Half of Home Buyers Fret About Down Payments

According to a new study, more than half of Americans who have or plan to purchase a home admit they’re concerned about the ability to afford a home in the current market. The study is based on a survey of 1,000 consumers and was released by national online lender Laurel Road. One of the biggest barriers to affordability, respondents said, is the down payment.

Nearly half—or 46 percent—of Americans say they are unfamiliar with alternative down payment options, according to the survey. Nearly three in five respondents plan to put down a traditional 20 percent down payment. Some may feel like they have no other choice. However, the median down payment for first-time buyers in 2017 was 6 percent of the total home price, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

Source: Laurel Road Bank

Mortgage Rates Retreat From 7-Year High

After climbing to their highest level in more than seven years, mortgage rates eased a bit this week. It was the first time they declined in four weeks, says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 10 basis points to a 4.56 percent average this week.

“Extremely low inventory conditions in most markets are preventing sales from breaking out while also keeping price growth elevated,” Khater says. “Even if rates climb closer to 5 percent, sales have room to grow more—but only if current supply levels start increasing more meaningfully.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending May 31:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.56 percent, with an average 0.4 point, down from last week’s 4.66 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.94 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.06 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 4.15 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.19 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Loan Interest Rates Update!

“Mortgage rates so far in 2018 have had the most sustained increase to start the year in over 40 years,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Through May, rates have risen in 15 out of the first 21 weeks (71 percent), which is the highest share since Freddie Mac began tracking this data for a full year in 1972.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending May 24:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.66 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 4.61 percent average. A year ago, 30-year rates averaged 3.95 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.15 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 4.08 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.19 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Mortgage Rates Hit Highest Level in 7 Years

“Healthy consumer spending and higher commodity prices spooked the bond markets and led to higher mortgage rates over the past week,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Not only are buyers facing higher borrowing costs, gas prices are currently at four-year highs just as we enter the important peak home sales season.”

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.61 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 4.55 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.02 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.08 percent, with an average 0.4 point, increasing from last week’s 4.01 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.27 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Best Tip to First-Time Buyers: Act Fast!

A shortage of homes for sale and rising home prices are making it challenging for first-time buyers, in particular, this spring. For those who want to land a home, urge them to move fast and be less picky.

The price of an existing home in March was about $250,000, up nearly 6 percent from a year ago, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Homes are selling in about a month.

Home buyers needn’t wait for a 20 percent down payment. More than half of first-time buyers make down payments of 6 percent or less, according to NAR data from 2017. Both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae support home loans to eligible buyers who put down as little as 3 percent on a home purchase, as does the FHA.

Source: “First-Time Home Buyers Learn to Move Quickly in Tight Markets,” The New York Times (May 11, 2018)

Remodelers Worry Over Labor Shortages

Remodelers report that growing labor shortages are delaying projects and increasing the amount they have to charge homeowners, according to the National Association of Home Builder’s Remodeling Market Index survey for the third quarter of 2017. Those needing a carpenter may find the most trouble; 91 percent of remodelers reported shortages of labor in carpentry work.

More than half of remodelers surveyed reported shortages in 12 of the 15 remodeling jobs analyzed. The most difficult building professionals to find were carpenters, bricklayers, masons, drywall installers, and concrete workers. Overall, labor shortages have been growing in recent years, particularly in the homebuilding sector.

Source: “For Remodelers, Labor Shortages Resume Aggravating Trend,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (May 8, 2018)

FHA Borrowers Get Help Funding Solar Panels

A growing number of lending programs are helping homeowners pay the upfront costs of solar panels. One lender, Guild Mortgage, an independent lender, recently announced a program that allows home buyers to lump the costs of solar panels into an FHA loan. California residents will be the first to have access to the program.

Guild Mortgage’s FHA Solar program follows Federal Housing Administration loan requirements and offers down payment options as low as 3.5 percent. The down payment is based on the purchase of the home before the panels are added into the cost of the mortgage. “This program will give more options to home buyers looking for solar because it gives them the flexibility to purchase panels and add them to any home they choose,” says Guild Mortgage President and CEO Mary Ann McGarry.

Other programs are also available for financing solar, such as PACE loans. Also, some homeowners fund the purchase of solar panels through a second trust deed.

Source: Guild Mortgage

Home Loan Interest Rates Surge to 4-Year High

“Higher Treasury yields, driven by rising commodity prices, more Treasury issuance’s and the steady stream of solid economic news are behind the uptick in rates over the past week,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Despite the increase in borrowing costs, demand for home purchase credit remains solid.” The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that mortgage applications were up 11 percent from a year ago.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending April 26:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.58 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.47 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.03 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.02 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s average of 3.94 percent. A year ago, 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.27 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Sales Should Be Higher—But They’re Not

Following population trends, the U.S. should be adding more than a million households each year for the next few years, economists note in Freddie Mac’s April Outlook report. But higher housing costs and a delay in younger adults’ buying are prompting an uptick in shared living arrangements, multigenerational households, and delayed household formation.

A shortage of homes for sale continues to press on many markets across the country. The number of single-family homes available for sale in the U.S. in February was 1.41 million units, less than half of the inventory peak in 2007, according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®.

Researchers predict that home sales will rise from 6.12 million in 2017 to 6.3 million in 2018, and to 6.44 million in 2019. They are forecasting that new home sales will be a significant driver in home sales over the next few months.

Source: “Nothing Draws a Crowd Like a Crowd: The Outlook for Home Sales,” Freddie Mac Outlook (April 2018)

‘Nonprime’ Loans Expand Mortgage Options

Subprime mortgages—which were blamed for sparking the last housing crisis—are reappearing, this time being dubbed “nonprime” loans. This lending option, which carries new quality standards, is growing for buyers who have damaged credit.

California-based Carrington Mortgage Services is one company expanding its nonprime loan offerings. “We believe there is actually a market today for people who want to buy nonprime loans that have been properly underwritten,” saysRick Sharga, of Carrington Mortgage Holdings, told CNBC.

Carrington Mortgage Services, which plans to manually underwrite each loan, will qualify borrowers with FICO credit scores as low as 500. The lender also will qualify borrowers who’ve had recent problems reported on their credit histories, such as a foreclosure, bankruptcy, or a history of late payments. But borrowers who are at higher risks will be required to make a bigger down payment, and the interest rate on the loan will be higher.

Other lenders also are getting into the nonprime space, including Angel Oak and Caliber Home Loans; more than 80 percent of Angel Oak loans are nonprime.

Source: “Subprime Mortgagees Make a Comeback—With a New Name and Soaring Demand,” CNBC (April 12, 2018)