Categories are graded from A thru F:
Economic Growth: C-
Economic growth trends were mixed this month, as several key metrics ticked up while others ticked down. The employment market improved once again as year-over-year employment growth has now been positive for seven consecutive months, and unemployment now stands at its lowest level since March 2009.
In addition, retail sales improved this month, while real GDP for the fourth quarter was revised slightly higher to 3.1%. On the downside, the rate of inflation (both full and core) continues to increase, while the average length of unemployment increased to an all-time high, currently at 39 weeks.
Affordability has rarely been better for entry-level buyers, and rarely worse for move-up and move-down buyers, who need to extract equity from their existing home. As such, we continue to grade our overall affordability indicator at a D+. After increasing every quarter from Q1-2009 through Q2-2010, owner equity declined for the second consecutive quarter in Q4-2010; a reflection of the continued downward pressure on home prices.
Mortgage rates remain near historical lows, and home prices have dropped from unrealistic boom levels to entirely sustainable levels, with some markets like Las Vegas well into “over-correction” territory. Our housing-cost-to-income ratio remains low, now at 22.4%, and our JBREC Affordability index stands at a remarkable 0.0, which is the highest possible rating for affordability. The median home price-to-income ratio has declined to 2.8, which is less than the long-term historical norm and near a level conducive to market health.