California Passes Solar Panel Law

Starting in 2020, all new homes constructed in California will be required to have between 2 kilowatts and 3 kilowatts of electricity sourced directly from solar panels. State legislators, whom have been considering such a measure for some time, officially voted recently to amend state building codes.

The new mandate, however, won’t be cheap to homeowners. The upfront costs of installing typical solar panels ranges from $8,000 to $12,000. The timing of the move also worries residents who lost their homes in recent wildfires in California because the mandate will add to their rebuilding costs.

Mortgage Rates Are Easing

Home buyers may be finding a window of opportunity to lock in lower rates. Mortgage rates fell this week, after several weeks of moderating, Freddie Mac reports.

“Mortgage rates declined this week amid a steep sell-off in U.S. stocks,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac report of mortgage rates for the week ending Dec. 6:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.75 percent, with an average 0.5 point, down from last week’s 4.81 percent average. Last year at his time, 30-year rates averaged 3.94 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.21 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 4.25 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.36 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

House Hunts Are Lasting Longer

Buyers are spending significant time trying to find the perfect home. Fifty-four percent of active buyers say they’ve been trying to find the right home for three months or longer, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Trends Report poll.

Buyers say the biggest delays that are stretching out their home search is they can’t find a home at an affordable price (49%), followed by not being able to find a home with the desired features they want (40%) or in their ideal neighborhood (38%).

Source: “Active Home Buyers Are Spending Significant Amounts of Time Looking for the Right Home,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog 12/4/18

Are Mortgage Rates Stabilizing?

Mortgage rates mostly held steady this week—and home buyers responded by rushing to lock in rates. “Mortgage rates stabilized the last couple of months as interest rate-sensitive sectors, such as new auto and home sales, have clearly softened the outlook for the economy,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac report for the week ending Nov. 29:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.81 percent, with an average 0.5 point, unchanged from last week. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.90 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.25 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 4.24 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.30 percent.

More Buyers Turn to ARM Loans

Rising interest rates are prompting more home buyers to turn to adjustable-rate mortgages—which come with potential financial risks. Though these mortgages typically come with lower interest rates initially, they reset to market rates after five or seven years, potentially shocking borrowers with much higher costs.

“As interest rates continue to rise, the percentage of adjustable-rate mortgages is increasing, as home buyers are looking to take advantage of the best rates from their lenders,” says Jonathan Corr, president and CEO of Ellie Mae.

Source: “Ellie Mae Origination Insights Report: October 2018,” Ellie Mae (Nov. 21, 2018)

Relief in Cooling Housing Market?

The housing market is showing several signs of slowing, providing a much-needed break for potential buyers who have been waiting to jump into the market. Existing-home sales were 2.4 percent lower in the third quarter than a year ago, and the drop comes at a time when many areas are starting to see an uptick in new listings.

Home prices in many markets are no longer rising by double digits—or even single digits—annually. But with a strong economy and low unemployment, the housing dip is more of a rebalancing of the market than a sign of a downturn.

Source: “Cooling Down of Housing Market Could Be Good News for Buyers,” The Washington Post (Nov. 14, 2018)

Mortgage Rates Take a Breather

Mortgage rates mostly held stable this week, a welcome relief .

“Despite recent market volatility, mortgage rates remained steady this week,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The stability in mortgage rates reflects the moderation in inflationary pressures in the economy due to the lower oil prices and subdued wage growth. On the margin, lower energy costs are a positive for the home sales market, particularly for lower-middle income suburban buyers who spend proportionately more income on transportation costs.”

Freddie Mac reports the following rates for the week ending Nov. 15:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.94 percent, with an average 0.5 point, unchanged from last week’s average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.95 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.36 percent, with an average 0.4 point, increasing slightly from last week’s 4.33 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.31 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

The Makings of a Buyer’s Market

Buyers are pulling back. Home prices have been rising too much relative to income for many would-be buyers to keep pace. Since 2011, the U.S. median home price has risen 55 percent while wages are up only 18 percent. Now, the Federal Reserve has become more aggressive against inflation; with several short-term interest rate increases over the past year. A monthly mortgage payment on a typical home today is $1,136, up from $639 in 2011.

And confidence is down. Only 38 percent of consumers today strongly believe it’s a good time to buy, down from 43 percent last year, and the numbers are lower for renters who don’t have equity to tap for a down payment.

With buyers stepping back a bit, inventory is no longer falling. New-home construction is increasing and more homeowners are considering listing. A recent survey NAR conducted shows 50 percent of consumers strongly indicate it is a good time to sell, compared to only 28 percent just two years ago. Most home sellers will also be buyers. With inventory expected to grow, prices will stop rising so fast. That’s a healthy adjustment. Buyers can soon resume their search for the American dream.

Source: magazine.realtor/news-and-commentary/economy/article/2018/10/the-makings-of-a-buyer-s-market?

Homes with Patios now Popular

More new homes are being built with patios, as homeowners show a greater craving for more outdoor space. About 58.6 percent of new single-family homes started in 2017 included a patio, according to an analysis by the National Association of Home Builders. That makes patios more common than decks (23.8 percent), but still shy of the popularity of porches (64.7 percent).

The Annual Builder Practices Survey, conducted by Home Innovation Research Labs, shows that the average size of a patio on a new home is about 260 square feet. Poured concrete is the most often material used for the surface, followed by concrete pavers, natural stone, and brick pavers.

Read more ideas about getting the most out of a patio space: That Small Backyard Can Still Be a Selling Point and 5 Biggest Yard and Patio Staging Mistakes

Mortgage Rates Are on the Rise

Borrowers were faced with rising mortgage rates again this week, after a slight pause from increases the week before. “We expect rates to continue to rise, which will put downward pressure on home buying activity. While higher borrowing costs will keep some people out of the market, buyers with more flexibility could take advantage of the decreased competition,”  says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports these rates for the week ending Oct. 25, 2018:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.86 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising slightly from last week’s 4.85 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.94 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.29 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 4.26 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.25 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac