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)

Newbie Buyers Make Smaller Down Payments

About 60 percent of first-time home buyers put down 6 percent or less on a home purchase in September. The median down payment has dropped from 6 percent to 5 percent for first-time buyers, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

NAR conducted a survey of non-homeowners earlier this year and found that most consumers believe you need a down payment of 10 percent or 20 percent to buy a home.

“They may not be aware that these programs are available, and they may not be taking advantage of them,” Jessica Lautz, NAR’s managing director of survey research and communications, said in the latest Down Payment Report, published by the Down Payment Resource.

Thirty-two percent of first-time buyers said they saved for more than two years to have enough to buy a home. Student loan debt was the most often cited obstacle to saving. The second most cited barrier for saving was credit card debt.

Source: “The Down Payment Report,” Down Payment Resource (November 2017)

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

When to Drop Your Listing Price

Though low inventory is prompting buyers to raise their offers in order to beat out competitors, you still want your sellers to know: an overpriced listing will linger on the market. Buyers pay attention to time on market and may erroneously assume something is wrong with a property that has gone “stale.” Real estate pros say it’s critical to determine what time frame is considered stale in your market and drop the price of your listing before getting to that pivotal moment.

Soaring home prices may make buyers pause, but houses are still selling fast. Nationwide, the average time a home spent on the market was 34 days in September, down from 39 days a year prior, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Some sellers may be adamant about “testing the market” with a high asking price, so you should have a game plan for what to do if it backfires.

Source: “How to Know When to Drop the Asking Price on Your Home,” CNBC (Oct. 27, 2017)

Home Loan Rates Jump to 3-Month High

Mortgage rates reached their highest averages since July this week.

“The 30-year mortgage rate followed suit, increasing 6 basis points to 3.94 percent. Today’s survey rate is the highest rate in three months,”  says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Oct. 26:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.94 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.88 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.47 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.25 percent, with an average 0.5 point, increasing from 3.19 percent last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.78 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Survey: Buyers Leery of Online Mortgage Info.

Consumers trust real estate professionals and lenders more than online sources or family and friends when it comes to obtaining information about mortgages, according to a new Fannie Mae survey based on 1,000 responses. Recent home buyers surveyed, including younger age groups, say they consulted multiple sources of information about the mortgage process but found lenders and real estate agents to be more credible than mobile apps, websites, and social media.

Though survey respondents say online sources are more convenient, they indicated a higher level of confidence in getting information through person-to-person interaction. However, home buyers do report using online sources to shop for a home much more often than to shop for a mortgage, according to the survey.

Source: “Lenders and Real Estate Agents Still Beat Online Sources as Top Mortgage Influencers,” Fannie Mae National Housing Survey (Oct. 19, 2017)

Mortgage Rates Ease This Week

Borrowers may be able to lock in lower interest rates this week, as the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dips to a 3.88 percent average.

“Rates came down slightly this week, ending a brief two-week streak of increases,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie  Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Oct. 19:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.88 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.91 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.52 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.19 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.21 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.79 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.17 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 3.16 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.85 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Loan Interest Rates Take a Leap This Week

Borrowers saw financing costs for a mortgage move higher this week. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage posted its largest week-over-week increase since July.

“The 30-year mortgage rate increased for a second consecutive week, jumping 6 basis points to 3.91 percent,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Oct. 12:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.91 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.85 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.47 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.21 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.15 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.76 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Loan Interest Rates Stuck in Holding Pattern

Mortgage  rates barely budged this week, staying well below the 4 percent mark. “Rates held relatively flat this week,” says Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti. “The 10-year Treasury yield fell just 1 basis point, while the 30-year mortgage rate remained unchanged at 3.83 percent.”

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages for the week ending Sept. 28:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.83 percent, with an average 0.6 point, holding the same as last week. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.42 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.13 percent, with an average 0.5 point, also holding the same average as last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.72 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac