More Homeowners Tackle Renovation Projects

Homeowners are sprucing up their properties and undertaking more remodeling and repair projects, according to a recent study.

The Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity, released by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, shows an annual growth in home improvement and repair expenditure this year that will remain above its long-term trend of 5 percent. Index authors, however, foresee a steady decline from 7.3 percent in the first quarter to 6.1 percent by the first quarter of 2018.

The National Association of Home Builders’ Remodeling Market Index also showed an increase in the first quarter of 2017, marking the highest reading in activity since 2015. The NAHB’s index shows that more remodelers are reporting that activity is higher now compared to the prior quarter. “A milder than usual winter has led to increased remodeling activity and a positive outlook for spring,” says Dan Bawden, the chairman of NAHB Remodelers. “Remodelers are seeing stronger market conditions with customers more willing to spend money on both small and large projects.”

—Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Home Loan Interest Rates Drop Below 4%

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has fallen to its lowest average since November 2016, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey.

“Weak economic data and growing international tensions are driving investors out of riskier sectors and into Treasury securities. This shift in investment sentiment has propelled rates lower,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending April 20:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.97 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.08 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.59 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.23 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.34 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.85 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Owners Question Appraised Values: Too Low?

Homeowners say their homes are worth more than what appraisers say they’re worth, and the gap between the values is growing, according to Quicken Loans’ latest Home Price Perception Index.

Appraisals, on average, were 1.77 percent lower than what homeowners expected, according to the index. This marks the fourth consecutive month in which the gap between homeowner estimates and appraiser opinions has widened.

That said, appraisals are showing higher values than what homeowners expected in some of the hottest housing markets, mainly on the West Coast, according to the index reading for March.

Source: Quicken Loans

‘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

Study: Millennials Hold Off on Big Life Choices

Baby boomers and millennials have different attitudes when it comes to marriage, children, and home ownership. Researchers with the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University compared adults who were 25 to 34 years old in the 1980’s with those who are in that age group today. One difference they found is that millennials are getting married later in life. In 1980, two-thirds of 25- to 34-year-old’s were married; in 2015, just two in five were married.

Because baby boomers were more likely to get married younger, they generally left their parents’ home much earlier than millennials. Americans in their late 20s and early 30s who live with their parents or grandparents have more than doubled since 1980, notes researcher Lydia Anderson. In 1980, only 9 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds were living with parents or grandparents compared to 22 percent in 2015.

Millennials are also putting off having children and buying a home. Plus, lag behind baby boomers when it comes to marriage, children, and home ownership, they are more likely to obtain a college degree, the study notes.

Source: “Young Americans Are Killing Marriage,” Bloomberg (April 4, 2017)

Loan Activity Constrained by Prices, Inventory

A decrease in refinancing activity—due to the uptick in mortgage rates since November 2016—has curtailed overall mortgage application activity in recent weeks. It’s again what was behind the 1.6 percent drop in total mortgage applications last week, says the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Applications for refinances dropped 4 percent last week and are now 33 percent below a year ago.

Meanwhile, applications for home purchases are performing much stronger, rising 1 percent last week and now 8 percent higher than a year ago. Housing analysts say that purchase activity could be much higher, if it weren’t for high prices and a tight supply of homes for-sale in many markets.

Mortgage rates haven’t fluctuated too much over the past few weeks, giving borrowers a temporary reprieve. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.34 percent last week, up slightly from 4.33 percent the week prior.

Source: “Mortgage Applications Fall 1.6%, But Average Loan Size Hits Record High,” CNBC (April 5, 2017)

Mortgage Rates Retreat Slightly This Week

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage decreased slightly, following two months of steady rises.

“The 30-year mortgage rate moved with Treasury yields and dropped 7 basis points to 4.23 percent. This marks the greatest week-over-week decline for the 30-year mortgage rate in over two months, a stark contrast from last week’s jump following the FOMC announcement.” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending March 23:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.23 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.30 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.71 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.44 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.50 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.96 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

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)

The Race Is On to Snag a Low Rate

Borrowers are getting spooked by rising rates and they’re rushing to lock in rates before any further increases. That’s pushing mortgage application volume higher, increasing a seasonally adjusted 3.3 percent week over week, the Mortgage Bankers Association report. Buyers are also increasingly turning to adjustable-rate mortgages to try to get more savings in their monthly payments too.

“Mortgage rates increased last week as remarks by several key Federal Reserve officials strongly signaled a March rate increase,” says Joel Kan, an MBA economist. “This was further supported by a few solid economic data releases, including GDP, inflation, and manufacturing gauges.”

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 4.36 percent from 4.30 percent the previous week, the MBA reports.

Source: “Borrowers Rush to Beat Rising Rates, Pushing Mortgage Volume 3.3% Higher,” CNBC (March 8, 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)