Posts Tagged ‘Hablamos Espanol’

Mortgage Giants Revise Housing Forecasts

April 22 2014

Citing constraints on credit and tight inventories, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have trimmed their housing expectations for this year.

Fannie Mae’s Chief Economist Doug Duncan says he expects new-home construction to reach 1.5 million housing units this year, a drop of 50,000 from Fannie’s forecast earlier this year.

“We have downgraded our housing forecast slightly due to a lackluster sales picture, but the recent loss of momentum is likely a temporary one,” Duncan says.

Freddie Mac also has trimmed its housing forecast recently, cutting its forecast for home sales to 5.5 million from the earlier 5.6 million estimate for this year.

“Tight inventory may pose a significant challenge for home buyers in many markets across the country, which may result in higher home prices and sales being lower than expected,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Source: “Fannie, Freddie Cut Housing-Market Forecasts for 2014,” The Wall Street Journal (April 21, 2014)

Buyers Find More Housing Options This Spring

April 21 2014

The number of homes for sale is on the rise, a long-awaited welcome to home buyers who are finding more selection than last spring and less competition, according to realtor.com®’s National Housing Trend Report for March of the 146 markets it tracks.

Inventories of for-sale homes on realtor.com® in March increased 9.5 percent higher than year ago levels, according to the report. The median list price is $199,900 – 5.3 percent higher than in March 2013. The median age of inventory has also risen – 22.9 percent above year ago figures to a median of 102 days on the market.

“These figures suggest that the market is more balanced than it was in 2013, when a shortfall in available supply led to double-digit increases in many markets’ housing prices,” according to the realtor.com® report. “Having more homes on the market may mean more affordable prices for first-time and move-up buyers. Lack of inventory in 2013 led to intense competition, creating another barrier to home ownership.”

“While inventory is still low, the continuing annual lift in the number of homes on the market that we’ve seen over the first months of 2014 is an indicator that buying conditions this year may be notably improved from the frenzied pace of last spring,” says Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move, Inc.

Source: “Realtor.com Report: Higher Inventory a Welcome Sign for Spring Buyers,” realtor.com (April 17, 2014)

Mortgage Rates ‘Fall Back’ to 6-Week Lows

April 18 2014

For the second consecutive week, fixed-mortgage rates eased, offering home buyers a slight bump in affordability in the midst of the spring home-buying season, Freddie Mac announced in its weekly mortgage market report.

“Mortgage rates continued to ease this week as housing starts rose 2.8 percent in March but not as much as expected,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says. “Also, permits fell 2.4 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 990,000, which followed a slight downward revision of 4,000 permits in February.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending April 17:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.27 percent, with an average 0.7 point, dropping from last week’s 4.34 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.41 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.33 percent, with an average 0.6 point, dropping from last week’s 3.38 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.64 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.03 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.09 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.60 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Lot Shortages Make Building Costs Higher

April 16 2014

Homebuilders who did not buy up land during the housing downturn are facing much higher costs today — and that may get passed on to home buyers.

“Builders waited so long to buy land that, when the recovery happened, it was very strong and they got caught short,” Tobias Welo, a portfolio manager at Fidelity Investments.

The cost of land is nearly 22 percent of the final sales price of a new home, and 100 percent of that cost usually gets passed down to the buyer, the National Association of Home Builders has said in the past.

Some builders used the housing downturn as a time to snatch up land at lower costs. For example, Lennar, the nation’s third-largest builder, and Toll Brothers, the largest luxury builder, ramped up their land banks with several low-cost land acquisitions during the 2008-10 economic downturn, Reuters reports. Toll Brothers has one of the largest land banks — has enough to last more than 12 years compared to the 7.4-year average among the top five U.S. homebuilders, according to data from Tri Pointe Homes Inc.

Due to the land shortage, builders have been raising prices. D.R. Horton saw its average sales price increase 10 percent to $275,600 during the three-month period ending Dec. 31. PulteGroup’s revenue jumped 13 percent because of a rise in its average sales price, despite the builder slowing the pace of construction, Reuters reports.

“The run-up in land prices has been huge. What someone paid for land last year may not even work today,” says Scott Laurie, chief executive of privately owned California-based builder Olson Homes. Laurie says his company plans to spend at least 25 percent more on land purchases this year compared to last year.

Some big builders are responding by buying smaller, privately owned builders who may own more land but have limited access to finance construction. Ryland Group Inc. plans to purchase other homebuilders to ramp up its land bank. Tri Pointe and Toll Brothers have been acquiring smaller builders to gain more developed lots in California.

Source: “Scarce Land Could Blunt Recovery for U.S. Homebuilders,” Reuters (April 15, 2014)

3 Reasons to Start Using ‘Video Email’

April 15 2014

Video email can help real estate agents make a lasting impression on prospects. Here are three reasons why you should consider incorporating video into email campaigns.

  1. It improves communications, keeps clients invested in a relationship with you, and lets prospects get to know the agent on a personal and professional level.
  2. Video messages can be added to automatic email campaigns.  Agents can give monthly market activity updates, for instance, on the same day each month via video email, then track open rates and clicks.
  3. With such tools as BombBomb, which integrates with Realtors Property Resource®, agents also can attach market data to their videos to reinforce their messages.

Source: “3 Reasons to Send Prospects Video Email,” RISMedia (April 10, 2014)

Rising Home Prices Press Down Affordability

April 14 2014

While housing affordability rose from January to February in some select markets, it’s lower year-over-year as home prices continue to rise while wages stay mostly stagnant, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest Housing Affordability Index. The index is based on median home prices, family incomes, and average mortgage interest rates.

The median single-family home price is $189,200, up 9 percent from year-ago levels. Mortgage rates have also been on the rise, up a full percentage point from year-ago levels. Meanwhile, income levels have risen 1.9 percent in the past year.

Affordability is up slightly from a month ago in the Northeast and Midwest, while the West and South saw a minor drop in February month-over-month, according to NAR’s index. However, affordability is down in all regions from year-ago levels. The West has seen the largest decline in affordability in the past year, due to a 17 percent price gain.

Source: “Latest Housing Affordability Data,” National Association of REALTORS®’ Economists’ Outlook blog (April 11, 2014)

Recovery Spreads Beyond Energy States

April 10 2014

“It’s a promising sign to see areas like Los Angeles and San Jose joining the top ten largest [metros] showing a recovery,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “We still expect 2014 to be a strong year for housing and to aid in the overall economic recovery. The job market continues to mend and, with that, we will see a steady release of pent-up demand of buyers.”

The index shows that 59 of the 350 metro markets tracked by the index have returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity.

The index examines current housing permit, price, and employment data to see how close markets are performing at their historical normal levels.

Also, 28 percent of metro areas tracked had their score rise this month. Eighty-three percent have shown an improvement over the past year as well.

“Things are getting slowly better overall,” says NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly. “And with the housing market now entering the spring buying season, the fact that the nation’s economy is headed in the right direction is a very promising sign.”

Source: National Association of Home Builders

Consumer Confidence in Housing Hot This Spring

April 8 2014

Consumer attitudes are reflecting greater optimism in the housing market heading into real estate’s traditionally strong spring selling season, according to Fannie Mae’s March 2014 National Housing Survey.

In the poll of 1,000 people, 38 percent say it’s a good time to sell a home, up from 26 percent a year ago. The poll also shows that 69 percent of those surveyed say it’s a good time to buy, and 52 percent say it’s easier today to get financing for a home.

Americans feel more confident about their personal finances: An all-time survey high of 40 percent say their personal financial situation has improved during the past year.

“The housing recovery continues to proceed in fits and starts,” says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist. “Rising mortgage rates and a lack of supply have dampened housing market momentum. However, we see several positive signs going into this year’s spring home-buying season, compared with last year. For example, consumers are less pessimistic about their personal finances and more optimistic about the current selling environment and their ability to get a mortgage. Still, those who are pessimistic about buying or selling a home today tend to point to economic conditions as the primary issue, and most consumers continue to say the economy is on the wrong track. Looking forward, we expect to see a pickup in economic growth later in the year, and this may boost the confidence of prospective buyers and sellers.”

Source: Fannie Mae

Home Buyers May Face Sticker Shock This Spring

April 7 2014

As the spring market heats up, more buyers are finding higher home prices than they may have expected, CNBC reports.

“People quite frankly came out and got sticker shock … they picked up the price sheet and saw, ‘Wow, that’s way more than I thought’ because home prices had gone up so much in 2013,” Brad Hunter, chief economist at Metrostudy, told CNBC.

Existing-home prices were up 9.1 percent in February above year ago levels, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Meanwhile, incomes are up just 2.1 percent from a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Home builders also have been raising their prices over the past year. For example, D.R. Horton, one of the nation’s largest builders, announced earlier this year that it planned to raise home prices in some of its markets this spring. In January, the builder said the average price of its homes under contract was up 10 percent in the past year.

Buyers also are facing rising mortgage rates and tighter credit conditions.

Still, while prices have been on the rise, home prices are well off their peak from the housing boom in 2006, housing experts note. Inventories remain constrained in many markets as some home owners wait for higher home prices before they list.

Source: “Homebuyers Face Spring Sticker Shock,” CNBC.com (April 4, 2014)

‘Mortgage Interest Rates’ on the Rise Again This Week

April 4 2014

Mortgage rates ticked up slightly this week, as the 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.41 percent – more than a full percentage point higher than it was a year ago at this time, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages for the week ending April 3:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.41 percent, with an average 0.7 point, up slightly from last week’s 4.40 average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.54 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.47 percent, with an average 0.6 point, rising from last week’s 3.42 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.74 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.12 percent, with an average 0.5 point, up from last week’s 3.10 average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.65 percent.
  • 1-year ARMs: averaged 2.45 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 2.44 percent average. A year ago, 1-year ARMs averaged 2.63 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac