Mortgage Rates End 2-Month Decline

The 30-year mortgage rate posted its first increase in several weeks after hovering near historic lows for much of the summer.

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages for the week ending Sept. 21:

’30-year’ fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.83 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.78 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.48 percent.

’15-year’ fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.13 percent, with an average 0.5 point, increasing from last week’s 3.08 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.76 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

NAHB: Home Building Shortage Is Getting Worse

The inventory of for-sale homes has struck a 20-year low. And while economists and the public cry for more inventory, many builders are pressed to meet demand. A labor and subcontractor shortage in the building industry has worsened over the past year, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index survey of single-family builders.

The NAHB posits that some workers who were laid off during the housing downturn never returned to the building industry or went to work for larger firms.

Builders reported widespread shortages for each of the 15 occupations surveyed as reflected by a chart in the following article source: “Share of Builders Reporting Labor Shortages Rises Again,” National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Eye on Housing blog (Aug. 14, 2017)

A Cruel Season for Home Buyers

Typically, the housing market starts to slow in late summer, and prices drop slightly. But so far this year that hasn’t been the case.

“Homes are not selling faster than last July, but faster than last year’s peak months,” says Javier Vivas, manager of economic research at realtor.com®. “However, quick sales don’t necessarily mean more sales, particularly when there isn’t enough inventory, as is the current case. Home prices also remain stubbornly high, failing to show hints of the usual seasonal cool down. Low and moderately priced homes are being snatched up especially quickly, keeping many would-be buyers from being able to get into the market.”

“In this market, home buyers have to move fast, yet high prices and low inventory are slowing down even the most earnest of house hunters,” Nela Richardson, Redfin’s chief economist, told CNBC. “Faced with a low supply of homes for sale and extremely competitive conditions, many home buyers are struggling to make it to the offer stage.”

Source: “Housing Demand Strengthens Through Summer, But Here’s Why Some Buyers Are Giving Up,” CNBC (Aug. 2, 2017)

Home Loan Interest Rates Aren’t Budging

Mortgage rates have mostly held steady the past few weeks, with the 30-year fixed-rate loan still averaging below 4 percent.

“The 10-year Treasury yield was relatively flat this week, as was the 30-year mortgage rate, which rose 1 basis point to 3.93 percent,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

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

’30-year’ fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.93 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from a 3.92 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.43 percent.

’15-year’ fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.18 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.20 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.74 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Survey: More Buyers Make Offers Sight Unseen

The number of buyers making offers sight unseen—meaning they haven’t physically visited the property is on the rise, according to a survey of recent home buyers conducted by real estate brokerage Redfin. Thirty-three percent of respondents in 11 major markets say they made an offer on at least one house sight unseen. These types of offers are more common when working with foreign buyers and in markets where homes are selling quickly, real estate professionals say.

New uses of 3-D photos, video tours, and virtual reality are giving some buyers enough confidence to purchase a home without an in-person showing. The Wall Street Journal reports that some real estate pros are conducting property walkthroughs with long-distance buyers remotely via FaceTime, Skype, or WhatsApp. Some agents are working with technology companies to create 3-D photo and video tours within the virtual reality space to make long-distance buyers feel like they’re at the property in person.

Source: “Buying a Home Sight Unseen Is Easier Than Ever – and More Common,” The Wall Street Journal (June 22, 2017) [Log-in required.]

Retirees Look to Build Smaller, Custom Homes

Many people seek to downsize their home in retirement—but not their home buying wish list. Retirees reportedly are flocking to smaller newly built homes customized to their personal needs and tastes.

One advantage older home buyers find with these custom homes is that they can be built to accommodate medical conditions or physical restrictions, such as wider hallways to accommodate mobility devices. The home also can be outfitted with age-in-place features such as outdoor ramps and lower kitchen cabinets.

Retirees are looking to cut back on home maintenance and repairs, which is why their preferences are straying away from larger, older homes. However, building a custom home can be stressful because of the wide availability of options. Real estate experts recommend researching building plans and contractors carefully to make sure buyers get the type of craftsmanship they seek.

Source: “Retirees Turning to Custom Homes to Get the Right Space,” RISMedia (June 22, 2017)

‘Tear-Downs’ Account for More New Homes

More than 10 percent of new single-family homes that began construction in 2016 were part of a tear-down project, according to new data from the National Association of Home Builders. That’s up from 7.7 percent in 2015. NAHB defines a tear-down as a home that is built on a site where a previous structure existed. Nationwide, there were 79,300 single-family tear-downs started in 2016, up from 55,200 in 2015, NAHB estimates.

Builders continue to cite lot shortages as a major setback to new-home construction. Home shoppers and builders are now eyeing tear-downs because many of the properties are in prime locations. Take a look at the charts posted on below ‘source’ blog to see the breakdown of tear-down starts by region.

Source: “NAHB Estimates 79,000 Single-Family Tear-Down Starts in 2016,” National Association of Home Builder’s Eye on Housing blog (June 19, 2017)

Investors Back Away From Home Flipping

Investors are retreating from flipping houses, showing skepticism that the practice will continue to pay off. About 43,615 single-family homes and condos were flipped in the first quarter of 2017, down 8 percent from the previous quarter and 6 percent from a year ago, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ Q1 2017 U.S. Home Flipping Report. It represents the lowest number of flips in two years. ATTOM Data Solutions defines a flip as a home that has been sold twice within a 12-month period.

Home flips accounted for 6.7 percent of all single-family and condo sales for the quarter, one-third of which were purchased with financing. That’s up from 31.9 percent that were financed in the fourth quarter of 2016, setting the highest level since the third quarter of 2008.

More interesting ‘Home Flipping’ information at: ATTOM Data Solutions/RealtyTrac

A New ‘2017 Low’ Struck with Mortgage Rates

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage moved lower for the third consecutive week and set a new low for the year, Freddie Mac reports. However, with this latest jobs report out of the way, the runway is now clear for the Federal Reserve to raise benchmark interest rates when it meets June 13 and 14. Even before the Labor Department’s release on Friday morning, the Fed had been sending firm signals that its members viewed the economy as strong enough to withstand another rate increase.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending June 1:

30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.94 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.95 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.66 percent.

15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.19 percent, with an average 0.5 point, holding the same average as last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.92 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Loan Interest Rates Hover Around 4%

For the fifth consecutive week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage remained around 4 percent.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending May 18:

’30-year fixed-rate mortgages’ averaged 4.02 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.05 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.58 percent.

’15-year fixed-rate mortgages’ averaged 3.27 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.29 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.81 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac