Will Lower Rates Escalate Sales?

The real estate industry will soon see what kind of impact weeks of declining mortgage rates have had on home sales. Will it provide the boost some experts are predicting?

Since early November, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has fallen nearly half a percentage point, from 4.94 percent to 4.45 percent, at the end of this week. This could provide an important incentive for potential home buyers to make a move. The 30-year rate, which didn’t budge in the latest week of reporting, was on a downward trend for six consecutive weeks prior. Existing-home sales in November were already bouncing back from unusually low volume in the summer months, gaining 1.9 percent month over month, due largely to stability in the overall economy, according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®. But when NAR’s data for December existing-home sales is released next Tuesday, it may reveal whether lower mortgage rates have escalated sales gains.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Jan. 17:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.45 percent, with an average 0.4 point, unchanged from last week’s average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.04 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.88 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 3.89 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.49 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac; “The slowing U.S. housing market may have finally bottomed,” Yahoo! Finance (Jan. 17, 2019)

‘Dual Agency’ Interests Concerns

Consumers are confused when it comes to dual agency arrangements in real estate, according to a new report from the Consumer Federation of America that reflects results of consumer survey and a mystery shopper survey of real estate agents.

“Today, many home buyers and sellers do not know whether their agent is representing their interests, those of the other party, or those of neither,” says Stephen Brobeck, a CFA senior fellow and report author. “Given the huge expenditure of a home purchase and the conflict of financial interests between seller and buyer, it is important that consumers know who their real estate agent is actually representing.”

States have laws requiring real estate interests and relationships to be disclosed to clients. But the CFA report suggests the laws may not be sufficient. The report says that the laws typically define agent roles as “agent,” “subagent,” “transactional agent,” “designated agent,” and “dual agent”—words consumers say they do not understand.

The CFA report calls for reforms including the prohibition of dual agency. Eight states currently ban the practice. Also, the report calls for clearer written and verbal communications from the real estate professional to the consumer about whether the agent will function as a fiduciary agent, subagent, or transaction agent or facilitator and what exactly that will mean to them.

Loan Rates Fall to 9-Month Lows

Mortgage rates posted more drops this week, lowering the borrowing costs of potential home shoppers and refinancers. “Lower mortgage rates combined with continued income growth and lower energy prices are all positive indicators for consumers that should lead to a firming of home sales,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Jan. 10:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.45 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.51 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.99 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.89 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 3.99 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.44 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Who Will Shape the 2019 Market?

The most popular names in transactions show that women, millennials, and Hispanics are shaping up as dominating forces in the housing market, according to a new analysis from realtor.com®. Ten of the top 20 and seven of the 10 fastest-growing buyer first names are mostly millennial female names, researchers found. Home deeds that contained predominantly millennial first names rose 5.3 percent year over year. Home sales associated with traditionally Hispanic first names increased 4.1 percent year over year.

Hannah, Austin, Alexis, Logan, and Taylor—three of which are predominantly female names—were the five fastest-growing first names on home sales deeds in 2018. Their frequency saw an average increase of 22 percent from 2017. However, the first names of Michael, John, David, James, and Robert remained the top five first names on sale deeds by sheer volume, but those names have decreased 3 to 5 percent since 2017, according to the study.

Source: “Women, Millennials, and Hispanics Will Shape the Future of Housing,” realtor.com® (Jan. 9, 2019)

Home Loan Interest Rates Update!

The new year is kicking off with lower mortgage rates for home shoppers and people looking to refinance their mortgages. The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped to a 4.51 percent average this week, Freddie Mac reports.

“Low mortgage rates combined with decelerating home price growth should get prospective home buyers excited to buy,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Jan. 3:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.51 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.55 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.95 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.99 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 4.01 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.38 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Here Comes a Buyer’s Market

A power shift is occurring in the housing market with more negotiating power landing on the buyer’s side.

The National Association of REALTORS® recently reported an uptick in inventory entering more markets as more homeowners put their homes up for sale. Plus, buyers are having more choice, prompting some sellers to lower their asking prices due to the added competition, according to CoreLogic researchers.

“Given the 17 million more jobs now compared to the turn of the century, home sales are clearly under performing today,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “That also means there is a steady longer-term growth potential.”

Mortgage Rates End Year Lower

Rates continued their two-month slide and are currently hovering around the same level as the early summer, which was before the deterioration in home sales. The negative headlines around the financial markets are concerning but the economy remains healthy, so the drop in mortgage rates should stem or even reverse the slide in home sales that occurred during the second half of 2018.

Past week:  30-Yr Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.55%   15-Yr Fixed Rate Mortgage  4.01%
Source: freddiemac.com

Holiday Gift: ‘Low Mortgage Rates’

Mortgage rates moderated this week after posting a big drop last week, and the Federal Reserve’s decision on Wednesday to raise its short-term key interest rate hasn’t had much on an effect on rates. (The Fed’s key rate is not directly tied to mortgage rates, but does often influence it.) Now’s the time to start a loan and home search.

Freddie Mac report of mortgage rates for the week ending Dec. 20:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.62 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping slightly from last week’s 4.63 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.94 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.07 percent, with an average 0.4 point, unchanged from last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.38 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.98 percent, with an average 0.3 point, falling from last week’s 4.04 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.39 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

A ‘Welcome Sign’ for Housing!

For the second consecutive month, existing-home sales rose, as three of the four major U.S. regions saw an increase in sales last month, the National Association of REALTORS® reported 12/19/18.

“The market conditions in November were mixed, with good signs of stabilizing home sales compared to recent months, though down significantly from one year ago,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Rising inventory is clearly taming home price appreciation.”

For a closer look at some of the leading indicators in existing-home sales in November, visit details and chart at: National Association of REALTORS®

FHA Raises Loan Limits for 2019

The Federal Housing Administration has announced that most of the country will see an increase to loan limits in the new year. The loan limit for lower-cost areas will be set at $314,827—or 65 percent of the national conforming loan limit of $484,350. In high-cost areas, the new FHA limit for 2019 will increase to $726,525, up from $679,650. The new loan limits will take effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Source: “FHA Loan Limits to Increase in Most of U.S. in 2019,” HousingWire (12/14/18)