Sources of Construction Defects

There’s a wide variety of issues that can lead to defects in residential and commercial construction, but the most common relate to poorly trained contractors, finds a new analysis based on four years of research from LJP Construction Services.

Poor workmanship, misinterpretation of plan details, and deviations from manufacturers’ recommendations are the top culprits causing construction deficiencies, the study notes. For single-family homes, the most common problems involve: 1)Exterior weather barriers 2)Structural (wood) framing 3)Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems 4)Window and door installations.

The average deficiency rate for single-family homes is 3% nationally, according to the study. But that figure ranges from 1.6% in California and 1.7% in Nevada, according to the analysis for more than 2,000 construction projects in 26 states.

Source: “New Study Pinpoints Sources of Construction Defects,” BUILDER (1/21/2020)

 

Rates Hover Near All-Time Lows

Borrowing costs moved lower this week as the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.6%, Freddie Mac reports. Rates are at the lowest levels in three months and about a quarter-point above all-time lows. “The very low rate environment has clearly had an impact on the housing market, as both new construction and home sales have surged in response to the decline in rates, the rebound in the economy, and improving financial market sentiment,” says Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater.

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages for the week ending Jan. 23:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.6%, with an average 0.8 point, falling from last week’s 3.65% average. Last year at this time, they averaged 4.45%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.04%, with an average 0.8 point, dropping from last week’s 3.09% average. A year ago, they averaged 3.88%.
Source: Freddie Mac

Home Seller Profits Climb

Home sellers nationwide felt richer at resale in 2019. The average seller saw a home price gain of $65,500 on a typical sale, which is up from $58,100 the year prior, ATTOM Data Solutions reports in a new study. This marks the highest level since 2006.

That also represents a 34% average return on their investment compared to the original purchase price, which is also the highest average home seller rise of income (ROI) since 2006.

Homeowners in western states continued to see the highest returns. ATTOM Data Solutions’ researchers found that the metros with the highest home seller ROIs were in the areas detailed at article source: ATTOM Data Solutions

Slight Uptick in Mortgage Rates

“By all accountsmortgage rates remain low and, along with a strong market, are fueling the consumer-driven economy by boosting purchasing power, which will certainly support housing market activity in the coming months,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

The National Association of REALTORS® released a study this week showing how high home prices are stymieing job growth in some metro areas.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Jan. 16:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.65%, with an average 0.7 point, rising slightly from last week’s 3.64% average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.45%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.09%, with an average 0.7 point, inching up slightly from a 3.07% average. A year ago, they averaged 3.88%.
Source:

Mortgage Applications Surge

Home buyer demand hit its highest level in 11 years, as January continues to shape up to be a hot month for the housing market. Weekly mortgage applications jumped 30% for the week ending Jan. 10, a sign that home buyers are emerging, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index shows. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage decreased to its lowest level since September, averaging 3.87%, the MBA reports.

Applications for home purchases, a gauge of home buying activity, jumped 16% last week, reaching the highest level since 2009.

Source: “Weekly Mortgage Applications Soar 30% as Homebuyer Demand Hits the Highest Level in 11 Years,” CNBC (Jan. 15, 2020) and “Falling Mortgage Rates Set Off a Stampede of Borrowing,” MoneyWise (Jan. 15, 2020)

Are Your Neighbors Copycats?

Seventy percent of homeowners admit that they’ve copied their next-door neighbor’s decor. The most common similarity was to their neighbor’s indoor furniture, according to a new international survey from the U.K. of 2,275 homeowners from My Job Quote, a job network resource.

And while imitation can be the sincerest form of flattery, most homeowners say—65%–say that they’re uncomfortable when they learn a neighbor has copied them. Yet, when homeowners were asked whether they’ve ever imitated aspects of their neighbor’s house, 70% admit yes.

Interesting USA data at source: My Job Quote

Downsizers: ‘Biggest Regrets’

Homeowners who opt to downsize into a smaller place say that saving money was their chief motivator, along with having to manage less space after the children have moved out. But some home buyers could have downsizing regret as they transition into a smaller home.

Homes.com surveyed more than 1,000 consumers who have downsized their homes. They found that those who downsized did tend to spend 62% less than the house they owned prior. However, many downsizers still weren’t happy.

Interesting data at source: “The Upside to Downsizing,” Homes.com (2020)

Mortgage Rates Drop

“Mortgage rates fell to the lowest level in thirteen weeks, as investors sought the quality and safety of the U.S. Treasury fixed income markets,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “The drop in mortgage rates, combined with the strong labor market, should propel a continued rise in homebuyer demand.”

News Facts:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.64 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending January 9, 2020, down from last week when it averaged 3.72 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.45 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.07 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.16 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.89 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

New Home Loan Limits Take Effect

The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s new loan limits for 2020 have gone into effect; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are operated by the FHFA, began backing larger loans last week when the new year started. The cap on Fannie and Freddie loans has increased to $510,400 from 2019’s $484,350 limit.

View a breakdown of loan limits by county for Fannie and Freddie.

The Federal Housing Administration also increased its loan limit to $331,760, which is a $17,000 increase from 2019. In about 70 designated high-cost counties, the FHA’s 2020 loan limit has climbed to $765,600, a $40,000 increase from 2019. Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have higher limit ceilings than the rest of the country, the FHA says. Those areas have a 2020 FHA loan limit of $1,148,400.

View a breakdown of loan limits by county for the FHA.

Source: “FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Are All Now Backing Larger Loans,” HousingWire (Jan. 2, 2020)

Home Loan Interest Rates Drop

What a difference a year makes. Home shoppers are being greeted with much lower mortgage rates to kick off 2020 than they were a year ago. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.72% this week, compared to 4.51% at the beginning of 2019.

“The stability is welcome news after the interest rate turbulence of the last year, which caused a slowdown in the housing market and other interest rate-sensitive sectors,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The low mortgage rate environment combined with the red-hot labor market is setting the stage for a continued rise in home sales and home prices.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Jan. 2:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.72%, with an average 0.7 point, falling slightly from a 3.74% average a week ago. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.51%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.16%, with an average 0.7 point, dropping from last week’s 3.19% average. A year ago, they averaged 3.99%.
Source: Freddie Mac