"Don't believe the hype!" The words from Public Enemy's hit song title rang true once again last week when the Commerce Department reported the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the 3rd Quarter. As you can see from the chart below, GDP rose by 3.5% for the first gain in a year and the strongest reading in two years.
While most media outlets were giddy about the news and started the hype that the recession is behind us, it's important to remember that there's more to the economic data than just the headlines.
The temporary "Cash for Clunkers" program has now expired, but was a big part of last quarter's GDP gain. If we remove it from the total, the reading would have been a more modest 1.9%. But there is even more to the rise in the latest GDP number that is just temporary...
Also bolstering the economy has been the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit - which is set to expire at the end of this month. Many home buyers have been taking advantage of this program - and wisely so.
Chart: US Gross Domestic Product (By Quarter)
New Home Sales were reported last week, showing a 7.5-month supply of inventory. While that number is slightly worse than last month's 7.3 reading, it's still a big improvement from where we were in January. Back in January, inventory levels reached a high of 12.4-month supply! The improvement in housing inventories has been due in large part to the $8,000 First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, which is set to expire on November 30.
There is a real possibility of an extension of this program through a proposed Bill, but it is not yet a certainty. The extension Bill still must be reconciled between the House and Senate, and then voted on for final approval. Under the current extension proposal, sales with signed purchase agreements by April 30th that close before June 30th, 2010 would qualify for the credit.
Another positive element would be the possible addition of $6,500 tax credit for other primary home purchasers, meaning the tax credit would no longer be limited only to first-time homebuyers. There is also a possibility that qualifying income limits could increase from $75,000 to $125,000 for singles, and from $150,000 to $250,000 for joint tax filers.
I will be keeping an eye on this for you, so stay tuned.
After all last week's news and movement in the markets, Bonds and rates ended the week slightly better than where they began.
DON'T FORGET: THIS WEEKEND MARKS THE END OF DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME. SO MAKE SURE YOU SET YOUR CLOCKS BACK TO AVOID UNEXPECTED PROBLEMS...LIKE THE KIND DESCRIBED IN THE MORTGAGE MARKET GUIDE VIEW ARTICLE BELOW!