March 26 - Freddie Mac released its inaugural Multi-Indicator Market Index, MiMi. MiMi is a new publicly-accessible tool that monitors and measures the stability of the nation's housing market, as well as the housing markets of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the top 50 metro markets.
MiMi combines proprietary Freddie Mac data with current local market data to calculate a range of equilibrium for each single-family housing market covered. Monthly, MiMi uses this data to show, at a glance, where each market stands relative to its own stable range. MiMi also indicates how each market is trending -- whether it is moving closer to, or further away from, its stable range. A market can fall outside its stable range by being too weak to generate enough demand for a well-balanced housing market or by overheating to an unsustainable level of activity.
For a more detailed description of MiMi, read the Executive Perspective on MiMi by Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft.
"MiMi is the right housing index at the right time as we once again transition to a purchase-dominated housing market," said Nothaft. "With recent history demonstrating that housing activity differs substantially from market to market, MiMi offers a fresh perspective on housing at the local level just as we are entering this new purchase market landscape. MiMi helps to pinpoint each market's 'sweet spot' by focusing on local housing differences while also tracking the fundamentals necessary for a stable market. MiMi draws from multiple data sources -- including Freddie Mac proprietary data generated through our daily business with more than 2,000 mortgage lenders across the country -- to create current insights into how the housing market at the national, state, and local level is trending."
In the first release of MiMi, several key findings emerged that highlight the current state of the nation's housing market as of January 2014:
Freddie Mac Deputy Chief Economist Len Kiefer said:
"With this month's MiMi release, we're seeing a few themes from the nation's improving housing markets. In many markets a better employment picture, along with some income growth, makes it possible for more people who are considering buying a home to stay within reasonable payment-to-income ratios on their monthly mortgages. But some high cost markets are already starting to feel an affordability pinch. At the same time, those markets with a strong energy-related presence are posting solid house price gains supported by employment and wage growth. Conversely, many markets are still in recovery mode with ground to make up. Out of the 50 metro areas that MiMi tracks, only four are in range in January, but 35 are improving. As we enter the spring homebuying season, we hope to see recent trends continue with more markets moving closer to their long-term stable range."
MiMi assesses where each market is relative to its own long-term stable range by looking at home purchase applications, payment-to-income ratios (changes in home purchasing power based on house prices, mortgage rates and household income), proportion of on time mortgage payments in each market, and the local employment picture. The four indicators are combined to create a composite MiMi value for each market. For more detail on MiMi see the FAQs. MiMi is released at 10 a.m. EDT monthly. The most current version can be found at FreddieMac.com/mimi.