Pending Home Sales Jump

Pending home sales rose 1.2% in November after slipping the prior month, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest housing report, which was just released. Year-over-year contract signings were up 7.4% nationally, according to the report. The West region of the country reported the highest monthly growth in pending home sales at 5.5%

“Despite the insufficient level of inventory, pending home contracts still increased in November,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, noting that housing inventory has been in decline for six straight months. “Favorable conditions are expected throughout 2020 as well, but supply is not yet meeting the healthy demand.”

Source: magazine.realtor/daily-news/2019/12/30

 

Average Credit Scores Surge

Americans are boosting their credit scores, which bodes well for applicants seeking a mortgage to snag the lowest rates. The average credit score hit its highest level since 2011, reaching 682–two points higher than a year ago, Experian reports in its State of Credit report. Consumers also are taking on more mortgage debt than a year ago, and delinquency rates are decreasing too.

Comparing borrowing behaviors between genders, women’s average credit scores are four points higher than men’s (686 vs. 682, respectively). Men tend to carry more mortgage debt than women–$220,421 compared to $203,603.

By generation, Gen Xers, millennials, and Gen Zers tend to carry more debt than older generations. They also tend to have higher delinquency rates, the Experian study shows. A breakdown showing their average credit scores and mortgage debts is detailed at: Experian

Universities Want Senior Housing?

Seniors are increasingly heading back to college, and many universities believe they’ll want to buy a home nearby too.

State government subsidies for higher education are below prerecession levels and traditional students are saddled with college debt—causing universities to look at retired baby boomers as a promising source of income, The Wall Street Journal reports. As such, several colleges are taking advantage of their extra land to develop upscale senior housing, looking to generate extra profits.

Senior living facilities on or near campus cater to baby boomers who may wish to take an occasional class or pursue their academic interests. Some baby boomers also view it as an opportunity to mentor younger students.

Source: “Seniors Want to Go Back to Class. Universities Want to Sell Them Real Estate,” The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 19, 2019) [Log-in required.]

Mortgage Rates Remain Stagnant

This week, the average U.S. fixed rate for a 30-year mortgage held steady at 3.73%. Although this rate remains the same as last week’s percentage, it’s still more than a percentage point below the 4.55% of the year-earlier week, according to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

The 15-year FRM averaged 3.19% this week, remaining unchanged from last week’s rate. This time last year, the 15-year FRM came in at 4.01%.

Although rates continue to hover near historic lows, Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist, warns a lack of housing supply is likely to dampen home sales in 2020.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Flipping Is Losing Fans

Home flipping plunged 12.9% in the third quarter of this year, following an unusually active spring, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ latest U.S. Home Flipping Report. In the third quarter, 56,566 single-family homes and condos were flipped, down 6.8% from a year ago. This marks the largest quarterly and annual drops in home flipping activity since the third quarter of 2014.

“After a springtime selling binge earlier this year, the home flipping business settled way down over the summer amid a continuing scenario of languishing profits,” says Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM Data Solutions. “The retreat back to more normal levels of sales comes amid broader market forces that are making it harder and harder for investors to complete the kind of deals they were getting as recently as last year. Those forces are keeping profits way down from postrecession highs and show no signs of easing.”

Source: ATTOM Data Solutions

Mortgage Rates Tick Up

“With Federal Reserve policy on cruise control and the economy continuing to grow at a steady pace, mortgage rates have stabilized as the market searches for direction,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “The risk of an economic downturn has receded and, combined with the very strong job market, it should lead to a slightly higher rate environment.”

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.73 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending December 12, 2019, up from last week when it averaged 3.68 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.63 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.19 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.14 percent. A year ago they averaged 4.07 %.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.36 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.39 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 4.04 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Specialty Rooms Are in Demand

home shoppers—particularly millennials—are ranking specialty rooms high on their priority list during their search. These rooms include laundry rooms, home offices, mud rooms, sun rooms, and more. The National Association of Home Builders surveyed buyers to find which of these rooms rank highest on their lists. The NAHB considers specialty rooms anything except bedrooms, bathrooms, or the kitchen—or what’s considered the essentials in a home.

Millennials also showed a strong preference for an exercise room (with 57% wanting one). But that preference tended to wane with age. For comparison, 50% of Gen Xers said they wanted an exercise room, 32% of baby boomers, and only 17% of seniors. Millennials also expressed an interest in media and game rooms and two-story entry foyers, more so than other age groups.

Source: “Specialty Rooms Wanted by Millennial Home Buyers,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (Dec. 5, 2019)

5.4% Jolt for Home Prices for 2020

More home appreciation is likely to come in the new year. In a new report released by CoreLogic, economists predict home prices will spike by 5.4% from October 2019 to October 2020. That is even higher than the 3.5% annual appreciation in national home prices posted this October, the real estate data firm notes.

“We expect home prices to rise at least another 5% over the next 12 months,” says Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Interestingly, this persistent increase in home prices isn’t deterring older millennials. In fact, 25% of those surveyed anticipate purchasing a home over the next six to eight months.”

The CoreLogic Home Price Index is a projection of home prices that is calculated using a variety of economic variables and state-level forecasts.

Home price increases by state is shown in ‘Table 2’ at article source: CoreLogic

Mortgage Rates Stay Steady

“This week the economy sent mixed signals, leaving mortgage rates unchanged,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Survey data for manufacturing and service industries varied while construction spending fell modestly. However, homebuyer demand continued to improve, rising eight percent. Clearly, home buyers remain bullish on the real estate market.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Dec. 5:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.68%, with an average 0.5 point, holding the same as last week. Last week at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.75%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.14%, with an average 0.4 point, falling slightly from last week’s 3.15% average. A year ago, they averaged 4.21%.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.39%, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.43% average. A year ago, they averaged 4.07%.
Source: Freddie Mac

2020 Conforming Loan Limits

The Federal Housing Finance Agency approved a higher conforming loan limit that will take effect Jan. 1, 2020. The cap on loans purchased or acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during 2020 will increase to $510,400, the FHFA said Tuesday. That marks an increase over the $484,350 limit for 2019.

Higher limits are available for properties that contain two, three, or four units. The limits for multiunit properties range from $653,550 to $981,700.

View a map showing the 2020 maximum loan limits nationwide. (Note: El Dorado County, CA. is $530,001 to $765,599 for 1 – 4 units)

Source: FHFA and “Conforming Loan Limit Increased to $510,400,” Mortgage News Daily (Nov. 26, 2019)