Poll: More Expect Home Prices to Keep Rising

Sixty-one percent of U.S. adults believe home prices in their local area will rise over the next 12 months, the highest percentage since Gallup began collecting such data in 2005. Marking a difference between 2008 and 2012, when one-third of Americans believed home prices would increase.

Residents in the western region of the U.S. are the most optimistic, with nearly three-quarters of residents saying they expect price increases compared to slightly more than half of Midwestern and Eastern residents, according to the Gallup poll. With mortgage rates sitting below 4 percent, consumers may have more incentive to act now before home prices rise even more.

Sixty-seven percent of U.S. adults say now is a good time to purchase a home, which is down slightly from the 2012-to-2014 period when at least 70 percent said so. Unsurprisingly, homeowners (74 percent) are more likely than renters (56 percent) to say it’s a good time to purchase a home, according to the poll. Higher home prices and declining views of homeownership may be behind the dip in those who say it’s a good time to buy, Gallup researchers note.

Source: “More in U.S. Expect Local Home Values to Rise,” Gallup.com (April 24, 2017)

Home Loan Interest Rates Drop Below 4%

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has fallen to its lowest average since November 2016, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey.

“Weak economic data and growing international tensions are driving investors out of riskier sectors and into Treasury securities. This shift in investment sentiment has propelled rates lower,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending April 20:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.97 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.08 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.59 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.23 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.34 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.85 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Mortgage Rates Set a New 2017 Low This Week

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage continues to drop this week, setting a new low for 2017, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey. For the fourth consecutive week rates have fallen.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending April 13, 2017:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.08 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.10 percent average. A year ago, 30-year rates averaged 3.58 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.34 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling slightly from last week’s 3.36 percent average. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 2.86 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.18 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.19 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.84 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Study: Millennials Hold Off on Big Life Choices

Baby boomers and millennials have different attitudes when it comes to marriage, children, and home ownership. Researchers with the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University compared adults who were 25 to 34 years old in the 1980’s with those who are in that age group today. One difference they found is that millennials are getting married later in life. In 1980, two-thirds of 25- to 34-year-old’s were married; in 2015, just two in five were married.

Because baby boomers were more likely to get married younger, they generally left their parents’ home much earlier than millennials. Americans in their late 20s and early 30s who live with their parents or grandparents have more than doubled since 1980, notes researcher Lydia Anderson. In 1980, only 9 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds were living with parents or grandparents compared to 22 percent in 2015.

Millennials are also putting off having children and buying a home. Plus, lag behind baby boomers when it comes to marriage, children, and home ownership, they are more likely to obtain a college degree, the study notes.

Source: “Young Americans Are Killing Marriage,” Bloomberg (April 4, 2017)

Home Prices Blamed for Student Loan Defaults

The housing crisis may also have sparked the increase in student loan default rates, according to a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The study says the drop in home prices during the Great Recession also coincided with a 24 to 32 percent rise in student loan default rates. Researchers looked at administrative student loan data along with ZIP code home price data for about 300,000 student loan borrowers in repayment.

Last year, more than 1 million federal student loan borrowers defaulted on their debt.

“The huge rise in student loan defaults is on everybody’s minds and the question is what’s the cause of this rise?” says Holger Mueller, one of the authors of the paper and a professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “What we want to do is point to another very important source of default risk and that’s just the labor market.”

Source: “Why Lower Prices Lead to Higher Student Loan Default Rates,” MarketWatch (April 1, 2017)

Home Loan Interest Rates Got Cheaper This Week

For the second consecutive week, average mortgage rates fell, lowering the borrowing costs.

“The 30-year mortgage rate fell 9 basis points to 4.14 percent, another significant week-over-week decline.” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending March 30:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.14 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.23 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.71 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.39 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.44 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.98 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Hispanics Are a Growing Home Buying Force

While the national homeownership rate decreases, ownership rates among Hispanics are defying the trend with steady rises.

The Hispanic homeownership rate grew to 46 percent last year, topping previous highs of 45.6 percent in 2015 and 45.4 percent in 2014, according to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals’ 2016 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report.

More than 7.3 million Hispanic households owned their homes in 2016, 330,000 of which were from new households formed in 2016. That comprises 38 percent of all households formed, according to the report.

“The significance of a strong desire for homeownership cannot be overstated,” the report notes.

More information at: “Hispanic Homeownership Rate Rises for Second Straight Year,” RISMedia (March 28, 2017)

 

This Is the Worst ‘Housing Drought’ Ever

The number of homes for sale is at the lowest level on record, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, who began tracking inventory 18 years ago. That means many home buyers likely will find fewer options this spring, and the homes that are being listed tend to sell fast and at a premium.

The lack of new-home supply is one culprit. Housing starts are only at about 75 percent of their historical average. Builders are focusing on pricier segments of move-up buyers, leaving a big void in the demand for lower cost homes that appeal to first-time home buyers. Builders blame the higher costs for land, labor, and materials as forcing them to concentrate on the higher end of the market.

Builders aren’t the only ones to blame, however. Investors purchased about 4 million distressed properties—mostly in the lower-priced starter home segment—during the housing crash. They have been holding onto these properties, continuing to rent them out rather than selling.

Source: “This Is What’s Behind the Severe Housing Drought,” CNBC (March 23, 2017)

Mortgage Rates Retreat Slightly This Week

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage decreased slightly, following two months of steady rises.

“The 30-year mortgage rate moved with Treasury yields and dropped 7 basis points to 4.23 percent. This marks the greatest week-over-week decline for the 30-year mortgage rate in over two months, a stark contrast from last week’s jump following the FOMC announcement.” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.23 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.30 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.71 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.44 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.50 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.96 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

‘Energy Efficiency’ Weighted More in Appraisals

Energy efficiency scores will soon be included on appraisal forms in a handful of states. Builders are applauding the change, saying that will help give more credit for energy-saving features.

The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index is a numerical rating system that measures energy consumption compared to a standard house. The standard house has a score of 100. But a house that has a HERS index of 70, for example, would use 30 percent less energy. A home with a HERS index of 130, on the other hand, would consume 30 percent more energy. As such, the lower the HERS score, the lower the energy costs. The HERS score will be added to an existing green-building addendum that appraisers use.

More details at this source: “A Move Toward More Helpful Appraisals,” Greenbuildingadvisor.com (March 16, 2017)