Refinance & Lower Loan Payments

Mortgage rates are hovering near three-year lows, and more homeowners may want to start taking advantage. Up to 20 million homeowners could “theoretically” see a 75-point drop in mortgage rates by refinancing, according to a recent analysis from Black Knight.

For homeowners with a credit score of at least 720 and with 20% of equity in their property, they could see savings of nearly $270 per month from lower rates.

Homeowners are starting to respond to lower rates. Refinances are at the highest point since mid-2016 and have doubled since late July. Refinances are up 37% over the past week alone, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Rates Hover Near Record Lows

“The sound and fury of the financial markets continue to warn of an impending recession; however, the silver lining is mortgage demand reached a three-year high this week,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The decline in mortgage ratesover the last month is causing a spike in refinancing activity—as homeowners currently have $2 trillion in conventional mortgage loans that are in the money—which will help support consumer balance sheets and increase household cash flow. On top of that, purchase demand is up 7% from a year ago.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Aug. 15:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.60%, with an average 0.5 point, unchanged from last week’s average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.53%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.07%, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.05% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 4.01%.
Source: Freddie Mac

Latest Data Shows Housing Clash

Lower mortgage rates are prompting higher demand from home buyers to buy, but they aren’t finding enough homes for sale. Mortgage rates last week reached the lowest average since November 2016.

“July’s data highlight tension in the housing markets between buyers eager to take advantage of lower mortgage rates and potential sellers concerned about slowing price growth,” says George Ratiu, realtor.com®’s senior economist. “The decline in newly listed properties suggests that some would-be sellers are stepping back from the market, during the peak buying season, when most people are searching for their next home.”

July saw flat inventory growth, which realtor.com® researchers say could lead to inventory declines much sooner than originally anticipated. Newly listed properties were down 7% in July compared to a year ago, realtor.com® reports.

Source: realtor.com®

Mortage Rates Lowest Since 2016

“There is a tug of war in the financial markets between weaker business sentiment and consumer sentiment,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Business sentiment is declining on negative trade and manufacturing headlines, but consumer sentiment remains buoyed by a strong labor market and low rates that will continue to drive home sales into the fall.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Aug. 8:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.60%, with an average 0.6 point, falling from last week’s 3.75% average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.59%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.05%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.20% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 4.05%.
Source: Freddie Mac

If You Don’t Like Home Prices, Blame the Labor Shortage

A shortage of subcontractors continues to hit the new-home market, placing upward pressure on home prices, according to the latest reading from the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. The index asked builders about specific shortages they’re facing among 15 different occupations.

The labor shortage over the past year has meant builders have had to pay higher wages to attract subcontractors and have faced greater difficulty in completing projects on time. Seventy-five percent of builders surveyed say the shortages have also translated into higher home prices.

Subcontractors index at article source: “Labor Shortages Still Hurting Affordability,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (Aug. 5, 2019)

Shop Around for a Mortgage

More than a third of home buyers say they did not shop around before selecting their mortgage lender, according to new findings from Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey. That may mean they’re missing out in thousands of dollars in savings.

Real estate professionals, with family and friends, may be among the most influential sources of advice regarding lender selection, notes Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, in a new column at Fannie Mae.

We recommend a local lender knowledgeable about the area and offers a variety of loans should be one source. The agent needs to help buyers get a lender with the right type of loan that best fits them and the subject home.

Source: Fannie Mae

Mortgage Rates Stay Low

“Mortgage rates have essentially stabilized over the last two months, which reflects the recovery and improvement in the economy from the malaise earlier in the year,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Going forward, the combination of low mortgage rates, tight labor market, and high consumer confidence should set up the housing market for continued improvement in home sales heading into late summer and early fall.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Aug. 1, 2019:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.75%, with an average 0.6 point, unchanged from last week’s average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.60%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.20%, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.18% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 4.08%.
Source: Freddie Mac

Fed Just Cut Interest Rates

The Federal Reserve today cut interest rates for the first time since the Great Recession took hold in 2008. The Fed says its decision to lower interest rates a quarter-point , which comes after months of pressure from President Donald Trump, is designed to stave off the threat of an economic downturn.

Lower borrowing costs are helping buyers manage rising home prices. For example, buyers who spend $1,500 on monthly mortgage payments can afford to purchase a $402,500 home this year compared to $367,500 last year, when mortgage rates averaged 4.57%, according to realtor.com®. “Last year, buyers would have needed an additional $145 a month on top of the $1,500 to afford a $402,500 home,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist.

Source: “Realtor.com® Reports How Much More Home Buying Power There Is Today Thanks to Lower Mortgage Rates,” Forbes.com (July 30, 2019); “The Fed Just Cut Interest Rates. Here’s What That Means for You,” The New York Times (July 31, 2019); National Association of REALTORS®

Reversal in Home Sales Slump

Home sales appear poised to reverse their downward trend, as contract signings in each of the four major U.S. regions rose in June, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest Pending Home Sales Index. The West saw the highest increase in contract signings last month, according to NAR’s report.

Contract signings are now up 1.6% year over year, ending a 17-month streak of annual decreases. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun sees the increase as the likely start of a lasting trend for home sales in the coming months. “Job growth is doing well, the stock market is near an all-time high, and home values are consistently increasing,” Yun says. “When you combine that with the incredibly low mortgage rates, it is not surprising to now see two straight months of increases.”

Mortgage Rates at 3-Year Lows

After a slight uptick last week, mortgage rates fell back to a more regular pattern of hovering near three-year lows. Home buyers are responding to the lower rates, and mortgage applications for home purchases have continued to rise steadily the last two months to the highest year-over-year change since the fall of 2017, says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reported these national averages rates for the week ending July 25:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.75%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.81% average. Last year at this time, rates averaged 4.54%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.18%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.23% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 4.02%.
Source: Freddie Mac