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FHFA Allows Ex-Owners to Buy Back Homes

November 26 2014

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced a new policy that will permit some foreclosed home owners to purchase the homes back that they once had lost at fair market value.

To regain ownership, the ex-owners must be able to pay the full current value of the property, and they still must wait at least three years after their foreclosure to regain ownership, which is required to purchase any home using a Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae–guaranteed loan following a foreclosure.

The FHFA, the regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, says the new policy likely will lower the principal on the loans of the former home owners if they elect to buy their former homes back. Prior to the policy, the FHFA had required borrowers who had gone through foreclosure and who wanted to buy back their home to pay the entire debt they owed on the mortgage, even if it was much higher than the home’s current value.

“This is a targeted but important policy change that should help reduce property vacancies and stabilize home values and neighborhoods,” says FHFA Director Melvin L. Watt. “It expands the number of potential buyers of REO properties and is consistent with the enterprises’ practice of requiring fair-market value for those properties.”

The new policy applies only to buyers’ former primary residence. Second homes and investor properties are not eligible.

Source: “Regulator OKs Some Fannie, Freddie Foreclosure Buybacks at Fair Value,” Los Angeles Times (Nov. 25, 2014) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency

Fannie Mae Predicts ‘Cheap Loan Rates to Remain’

November 24 2014

Mortgage financing giant Fannie Mae dropped its mortgage rate forecast for next year about two-tenths of a percentage points from its prior forecast, projecting 30-year fixed rates will remain lower than initially thought, at about 4.3 percent next year.

This will cheapen the borrowing costs for home buyers and refinancers, helping to make home ownership more affordable. However, with the forecasted rate drop, Fannie Mae economists didn’t adjust the forecast for total home sales for 2015.

“The housing market continues to grind its way upward, but we don’t expect a breakout performance in 2015 as the fundamentals remain somewhat muted,” says Doug Duncan, Fannie’s chief economist. “We believe that mortgage activity in 2015 will be very similar to 2014.”

But will another year of low rates spur more home buying?

“The relatively lower rates after the spikes of the early 80s did stimulate buying,” says David Crowe, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders. “This time around, the low rates are still not as low as they [recently] were so the relative advantage is not as great. … [Also] the current situation is much more driven by the availability of mortgage credit than the cost.”

Source: “Fannie Cuts Mortgage-Rate Outlook, But Home Buyers May not Bite,” MarketWatch (Nov. 20, 2014)

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