Desperate Buyers ‘Snag Homes Sight Unseen’

Some home shoppers are feeling hopeless this spring and making competitive moves in order to get a home. They’re reportedly rushing to making offers without seeing homes first, bidding well above the asking price, or waiving inspections entirely to get sellers to find their offer the most alluring.

Record low supplies of homes for sale are driving up prices across the country.

As for sellers, they may find some big profits when they do sell. “It’s going to have the feel of a hot market” with multiple offers and bidding wars, says Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®. Still, Yun expects sales to be flat compared to a year ago due to the shortage of homes for sale as well as reduced affordability for many house hunters.

Source: “Home Buying Market so Brutal, Some Home Buyers Make Offer Sight Unseen,” USA Today (April 5, 2018)

Mortgage Interest Rates Ease This Week

Borrowers found some relief for the second consecutive week with lower mortgage rates.

“After dropping earlier this week on trade-related anxiety in financial markets, the benchmark 10-year Treasury stabilized on Wednesday, but at a level slightly lower than from the start of last week,” explains Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist.

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages for the week ending April 5:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.40 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.44 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.10 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.87 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 3.90 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.36 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Homeowner Equity Is Hitting a Record High

Homeowners are getting richer, thanks to rising home values. The amount of equity that homeowners can tap into is now at the highest level on record, according to Black Knight Financial Services, a mortgage and finance industry solution provider.

The amount a borrower can take out of a home—while still leaving 20 percent in it—increased by a collective $735 billion during 2017. That is the largest annual increase by dollar value on record, according to Black Knight. The collective amount of tappable equity now stands at $5.4 trillion, 10 percent more than the prerecession peak in 2005.

The amount of homeowner equity varies depending on location. Thirty-nine percent of the nation’s total tappable equity is in California alone. Seattle and Las Vegas have also seen large increases in home equity, Black Knight notes.

Source: “Homeowners Are Sitting on $5.4 Trillion in Ready Cash, the Most Ever,” CNBC (April 2, 2018)

Home Loan Rates Ease Slightly This Week

“Treasury yields fell from a week ago, helping to drive mortgage rates modestly lower,” asys Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s a economist. “The yield on the 10-year Treasury dipped below 2.8 percent for the first time since early February of this year. The decline in Treasury yields comes as investors move into safer assets amid increased trade tensions. Following Treasury yields, mortgage rates fell slightly.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending March 29:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.44 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.45 percent average. Last year at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.14 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.90 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.91 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.39 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Will ‘Granny Flats’ Resolve Housing Shortages?

Some housing economists believe that “granny flats” could be the key to alleviating housing shortages across the country, and they are calling on more municipalities to ease up the rules to allow such dwellings to be built on or into more single-family homes. Nicknamed “granny flats,” these accessory dwelling units tend to be separate, cottage-like structures, but may be a converted garage or basement that houses an extra living area.

In California, three new zoning laws in 2017 allowed for expanded development of granny flats. California has since seen a 63 percent increase in the number of building permits for these units—more than any other state, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data firm. But many counties either still have zoning restrictions that don’t allow these units, or they are making the building permit process difficult.

Source: “Could ‘Granny Flats’ Be the Solution to America’s Affordable-Housing Crisis?” MarketWatch (March 26, 2018)

Flood Insurance Premiums Are About to Go Up

Many homeowners and buyers in flood-prone areas will see higher flood insurance premiums starting April 1. The premium hikes, which are required by law, will be as little as 2 percent for some properties and as high as 24 percent for others. On average, the increase will be about 8 percent.

“The National Flood Insurance Program requires premiums to rise on certain classes of properties over a period of years until they’re paying the full actuarial rate on their risk,” say analysts with the National Association of REALTORS®. “The 8 percent average increase is right in the range of increases for the last couple of years, so there’s nothing unusual here. It’s just the standard rate increase.”

Learn more about the rate changes in a bulletin released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the National Flood Insurance Program.

Mortgage Rates Barely Budge This Week

After last week’s first rate drop of the year, mortgage rates showed little change this week—a welcome sign for the week’s kickoff to the spring home shopping season. But home buyers and borrowers should expect several rate increases over the next few months, economists caution.

“The Federal Reserve raised interest rates [this week]—a much-anticipated move that comes as both U.S. and global economic fundamentals continue to strengthen,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist. “The Fed’s decision to raise interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point puts the federal funds rate at its highest level since 2008. The decision, while widely expected, sent the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury soaring.” (Read: Fed Raises Rates: What This Means for Mortgages)

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending March 22:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.45 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.44 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.23 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.91 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.90 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.44 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

More Homeowners, Appraisers Agree on Values

Homeowners and appraisers are seeing more eye-to-eye when it comes to home values. Appraised values in February were, on average, just 0.53 percent below homeowner estimates—the fifth consecutive month where the gap between the two groups has been less than 1 percent, according to the National Quicken Loans Home Price Perception Index.

When shopping for a home—or even refinancing a current mortgage—consumers should always keep the changes in their local market in mind before estimating a home’s value.”

The Home Price Perception Index chart and other data at article source: Quicken Loans

Home Loan Rates Post First Decline of 2018

Following nine consecutive weeks of increases, borrowers finally got some relief this week with mortgage rates. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage posted its first week-over-week decrease of 2018.

“Tuesday’s Consumer Price Index report indicated inflation may be cooling down; headline consumer price inflation was 2.2 percent year over year in February,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist. “Following this news, the 10-year Treasury fell slightly. Mortgage rates followed.”

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages for the week ending March 15:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.44 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.46 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.30 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.90 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.94 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.50 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Renovations Homeowners Are Eyeing This Year

Outdoor improvements, including decks, patios, and landscaping, remained highest on owners’ to-do lists for the fifth consecutive year. Interior renovations also are popular: Nearly a third of homeowners say they plan to remodel a bathroom, and more than one in four say they plan to update their kitchen, according to a recent survey by LightStream Home Improvement

65 percent of survey respondents saying they’ll take on at least some of the work. Thirty-five percent of the group say they’ll do the entire project on their own.

Also, budgets for renovations are increasing. Forty-five percent of homeowners who are planning a renovation project say they’re willing to spend $5,000 or more—a record high for the survey. The number of respondents who plan to spend $35,000 or more doubled from 2017.

Source: “Home Improvement Ramps Up in 2018,” The LightStream blog (Feb. 27, 2018)