 2018.
According to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department, total housing starts fell 0.3 percent in March 2019 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.14 million units from a downwardly revised reading in February 2019.
According to Freddie Mac's latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, U.S. mortgage rates rose modestly this 2nd week of April 2019, with the 30-year fixed-rate averaging 4.12 percent. Rates moved up slightly this week while mortgage applications decreased following last week's jump in rates.
A total of 161,875 U.S. properties with a foreclosure filing during the first quarter of 2019, down 23 percent from the previous quarter and down 15 percent from a year ago to the lowest level since Q1 2008.
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