Market Update as of May 10, 2019

Redfin Says “No More Real Estate Agents”
Redfin, the national real estate brokerage, is introducing a new venture that enables house hunters to buy properties without representation, saving commission fees for both buyer and seller. The company launched Redfin Direct as a pilot program in Boston in March, and first formally announced the venture in its first-quarter earnings release Wednesday. CEO Glenn Kelman spoke with MarketWatch about Redfin Direct before it was announced publicly. At a moment of immense churn in the real estate industry, with billions of dollars backing big bets to upend the way Americans buy and sell homes, Redfin Direct represents a smaller tweak, but one that could still have big disruptive potential. The program works like this: homes listed by Redfin RDFN, -13.12% in a market where the program is available get a banner ad on the online listing explaining that the home can be bought “online without an agent.” The listing agent, or person representing the seller, will be paid the standard Redfin commission, which is either 1% or 1.5% of the sale price of the home…

Consumer Inflation Is Dead, Again
U.S. consumer prices rose steadily in April, largely driven by higher energy and rent costs, although an underlying measure of price pressures remained muted. The consumer-price index, which measures what Americans pay for everything from lawn mowers to subway fares, rose 0.3% in April after rising a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in March, the Labor Department said Friday. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, so-called core prices rose 0.1%, the same pace as in March. Both measures were below economists’ expectations. Still, in the 12 months through April, overall prices rose 2%, the first time year-over-year inflation has hit the 2% mark since November. Core prices were up 2.1% on the year. Shelter costs, which make up about 40% of the consumer-price index, rose 0.4% for the second month in a row in April. That helped push core inflation slightly higher despite steep declines in categories like clothing and used vehicles.

Labor Market Remains Robust
The number of U.S. job openings rebounded to a near-record 7.49 million in March, showing that companies are still ready and willing to hire even though the economy is not growing as rapidly as it was a year earlier. Job openings had fallen to nine-month low of 7.14 million in February, when hiring was crimped by poor weather and the lingering effects of a partial government shutdown. Openings hit an all-time high of 7.63 million last November. Transportation and warehousing companies — the firms that deliver internet packages — increased help-wanted ads by 87,000. Job listings for construction rose 73,000. And real estate-related job openings climbed by 57,000. Job openings for the federal government fell by 15,000, the Labor Department said Tuesday. The share of people who left jobs on their own, known as the quits rate, was flat at 2.5% among private-sector employees. The rate was unchanged at 2.3% for all workers including those in government. More workers tend to quit when they feel secure enough to leave one job for another — a sign of a healthy economy. The quits rate has risen steadily in the past decade from a post-recession low of 1.4%, though it appears to have peaked.

Which Are You?

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Courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty's in-house Lender Simon Atik, 310.880.8414, Simon.Atik@grarate.com, Vice President of Mortgage Lending, Guaranteed Rate Affinity.

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