Mortgage Rates Near Highest Averages of Year

Mortgage rates were back on the rise, increasing to their second highest level this year. The move follows the Federal Reserve’s vote on Wednesday to raise its federal fund rate by 25 basis points.

“The good news is that the impact on consumer budgets will be smaller than past rate hike cycles,” says Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist Sam Khater. “That is because a much smaller segment of mortgage loans in today’s market are pegged to short-term rate movements. The adjustable rate mortgage share of outstanding loans is a lot smaller now—8 percent versus 31 percent—than during the Fed’s last round of tightening between 2004 and 2006.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending June 14:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.62 percent, with an average 0.4 point, up from last week’s 4.54 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.91 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.07 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 4.01 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.18 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Is Break in Rate Hikes Significant to Buyers?

For the second consecutive week, mortgage rates decreased as the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell two basis points to average 4.54 percent, Freddie Mac reports. Rates had been on a steady incline for weeks before breaking trend.

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.54 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.56 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.89 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.01 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 4.06 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.16 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.74 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.80 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.11 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Mortgage Rates Retreat From 7-Year High

After climbing to their highest level in more than seven years, mortgage rates eased a bit this week. It was the first time they declined in four weeks, says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 10 basis points to a 4.56 percent average this week.

“Extremely low inventory conditions in most markets are preventing sales from breaking out while also keeping price growth elevated,” Khater says. “Even if rates climb closer to 5 percent, sales have room to grow more—but only if current supply levels start increasing more meaningfully.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending May 31:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.56 percent, with an average 0.4 point, down from last week’s 4.66 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.94 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.06 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 4.15 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.19 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Legislation to Ease Restrictions on Small Banks

The U.S. House passed a bipartisan bill on Tuesday that will roll back some of the strict rules placed on thousands of small- and medium-sized banks enacted as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law.

The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act contains several provisions that could ease mortgage credit through reduced regulatory burdens on smaller community banks and credit unions. The bill also contained several other provisions related to housing. For example, it would require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to evaluate and consider credit innovations, like adopting alternative credit scoring models. Currently, the mortgage giants’ credit scoring models do not take into account factors such as whether borrowers have paid their rent or utility bills on time. It also gives the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection the authority to regulate Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, loans and requires lenders to corroborate a homeowners’ ability to repay the loans that are levied as tax assessments on their homes.

The bill now heads to President Trump for his final signature.

Source: National Association of REALTORS® and “Congress Approves First Big Dodd-Frank Rollback,” The New York Times (May 22, 2018)

 

Best Tip to First-Time Buyers: Act Fast!

A shortage of homes for sale and rising home prices are making it challenging for first-time buyers, in particular, this spring. For those who want to land a home, urge them to move fast and be less picky.

The price of an existing home in March was about $250,000, up nearly 6 percent from a year ago, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Homes are selling in about a month.

Home buyers needn’t wait for a 20 percent down payment. More than half of first-time buyers make down payments of 6 percent or less, according to NAR data from 2017. Both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae support home loans to eligible buyers who put down as little as 3 percent on a home purchase, as does the FHA.

Source: “First-Time Home Buyers Learn to Move Quickly in Tight Markets,” The New York Times (May 11, 2018)

Remodelers Worry Over Labor Shortages

Remodelers report that growing labor shortages are delaying projects and increasing the amount they have to charge homeowners, according to the National Association of Home Builder’s Remodeling Market Index survey for the third quarter of 2017. Those needing a carpenter may find the most trouble; 91 percent of remodelers reported shortages of labor in carpentry work.

More than half of remodelers surveyed reported shortages in 12 of the 15 remodeling jobs analyzed. The most difficult building professionals to find were carpenters, bricklayers, masons, drywall installers, and concrete workers. Overall, labor shortages have been growing in recent years, particularly in the homebuilding sector.

Source: “For Remodelers, Labor Shortages Resume Aggravating Trend,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (May 8, 2018)

Kitchens Dethroned as Top Remodeling Project

Bathrooms overtook kitchens as the most popular remodeling project, according to a new NAHB survey. NAHB has released the results highlighting the most common remodeling projects to kick off National Home Remodeling Month in May.

While remodeling is commonly associated with kitchens and baths, demand for green upgrades continues to swell as home owners seek to save on utility costs, improve air quality and increase the value of their homes. An additional survey by NAHB Remodelers showed that high-performing, low-emissivity (Low-E) windows are the most common green-building product installed by residential remodelers.

Source: National Association of Home Builders

 

Home Sales Should Be Higher—But They’re Not

Following population trends, the U.S. should be adding more than a million households each year for the next few years, economists note in Freddie Mac’s April Outlook report. But higher housing costs and a delay in younger adults’ buying are prompting an uptick in shared living arrangements, multigenerational households, and delayed household formation.

A shortage of homes for sale continues to press on many markets across the country. The number of single-family homes available for sale in the U.S. in February was 1.41 million units, less than half of the inventory peak in 2007, according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®.

Researchers predict that home sales will rise from 6.12 million in 2017 to 6.3 million in 2018, and to 6.44 million in 2019. They are forecasting that new home sales will be a significant driver in home sales over the next few months.

Source: “Nothing Draws a Crowd Like a Crowd: The Outlook for Home Sales,” Freddie Mac Outlook (April 2018)

Warning of Russian Cyberattacks to Private Homes

The U.S. and Britain have issued a warning about Russian cyberattacks that could extend to individual homes. The warning was the first of its kind, The New York Times reports. The warning extends to possible cyberattacks to government and private organizations in both countries as well.

The countries are asking the public to upgrade passwords and computer security to make themselves less vulnerable. U.S. and U.K. officials are warning that Russians are tapping into internet-connected devices in homes and businesses. Hackers allegedly could secretly inserting themselves into the exchange of data between a computer or server to eavesdrop, collect confidential information, misdirect payments, etc.

The officials said that the full extent of Russia’s ability to penetrate Western computer networks is still unknown.

More information at source: “U.S.-U.K. Warning on Cyberattacks Includes Private Homes,” The New York Times (April 16, 2018)

Seniors’ Growing Debt Casts Retirement Doubts

The percentage of families in which the head of household is 75 or older and carrying debt grew by 60 percent between 2007 and 2016, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. In 2016, nearly 50 percent of such families had debt; the average debt was $36,757. Meanwhile, the average monthly Social Security check is $1,404, and more than 40 percent of single adults receive more than 90 percent of their income from Social Security alone, according to government data. Many may find Social Security payouts aren’t sufficient to maintain their lifestyle and pay off debt.

“To pay off the debt, you’re going to have to give up some living standards,” says Craig Copeland, a senior associate with the Employee Benefit Research Institute. For some homeowners, that may mean having to relocate to a place where the cost of living is less expensive. “They may be able to move into a retirement community, where there may be a better social aspect than living in a house in the suburbs with a bunch of young people,” Copeland says. “Or they may have to move in with a relative or friend to share living expenses.”

Source: “Growing Debt Among Older Americans Threatens Their Retirement,” CNBC (April 4, 2018)