Retirees Still Face Years of Mortgage Payments

Fewer retirees own their home free and clear, as 32 percent of homeowners ages 60 to 70 say it will take them more than another eight years to pay off their mortgage, according to American Financing’s Retirement and Mortgages survey.

However, many say they intend to age in place, with 64 percent indicating they plan to remain in their current home. Seventy-one percent say they would prefer to make home renovations rather than move, even if a health issue affected their mobility and comfort at home. However, 48 percent say they are unsure what they would do if their retirement funds ran low, making modifications questionable?

“With so many older Americans carrying mortgage debt with them later in life—and many expressing uncertainty about their financial future—this could very well prove to be an increasing concern among retirees,” according to American Financing’s report. It highlights several options for retirees, such as refinancing a mortgage or reverse mortgages. The report showed that only 19 percent of respondents knew what a reverse mortgage is.

Source: “Does Your Mortgage Retire With You?” American Financing (2018)

Prepay Property Taxes Before Losing Benefits

With tax reform signed into law, homeowners in areas with high property taxes are scrambling to prepay their 2018 tax bill in order to take advantage of deductions that will curtailed once the legislation takes effect Jan. 1. The new tax law, which Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed, caps the amount of state, local, and property taxes that homeowners can deduct at $10,000.

However, there’s no guarantee homeowners who prepay their 2018 property taxes will be able to deduct the payment. On Wednesday, the IRS posted an advisory notice that said prepaying property taxes will work only under limited circumstances. To qualify for the deduction, property taxes will need to be paid in 2017—but they also must be assessed in 2017, The New York Times reports.

Source: “Homeowners Scramble to Pre-Pay Property Taxes,” CNNMoney (Dec. 27, 2017) and “Prepaying Your Property Tax? IRS Cautions It Might Not Pay Off,” The New York Times (Dec. 27, 2017)

Home Loan Interest Rates Up Slightly This Week

“Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates have been bouncing around in a narrow 10 basis points range since October,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The U.S. average 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased 1 basis point to 3.94 percent in this week’s survey. The majority of our survey was completed prior to the surge in long-term interest rates that followed the passage of the tax bill. If those rate increases stick, we’ll likely see higher mortgage rates in next week’s survey.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Dec. 21:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.94 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.93 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year-rates averaged 4.30 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.38 percent, with an average 0.5 point, increasing from last week’s 3.36 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.52 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Insurers Could Drop Fire Coverage in California

California wildfires continue to scorch the Golden State’s southern cities, and now officials in the state fear that some insurers will drop homeowners’ coverage.

Wildfires in Southern California and earlier this fall in northern California have resulted in billions of dollars in claims. In the Sierra Nevada foothills, many homes were dropped after wildfires swept through in recent years, and some northern California homes also have seen their coverage dropped, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones told Reuters.

“We may see more of it,” Jones cautions.   Wow, don’t most insurance companies cover more than just California?

PS: Insurers are required to renew fire victims’ policies once. After that, homeowners could then be forced to go to specialty insurers, known as “surplus line carriers.”  Those policies can sometimes cost up to 40 percent more!

Source: “As California Fires Blaze, Homeowners Fear Losing Insurance,” Reuters/CNBC (Dec. 18, 2017)

Despite Fed Move, Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

Great News!  Mortgage rates were in a holding pattern this week, even after the Federal Reserve voted Wednesday to hike its benchmark interest rate.

“As widely expected, the Fed increased the federal funds target rate this week for the third time in 2017,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist. “The market had already priced in the rate hike, so long-term interest rates—including mortgage rates—hardly moved.”

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.93 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.94 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.16 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.36 percent, with an average 0.5 point, the same as last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.37 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Deeper Debt Isn’t Stopping Millennial Buyers

Millennials are taking out the greatest share of all new mortgages and buying homes across price ranges. But a new study also shows they’re going more into debt at an alarming rate.

Realtor.com®’s research team analyzed records for more than 3.2 million mortgages originated from January 2013 to October 2017 and divided it by age groups.

Compared to other generations, millennials are narrowing the gap in the price of homes they’re purchasing. In September, millennials obtained mortgages on homes with a median purchase price of $237,000. Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1981) purchased homes with mortgages on a median price of $280,000, and baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) purchased at $258,000.

Millennials are making down payments nearly as high as Generation Xers. The average down payment for a millennial originated mortgage is 9.1 percent. Gen X buyers have been making down payments of 11 percent, since early 2013.

Source: “Millennials Are Taking Over Real Estate—But They’re Going Deeper Into Debt Too,” realtor.com® (Dec. 5, 2017)

Housing Trend to Watch: The ‘Surban’

Suburban and urban areas are combining to create a new kind of living style known as the “surban.” Many in the real estate industry are predicting it to be one of the hottest housing trends to watch heading into the new year.

A surban offers greater walkability to retail and restaurants from a home or apartment, but in a suburban area. It’s a blend of both suburbia and city life. Previously, urban planners dubbed these areas “mixed-use.”

The Urban Land Institute estimates that surban areas will draw at least 80 percent of new households and attract the most families over the next decade.

Source: “2018 Real Estate Trends to Watch: ‘Surban’—That Sweet Spot Between City and Suburb,” RISMedia (Dec. 4, 2017)

FHFA Raises Conforming Home Loan Limits

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced it will raise its conforming loan limit on Jan. 1, 2018. Mortgage financing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will allow maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages in most parts of the U.S. to be $453,100.  “El Dorado County, CA.” will be $517,500.

For 10 years, the FHFA had set the conforming loan limit in most places at $417,000. But as home prices started rising, the FHFA bumped up the conforming loan limit in 2017 to $424,100. As prices continued to move higher this year, the FHFA has raised limits again for 2018.

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act requires the conforming loan limit of the government-sponsored entities to be adjusted each year to reflect any changes in the average U.S. home price.

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency

Lift in Housing Starts Indicates Inventory Relief

Housing starts neared their postrecession high in October, with expectations that the new-home market will soon provide much-needed inventory relief, the Commerce Department reports.

Starts, which reflect combined totals within the single-family and multifamily sectors, jumped 13.7 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.29 million. That’s the highest reading for new-home production since October 2016, when starts had reached a high of 1.33 million.

Starts for single-family homes in October increased 5.3 percent last month, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 877,000. They are now up 8.4 percent from a year ago. Multifamily starts surged nearly 37 percent, reaching 413,000 units in October after a weak September production report.

 

Source: National Association of Home Builders

Rates Hit Pause, Consumers Rush to Lock In?

A slight dip in interest rates last week brought more homeowners and home buyers to the mortgage market. More homeowners were quick to refinance before interest rates rise again, and home buyers were able to lock in lower rates during the week.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that total mortgage application volume—which includes for refinancings and home purchases—rose 3.1 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis. Mortgage applications, however, still remain 8.5 percent below a year ago.

Additional data at: “Weekly Mortgage Applications Rise as Rates Briefly Fall Back,” CNBC (Nov. 15, 2017)