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)

Home Loan Interest Rates Hit 2017 High

For the first time in weeks, the 30-year mortgage rate moved with treasury yields and jumped 11 basis points to 4.21 percent. The strength of Friday’s employment report and the outcome of next week’s FOMC meeting are likely to set the direction of next week’s survey rate.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages rates for the week ending March 10:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.21 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending March 9, 2017, up from last week when it averaged 4.10 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.68 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage  (FRM) this week averaged 3.42 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.32 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.96 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Loan Interest Rates Are Holding Steady

Rates have mostly stayed flat the past three weeks, offering buyers a pause to steadily rising rates.

“Rates are at about the same level at which they started the year and have stayed within a two basis point range over the past three weeks. Mixed economic releases such as Friday’s jobs report and uncertainty about the Administration’s fiscal policies have contributed to the holding pattern in rates.” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Feb. 9:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.17 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 4.19 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.65 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.39 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.41 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.95 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

From Boom to Bust? Farmlands Are In Trouble

Many farmers are facing higher debt as a multiyear drop in prices for corn, wheat, and other commodities plagues on. That is pushing more farmers out of business. The Farm Belt will soon have fewer than 2 million farms, the lowest in years.

Still, economists aren’t predicting the crisis to be as severe as the one that struck the Farm Belt in the 1980s, in which farmland values plummeted and interest rates soared.

Economists expect farmland values to fair much better this time around. After all, farm incomes had record highs in 2013. Many farmers still have significant cash reserves. Plus interest rates are still relatively low.

Lenders say farmers are going through their saving fast. They say younger farmers – without sufficient reserves — and large growers – those who may have expanded too much during the boom years — may be the most vulnerable. Large growers may have accumulated too much debt in recent years as they expanded operations and also locked into multiyear land leases at high rents.

Source: “The Next American Farm Bust Is Upon Us,” The Wall Street Journal (2017)

Mortgage Rates Move Up for First Time in 2017

Following several weeks of decreases, mortgage rates were back on the rise this week.

“This week marks the first increase in the mortgage rate since December 29. The 2.8 percent decline in existing home sales in December is a reminder of the lack of homes for sale. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, supply is at its lowest level since 1999, a factor that should support higher house prices regardless of the oscillations of the mortgage rate.”

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.19 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 4.09 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.79 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.40 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 3.34 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.07 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Study: January, February ‘Great for Buying’

For home buyers hoping to snag a deal, they may want to make a move now. Home prices in January usually decrease compared to the spring and summer buying season.

There’s plenty of research to back that up too. NerdWallet recently crunched two years of realtor.com® data that reflected the 50 largest U.S. metros. Researchers found that January and February were the top months for those looking to get a bargain. In those months, home sales prices were 8.45 percent lower on average than in June through August.

“You basically face almost half of the competition with almost the same amount of inventory in the market,” says Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist. Plus, buyers likely will face fewer homes with multiple bidders.

“As we look toward spring and later in 2017, [mortgage rates are] another reason to buy in January and February,” Smoke says. “Because rates are expected to be about 50 basis points, or half a percent, more as the year goes on.”

Source: “Why January Is the Best Time to Buy a Home” NerdWallet (Jan. 13, 2017)

It’s Still More Affordable to Buy Than Rent

In about two-thirds of the country – or 66 percent of the largest U.S. counties – it’s more affordable to buy a home than to rent one, according to a report by ATTOM Data Solutions.

They compared the monthly rents of three-bedroom apartments to monthly payments on median-priced homes (including the mortgages, property taxes, and insurance) across 540 counties.

“It feels like buying a home is getting tougher and tougher from an affordability standpoint,” says Daren Blomquist, ATTOM’s senior vice president. “But the low interest rates have really helped.”

Source: “Buying a Home May Be More Affordable Than You Think,” realtor.com® (Jan. 5, 2017) and ATTOM Data Solutions

Home Loan Interest Rates Are Nearing 4%

Fixed-rate mortgages are climbing following a post-selection sell-off in the Treasury Market.

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.94 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.57 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.97 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.14 percent, with an average 0.5 point, increasing from last week’s 2.88 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.18 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Rising Mortgage Rates Nip at Loan Demand

“As incoming economic data reassured investors regarding U.S. growth, and financial markets returned to viewing a December Fed hike as increasingly likely, mortgage rates rose to their highest level in a month last week,” says Michael Fratantoni, the MBA’s chief economist. “Total and refinance application volume dropped to their lowest levels since June as a result.”

Refinancings have been dropping for several weeks now, with an 8 percent drop last week. Mortgage applications for home purchases, on the other hand, posted a smaller drop at 3 percent week over week. Purchase applications are still 27 percent higher than a year ago.

Source: “Mortgage Applications Down 6% as Rising Rates Take a Toll,” CNBC (Oct. 12, 2016)