Existing home sales account for the majority of sales and mortgage-finance activity, but new home sales and construction contribute more to overall economic growth.

Therefore, we were someone disappointed that housing starts eased in May, with starts falling 6.5% month over month to a 1.001 million annualized rate. Single-family starts dropped 5.9% after a 4.6% rise in April. Permits followed a similar pattern, falling 6.4% month over month. This suggests starts could tread water over the next month or two.

That said, we could still see a pick up in starts based on home builder sentiment. The National Association of Home Builders' confidence index rose four points to a seasonally adjusted 49 in June. The future sales component also moved higher, up 3 points, to 59. This is the best reading since January. This is particularly encouraging, because the future matters more than the past.

Topping our wish list, though, is rising purchase mortgage activity. Unfortunately, purchase applications – after posting a couple weeks of gains – decreased 5% in the Mortgage Bankers Associations' latest survey. With institutional buyers (cash buyers) pulling back, we want to see the individual owner-occupied buyer – the buyer likely to take on mortgage – move into the lead. We still haven't seen that. Until we do, we don't expect to see continual improvements in the housing numbers.

Courtesy of Jessica Regan.

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