Mortgage Rates Stay Steady

“This week the economy sent mixed signals, leaving mortgage rates unchanged,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Survey data for manufacturing and service industries varied while construction spending fell modestly. However, homebuyer demand continued to improve, rising eight percent. Clearly, home buyers remain bullish on the real estate market.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Dec. 5:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.68%, with an average 0.5 point, holding the same as last week. Last week at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.75%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.14%, with an average 0.4 point, falling slightly from last week’s 3.15% average. A year ago, they averaged 4.21%.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.39%, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.43% average. A year ago, they averaged 4.07%.
Source: Freddie Mac

2020 Conforming Loan Limits

The Federal Housing Finance Agency approved a higher conforming loan limit that will take effect Jan. 1, 2020. The cap on loans purchased or acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during 2020 will increase to $510,400, the FHFA said Tuesday. That marks an increase over the $484,350 limit for 2019.

Higher limits are available for properties that contain two, three, or four units. The limits for multiunit properties range from $653,550 to $981,700.

View a map showing the 2020 maximum loan limits nationwide. (Note: El Dorado County, CA. is $530,001 to $765,599 for 1 – 4 units)

Source: FHFA and “Conforming Loan Limit Increased to $510,400,” Mortgage News Daily (Nov. 26, 2019)

Which Home Security System?

Consumers show preferences for certain types of security options, according to Safehome.org, a home security survey. For example, the group of consumers who say they feel safe were two times more likely to have a front door security system, the survey found. Professionally monitored security systems help many consumers feel safe, but certain demographics felt more at ease with other features. For example, baby boomers prefer security cameras around the property, men surveyed felt most safe with guns, and renters and homeowners in rural areas felt safest with an entry keypad with a security code and alarm.

About a third of consumers surveyed with a home security system use a variety of accessories, including door sensors and security keypads. Thirty percent of those surveyed also chose all-in-one security systems, which usually consist of live streaming cameras, motion sensors, arming and disarming functionality, and sirens.

Source: “Security in the Home,” Safehome.org (2019)

Re-Acceleration in Home Prices

Good news for sellers: Home prices are on the rise. But buyers should brace for higher prices.

Nearly all—93%—of the largest metros in the U.S. saw home prices rise in the third quarter over the past year. A shortage of homes for sale, combined with higher demand, continues to push home prices higher, according to the latest quarterly report from the National Association of REALTORS®, released Thursday.

While the majority of metros saw higher prices in the third quarter, a few markets did register lower prices, notably in areas long-known for high costs. Single-family median home prices moderated in the third quarter in markets such as San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (–4.6%); San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. (–2.5%); and San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. (–0.8%).

Mortgage Rates Reverse Course

Following three consecutive weeks of increases, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage posted a drop this week. “The improvement in sentiment has been one of the main drivers behind the surge in equity prices and will provide a halo effect to consumer spending heading into the important holiday shopping season,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following nationwide averages for the week ending Nov. 7:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.69%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.78% average. Last year at this time, they averaged 4.94%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.13%, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 3.19% average. A year ago, they averaged 4.33%.
Source: Freddie Mac

Home Design Trends for 2020

From shiny kitchen cabinets to wooden ceiling beams, several home design trends aim to liven up neutral interiors in the new year. Home remodeling website Houzz recently asked designers to chime in about what design trends they expect to grow more popular over the next few months. Here are a few of their trends.

High-gloss kitchen cabinetry. Flat-panel cabinets with a high-gloss finish are gaining popularity. The shinier finish bounces light around the space. Also, the flat-panel design gives a modern look that makes the cabinets appear like they’re receding.

Wooden beams. More attention in home design is being placed on dressing up the home’s fifth wall. Wood ceiling beams are one way to do that.

Brass accents. Kitchen designs are incorporating more black or dark kitchen cabinets paired with brass or gold hardware for a visual pop.

Source: “10 Design Trends Coming to a Home Near You,” Houzz.com (Oct. 29, 2019)

Home Loan Rates Increased

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was on the rise last week, leaping to a 12-week high. But rates are still well below year-ago levels.

“The outlook for a favorable resolution to the trade dispute between the U.S. and China is still unclear, introducing some volatility into financial markets and the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Mortgage rates are following suit but are near historic lows, while mortgage applications to purchase a home remain higher year over year.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Oct. 24:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.75%, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.69% average. Last year at this time, they averaged 4.86%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.18%, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.15% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 4.29%.
Source: Freddie Mac

Exterior Projects Top Home Remodeling List

Thirty-six million owners plan to renovate their homes within the next 12 months, and the home’s exterior is likely to get most of their attention, according to a new survey by Bankrate.com of 1,000 home owners.

Home exterior or yard renovations – such as repairing driveways, decks, patios, pools, landscaping, or fencing – are among the most popular projects home owners plan to take on in the next year. The next most popular renovation projects include adding new flooring and new windows, roofing, or siding, the survey shows.

Millennial home owners are the most likely to be planning renovations when compared to other age segments, according to the survey. Also, home owners with lower income are just as likely to be planning renovations within the next 12 months than those with higher incomes, according to the survey.

Source: Bankrate.com

Home Owners Overestimate Their Equity

The amount home owners estimate their home is worth is growing out of proportion with appraisers’ estimates, with the gap widening for the first time in six months, according to Quicken Loans’ latest Home Price Perception Index.

On average, appraisers’ estimates were about 2 percent lower than what home owners expected in February. The Quicken Loans study compares actual appraised values to what home owners who are refinancing estimate their home is worth at the beginning of the mortgage process.

Appraisers’ estimates were most often higher than home owners’ in the Western region of the country.

Source: Quicken Loans