Poll: Real Estate Better Than Stocks, Gold

Despite recent gains in the stock market, Americans have more confidence investing in real estate. About a quarter of Americans surveyed said real estate was their top choice for long-term investing, according to a new national survey released by Bankrate.

Consumers selected real estate as the top pick to invest money they wouldn’t need for more than 10 years, followed by cash investments (e.g. certificates of deposit and savings accounts). Then, coming in a distant third was the stock market.

Americans are feeling more bullish about their sense of financial well-being, according to the Bankrate Financial Security Index, which is based on survey questions of how consumers feel about their debt, savings, net worth, and job security.

Source: “Real Estate Top Investing Choice, Survey Finds,” RISMedia (July 24, 2016)

Mortgage Rates Inch Up Slightly This Week

Mortgage rates across the board ticked up this week, but still hover near historical lows.

“Post-Brexit volatility tapered off over the last two weeks, allowing interest rates to bounce back a bit from their record (10-year Treasury yield) and near-record (30-year mortgage rate) lows,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “This week, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased 3 basis points to a still-quite-low 3.45 percent. With the Federal Reserve on hold and the UK monetary authority taking at least a one-month breather, we don’t expect any significant movement in mortgage rates in the near-term. This summer remains an auspicious time to buy a home.”

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.45 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.42 percent average. Last year a this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.04 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.75 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 2.72 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.21 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Loan Rates Stay Near Record Low

“We describe the last few weeks as A Tale of Two Rates,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Immediately following the Brexit vote, U.S. Treasury yields plummeted to all-time lows. This week, markets stabilized and the 10-year Treasury yield rebounded sharply. In contrast, the 30-year mortgage rate declined after the Brexit vote, but only by half as much as the 10-year Treasury yield. This pattern suggests that mortgage rates are likely to remain low throughout the summer.”

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.42 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising slightly from last week’s 3.41 percent. A year ago, 30-year rates averaged 4.09 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.72 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 2.74 percent. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.25 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

A Trick to Save on Home Insurance Premiums?

To save money on home insurance premiums, try raising the deductible on the home insurance policy – but carefully consider if there is enough money saved before doing so.

“The bottom line is that you want to make sure you are comfortable with the deductible amount you’ve selected,” says Stacy Molinari, personal lines and claims manager of Insurance Marketing Agencies, Inc. “And that means you need to make sure you have enough of a financial cushion to cover the deductible. Otherwise it could cost you more in the long run.”

The study found that for the average nationwide home insurance premium of $1,034, raising the deductible from $500 to $1,000 could amount to a 7 percent in savings. Raising the deductible from $500 to $2,000 could result in a 16 percent savings, and an increase from $500 to $5,000 could net a 28 percent savings.

Source: InsuranceQuotes.com

Most Popular Exteriors on New Homes

Vinyl is the most widely used exterior on new single-family homes, according to the latest Census Bureau data. Vinyl (which includes vinyl-covered aluminum) was used for siding material on 27 percent of new homes nationwide in 2015, followed by stucco at 25 percent, brick or brick veneer at 22 percent, and fiber cement siding at 19 percent. Wood or wood products accounted for 5 percent.

The materials used can vary drastically from region to region. For example, stucco was the most popular siding material in the Pacific and Mountain regions, at 57 percent and 55 percent, respectively. In the East and West South Central regions, at least 55 percent of new single-family homes last year used brick or brick veneer.

View map from the National Association of Home Builders to see the most popular siding materials by region at: “Vinyl Is the Most Widely Used Exterior on New Homes,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (7/7/16)

School Location Still Key for Home Buyers

You may want to share more information with your clients about the school options near your listings. Buyers say it’s critical to their decision-making.

More than 75 percent of parents say their child’s education is an important factor in their search for home, according to a new survey conducted by Bank of America of 1,000 home buyers. 53 percent say they would buy a new home in a specific neighborhood to get their child into a better school.

Sixty-four percent of parents say that knowing the quality or ranking of nearby schools is extremely important to them before purchasing a new home. Also, 37 percent of parents say the school’s extracurricular reputation is also important in their decision.

View more data at Source: Bank of America

Mortgage Rates Continue Near All-Time Lows

Mortgage rates hit a new 2016 low this week, nearing the lowest averages ever recorded. Freddie Mac reports the 30-year mortgage rate is close to the November 2012 record low of 3.31 percent.

“Continuing fallout from the Brexit vote drove Treasury yields lower again this week,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage followed Treasury yields, falling 7 basis points to 3.41 percent in this week’s survey. Mortgage rates have dropped 15 basis points over the past two weeks.”

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage: averaged 3.41 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.48 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.04 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.74 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 2.78 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.20 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Like-Kind Property Exchanges Gain Popularity

Commercial and residential REALTORS® say that tax advantages such as like-kind exchanges of properties are necessary for gaining and disposing properties and are important in fueling the nation’s economy and job growth, per a recent survey by the National Association of REALTORS®.

Like-kind exchanges — also referred to as Internal Revenue Code Section 1031 — offer individuals and businesses a tax deferment on gains after they sell one property. But they are required to use any profits gained to reinvest in a similar property within a certain timeframe.

Forty percent of REALTORS® surveyed say that transactions would not have occurred without such a tax provisions. What’s more, 96 percent say they believe real estate values would go down if 1031 exchanges weren’t available.

Source: “Real Estate Tips: Like-Kind Exchanges Gaining in Popularity,” National Ledger (June 27, 2016)

Home Loan Interest Rates Near All-Time Low

Fixed-rate mortgages this week dropped to their lowest averages of the year, which analysts attribute to the fallout from last week’s “Brexit” vote. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.48 percent this week, near its all-time record low of 3.31 percent in November 2012, Freddie Mac reports.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending June 30:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.48 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.56 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.08 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.78 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 2.83 percent average. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.24 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Mortgage Rates in Free Fall Since Brexit Vote

Since Britain’s surprising vote to leave the European Union, U.S. home buyers and home owners have been reaping an expected benefit — mortgage rates that are quickly dropping. Mortgage rates are now at the lowest average in more than three years, and economists expect them to head even lower.

“Lower rates produce lower monthly payments and greater buying power—those who are well qualified can afford a home that’s 8 percent more expensive than at the beginning of the year,” Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist, writes in a recent column. “That’s more than enough to offset the rise in prices during that time.”

Source: “Thanks, Brexit! Well-Qualified U.S. Buyers Reap a Windfall,” realtor.com® (June 28, 2016)