Posts Tagged ‘Hablamos Espanol’

Home Buyers in No Rush to Snag Low Interest Rates

October 29 2014

Mortgage rates continue to hover at yearly lows, but home buyers aren’t flocking to lock in the rates. Applications for mortgages dropped 6.6 percent last week for both home purchases and refinances, the Mortgage Bankers Association report.

Broken out, refinancing applications dropped 7.4 percent last week, while applications for home purchases, viewed as a gauge of future home sales, continued its drop, falling 5 percent last week. Last week, home purchase applications had fallen by another 5 percent and were about 9 percent from year-ago levels, the MBA reported.

Meanwhile, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage continues to stay low by historical standards. The average rate nationwide was 4.13 percent week, up 3 basis points from 4.10 percent the week prior, according to the MBA’s survey, which reflects about 75 percent of the U.S. retail residential mortgage application market.

Source: “U.S. Mortgage Applications Fall in Latest Week as Rates Rise: MBA,” Reuters (Oct. 29, 2014)

Lenders Step Up to Help Veterans Buy Homes

October 27 2014

Big banks and mortgage companies are stepping up efforts to help returning vets get affordable housing by advertising the benefits of VA loans as well as donating hundreds of homes mortgage-free to vets.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ home loan program has soared to record levels, issuing new mortgages at more than double the pace of 2007.  VA-backed mortgages represent about 7 percent of total home-purchase mortgage activity now, up from about 3 percent in 2011, according statistics from the Mortgage Bankers Association. VA-guaranteed mortgages come with zero down payment and flexible credit underwriting. The interest rates are competitive too.

“In an era of extremely tight credit and underwriting in most segments of the marketplace, the VA program looks like an extended hand for creditworthy vets who don’t have large amounts of money to put down on a home purchase or are transitioning into regular employment in the mainstream economy,” the Los Angeles Times notes.

Source: “VA, Lenders, and Nonprofits Mobilize to Help Veterans on the Home Front,” Los Angeles Times (Oct. 26, 2014)

Rates Haven’t Been This Low Since 2013

October 24 2014

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage took another dip this week, staying below the 4 percent threshold and keeping borrowing costs at the lowest rate in more than a year. It marks the fifth consecutive week that mortgage rates decreased.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Oct. 23:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.92 percent, with an average 0.5 point, reaching a new low for the year and dropping from last week’s 3.97 percent. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.13 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.08 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.18 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.24 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.91 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 2.92 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 3 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

FHFA’s Dramatic Easing of Mortgage Standards

October 21 2014

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt said FHFA will release guidelines “in the coming weeks” to allow increased lending to borrowers with down payments as low as 3 percent. FHFA, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also will help lenders who sell loans to the mortgage giants by easing standards on borrowers who don’t have perfect credit profiles. The move is expected to help open up the credit box to first-time buyers, self-employed borrowers, borrowers who have had recent job switches, and borrowers who faced financial hardship during the recession.

FHFA said it will clarify to lenders when it will force buy-back loans that were issued based on inaccurate information. FHFA acknowledges that it failed to provide lenders with enough clarity in the past. That caused lenders to get cautious with lending after facing a flood of high-dollar settlements from loans they issued that later turned sour.

“We know that this issue has contributed to lenders imposing credit overlays that drive up the cost of lending and also restrict lending to borrowers with less than perfect credit scores or with less conventional financial situations,” Watt said. Addressing such issues are “critical to ensuring that there is liquidity in the housing-finance market and to providing access to credit for borrowers.”

Source: “Regulator Unveils Plan to Spur Lending by Fannie, Freddie,” Los Angeles Times (Oct. 20, 2014) and “Fannie-Freddie Clarify Buyback Rules in Bid to Ease Credit,” Bloomberg (Oct. 20, 2014)

Mortgage Rates Dip Below 4% Threshold

October 17 2014

Borrowing costs sank to the lowest amounts in more than a year as the 30-year-fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.97 percent this week, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is at its lowest average since the week of June 20, 2013, when it averaged 3.93 percent.

“Mortgage rates were down sharply following the decline in the 10-year Treasury yield for the second straight week,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.97 percent, with an average 0.5 point, posting a big drop from last week’s 4.12 percent. A year ago, 30-year rates averaged 4.28 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.18 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.30 percent average. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.33 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.92 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.05 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.07 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

‘Small Lenders Bend’ for Risky Borrowers

October 15 2014

Borrowers with minor imperfections on their credit applications — like a brief loss of employment or a temporary dip in their credit score — are starting to have better luck at snagging a loan with smaller lenders, Bloomberg reports. At least 15 smaller firms this year are offering slightly riskier mortgages, which in some cases come with higher interest rates and larger down payment requirements and aren’t backed by the government.

“Some lenders became afraid of their own shadows,” RPM Mortgage Inc. Chief Executive Officer Rob Hirt told Bloomberg. The bank started a program this summer for borrowers who have higher debt burdens or who had sold a home for less than the outstanding mortgage. “The market is beginning to realize that if you make smart and sound loans to people who don’t fit in the narrow box, it doesn’t make them a worse risk.”

On the other hand, larger banks, like Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co., have generally tightened their credit standards over the last few years. The average score on mortgages that government-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought now stands at about 740 – well above the 660 level that is considered subprime.

“To us, it’s common sense,” says Jeff Seabold, chief lending officer at Banc of California. “There’s quite a few people who are boxed out that shouldn’t be.”

Source: “You Don’t Need to Be Perfect to Get a U.S. Loan Anymore,” Bloomberg Businessweek (Oct. 13, 2014)

Landscaping Boosts Home Values Up to 12%

October 14 2014

You might want to take a closer look at your listing’s curb appeal: Upgrading a home’s landscape from average to excellent can raise its overall value by 10 percent to 12 percent, according to research from Virginia Tech.

Researcher Alex X. Niemiera with the Department of Horticulture at Virginia Tech found that a $150,000 home with no landscaping could fetch an additional $8,300 to $19,000 by adding a landscape with color and large plants.

“The most preferred landscape included a sophisticated design with large deciduous, evergreen, and annual color plants and colored hardscape,” according to Niemiera. Adding different plant sizes to a front yard, for example, can boost curb appeal, as well as mixing fruit trees and flowers for added color.

“Survey results showed that relatively large landscape expenditures significantly increase perceived home value and will result in a higher selling price than homes with a minimal landscape,” Niemiera writes in the paper. “Design sophistication and plant size were the landscape factors that most affected value. The resulting increase in ‘curb appeal’ of the property may also help differentiate a home in a subdivision where house styles are similar and thereby attract potential buyers into a home. This advantage is especially important in a competitive housing market.”

Source: “Does Landscaping Increase Your Homes Value?” Realty Times (Oct. 13, 2014)

30-Year Mortgage Rates ‘Fall Back’ to Yearly Lows

October 10 2014

Borrowing costs were down once again this week, giving home buyers another opportunity to lock in some of the lowest rates of the year.

Freddie Mac reported the following rate averages for the week ending Oct. 9:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.12 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.19 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.23 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.30 percent, with an average 0.5 pont, dropping from last week’s 3.36 percent average. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.31 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.05 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.06 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.05 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Owners are Tapping Into Equity, Again!

October 9 2014

Home equity lines of credit surged nearly 20 percent compared to a year ago and are now at the highest level since the 12 months ending in June 2009, according to RealtyTrac’s Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) Trends Report. HELOC originations comprised 15.4 percent of all loan originations nationwide during the first eight months of the year, the highest percentage since 2008.

“This recent rise in HELOC originations indicates that an increasing number of home owners are gaining confidence in the strength of the housing recovery and, more importantly, have regained much of their home equity lost during the housing crisis,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

Nearly 10 million home owners nationwide, representing 19 percent of all home owners with a mortgage, have regained at least 50 percent equity in their homes, RealtyTrac data shows. Meanwhile the percentage of home owners with severe negative equity has fallen from 29 percent in the second quarter of 2012 to 17 percent in the second quarter of this year, Blomquist notes.

Despite home equity lines of credit rising significantly in the past year, they still remain 76 percent below the 2006 peak reached during the housing boom, RealtyTrac notes.

Source: RealtyTrac

 

Prospects of Condominiums Comeback Are High

October 7 2014

Condo sales have been on a roller coaster ride in recent years, as the recession hit the sector hard. But is the country ready for a condo revival?

“Condo sales moved sideways several years after the recession before picking up steam again in 2013,” CoreLogic Deputy Chief Economist Sam Khater writes on the company’s blog. “This year, it continues to rebound and currently accounts for 12.3 percent of all sales in 2014.”

As of June 2013, 22 of the 25 top condo markets reported rises in sales compared to prior years. But interest-rate rises in the second half of 2013 caused sales to cool off somewhat, similar to what occurred in the overall market. By June 2014, only 14 of those same markets were showing increases year-over-year, CoreLogic reports.

Housing analysts are optimistic the condo market is poised for a big rebound, particularly since the largest cohort in the U.S. is the 20-to-24 age group.

“This specific age cohort might currently be driving today’s rental market, but they will likely be driving the first-time home buyer and condo markets over the next five to 10 years, driving demand for newly built condos,” Khater notes. “That demand is heavily needed in the market now, given that newly built condos were hit harder in the last housing downturn than newly constructed homes overall.”

Source: “The Long-Term Rising of Condo Sales,” CoreLogic (Sept. 30, 2014)