Who Will Shape the 2019 Market?

The most popular names in transactions show that women, millennials, and Hispanics are shaping up as dominating forces in the housing market, according to a new analysis from realtor.com®. Ten of the top 20 and seven of the 10 fastest-growing buyer first names are mostly millennial female names, researchers found. Home deeds that contained predominantly millennial first names rose 5.3 percent year over year. Home sales associated with traditionally Hispanic first names increased 4.1 percent year over year.

Hannah, Austin, Alexis, Logan, and Taylor—three of which are predominantly female names—were the five fastest-growing first names on home sales deeds in 2018. Their frequency saw an average increase of 22 percent from 2017. However, the first names of Michael, John, David, James, and Robert remained the top five first names on sale deeds by sheer volume, but those names have decreased 3 to 5 percent since 2017, according to the study.

Source: “Women, Millennials, and Hispanics Will Shape the Future of Housing,” realtor.com® (Jan. 9, 2019)

Home Loan Interest Rates Update!

The new year is kicking off with lower mortgage rates for home shoppers and people looking to refinance their mortgages. The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped to a 4.51 percent average this week, Freddie Mac reports.

“Low mortgage rates combined with decelerating home price growth should get prospective home buyers excited to buy,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.51 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.55 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.95 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.99 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 4.01 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.38 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Here Comes a Buyer’s Market

A power shift is occurring in the housing market with more negotiating power landing on the buyer’s side.

The National Association of REALTORS® recently reported an uptick in inventory entering more markets as more homeowners put their homes up for sale. Plus, buyers are having more choice, prompting some sellers to lower their asking prices due to the added competition, according to CoreLogic researchers.

“Given the 17 million more jobs now compared to the turn of the century, home sales are clearly under performing today,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “That also means there is a steady longer-term growth potential.”

Holiday Gift: ‘Low Mortgage Rates’

Mortgage rates moderated this week after posting a big drop last week, and the Federal Reserve’s decision on Wednesday to raise its short-term key interest rate hasn’t had much on an effect on rates. (The Fed’s key rate is not directly tied to mortgage rates, but does often influence it.) Now’s the time to start a loan and home search.

Freddie Mac report of mortgage rates for the week ending Dec. 20:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.62 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping slightly from last week’s 4.63 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.94 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.07 percent, with an average 0.4 point, unchanged from last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.38 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.98 percent, with an average 0.3 point, falling from last week’s 4.04 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.39 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

A ‘Welcome Sign’ for Housing!

For the second consecutive month, existing-home sales rose, as three of the four major U.S. regions saw an increase in sales last month, the National Association of REALTORS® reported 12/19/18.

“The market conditions in November were mixed, with good signs of stabilizing home sales compared to recent months, though down significantly from one year ago,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Rising inventory is clearly taming home price appreciation.”

For a closer look at some of the leading indicators in existing-home sales in November, visit details and chart at: National Association of REALTORS®

FHA Raises Loan Limits for 2019

The Federal Housing Administration has announced that most of the country will see an increase to loan limits in the new year. The loan limit for lower-cost areas will be set at $314,827—or 65 percent of the national conforming loan limit of $484,350. In high-cost areas, the new FHA limit for 2019 will increase to $726,525, up from $679,650. The new loan limits will take effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Source: “FHA Loan Limits to Increase in Most of U.S. in 2019,” HousingWire (12/14/18)

Loan Rates at Three-Month Lows

Home shoppers and refinancers saw some relief in mortgage borrowing costs this week. “Mortgage rates have either fallen or remained flat for five consecutive weeks and purchase applicants are responding with an uptick in demand given these lower rates,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following for the week ending Dec. 13:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.63 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.75 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.93 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.07 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.21 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.36 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Fannie, Freddie’s ‘Holiday Gift’

No Foreclosures! Mortgage financing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced a nationwide suspension of eviction lockouts on foreclosures for the holiday season. The foreclosure moratorium will last from Dec. 17 to Jan. 2, 2019, and applies to all foreclosed occupied homes owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The moratorium, however, does not apply to other pre- or post-foreclosure activities. Legal and administrative proceedings for evictions can continue, but families will be able to remain in their home during the holiday moratorium.

Source: Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae

California Passes Solar Panel Law

Starting in 2020, all new homes constructed in California will be required to have between 2 kilowatts and 3 kilowatts of electricity sourced directly from solar panels. State legislators, whom have been considering such a measure for some time, officially voted recently to amend state building codes.

The new mandate, however, won’t be cheap to homeowners. The upfront costs of installing typical solar panels ranges from $8,000 to $12,000. The timing of the move also worries residents who lost their homes in recent wildfires in California because the mandate will add to their rebuilding costs.

Mortgage Rates Are Easing

Home buyers may be finding a window of opportunity to lock in lower rates. Mortgage rates fell this week, after several weeks of moderating, Freddie Mac reports.

“Mortgage rates declined this week amid a steep sell-off in U.S. stocks,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac report of mortgage rates for the week ending Dec. 6:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.75 percent, with an average 0.5 point, down from last week’s 4.81 percent average. Last year at his time, 30-year rates averaged 3.94 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.21 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 4.25 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.36 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac