Are Your Neighbors Copycats?

Seventy percent of homeowners admit that they’ve copied their next-door neighbor’s decor. The most common similarity was to their neighbor’s indoor furniture, according to a new international survey from the U.K. of 2,275 homeowners from My Job Quote, a job network resource.

And while imitation can be the sincerest form of flattery, most homeowners say—65%–say that they’re uncomfortable when they learn a neighbor has copied them. Yet, when homeowners were asked whether they’ve ever imitated aspects of their neighbor’s house, 70% admit yes.

Interesting USA data at source: My Job Quote

Mortgage Prepayments Climb

Mortgage prepayments, a common gauge for housing and refinancing demand, jumped to its highest level since May 2013—a good sign for the market, according to a new analysis from data and analystics firm Black Knight. Mortgage prepayments were at 1.81% in October, more than double the figure a year ago. That represents a 134% year-over-year increase, Black Knight reports.

What’s causing the improvement? Low mortgage rates are prompting more people to refinance their mortgage or buy a home. Consumers typically pay off previous loans when they buy a new home.The uptick is apparent: Existing-home sales increased 1.9% in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million—4.6% higher than a year ago, the National Association of REALTORS® reported last week.

Source: “Mortgage Prepays Surge to 6-Year High, Black Knight Says,” HousingWire (Nov. 25, 2019)

Drop in Mortgage Rates = Higher Home Buying Demand

Mortgage rates declined this week, After several weeks of increases, the drop in mortgage rates is a welcome sign for home buyers.

The housing market continues to steadily gain momentum with rising homebuyer demand and increased construction due to the strong job market, ebullient market sentiment, and low mortgage rates,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Residential real estate accounts for one-sixth of the economy, and the improving real estate market will support economic growth heading into next year.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Nov. 21:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.66%, with an average 0.6 point, falling from last week’s 3.75% average. Last year at this time, they averaged 4.81%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.15%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.20% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 4.24%.
Source: Freddie Mac

Which Home Security System?

Consumers show preferences for certain types of security options, according to Safehome.org, a home security survey. For example, the group of consumers who say they feel safe were two times more likely to have a front door security system, the survey found. Professionally monitored security systems help many consumers feel safe, but certain demographics felt more at ease with other features. For example, baby boomers prefer security cameras around the property, men surveyed felt most safe with guns, and renters and homeowners in rural areas felt safest with an entry keypad with a security code and alarm.

About a third of consumers surveyed with a home security system use a variety of accessories, including door sensors and security keypads. Thirty percent of those surveyed also chose all-in-one security systems, which usually consist of live streaming cameras, motion sensors, arming and disarming functionality, and sirens.

Source: “Security in the Home,” Safehome.org (2019)

“I Want to Buy a Home” Report

Many non-owners—those renting or living with someone else—are eager to buy a home. But their current financial situation is what is mostly holding them back.

The newly released “2019 Profile of Buyers and Sellers” report contained a new section this year, including a survey about non-owners and their views on home ownership. NAR released the report during the 2019 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco this week.

But the main reason they aren’t buying yet is because they can’t afford to make the jump into ownership. “Making the largest financial purchase in one’s life relies on the financial strength to do so,” the report notes. Seventy-five percent of non-owners surveyed say they believe home ownership is part of the American dream. Eighty-one percent of non-owners say they want to own a home in the future.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®’

Re-Acceleration in Home Prices

Good news for sellers: Home prices are on the rise. But buyers should brace for higher prices.

Nearly all—93%—of the largest metros in the U.S. saw home prices rise in the third quarter over the past year. A shortage of homes for sale, combined with higher demand, continues to push home prices higher, according to the latest quarterly report from the National Association of REALTORS®, released Thursday.

While the majority of metros saw higher prices in the third quarter, a few markets did register lower prices, notably in areas long-known for high costs. Single-family median home prices moderated in the third quarter in markets such as San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (–4.6%); San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. (–2.5%); and San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. (–0.8%).

Gov. Probe Into Creating More ‘Affordable Housing’

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to ease or, in some cases, eliminate rules that have been blamed for blocking greater construction of affordable housing. Home building is near its lowest level in 60 years, contributing to a nationwide housing shortage that has pushed home prices up and hurting affordability.

Trump announced that a newly created initiative called the White House Council on Eliminating Barriers to Affordable Housing Development will use federal programs to find ways to encourage local governments to allow for more building. The council, which will be chaired by Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, will also conduct a study to quantify the effect of regulations on the housing market and economy.

Source: “Trump Administration to Take on Local Housing Barriers,” The Wall Street Journal (June 25, 2019) [Log-in required.]

Flood Insurance Extension

The Financial Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a five-year extension to the National Flood Insurance Program, the nation’s largest flood insurer. The bill also includes a mandate to improve the country’s flood maps.

Federal law requires the purchase of flood insurance for a federally backed mortgage in special flood hazard areas designated by FEMA. Private flood insurance is also available in many high-risk areas, but the NFIP may be the only option for some.

The bill will now go before the full House for approval. The Senate must be then approve it to bring it to President Donald Trump.

Planning for Home Ownership?

When is the right time to purchase your first home? The answer differs across age groups, family pressures and life goals.

One in five parents say they expect their child to own a home by age 25, yet this doesn’t match up to reality. Younger adults tend to feel the most pressure to own a home, but they’re still waiting on their own time terms, according to a new survey from Porch.com, a home remodeling website. Porch.com surveyed nearly 1,000 individuals, ages of 18 to 81.

“Purchasing a home is one of the most complex and expensive decisions most of us make, so it’s easy to see how not choosing the right style, location, or size can invoke criticism from relatives,” the report notes. “Of the three generations, millennials felt the least amount of pressure from relatives when it came to housing choices, whereas both baby boomers and Gen Xers felt slightly more judged.”

Source: “Exploring Generational Differences in Life Goals,” Porch.com (June 4, 2019)

Homeowners’ Top Neighborhood Gripes

The wrong neighborhood can make for an unhappy homeowner.

A new survey from Porch.com, a home remodeling website, surveyed about 1,000 consumers to find the biggest neighborhood turnoffs. Noise, traffic, and crime were the chief concerns of buyers. Noise topped the list of neighborhood turnoffs, with 41% of respondents citing it as their top gripe, according to the survey. In fact, noise proved to be an even bigger deterrent than a high crime rate.

More details on illustrations at source: “Moving Matters,” Porch.com (May 2019)