Rates at Lowest Levels in a Year

Cooling inflation and slower global economic growth prompted mortgage rates to drift down this week, Freddie Mac reports.

“While housing activity has clearly softened over the last nine months and the lingering effects of higher rates from last year are still being felt, lower mortgage rates and a strong job market should rekindle demand for the spring home buying season,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Feb. 14:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.37 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 4.41 percent average. A year ago, 4.38 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.81 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.84 percent average. A year ago, 3.84 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Homeowners ‘Tax Snags’ Update

Tax season is here, and many homeowners may have questions about what they can and can’t write off under the new tax code.

One big change: Homeowners who used to write off property taxes and interest paid on their mortgage may no longer be able to entirely. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll pay higher taxes. HouseLogic, the National Association of REALTORS®’ consumer-facing website, offers guidance and worksheets on the changes for homeowners.

Under the new law, the standard deduction every tax filer gets has nearly doubled ($24,000 for married couples who file jointly and $12,000 for single filers). Most people likely will be better off taking the standard deduction than itemizing their write-offs.

Other interesting information at: “Tax Deductions for Homeowners: How the New Tax Law Affects Mortgage Interest,” HouseLogic.com (2019) and “Are Closing Costs Tax Deductible Under the New Tax Law?” HouseLogic.com (2019)

Mortgage Rates at 10-Month Low

 “The U.S. economy remains on solid ground, inflation is contained, and the threat of higher short-term rates is fading from view, which has allowed mortgage rates to drift down to their lowest level in 10 months,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “This is great news for consumers who will be looking for homes during the upcoming spring home buying season.”

Freddie Mac reports the following averages for the week ending Feb.7:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.41 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 4.46 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.32 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.84 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 3.89 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.77 percent.
Source: “Mortgage Rates Drop,” Freddie Mac (Feb. 7, 2019)

Home Loan Interest Rates Update!

The new year is kicking off with lower mortgage rates for home shoppers and people looking to refinance their mortgages. The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped to a 4.51 percent average this week, Freddie Mac reports.

“Low mortgage rates combined with decelerating home price growth should get prospective home buyers excited to buy,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Jan. 3:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.51 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.55 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.95 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.99 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 4.01 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.38 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

California Passes Solar Panel Law

Starting in 2020, all new homes constructed in California will be required to have between 2 kilowatts and 3 kilowatts of electricity sourced directly from solar panels. State legislators, whom have been considering such a measure for some time, officially voted recently to amend state building codes.

The new mandate, however, won’t be cheap to homeowners. The upfront costs of installing typical solar panels ranges from $8,000 to $12,000. The timing of the move also worries residents who lost their homes in recent wildfires in California because the mandate will add to their rebuilding costs.

Housing Hurdles Taint Healthy Economy

As housing inventory increases and home prices begin to ease, the door to home ownership is opening for more buyers. But Freddie Mac economists aren’t optimistic that the real estate market will be able to break even with last year’s sales levels.

In their September forecast, Freddie’s economists point to a booming economy and job market, but point out a stalled housing market. They consider the main factors to be weaker housing affordability, constraints that are limiting home building, and ongoing supply and demand imbalances.

Economists predict that many prospective buyers will continue to have difficulty breaking into the market. They are forecasting home sales for both new and existing homes to fall 0.8 percent this year and for home price growth to moderate at 5.5 percent.

Source: “Freddie Mac September Forecast,” Freddie Mac (Sept. 24, 2018)

Mortgage Interest Rates Jump to 6-Week High

A strong job market and consumer credit are driving up mortgage rates for the third consecutive week and now to their highest level in six weeks. Mortgage rates are 0.82 percent higher than a year ago—the largest year-over-year increase since May 2014, Freddie Mac reports.

Despite the higher rates, Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, expects buyer demand to remain high. “This spectacular stretch of solid job gains and low unemployment should help keep home buyer interest elevated,” Khater says. “However, mortgage rates will likely also move up, as the Federal Reserve considers short-term rate hikes this month and at future meetings.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Sept. 13:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.60 percent, with an average 0.5 point, up from last week’s 4.54 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.78 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.06 percent, with an average 0.5 point, climbing from last week’s 3.99 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.08 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Most Buyers Seek Financing Before Showings

The first step buyers most often take in their home shopping pursuit is to check up on financing and to make sure they can even afford a home, according to a new survey of 1,000 recent buyers. The survey was commissioned by loanDepot and mellohome, a real estate services provider. The majority of these customers—nearly 74 percent—sought financing first in their homebuying journey before looking at homes. For first-time buyers, that percentage jumps to 85 percent.

“This is definitely a shift from 10 years ago,” says Chris Heller, CEO of mellohome. “It emphasizes how customers are changing their approach to home buying. In the past, they relied on a real estate agent to drive the entire process. Now the customer is taking charge and doing a lot of the groundwork before they even get an agent involved.”

Heller says that buyers are learning that getting their financing in check upfront can better prepare them to shop for a home “with confidence and puts them in a more advantageous, competitive position, especially in tight markets.” A preapproval letter for financing can help when they go to make an offer, he says.

Home Loan Approval with a Lower Credit Score

New mortgages are being approved with lower credit scores, and FHA loans appear to be leading the shift, according to studies by credit developer FICO and other entities. “As we get further away from the Great Recession, underwriting criteria seems to have eased, and a broader section of consumers are obtaining mortgages as a result,” according to FICO’s report.

From January to March of this year, borrowers who were approved for FHA loans—which offer low down payment options for first-time home buyers—had an average credit score of 672, according to FHA data. During that same period in 2011, the average credit score for an FHA borrower was 701. FHA borrowers also have had higher debt-to-income ratios in recent years. Debt-to-income ratios measure monthly household income against other debt, such as credit cards, auto loans, and personal loans.

Mortgage Rates Mostly Flat This Week

Mortgage rates mostly held steady this week after posting a sizable jump last week.

“Following a strong surge last week, rates held relatively flat this week,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The 30-year mortgage rate remained unchanged at 3.94 percent.  The markets’ reaction to the upcoming announcement of the next Fed chair may impact the movement of rates in next week’s survey.”

Freddie mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Nov. 2:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages; averaged 3.94 percent, with an average 0.5 point, the same average as last week. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.54 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.27 percent this week, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.25 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.84 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac