Survey: More Buyers Make Offers Sight Unseen

The number of buyers making offers sight unseen—meaning they haven’t physically visited the property is on the rise, according to a survey of recent home buyers conducted by real estate brokerage Redfin. Thirty-three percent of respondents in 11 major markets say they made an offer on at least one house sight unseen. These types of offers are more common when working with foreign buyers and in markets where homes are selling quickly, real estate professionals say.

New uses of 3-D photos, video tours, and virtual reality are giving some buyers enough confidence to purchase a home without an in-person showing. The Wall Street Journal reports that some real estate pros are conducting property walkthroughs with long-distance buyers remotely via FaceTime, Skype, or WhatsApp. Some agents are working with technology companies to create 3-D photo and video tours within the virtual reality space to make long-distance buyers feel like they’re at the property in person.

Source: “Buying a Home Sight Unseen Is Easier Than Ever – and More Common,” The Wall Street Journal (June 22, 2017) [Log-in required.]

Investors Back Away From Home Flipping

Investors are retreating from flipping houses, showing skepticism that the practice will continue to pay off. About 43,615 single-family homes and condos were flipped in the first quarter of 2017, down 8 percent from the previous quarter and 6 percent from a year ago, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ Q1 2017 U.S. Home Flipping Report. It represents the lowest number of flips in two years. ATTOM Data Solutions defines a flip as a home that has been sold twice within a 12-month period.

Home flips accounted for 6.7 percent of all single-family and condo sales for the quarter, one-third of which were purchased with financing. That’s up from 31.9 percent that were financed in the fourth quarter of 2016, setting the highest level since the third quarter of 2008.

More interesting ‘Home Flipping’ information at: ATTOM Data Solutions/RealtyTrac

Home Loan Interest Rates are Barely Moving?

Mortgage rates were mostly in a holding pattern last week, which may have been welcome news to borrowers after the previous week’s uptick.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending May 4:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.02 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling slightly from last week’s 4.03 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.61 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.27 percent, with an average 0.5 point, the same average as last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.86 percent, ARMs averaged 2.80 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

‘Mortgage Rates Surprise’ They Near 2017 Low!

tThe 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped lower for the third consecutive week and neared its low for 2017, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey.

“After three straight weeks of declines, the 30-year mortgage rate is now barely above the 2017 low. Next week’s survey rate may be determined by Friday’s employment report and whether or not it can sustain the strength from earlier this year.” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages for the week ending April 6, 2017:

30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.10 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.14 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.59 percent.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.36 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.39 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.88 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

‘Energy Efficiency’ Weighted More in Appraisals

Energy efficiency scores will soon be included on appraisal forms in a handful of states. Builders are applauding the change, saying that will help give more credit for energy-saving features.

The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index is a numerical rating system that measures energy consumption compared to a standard house. The standard house has a score of 100. But a house that has a HERS index of 70, for example, would use 30 percent less energy. A home with a HERS index of 130, on the other hand, would consume 30 percent more energy. As such, the lower the HERS score, the lower the energy costs. The HERS score will be added to an existing green-building addendum that appraisers use.

More details at this source: “A Move Toward More Helpful Appraisals,” Greenbuildingadvisor.com (March 16, 2017)

 

Fed Votes to Raise Rates: The Housing Impact?

The Federal Reserve is picking up the pace, voting on Wednesday to raise its key interest rate just three months after its last rate hike. The Fed announced that short-term interest rates will increase by one-quarter of a percentage point and suggested that two similar increases likely will occur later this year. Mortgage rates aren’t directly tied to the Fed’s short-term interest rates but tend to follow them.

As of Tuesday, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.39 percent, according to Mortgage News Daily. Last summer, rates were near record lows of 3.44 percent.

“Rising inflation will predominantly dictate the next monetary policy decision, but another short-term rate hike should be expected by the end of the summer,” Lawrence Yun, the chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®, notes at the association’s Economists’ Outlook blog. “Right now, rents and housing costs are increasing faster than other components because of the stubborn housing shortages in much of the U.S. To contain inflation and slow the pace of future rate hikes, more home construction is needed now.”

Source: “How the Fed’s Latest Move Is Expected to Hurt Buyers,” realtor.com® (March 15, 2017) and “Fed Quickens Pace, Raises Rate 3 Months After Last Hike,” RISMedia (March 15, 2017)

This Could Boost Millions of Credit Scores

Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion announced they will soon remove tax lien and civil judgment data from some consumer credit records. The reason for this change is that many liens and most judgments fail to include vital pieces of information. Beginning on July 1, the public records data the firms use must include these data points: the consumer’s name, address, and either a social security number or a date of birth. Existing reports that fail to comply will be struck from the consumer’s credit record and new data that does not have that information will not be added.

Credit scores are weighed carefully by lenders in making decisions about loan terms and how much consumers can borrow, and can be very important in securing a sustainable mortgage. FICO estimates the changes will cause an improvement to about 12 million consumer scores; however the boost will be modest, likely less than 20 points.

In recent months, several lawsuits brought by states have been pushing credit reporting companies to remove some categories of negative data from credit score reports, such as information related to library fines or gym memberships. But some experts fear removing negative public record information could pose a greater risk to lenders.

Source: “Reporting Change Could Raise Credit Scores, Risk,” Mortgage News Daily (March 14, 2017)

What Has Analysts Worried With FHA Loans?

The number of riskier mortgages is growing, which is increasing delinquencies—albeit slightly—and raising concerns about defaults, USA Today reports. Federal Housing Administration loans, which typically require down payments of 3 percent to 5 percent, are at the center of most of the concern.

FHA-backed loans are becoming more available through non-banker lenders, who have in some cases eased credit standards compared to banks.

The big concern to many economists is if home prices peak and then decrease, homeowners who made a down payment of just 5 percent and are less creditworthy may be more likely to default.

But non-bank lenders say the loosening of FHA standards is a welcome sign and not one to fear. Your comments?

Source: “Concerns About Riskier Mortgages Are Sprouting,” USA Today (March 12, 2017)

How Will Housing Fare In the Next Decade?

Housing demand over the next decade will be significantly higher than it is today, predicts Lawrence Yun, the chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®, in his latest column at Forbes.com. Rising populations and a growth in the job market likely will release a pent-up demand in housing over the next 10 years, he says.

The ages you’ll need to watch for in the housing market over the next decade: those in their 30s and 40s. The population of people in their 30s is expected to grow by 5 million over the next decade, reaching 48 million. Yun says that 12 percent increase likely will lead to more first-time home buyers. Plus, the number of Americans in their 40s will increase by 3 million, and he predicts they’ll be looking to trade up in real estate.

Overall, Yun notes, “Within reasonable parameters of economic growth and interest rate movements, home sales should do well over the next decade, clocking in at around 6 million a year.” The ages we’ll need to watch for in the housing market over the next decade: those in their 30s and 40s. The population of people in their 30s is expected to grow by 5 million over the next decade, reaching 48 million. Or course, every region will vary, what’s predicted for your market?

Source: “Housing Demand Over the Next Decade,” Forbes.com (March 2, 2017)

 

Mortgage Rates Move Lower This Week

Mortgage rates broke a month long holding pattern and inched lower this week.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages rates for the week ending March 2:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.10 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.16 percent average. A year ago, 30-year rates averaged 3.64 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.32 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.37 percent average. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 2.94 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.14 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.16 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.84 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac