A ‘Welcome Sign’ for Housing!

For the second consecutive month, existing-home sales rose, as three of the four major U.S. regions saw an increase in sales last month, the National Association of REALTORS® reported 12/19/18.

“The market conditions in November were mixed, with good signs of stabilizing home sales compared to recent months, though down significantly from one year ago,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Rising inventory is clearly taming home price appreciation.”

For a closer look at some of the leading indicators in existing-home sales in November, visit details and chart at: National Association of REALTORS®

FHA Raises Loan Limits for 2019

The Federal Housing Administration has announced that most of the country will see an increase to loan limits in the new year. The loan limit for lower-cost areas will be set at $314,827—or 65 percent of the national conforming loan limit of $484,350. In high-cost areas, the new FHA limit for 2019 will increase to $726,525, up from $679,650. The new loan limits will take effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Source: “FHA Loan Limits to Increase in Most of U.S. in 2019,” HousingWire (12/14/18)

Loan Rates at Three-Month Lows

Home shoppers and refinancers saw some relief in mortgage borrowing costs this week. “Mortgage rates have either fallen or remained flat for five consecutive weeks and purchase applicants are responding with an uptick in demand given these lower rates,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following for the week ending Dec. 13:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.63 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.75 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.93 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.07 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.21 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.36 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Fannie, Freddie’s ‘Holiday Gift’

No Foreclosures! Mortgage financing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced a nationwide suspension of eviction lockouts on foreclosures for the holiday season. The foreclosure moratorium will last from Dec. 17 to Jan. 2, 2019, and applies to all foreclosed occupied homes owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The moratorium, however, does not apply to other pre- or post-foreclosure activities. Legal and administrative proceedings for evictions can continue, but families will be able to remain in their home during the holiday moratorium.

Source: Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae

California Passes Solar Panel Law

Starting in 2020, all new homes constructed in California will be required to have between 2 kilowatts and 3 kilowatts of electricity sourced directly from solar panels. State legislators, whom have been considering such a measure for some time, officially voted recently to amend state building codes.

The new mandate, however, won’t be cheap to homeowners. The upfront costs of installing typical solar panels ranges from $8,000 to $12,000. The timing of the move also worries residents who lost their homes in recent wildfires in California because the mandate will add to their rebuilding costs.

Stage Set to Revive First-Time Home Buyer Market

The move by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac this week to offer 3 percent down payment loans may reignite the first-time home buyer market.

The new loans announced by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be fixed-rate mortgages for up to 30 years, available only on a primary residence. Fannie plans to begin issuing the 3 percent loans before the end of the year. Mortgage insurance payments will be required, and qualified buyers will need to complete a financial counseling program.

Freddie Mac plans to start issuing its 3 percent loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers in March 2015. Eligible borrowers will be required to earn less than an area’s median income and will have to pay mortgage insurance and do financial counseling. Monthly payments also will have to fall under 43 percent of the borrower’s income.

Source: “More Americans to Buy Homes with 3 Percent Down,” The Associated Press (Dec. 11, 2014)