Sixty-two percent of potential home buyers say that now is a better time to purchase a home than it was a year ago, according to Chase’s new national survey, “Insights From the Mind of the Homebuyer.” The top reasons that are motivating more Americans to get off the fence are rising rental costs and historically low interest rates, the survey found.
Thirty-two percent of more than 1,000 consumers surveyed say they want to buy soon in order to take advantage of low rates. What’s more, 35 percent say that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rising above 4 percent would delay their decision to buy.
Twenty percent of consumers surveyed say that the rising cost of rent is making home ownership look like a better value and is the top reason why they want to buy. Also, 20 percent of those surveyed say that their desire to make an upgrade from their current home was their top motivation for buying.
Nearly 70 percent say they are worried they may have already missed the best time to buy because of rising home prices. Three out of four home buyers say they’re concerned their offer will be outbid by others, and three in five say they think they’ll need to buy a smaller home or consider other neighborhoods outside of their top choices because of rising prices, the survey finds.
The number of trees on a lot can be a powerful influence for home buyers. 18 percent of repeat buyers and 25 percent of buyers purchasing a new home said that being on a wooded lot or on a lot with many trees was very important to them, according to National Association of REALTORS®’ home buyer and seller surveys.
If buyers can’t live with a wooded lot, they certainly at least want one nearby. Twenty-three percent of recent buyers surveyed felt that convenience to parks or recreational facilities was an influencing factor for their neighborhood choice.
Home buyers may not only want trees for beauty but also for savings. At least three trees strategically placed on a lot can save an average household between $100 and $250 in annual energy bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Source: “National Arbor Day: Trees and the Home Purchase,” National Association of REALTORS® Economists’ Outlook blog (April 24, 2015)
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.65 percent this week, remaining near its 2015 low and offering “positive news for potential home buyers in the market this spring,” Freddie Mac reports in its mortgage market survey.
The low rates are helping to provide a boost to loan demand. Mortgage applications for home purchases in 60 of the 100 markets that Freddie Mac tracks in its index are up compared to the same point last year.
Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending April 23:
- 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.65 percent, with an average 0.6 point, dropping from last week’s 3.67 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.33 percent.
- 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.92 percent, with an average 0.6 point, falling from last week’s 2.94 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.39 percent.
- 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.84 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 2.88 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.03 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac
“We have downsized our first-quarter economic growth expectations in light of several transitory factors that weighed on consumption,” says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist. “Although some momentum was lost in the first quarter as consumers remained cautious in their spending, perhaps putting an emphasis on repairing their personal balance sheets and replenishing savings, we expect that consumer spending will catch up during the second quarter and continue in subsequent months, supporting our forecast of 2.8 percent growth for the year. We believe this momentum will carry over into the housing market, as well, particularly if strong consumer income growth continues.”
However, Fannie Mae economists caution that there could be some volatility, particularly with consumer spending and the financial markets, leading up to the Federal Reserve’s first expected rate hike in the coming months.
Source: “Q1 Economic Growth Measures Downsized, But Expected to Spring Forward,” Fannie Mae (April 20, 2015)
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued guidance on how to provide mortgage applicants with a list of local home ownership counseling organizations. The new guidelines, which overwrite ones originally issued in 2013, offer guidance to lenders on how to provide applicants abroad with home ownership counseling lists; permissible geolocation tools; disclosures; and high-cost mortgage counseling qualifications.
“Buying a home is often the largest financial decision in a consumer’s lifetime, and we want to ensure that consumers can access the independent and informed advice they deserve before making that decision,” says CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Housing counselors are a crucial source of that helpful advice. We will continue to work to improve the home-buying experience for customers, and today’s interpretive rule will help industry comply with these important protections.” Your comments?
View CFPB’s full interpretive rule issued at the agency’s website.
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Home prices can influence a home owner’s child’s future income, according to a new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
“If home prices are rising, parents who are home owners may have additional resources to finance a child’s higher education, either because they feel richer or they can borrow against the home’s equity,” Maria Jose Luengo-Prado, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, says about the report. “This may allow their children to attend college or attend a higher-ranked [more expensive] school. On the other hand, the effect of rising house prices for parents who are renters is the opposite. Rising housing prices often mean higher housing costs. Rents go up. They may also need to save more money for a down payment to buy a house in the future.”
Source: “Salary Advantage Goes to Children of Homeowners,” The Wall Street Journal (April 12, 2015) Your comments?
The Federal Reserve is signaling that it will likely take action on increasing interest rates in two months, despite recent data that shows a weakened economy. This would be the first rate increase since 2006.
Two central bank officials said Wednesday that disappointing job growth, manufacturing activity, and retail sales over the winter had pushed rate hike expectations to later in the year. For more than six years, the Fed has held rates near zero. But June is being viewed as the likely month for the Fed to start its rising of rates.
“I could imagine circumstances where a June rate hike could still be in play,” says William Dudley, New York Fed president, and a voting member on the Fed’s policy committee. “If the economy’s strong, the unemployment rate is dropping, wages are rising, and the outlook is good, you could conceivably get to that point. The bar is probably a little bit higher” for a June hike given recent data. What are your comments?
Source: “Fed Officials Say June Rate Hike Still in Play, Hinges on Data,” Reuters (April 9, 2015) and “What an Interest Rate Increase Means for Real People,” CNNMoney (March 19, 2015)
As of February 2015, there were about 7.1 million potential refinance candidates. In February 2014, about 4.1 million borrowers were found to be able to benefit from refinancing their mortgage, according to Black Knight Financial Services’ research.
“Through a combination of declining interest rates and increased equity among borrowers driven by home price increases, an additional three million borrowers now meet the same broad-based eligibility criteria as compared to one year prior,” says Trey Barnes, Black Knight’s senior vice president of Loan Data Products. “Of course, this population is rate-sensitive; in fact, it was largely the decline of 60 basis points in the prevailing 30-year interest rate that resulted in the year-over-year increase in potential refinance candidates.
Researchers also found that lower credit score borrowers – those with credit scores below 620 – are refinancing at the lowest level on record. “As a result, the average loan age for this group is 98 months, as compared to just 38 months and less for borrowers with credit scores of 750 and above,” the report notes.
Source: Black Knight Financial Services
Fixed-rate mortgages fluctuated little this week, amid mostly calm economic and housing data, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey.
“Mortgage rates were little changed this week, entering April about where we started the year,” says Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac.
Freddie Mac reports the following averages for the week ending April 2:
- 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.70 percent, with an average 0.6 point, rising from last week’s 3.69 percent. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.41 percent.
- 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.98 percent, with an average 0.6 point, rising from last week’s 2.97 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.47 percent.
- 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.92 percent, with an average 0.5 point, holding the same average from last week. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.12 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac
A newly unveiled forward-looking housing index by Nationwide says the U.S. housing market is at its healthiest level since 2001. The Health of Housing Markets Report will analyze the housing health outlook on a quarterly basis throughout 373 metro areas.
The index’s current leading indicator score for the fourth quarter of 2014, was 109.8, the highest level in the 15 years of data already examined by the study’s authors. A reading of more than 100 suggests the national housing market is healthy and shows few signs of a housing downturn over the next year. The report considers employment, demographics, the mortgage market, and house prices to determine the health of each market.
“The HoHM Report provides a look into the future instead of the rear view mirror,” says David Berson, Nationwide’s chief economist and senior vice president. “The quarterly report should serve as a resource to gauge how healthy housing markets are today but, perhaps more important, what to expect in the future and why.”
More details at: Nationwide Health of Housing Markets Report