‘Energy Efficiency’ Weighted More in Appraisals

Energy efficiency scores will soon be included on appraisal forms in a handful of states. Builders are applauding the change, saying that will help give more credit for energy-saving features.

The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index is a numerical rating system that measures energy consumption compared to a standard house. The standard house has a score of 100. But a house that has a HERS index of 70, for example, would use 30 percent less energy. A home with a HERS index of 130, on the other hand, would consume 30 percent more energy. As such, the lower the HERS score, the lower the energy costs. The HERS score will be added to an existing green-building addendum that appraisers use.

More details at this source: “A Move Toward More Helpful Appraisals,” Greenbuildingadvisor.com (March 16, 2017)

 

Which Is the Best Home Security System?

Your clients may have questions about home security systems. If so, Reviews.com has compiled a thorough list of the best home security systems, based on studies and surveys entailing installation, customer reviews, costs, and reliability.

Review.com’s analysis recognized the following brands in the following categories:

Best for recognizability and professional installation: ADT
Best technology and mobile app: Vivint
Best for low upfront cost and initial phone call: Protect America
Best for customer service and businesses: Protection 1
Best for overall reputation, customization, and DIY installation: Frontpoint
Best for all-around value: Link Interactive
Best for flexibility and easiest barrier to entry: SimpliSafe

Source: “Best Home Security System,” Reviews.com (Feb. 1, 2017)

Home Loan ‘Interest Rates Move Higher’

As expected, the FOMC announced its first rate hike of 2017 and hinted at additional increases throughout the remainder of the year. Although our survey was conducted prior to the Fed’s decision, the release of the February jobs report all but guaranteed a rate hike and boosted the 30-year mortgage rate this week. Increasing inflation, continued gains in the labor market and the Fed’s intentions for further rate increases—all three will keep pushing mortgage rates up this year.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages rates for the week ending March 17:

’30-year fixed-rate mortgage’ (FRM) averaged 4.30 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending March 16, 2017, up from last week when it averaged 4.21 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.73 percent.
’15-year fixed-rate mortgage’ (FRM) this week averaged 3.50 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.42 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.99 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Fed Votes to Raise Rates: The Housing Impact?

The Federal Reserve is picking up the pace, voting on Wednesday to raise its key interest rate just three months after its last rate hike. The Fed announced that short-term interest rates will increase by one-quarter of a percentage point and suggested that two similar increases likely will occur later this year. Mortgage rates aren’t directly tied to the Fed’s short-term interest rates but tend to follow them.

As of Tuesday, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.39 percent, according to Mortgage News Daily. Last summer, rates were near record lows of 3.44 percent.

“Rising inflation will predominantly dictate the next monetary policy decision, but another short-term rate hike should be expected by the end of the summer,” Lawrence Yun, the chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®, notes at the association’s Economists’ Outlook blog. “Right now, rents and housing costs are increasing faster than other components because of the stubborn housing shortages in much of the U.S. To contain inflation and slow the pace of future rate hikes, more home construction is needed now.”

Source: “How the Fed’s Latest Move Is Expected to Hurt Buyers,” realtor.com® (March 15, 2017) and “Fed Quickens Pace, Raises Rate 3 Months After Last Hike,” RISMedia (March 15, 2017)

This Could Boost Millions of Credit Scores

Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion announced they will soon remove tax lien and civil judgment data from some consumer credit records. The reason for this change is that many liens and most judgments fail to include vital pieces of information. Beginning on July 1, the public records data the firms use must include these data points: the consumer’s name, address, and either a social security number or a date of birth. Existing reports that fail to comply will be struck from the consumer’s credit record and new data that does not have that information will not be added.

Credit scores are weighed carefully by lenders in making decisions about loan terms and how much consumers can borrow, and can be very important in securing a sustainable mortgage. FICO estimates the changes will cause an improvement to about 12 million consumer scores; however the boost will be modest, likely less than 20 points.

In recent months, several lawsuits brought by states have been pushing credit reporting companies to remove some categories of negative data from credit score reports, such as information related to library fines or gym memberships. But some experts fear removing negative public record information could pose a greater risk to lenders.

Source: “Reporting Change Could Raise Credit Scores, Risk,” Mortgage News Daily (March 14, 2017)

What Has Analysts Worried With FHA Loans?

The number of riskier mortgages is growing, which is increasing delinquencies—albeit slightly—and raising concerns about defaults, USA Today reports. Federal Housing Administration loans, which typically require down payments of 3 percent to 5 percent, are at the center of most of the concern.

FHA-backed loans are becoming more available through non-banker lenders, who have in some cases eased credit standards compared to banks.

The big concern to many economists is if home prices peak and then decrease, homeowners who made a down payment of just 5 percent and are less creditworthy may be more likely to default.

But non-bank lenders say the loosening of FHA standards is a welcome sign and not one to fear. Your comments?

Source: “Concerns About Riskier Mortgages Are Sprouting,” USA Today (March 12, 2017)

Home Loan Interest Rates Hit 2017 High

For the first time in weeks, the 30-year mortgage rate moved with treasury yields and jumped 11 basis points to 4.21 percent. The strength of Friday’s employment report and the outcome of next week’s FOMC meeting are likely to set the direction of next week’s survey rate.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages rates for the week ending March 10:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.21 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending March 9, 2017, up from last week when it averaged 4.10 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.68 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage  (FRM) this week averaged 3.42 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.32 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.96 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

The Race Is On to Snag a Low Rate

Borrowers are getting spooked by rising rates and they’re rushing to lock in rates before any further increases. That’s pushing mortgage application volume higher, increasing a seasonally adjusted 3.3 percent week over week, the Mortgage Bankers Association report. Buyers are also increasingly turning to adjustable-rate mortgages to try to get more savings in their monthly payments too.

“Mortgage rates increased last week as remarks by several key Federal Reserve officials strongly signaled a March rate increase,” says Joel Kan, an MBA economist. “This was further supported by a few solid economic data releases, including GDP, inflation, and manufacturing gauges.”

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 4.36 percent from 4.30 percent the previous week, the MBA reports.

Source: “Borrowers Rush to Beat Rising Rates, Pushing Mortgage Volume 3.3% Higher,” CNBC (March 8, 2017)

How Will Housing Fare In the Next Decade?

Housing demand over the next decade will be significantly higher than it is today, predicts Lawrence Yun, the chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®, in his latest column at Forbes.com. Rising populations and a growth in the job market likely will release a pent-up demand in housing over the next 10 years, he says.

The ages you’ll need to watch for in the housing market over the next decade: those in their 30s and 40s. The population of people in their 30s is expected to grow by 5 million over the next decade, reaching 48 million. Yun says that 12 percent increase likely will lead to more first-time home buyers. Plus, the number of Americans in their 40s will increase by 3 million, and he predicts they’ll be looking to trade up in real estate.

Overall, Yun notes, “Within reasonable parameters of economic growth and interest rate movements, home sales should do well over the next decade, clocking in at around 6 million a year.” The ages we’ll need to watch for in the housing market over the next decade: those in their 30s and 40s. The population of people in their 30s is expected to grow by 5 million over the next decade, reaching 48 million. Or course, every region will vary, what’s predicted for your market?

Source: “Housing Demand Over the Next Decade,” Forbes.com (March 2, 2017)

 

Maybe Rethink That Retirement Age?

Workers over the age of 65 are staying active in the workforce, opting to push back retirement.

In the year 2000, about 13 percent of Americans 65 and over reported being employed full or part time. But, by May 2016, that percentage had increased to 18.8 percent. As such, nearly 9 million Americans who are age 65 and over are employed. Further, over the next five years, that percentage is expected to rise to 32 percent of the workforce.

However, workers still need to be practical and anticipate retiring one day, and you should plan for it.

Source: “Workers Are Working Longer—and Better,” The New York Times (March 2, 2017)