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.

‘New Frontier’ for ‘Healthy’ Homes

Indoor air quality is one of the top five environmental risks to public health, researchers say. After all, most people spend 90% of their time indoors, whether in homes, office buildings, or other structures. Ventilation is the “new frontier for making houses healthy,” Carl Seville of SK Collaborative, a green building consulting and certification firm, told Forbes.com in a recent article.

There’s reason for the added attention. Recent studies have shown indoor air is polluted with lead, dust mites, radon, pests, carbon monoxide, pet dander, mold, and secondhand smoke, according to the National Environmental Education Foundation. Ventilation in the form of bathroom fans and kitchen range hoods can help remove some of the bad air from homes. Older homes, however, may be prone to leaks of these pollutants.

Source: “Why You Should Take Home Ventilation Seriously,” Forbes.com (May 28, 2019)

Rates Hold at 2-Year Lows

“Mortgage rates were mostly unchanged from last week due to easing of trade tensions with Mexico, which helped stabilize markets,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “These historically low rates should provide continued opportunities for current homeowners to refinance their mortgages—which combined with new home buyer activity—will help sustain the momentum in the housing market in 2019.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending June 13:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.82%, with an average 0.6 point, unchanged from last week. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.62%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.26%, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.28% average. A year ago, rates averaged 4.07%.
Source: Freddie Mac

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)

Rates Drop to 2-Year Lows

This marks the sixth consecutive weekly decline for mortgage rates, leaving some borrowers wondering how low will they go. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.82% this week, the lowest average since September 2017.

“While the drop in mortgage rates is a good opportunity for consumers to save on their mortgage payment, our research indicates that there can be a wider dispersion among mortgage rate offers,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “By shopping around and getting a single additional mortgage rate quote, a borrower can save an average of $1,500.”

Freddie Mac reports the following rates for the week ending June 6:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.82%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.99%. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.54%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.28%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.46% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 4.01%.
Source: Freddie Mac

Homeowners may ‘Benefit from Refinancing’

A recent sharp drop in mortgage rates hasn’t unlocked savings just for those looking to purchase a home—homeowners may also benefit. About 5.9 million borrowers could see their rates drop by at least 75 basis points by refinancing their mortgages, according to Black Knight, a mortgage software and analytics firm. That is up by 2 million in the past month alone.

That’s the largest population of eligible borrower candidates in nearly three years for savings. The savings could add up to about $271 per month per borrower.

The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.94% in the latest week.

Loan Rates Back in 3% Territory

For the first time since January 2018, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has dropped below 4%.

“Lower rates should, however, give a boost to the housing market, which has been on the upswing with both existing- and new-home sales picking up recently,” says Sam Khater, with Freddie Mac.

Freddie Mac reports the following for the week ending May 30:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgagesaveraged 3.99%, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.06% average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.56%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.46%, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.51% average. A year ago, they averaged 4.06%.
Source: Freddie Mac

Home Buyers: Going to the Exurbs

In their search for affordability, home buyers are taking their house hunts further out from the city limits. Exurbs are the outskirts of major metro areas that lie beyond the suburbs. Many offer more land and greater affordability in new-home construction.

Single- and multifamily activity in the exurbs makes up only a small share of permit activity across the country, but their quarterly growth rates reached a new high in the first quarter of 2019, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ new Home Building Geography Index. Single-family permit activity has posted a 5.6% year-over-year growth rate, which is higher than that for large metro areas and suburbs, the index reveals.

Source: “Exurbs Grow During a Weak First Quarter per NAHB HBGI,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (May 28, 2019)

Mortgage Rates Continue Decline

“Mortgage rates fell for the fourth consecutive week and continued the medium-term trend of lower rates since late 2018,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The drop in mortgage rates is causing purchase demand to rise, and the mix of demand is skewing to the higher end as more affluent consumers are typically more responsive to declines in rates.”

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.06%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.07% average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.66%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.51%, with an average 0.4 point, falling from a 3.53% average last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 4.15%.
Source: Freddie Mac

Consider Adding a ‘Granny Flat’

Home improvement professionals say they’re fielding more inquiries from homeowners about adding accessory dwelling units—often nicknamed “granny flats.” A fifth of remodeling contractors say they undertook projects over the last year to create an ADU by converting an existing space, and a similar number say they created an ADU by building a new addition to a property, according to a new survey released by the National Association of Home Builders.

ADUs are smaller units added to a property, and they can be pricey to build. Only 6 percent of remodeling contractors report completing an ADU project for less than $25,000. Three-fourths say ADU projects cost at least $50,000, and 28 percent report projects costing at least $150,000.

Source: “Many Remodelers Are Now Creating ADUs,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (May 22, 2019)