Mortgage Rates Tick Up

“With Federal Reserve policy on cruise control and the economy continuing to grow at a steady pace, mortgage rates have stabilized as the market searches for direction,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “The risk of an economic downturn has receded and, combined with the very strong job market, it should lead to a slightly higher rate environment.”

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.73 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending December 12, 2019, up from last week when it averaged 3.68 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.63 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.19 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.14 percent. A year ago they averaged 4.07 %.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.36 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.39 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 4.04 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Specialty Rooms Are in Demand

home shoppers—particularly millennials—are ranking specialty rooms high on their priority list during their search. These rooms include laundry rooms, home offices, mud rooms, sun rooms, and more. The National Association of Home Builders surveyed buyers to find which of these rooms rank highest on their lists. The NAHB considers specialty rooms anything except bedrooms, bathrooms, or the kitchen—or what’s considered the essentials in a home.

Millennials also showed a strong preference for an exercise room (with 57% wanting one). But that preference tended to wane with age. For comparison, 50% of Gen Xers said they wanted an exercise room, 32% of baby boomers, and only 17% of seniors. Millennials also expressed an interest in media and game rooms and two-story entry foyers, more so than other age groups.

Source: “Specialty Rooms Wanted by Millennial Home Buyers,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (Dec. 5, 2019)

5.4% Jolt for Home Prices for 2020

More home appreciation is likely to come in the new year. In a new report released by CoreLogic, economists predict home prices will spike by 5.4% from October 2019 to October 2020. That is even higher than the 3.5% annual appreciation in national home prices posted this October, the real estate data firm notes.

“We expect home prices to rise at least another 5% over the next 12 months,” says Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Interestingly, this persistent increase in home prices isn’t deterring older millennials. In fact, 25% of those surveyed anticipate purchasing a home over the next six to eight months.”

The CoreLogic Home Price Index is a projection of home prices that is calculated using a variety of economic variables and state-level forecasts.

Home price increases by state is shown in ‘Table 2’ at article source: CoreLogic

Mortgage Rates Stay Steady

“This week the economy sent mixed signals, leaving mortgage rates unchanged,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Survey data for manufacturing and service industries varied while construction spending fell modestly. However, homebuyer demand continued to improve, rising eight percent. Clearly, home buyers remain bullish on the real estate market.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Dec. 5:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.68%, with an average 0.5 point, holding the same as last week. Last week at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.75%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.14%, with an average 0.4 point, falling slightly from last week’s 3.15% average. A year ago, they averaged 4.21%.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.39%, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.43% average. A year ago, they averaged 4.07%.
Source: Freddie Mac

Double Master Suites = Growing Trend

Double master bedrooms are proving to be a growing trend in new luxury developments, Forbes.com reports.

Builders are responding by adding two master suites into more floor plans, whether it’s a single-family home or condo. K.Hovnanian Homes offers several townhouse communities with two master bedrooms. The rooms include large bathrooms attached and walk-in closets.

Some are adding a dual master bedroom on the main level with a separate entrance. “We include features like secondary master suites so that families and loved ones can maintain close connections as they grow,” Gregory Malin, CEO and founder of Troon Pacific, told Forbes.com. “These spaces also allow the owners to age in place, as they can maintain their independence while having their children just steps away.”

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%).

Mortgage Rates Reverse Course

Following three consecutive weeks of increases, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage posted a drop this week. “The improvement in sentiment has been one of the main drivers behind the surge in equity prices and will provide a halo effect to consumer spending heading into the important holiday shopping season,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following nationwide averages for the week ending Nov. 7:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.69%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.78% average. Last year at this time, they averaged 4.94%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.13%, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 3.19% average. A year ago, they averaged 4.33%.
Source: Freddie Mac

Open House? Avoid This Mistake!

Besides staging, cluttering, and stowing away jewelry or valuables, home sellers are overlooking the need to tuck prescription drugs away from medicine cabinets and drawers, they say. A recent article at realtor.com® warns of the dangers and calls out specific medications like Oxycontin, attention deficit disorder medications like Concerta and Adderall, depression and anxiety medications like Zoloft and Xanax, and sleep aids like Ambien for being targets of open house vandals. Some over-the-counter cough suppressants or heartburn medications also may be at risk of being swiped.

“If you’re getting ready to show your home, walk around the house thinking like a stranger,” realtor.com® notes in the article. “What’s easy to pick up? What might be easy to sell? This is a great guideline for medications, but also for hiding any valuables in your home. Think about wine, perfume bottles and expensive lotions.”

Source: “The One Thing Home Sellers Forget to Hide Before an Open House,” realtor.com® (Nov. 5, 2019)

Comeback of ‘Split-Level Homes’

The split-level home—with its rooms on multiple floors—was all the rage in the 1970s, but you don’t see the style as much in contemporary homes. However, that may soon change. Google searches are revealing the split-level home is more in demand.

While the open floor plan is hot, more homeowners have been showing some desire to separate spaces more lately. The split-level blueprint allows for more separation between downstairs and upstairs than other home designs, and also allow for more separated noise and activity between family rooms and bedrooms. It’s also gaining popularity among multigenerational households.

Source: “Surprise! Split-Level Homes Are Becoming Popular Again—and I Know Why,” Apartment Therapy (Oct. 20, 2019)

 

Rates Increased, But Don’t Worry

No reason for home shoppers to get nervous: Economists largely predict mortgage rates will dip in the weeks ahead. Also, rates are still more than a percentage point lower than a year ago.

“Despite this week’s uptick in mortgage rates, the housing market remains on the upswing, with improvement in construction and home sales,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “While there has been a material weakness in manufacturing and consistent trade uncertainty, other economic trends like employment and homebuilder sentiment are encouraging.”

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.69%, with an average 0.6 point, rising from last week’s 3.57% average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.85%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.15%, with an average 0.5 point, rising from a 3.05% average last week. A year ago, they averaged 4.26%..
Source: Freddie Mac