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Mortgage Applications Take Surprising Turn

November 19 2014

Loan demand was on the rise last week, posting a strong rebound that was driven mostly by applications to purchase a home, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports in its seasonally adjusted weekly mortgage market survey, reflecting the week ending Nov. 14. The increase in demand came despite interest rates mostly staying flat for the week.

Total application volume, reflecting applications for home purchases and refinances, climbed nearly 5 percent. Refinance applications rose 1 percent week-to-week, while applications for home purchases, viewed as a gauge of future buying activity, surged 12 percent. It was the highest level for purchase applications since July, the MBA reports.

“The MBA and other data are showing strength in the market for new homes, likely reflecting the boost from continued job growth in recent months,” says Michael Fratantoni, the MBA’s chief economist.

Meanwhile, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined slightly last week to 4.18 percent from 4.19 percent the week prior, the MBA reports.

Source: “Weekly Mortgage Applications Jump Unexpectedly,” CNBC (Nov. 19, 2014)

Mortgage Rates Still Near Yearly Lows

November 14 2014

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is hovering around 4 percent. This has been keeping borrowing costs low for refinancers and home buyers for the last few weeks, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey.

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages for the week ending Nov. 13:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.01 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.02 percent. A year ago, 30-year rates averaged 4.35 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.2 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.21 percent average. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.35 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.02 percent, with an average 0.5. point, rising from last week’s 2.97 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.01 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Renters Face ‘Affordability Crisis’

November 10 2014

With increased competition for units, rents are shooting up, and the increases are biting renters’ wallets as they find themselves increasingly getting priced out of the market, with wages failing to keep pace.

Nationwide rents have risen about 6 percent from a year ago, due to rising demand and still-limited supply, CNBC reports. Renters in many areas are paying more than 30 percent of their wages on a two-bedroom rental, according to an analysis by Trulia. Financial experts often recommend spending no more than 30 percent of wages on housing expenses (mortgage interest, principal, taxes, insurance).

Rental demand is strong and likely will remain so for the foreseeable future, analysts note. Apartment vacancies rose slightly in the third quarter for the first time in four-and-a-half years, but was mostly attributed to more rental supply coming on the market, according to Reis analytics firm.

“Units brought online during tight market environments have a tendency to actually push rents upward, not downward,” says Ryan Severino, economist at Reis, told CNBC. “So landlords should still be able to push asking rent increases on to their tenants.”

Source: “Rents Skyrocket Well Beyond Wages,” CNBC (Nov. 6, 2014)

7.4M Home Owners Lose Out by Not Refinancing

November 4 2014

Recent reductions in the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage could net the population of borrowers big savings if they would refinance, according to Black Knight Financial Services’ latest Mortgage Monitor Report.

“Before the most recent reductions in the average 30-year mortgage interest rate, approximately 6 million borrowers met broad-based ‘refinancibility’ criteria,” says Trey Barnes, Black Knight’s senior vice president of Loan Data Products. “These criteria assume loan-to-value ratios of 80 percent or below, good credit, non-delinquent loan status, and current interest rates high enough that borrowers have an incentive to refinance. In light of where rates are today, and looking at borrowers with current notes at 4.5 percent and above, that population has now swelled to 7.4 million — almost a 25 percent increase. This is a relatively conservative assessment, though, as those with current rates of 4.25 percent to 4.5 percent could arguably benefit from refinancing as well. That group adds another 1.7 million borrowers to the population.”

A separate study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found in an analysis of 1 million fixed-rate mortgages that 20 percent of Americans who failed to refinance could have saved more than $45,000 in payments over the life of their loan. At the time of the study, average interest rates were around 4.3 percent. In recent weeks, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped below 4 percent, sinking to the lowest levels in more than a year, according to Freddie Mac. However, some home owners are struggling to refinance as their home values continue to recover.

Source: Black Knight Financial Services

Mortgage Rates Up, Still Below 4% Sweet Spot

October 31 2014

Average fixed-rate mortgages inched up from last week’s lowest rates of the year but are still below historical lows, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey.

Freddie Mac reports the following average mortgage rates for the week ending Oct. 30:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.98 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.92 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.10 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.13 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.08 percent. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.20 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.94 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 2.91 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.96 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Buyers in No Rush to Snag Low Interest Rates

October 29 2014

Mortgage rates continue to hover at yearly lows, but home buyers aren’t flocking to lock in the rates. Applications for mortgages dropped 6.6 percent last week for both home purchases and refinances, the Mortgage Bankers Association report.

Broken out, refinancing applications dropped 7.4 percent last week, while applications for home purchases, viewed as a gauge of future home sales, continued its drop, falling 5 percent last week. Last week, home purchase applications had fallen by another 5 percent and were about 9 percent from year-ago levels, the MBA reported.

Meanwhile, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage continues to stay low by historical standards. The average rate nationwide was 4.13 percent week, up 3 basis points from 4.10 percent the week prior, according to the MBA’s survey, which reflects about 75 percent of the U.S. retail residential mortgage application market.

Source: “U.S. Mortgage Applications Fall in Latest Week as Rates Rise: MBA,” Reuters (Oct. 29, 2014)

Rates Haven’t Been This Low Since 2013

October 24 2014

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage took another dip this week, staying below the 4 percent threshold and keeping borrowing costs at the lowest rate in more than a year. It marks the fifth consecutive week that mortgage rates decreased.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Oct. 23:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.92 percent, with an average 0.5 point, reaching a new low for the year and dropping from last week’s 3.97 percent. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.13 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.08 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.18 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.24 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.91 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 2.92 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 3 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Mortgage Rates Dip Below 4% Threshold

October 17 2014

Borrowing costs sank to the lowest amounts in more than a year as the 30-year-fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.97 percent this week, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is at its lowest average since the week of June 20, 2013, when it averaged 3.93 percent.

“Mortgage rates were down sharply following the decline in the 10-year Treasury yield for the second straight week,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Oct. 16:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.97 percent, with an average 0.5 point, posting a big drop from last week’s 4.12 percent. A year ago, 30-year rates averaged 4.28 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.18 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.30 percent average. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.33 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.92 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.05 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.07 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Landscaping Boosts Home Values Up to 12%

October 14 2014

You might want to take a closer look at your listing’s curb appeal: Upgrading a home’s landscape from average to excellent can raise its overall value by 10 percent to 12 percent, according to research from Virginia Tech.

Researcher Alex X. Niemiera with the Department of Horticulture at Virginia Tech found that a $150,000 home with no landscaping could fetch an additional $8,300 to $19,000 by adding a landscape with color and large plants.

“The most preferred landscape included a sophisticated design with large deciduous, evergreen, and annual color plants and colored hardscape,” according to Niemiera. Adding different plant sizes to a front yard, for example, can boost curb appeal, as well as mixing fruit trees and flowers for added color.

“Survey results showed that relatively large landscape expenditures significantly increase perceived home value and will result in a higher selling price than homes with a minimal landscape,” Niemiera writes in the paper. “Design sophistication and plant size were the landscape factors that most affected value. The resulting increase in ‘curb appeal’ of the property may also help differentiate a home in a subdivision where house styles are similar and thereby attract potential buyers into a home. This advantage is especially important in a competitive housing market.”

Source: “Does Landscaping Increase Your Homes Value?” Realty Times (Oct. 13, 2014)

Prospects of Condominiums Comeback Are High

October 7 2014

Condo sales have been on a roller coaster ride in recent years, as the recession hit the sector hard. But is the country ready for a condo revival?

“Condo sales moved sideways several years after the recession before picking up steam again in 2013,” CoreLogic Deputy Chief Economist Sam Khater writes on the company’s blog. “This year, it continues to rebound and currently accounts for 12.3 percent of all sales in 2014.”

As of June 2013, 22 of the 25 top condo markets reported rises in sales compared to prior years. But interest-rate rises in the second half of 2013 caused sales to cool off somewhat, similar to what occurred in the overall market. By June 2014, only 14 of those same markets were showing increases year-over-year, CoreLogic reports.

Housing analysts are optimistic the condo market is poised for a big rebound, particularly since the largest cohort in the U.S. is the 20-to-24 age group.

“This specific age cohort might currently be driving today’s rental market, but they will likely be driving the first-time home buyer and condo markets over the next five to 10 years, driving demand for newly built condos,” Khater notes. “That demand is heavily needed in the market now, given that newly built condos were hit harder in the last housing downturn than newly constructed homes overall.”

Source: “The Long-Term Rising of Condo Sales,” CoreLogic (Sept. 30, 2014)