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)

Home Buyers: Watch Out for Deed Restrictions

Deed restrictions can bring nasty surprises to homeowners looking to remodel or even when buying a home. These restrictions can limit a number of property features, such as the number of bedrooms in your home, the building height, the type of vehicles in your driveway, the fencing permitted, the type and number of trees that can be removed from a property, and even the style and color of construction materials used in a renovation (which often is intended to limit architectural variations).

During the escrow process or before making an offer, make sure you are aware of any deed restrictions—often called “restrictive covenants” — before buying to avoid problems later on. The property does not have to be part of a homeowners association to be limited by a developer rule included in a deed.

“Deed restrictions turn up during title searches and a careful reading of the current deed,” a realtor.com® article notes. Anyone who buys the property must abide by the restrictions, even if they were put in place on the land a century ago. Deed restrictions are known for being difficult to change and often take a judicial ruling to invalidate them.

Source: “Building, Buying, or Beefing Up a Home? Watch Out for Annoying Deed Restrictions,” realtor.com® (3/01/17)

Homeowners Living Farther From Their Work

The typical American commute continues to get longer and longer. The average commute time grew to 26.4 minutes, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. Multiplied out, the average American spends about three hours and 20 minutes longer getting to and from work than they did in 2014. Our ‘Sierra Foothills’ locations are great for Sacramento commuters! (See our Videos)

Even longer commutes than that are the norm for many workers. The number of workers with 45-minute commutes increased to 3.5 percent and the number of hour-long commutes increased to 5.1 percent. Workers with extreme commutes — 90 minutes or more — grew by the fastest rate of all, to 8 percent.

One potential future bright spot for workers faced with longer commute times is the gradual growing acceptance of remote working. About 4.6 percent of workers, or 6.8 million, worked from home in 2015, according to U.S. Census data. That is a 5 percent increase since 2014.

Source: “The American Commute Is Worse Today Than It’s Ever Been,” The Washington Post (Feb. 22, 2017)

Existing-Home Sales Reach Decade High

Existing-home sales in January reached their fastest pace in nearly a decade, with all major regions except the Midwest posting gains last month, the National Association of REALTORS® reports.

Total existing-home sales—completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops—rose 3.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.69 million in January. That’s 3.8 percent higher than a year ago and marks the strongest month since February 2007, according to the NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

The REALTORS® Affordability Distribution Curve and Score, a new measurement of homebuying activity created by NAR and realtor.com®, revealed that the combination of higher mortgage rates and home prices made active listings less affordable for households in more than half of all states last month.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

 

Age 50+ ‘Real Estate Resources’

REALTORS® who carry the Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) designation are specially qualified to address the real estate needs of those age 50+. SRES® designees recognize that a home often is the largest and most precious asset that baby boomers and seniors have.

Thus, SRES® designees bring a unique approach to each transaction and interaction with clients. They not only offer a deep knowledge of real estate and the local and economic issues shaping market trends, but they’re also educated on issues of particular concern to aged 50+ clients.

Their special skills help such clients look at the big picture, factoring in financial issues and current and future care needs, to ensure that each client arrives at the best decision about selling a property and finding a new home.

Ready to buy, sell, rent or relocate? Find an SRES® designee near you to get started! www.seniorsrealestate.com

Mortgage Rates: Is It a ‘Year Full of Surprises’?

Interesting thought of the week with this real estate opinion:  “For the last 46 years, the 30-year mortgage rate has been almost perfectly correlated with the yield on the 10-year Treasury, but not this year,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “From Dec. 29, 2016, through today, the 30-year mortgage rate fell 17 basis points to this week’s reading of 4.15 percent. In contrast, the 10-year Treasury yield began and ended the same period at 2.49 percent. While we expect mortgage rates to fall into line with Treasury yields shortly, this just may be a year full of surprises.”

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages for the week ending Feb. 16:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.15 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.17 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.65 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.35 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.39 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.95 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

The Big Down Payment Myth

39 percent of non-owners say they believe they need more than 20 percent for a down payment on a home purchase. Twenty-six percent believe they need to put down 15 to 20 percent, and 22 percent say they need a down payment of 10 percent to 14 percent to buy, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Aspiring Home Buyers Profile report.

But now for the reality: The average down payment on a purchase mortgage was just 11 percent in 2016. And that’s just the average; often times down payments are much lower. For borrowers under the age of 35, the average down payment was just under 8 percent, according to NAR’s survey.

There are many mortgage options that offer the opportunity to make low or even no down payments. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture offer no-money down loans to those who are eligible. In 2016, 16 percent of buyers under the age of 35 put no money down on their home purchase.

Further, the largest share of loans for buyers under age 35 last year were for people putting down less than 5 percent on a home purchase (or about $3,500). The 3 percent down payment programs backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the 3.5 percent FHA mortgage that primarily targets first-time buyers, are both helpful programs to consider. These loan programs don’t require unblemished credit either. Please contact us for more details (no obligation).

Source: “Attention First-Time Buyers: Here’s the Key Stuff You Don’t Know About Mortgages,” realtor.com® (Feb. 9, 2017)

Don’t Underestimate Power of Pets

Pets are having more of an influence in home buying and selling as well as renovation, a new study by the National Association of REALTORS® shows. Eighty-one percent of Americans say that animal-related considerations play a role when deciding on their next living situation, according to the 2017 Animal House: Remodeling Impact report.

“In 2016, 61 percent of U.S. households either have a pet or plan to get one in the future, so it is important to understand the unique needs and wants of animal owners when it comes to homeownership ” says NAR President William E. Brown. “REALTORS® understand that when someone buys a home, they are buying it with the needs of their whole family in mind; ask pet owners, and they will enthusiastically agree that their animals are part of their family.”

99 percent of pet owners say they consider the animal part of the family. Eighty-nine percent of respondents say they would not give up their animal because of housing restrictions or limitations. Home owners are willing to move for their pets too. Twelve percent of pet owners have moved to accommodate their animal; 19 percent would consider moving to accommodate their animal in the future.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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)