FHA Borrowers Get Help Funding Solar Panels

A growing number of lending programs are helping homeowners pay the upfront costs of solar panels. One lender, Guild Mortgage, an independent lender, recently announced a program that allows home buyers to lump the costs of solar panels into an FHA loan. California residents will be the first to have access to the program.

Guild Mortgage’s FHA Solar program follows Federal Housing Administration loan requirements and offers down payment options as low as 3.5 percent. The down payment is based on the purchase of the home before the panels are added into the cost of the mortgage. “This program will give more options to home buyers looking for solar because it gives them the flexibility to purchase panels and add them to any home they choose,” says Guild Mortgage President and CEO Mary Ann McGarry.

Other programs are also available for financing solar, such as PACE loans. Also, some homeowners fund the purchase of solar panels through a second trust deed.

Source: Guild Mortgage

After April Hikes, Mortgage Rates Slide in May

“While mortgage rates have increased by one-half of a percentage point so far this year, it has not impacted home purchase demand, which continues to grow this spring,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The observed buyer resiliency in the face of higher rates reflects the healthy economy and strong consumer confidence, which are important drivers of home sales activity.

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.55 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.58 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.02 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.03 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 4.02 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.27 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Kitchens Dethroned as Top Remodeling Project

Bathrooms overtook kitchens as the most popular remodeling project, according to a new NAHB survey. NAHB has released the results highlighting the most common remodeling projects to kick off National Home Remodeling Month in May.

While remodeling is commonly associated with kitchens and baths, demand for green upgrades continues to swell as home owners seek to save on utility costs, improve air quality and increase the value of their homes. An additional survey by NAHB Remodelers showed that high-performing, low-emissivity (Low-E) windows are the most common green-building product installed by residential remodelers.

Source: National Association of Home Builders

 

Home Loan Interest Rates Surge to 4-Year High

“Higher Treasury yields, driven by rising commodity prices, more Treasury issuance’s and the steady stream of solid economic news are behind the uptick in rates over the past week,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Despite the increase in borrowing costs, demand for home purchase credit remains solid.” The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that mortgage applications were up 11 percent from a year ago.

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.58 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.47 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.03 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.02 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s average of 3.94 percent. A year ago, 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.27 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Sales Should Be Higher—But They’re Not

Following population trends, the U.S. should be adding more than a million households each year for the next few years, economists note in Freddie Mac’s April Outlook report. But higher housing costs and a delay in younger adults’ buying are prompting an uptick in shared living arrangements, multigenerational households, and delayed household formation.

A shortage of homes for sale continues to press on many markets across the country. The number of single-family homes available for sale in the U.S. in February was 1.41 million units, less than half of the inventory peak in 2007, according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®.

Researchers predict that home sales will rise from 6.12 million in 2017 to 6.3 million in 2018, and to 6.44 million in 2019. They are forecasting that new home sales will be a significant driver in home sales over the next few months.

Source: “Nothing Draws a Crowd Like a Crowd: The Outlook for Home Sales,” Freddie Mac Outlook (April 2018)

Warning of Russian Cyberattacks to Private Homes

The U.S. and Britain have issued a warning about Russian cyberattacks that could extend to individual homes. The warning was the first of its kind, The New York Times reports. The warning extends to possible cyberattacks to government and private organizations in both countries as well.

The countries are asking the public to upgrade passwords and computer security to make themselves less vulnerable. U.S. and U.K. officials are warning that Russians are tapping into internet-connected devices in homes and businesses. Hackers allegedly could secretly inserting themselves into the exchange of data between a computer or server to eavesdrop, collect confidential information, misdirect payments, etc.

The officials said that the full extent of Russia’s ability to penetrate Western computer networks is still unknown.

More information at source: “U.S.-U.K. Warning on Cyberattacks Includes Private Homes,” The New York Times (April 16, 2018)

Seniors’ Growing Debt Casts Retirement Doubts

The percentage of families in which the head of household is 75 or older and carrying debt grew by 60 percent between 2007 and 2016, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. In 2016, nearly 50 percent of such families had debt; the average debt was $36,757. Meanwhile, the average monthly Social Security check is $1,404, and more than 40 percent of single adults receive more than 90 percent of their income from Social Security alone, according to government data. Many may find Social Security payouts aren’t sufficient to maintain their lifestyle and pay off debt.

“To pay off the debt, you’re going to have to give up some living standards,” says Craig Copeland, a senior associate with the Employee Benefit Research Institute. For some homeowners, that may mean having to relocate to a place where the cost of living is less expensive. “They may be able to move into a retirement community, where there may be a better social aspect than living in a house in the suburbs with a bunch of young people,” Copeland says. “Or they may have to move in with a relative or friend to share living expenses.”

Source: “Growing Debt Among Older Americans Threatens Their Retirement,” CNBC (April 4, 2018)

‘Nonprime’ Loans Expand Mortgage Options

Subprime mortgages—which were blamed for sparking the last housing crisis—are reappearing, this time being dubbed “nonprime” loans. This lending option, which carries new quality standards, is growing for buyers who have damaged credit.

California-based Carrington Mortgage Services is one company expanding its nonprime loan offerings. “We believe there is actually a market today for people who want to buy nonprime loans that have been properly underwritten,” saysRick Sharga, of Carrington Mortgage Holdings, told CNBC.

Carrington Mortgage Services, which plans to manually underwrite each loan, will qualify borrowers with FICO credit scores as low as 500. The lender also will qualify borrowers who’ve had recent problems reported on their credit histories, such as a foreclosure, bankruptcy, or a history of late payments. But borrowers who are at higher risks will be required to make a bigger down payment, and the interest rate on the loan will be higher.

Other lenders also are getting into the nonprime space, including Angel Oak and Caliber Home Loans; more than 80 percent of Angel Oak loans are nonprime.

Source: “Subprime Mortgagees Make a Comeback—With a New Name and Soaring Demand,” CNBC (April 12, 2018)

Another Week of Mostly Flat Mortgage Rates

Borrowing costs haven’t budged much in recent weeks, offering some relief from the weekly rate increases that had almost become routine at the start of 2018.

“Rates have bounced around 4.4 percent since mid-February. Rates could break out and head higher if inflation continues to firm. … If inflation continues to trend higher, we may see two or three more rate hikes from the Fed this year, and mortgage rates could follow. For now, mortgage rates are still quite low by historical standards, helping to support home buyer affordability as the spring home buying season ramps up.” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist.

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.42 percent, with an average 0.4 point, up from last week’s 4.40 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.08 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.87 percent, with an average 0.4 point, holding the same average as last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.34 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Loan Payments Up 13% This Year

Monthly mortgage payments have risen an average of nearly 13 percent nationwide over the last year—or an extra $168—as buyers grapple with both higher home prices and increasing mortgage rates, according to a realtor.com® analysis. Luxury buyers are feeling the worst sticker shock, paying double the rate. In the top 10 percent of the market, owners are now paying an average $241 more per/mo.

Mortgage interest rates are about a half of a percentage point higher than they were at the beginning of the year, and the Federal Reserve has signaled there are more hikes to come.

Different generations of home buyers may have varying tolerance levels for mortgage rate fluctuations. Millennials are pursuing homeownership at a time when interest rates are at historic lows, averaging in the 4 percent range, while older buyers remember when they were in the double digits. So for millennials, “even a minor upswing [in interest rates] may seem significant,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Source: “Rising Interest Rates Squeeze Homeowners’ Budgets,” The Wall Street Journal (April 4, 2018) [Log-in required.]