‘Aging in Place’ Begins Early: Report

Homeowners are getting older, and to continue on in their current house, improvements are necessary.

Homeowners at an earlier stage, aged 55-75, are also making modifications, but not necessarily due to aging concerns (though they are, fortuitously, ideal for just that). These include adding automated features like a programmable thermostat or voice activation, and, in bathrooms, grab bars and higher toilets. According to a HomeAdvisor report. The most common remodels, the report shows:

 

  • Add Lever-Style Doorknobs
  • Add Pull-Out Shelves
  • Add a Smart Fire Detection System
  • Add a Smart Security System
  • Replace Stone/Tile With Carpet/Wood

Other key improvements to consider, the report shows:

  • Lighting
  • Modifications in Shower (Bench, threshold)
  • Moving Master Bedroom to First Floor
  • Ramps
  • Wider Doorways

Source: HomeAdvisor

 

 

Retirees Still Face Years of Mortgage Payments

Fewer retirees own their home free and clear, as 32 percent of homeowners ages 60 to 70 say it will take them more than another eight years to pay off their mortgage, according to American Financing’s Retirement and Mortgages survey.

However, many say they intend to age in place, with 64 percent indicating they plan to remain in their current home. Seventy-one percent say they would prefer to make home renovations rather than move, even if a health issue affected their mobility and comfort at home. However, 48 percent say they are unsure what they would do if their retirement funds ran low, making modifications questionable?

“With so many older Americans carrying mortgage debt with them later in life—and many expressing uncertainty about their financial future—this could very well prove to be an increasing concern among retirees,” according to American Financing’s report. It highlights several options for retirees, such as refinancing a mortgage or reverse mortgages. The report showed that only 19 percent of respondents knew what a reverse mortgage is.

Source: “Does Your Mortgage Retire With You?” American Financing (2018)

Mortgage Rates Ring in New Year With a Dip

Borrowers kicked off 2018 with a mortgage rate drop.  The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is now down a quarter of a percentage point from a year ago.

“The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell four basis points from a week ago to 3.95 percent in the year’s first survey. Despite increases in short-term interest rates, long-term interest rates remain subdued.”  says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Jan. 4:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.95 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.99 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.20 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.38 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.44 percent average. A year ago, 15-year ARMs averaged 3.44 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Prepay Property Taxes Before Losing Benefits

With tax reform signed into law, homeowners in areas with high property taxes are scrambling to prepay their 2018 tax bill in order to take advantage of deductions that will curtailed once the legislation takes effect Jan. 1. The new tax law, which Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed, caps the amount of state, local, and property taxes that homeowners can deduct at $10,000.

However, there’s no guarantee homeowners who prepay their 2018 property taxes will be able to deduct the payment. On Wednesday, the IRS posted an advisory notice that said prepaying property taxes will work only under limited circumstances. To qualify for the deduction, property taxes will need to be paid in 2017—but they also must be assessed in 2017, The New York Times reports.

Source: “Homeowners Scramble to Pre-Pay Property Taxes,” CNNMoney (Dec. 27, 2017) and “Prepaying Your Property Tax? IRS Cautions It Might Not Pay Off,” The New York Times (Dec. 27, 2017)

Home Loan Interest Rates Up Slightly This Week

“Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates have been bouncing around in a narrow 10 basis points range since October,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The U.S. average 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased 1 basis point to 3.94 percent in this week’s survey. The majority of our survey was completed prior to the surge in long-term interest rates that followed the passage of the tax bill. If those rate increases stick, we’ll likely see higher mortgage rates in next week’s survey.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Dec. 21:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.94 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.93 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year-rates averaged 4.30 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.38 percent, with an average 0.5 point, increasing from last week’s 3.36 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.52 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Insurers Could Drop Fire Coverage in California

California wildfires continue to scorch the Golden State’s southern cities, and now officials in the state fear that some insurers will drop homeowners’ coverage.

Wildfires in Southern California and earlier this fall in northern California have resulted in billions of dollars in claims. In the Sierra Nevada foothills, many homes were dropped after wildfires swept through in recent years, and some northern California homes also have seen their coverage dropped, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones told Reuters.

“We may see more of it,” Jones cautions.   Wow, don’t most insurance companies cover more than just California?

PS: Insurers are required to renew fire victims’ policies once. After that, homeowners could then be forced to go to specialty insurers, known as “surplus line carriers.”  Those policies can sometimes cost up to 40 percent more!

Source: “As California Fires Blaze, Homeowners Fear Losing Insurance,” Reuters/CNBC (Dec. 18, 2017)

Despite Fed Move, Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

Great News!  Mortgage rates were in a holding pattern this week, even after the Federal Reserve voted Wednesday to hike its benchmark interest rate.

“As widely expected, the Fed increased the federal funds target rate this week for the third time in 2017,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist. “The market had already priced in the rate hike, so long-term interest rates—including mortgage rates—hardly moved.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Dec. 14:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.93 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.94 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.16 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.36 percent, with an average 0.5 point, the same as last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.37 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Hot Home Trend: Bamboo Everything!

Bamboo is making its way into more home interiors. From flooring, window treatments to wall accents, furnishings and more, this sustainable material is popping up everywhere.

Some designers are making bamboo their go-to material, which RISMedia recently highlighted in the article “4 Reasons Why Bamboo Is Taking Home Décor by Storm.”

Bamboo is widely available and more affordable than many other wood products. Bamboo is traditionally considered a type of wood flooring, but it’s actually not a wood at all, but a grass. And at growth rates of three to five feet per year, bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on Earth, which means it’s widely available for spicing up interiors.

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Deeper Debt Isn’t Stopping Millennial Buyers

Millennials are taking out the greatest share of all new mortgages and buying homes across price ranges. But a new study also shows they’re going more into debt at an alarming rate.

Realtor.com®’s research team analyzed records for more than 3.2 million mortgages originated from January 2013 to October 2017 and divided it by age groups.

Compared to other generations, millennials are narrowing the gap in the price of homes they’re purchasing. In September, millennials obtained mortgages on homes with a median purchase price of $237,000. Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1981) purchased homes with mortgages on a median price of $280,000, and baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) purchased at $258,000.

Millennials are making down payments nearly as high as Generation Xers. The average down payment for a millennial originated mortgage is 9.1 percent. Gen X buyers have been making down payments of 11 percent, since early 2013.

Source: “Millennials Are Taking Over Real Estate—But They’re Going Deeper Into Debt Too,” realtor.com® (Dec. 5, 2017)

Mortgage Interest Rates Climb This Week

Rates are increasing, but home buyers can still snag an interest rate that is lower than a year ago.

“The 30-year mortgage rate has been bouncing around in a 10 basis point range since September. While long-term rates have been relatively steady week-to-week, shorter term interest rates have been on the rise. The spread between the 30-year fixed mortgage and the 5/1 Hybrid ARM rate was 59 basis points this week, down 43 basis points from earlier this year. With a narrower spread between fixed and adjustable mortgage rates, more borrowers are opting for a fixed product.” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Dec. 7:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.94 percent, with an average 0.5 point, increasing from last week’s 3.90 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.13 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.36 percent, with an average 0.5 point, increasing from last week’s 3.30 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.36 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac