Home Lot Sizes Shrink to New Low

Lot sizes on new single-family homes have reached a new record low. New homes sold in 2016 had a median lot size of 8,562 square feet, or slightly under one-fifth of an acre.

The median lot size fell to under 8,600 square feet in 2015, according to the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction data. Lot sizes have continued to shrink since then.

Location plays a big role. For example, the median lot size in the New England region is nearly twice as large as the national median, exceeding a third of an acre.

On the other hand, the Pacific region—where densities are often high and developed land is more scarce—has the smallest lots. Half of the lots in the region are under 0.15 acres.

US regional differences map at: “Lot Size Is at a Record Low,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (Oct. 3, 2017)

Mortgage Rates Hit Highest Levels in 6 Weeks

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage inched upwards this week, averaging 3.85 percent. It’s the highest average in six weeks, Freddie Mac reports. “After holding steady last week, rates ticked up this week,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

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

’30-year’ fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.85 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.83 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.42 percent.

’15-year’ fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.15 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.13 percent. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.72 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Consumers: Home Appraisals Still Falling Short

Appraisals continue to lag homeowners’ price expectations, according to the latest Quicken Loans’ National Home Price Perception Index, which compares homeowners’ initial estimates and appraiser’s opinions of home values. Appraised values were 1.35 percent lower than homeowners’ expectations in August. That has narrowed from a 1.55 percent difference in July.

Many homeowners are still not understanding their home’s current value, according to the analysis. The perceptions can vary quite a bit across the country, too. For example, home values are 3 percent higher than homeowners’ estimated values in the West, while they are 3 percent lower than expected in the Midwest and Northeast.

More interesting data and graphs at: quickenloans.com/press-room/2017/09/12/quicken-loans-study-shows-consumers-continue-to-be-too-optimistic-with-anticipated-home-value/

Mortgage Rates Strike New 2017 Low

For the third consecutive week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged a new year-to-date low.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Sept. 7:

’30-year’ fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.78 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s previous yearly low of 3.82 percent. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.44 percent.
’15-year’ fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.08 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.12 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.76 percent.
‘5-year’ hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.15 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 3.14 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.81 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Loan Interest Rates Hit New Yearly Lows

Average mortgage rates moved lower this week, as the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage continues to sit well below 4 percent.

“The 10-year Treasury yield fell to a new 2017 low on Tuesday,” says Freddie Mac chief economist Sean Becketti. “In response, the 30-year mortgage rate dropped four basis points to 3.82 percent, reaching a new year-to-date low for the second consecutive week.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the most recent week through Aug. 31:

30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.82 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.86 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.46 percent.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.12 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.16 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.77 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

30-Year Mortgage Rate Hits New 2017 Low

Borrowers applying for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage this week locked in the lowest rate of the year, as it dropped to its lowest average since November 2016, Freddie Mac reports. Additionally, “the 10-year Treasury yield fell 6 basis points this week amid concerns over lagging inflation,” says Freddie Mac chief economist Sean Becketti.

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages for the week ending Aug. 24:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.86 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.89 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.43 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.16 percent, with an average 0.5 point, the same average as last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.74 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

New Program to Help Buyers Bypass Appraisals

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac has announced a new program allowing some home buyers to skip a traditional appraisal, which could lower the fees the buyers pay and speed up the closing process. Freddie’s Automated Collateral Evaluation (or ACE) will determine a property’s collateral risk by culling data from multiple listing services, public records, and historical home values, and then assess whether a buyer needs a traditional appraisal or an automated one. Borrowers who are refinancing may also be eligible for the program.

Those who qualify for an automated appraisal could save up to $500 in fees and make it to settlement up to 10 days sooner, Freddie says. “By leveraging big data and advanced analytics, as well as 40-plus years of historical data, we’re cutting costs and speeding up the closing process for borrowers,” says David Lowman, Freddie Mac’s executive vice president of single-family business. “At the same time, we’re providing immediate collateral representation and warranty relief to lenders. This is just one example of how we are reimagining the mortgage process to create a better experience for consumers and lenders.”

Source: “Freddie Mac Extends Appraisal-Free Mortgage Program to Purchase Loans,” HousingWire (Aug. 18, 2017) and Freddie Mac

Mortgage Rates at Lowest Point in 6 Weeks

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage reversed course this week, averaging 3.90 percent.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Aug. 10:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.90 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.93 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.45 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.18 percent, with an average 0.5 point, the same average as last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.76 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

A Cruel Season for Home Buyers

Typically, the housing market starts to slow in late summer, and prices drop slightly. But so far this year that hasn’t been the case.

“Homes are not selling faster than last July, but faster than last year’s peak months,” says Javier Vivas, manager of economic research at realtor.com®. “However, quick sales don’t necessarily mean more sales, particularly when there isn’t enough inventory, as is the current case. Home prices also remain stubbornly high, failing to show hints of the usual seasonal cool down. Low and moderately priced homes are being snatched up especially quickly, keeping many would-be buyers from being able to get into the market.”

“In this market, home buyers have to move fast, yet high prices and low inventory are slowing down even the most earnest of house hunters,” Nela Richardson, Redfin’s chief economist, told CNBC. “Faced with a low supply of homes for sale and extremely competitive conditions, many home buyers are struggling to make it to the offer stage.”

Source: “Housing Demand Strengthens Through Summer, But Here’s Why Some Buyers Are Giving Up,” CNBC (Aug. 2, 2017)

Walkable Areas Are Getting More Competition

Older Americans are placing a higher value on living in walkable urban centers, according to a new survey of 1,000 respondents nationwide about their living preferences

A majority of respondents surveyed by A Place for Mom, a national referral service, said it was “very important” or “somewhat important” to live in a walkable neighborhood. They also sought neighborhoods with low crime and those that are close to family.

“It’s time to abandon the idea that only millennials and Generation X care about walkability and the services available in dense urban neighborhoods,” says Charlie Severn, head of marketing at A Place for Mom. “These results show a growing set of senior housing consumers also find these neighborhoods desirable.

The survey authors say it’s important for developers to consider creating multigenerational communities in suburban centers that place an emphasis on walkability. Walkability ranked high regardless of income level in the survey. Walkability ranked highest for those under 70 years old who were seeking senior apartments.

Source: “Seniors Want Walkability Too, Survey Says,” Curbed.com (July 25, 2017)