Mortgage Rates Inch Up!

After weeks of declines, mortgage rates reversed course, but are still lower than a year ago.

“While mortgage rates very modestly rose to 4.41 percent this week, they remain below year-ago levels for the fourth week in a row,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s  economist. “In late 2018, mortgage rates rose over a full percentage point from the prior year, which was one of the main reasons that weakness in home sales continued into early 2019. However, the impact of recent lower rates and a strong labor market has led to a rise in purchase mortgage demand as we start the spring home-buying season.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending March 7:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.41 percent,with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.35 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.46 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.83 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 3.77 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.94 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Fed Puts Brakes on Rates

The Federal Reserve voted to leave interest rates unchanged last Wednesday and signaled that it’s not in any hurry to resume raising rates in 2019. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell used words like “patient” to describe the Fed’s latest approach to increases. His change in tone follows four rate hikes last year. The Fed’s benchmark rate is not directly tied to mortgage rates but does often influence them.

“In light of global economic and financial developments and muted inflation pressures, the committee will be patient as it determines what future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate may be appropriate,” a statement from the Federal Reserve read. The Fed said that economic activity has been “rising at a solid rate” and it does expect continued growth, but noted several political uncertainties—such as fallout from the government shutdown—and a slowdown in foreign economies as reason for a more cautionary approach.

Source: Freddie Mac and “Federal Reserve leaves rates unchanged, stresses patience,” HousingWire (Jan. 30, 2019)

Mortgage Rates Inch Up, But ‘Don’t Be Worried’

After weeks of moderating, mortgage rates moved up slightly this week. But aspiring home buyers may be able to breathe a sigh of relief: Freddie Mac economists revised their forecasts this week to predict 30-year fixed-rate mortgages to average below the 5 percent threshold for at least the next two years. “However, softening house price appreciation along with increasing inventory of homes on the market and historically low mortgage rates should give a boost to the spring home buying season,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

The following are the national averages for the week ending Jan. 31:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.46 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.45 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.22 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.89 percent, with an average 0.4 point, increasing from last week’s 3.88 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.68 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Here Comes a Buyer’s Market

A power shift is occurring in the housing market with more negotiating power landing on the buyer’s side.

The National Association of REALTORS® recently reported an uptick in inventory entering more markets as more homeowners put their homes up for sale. Plus, buyers are having more choice, prompting some sellers to lower their asking prices due to the added competition, according to CoreLogic researchers.

“Given the 17 million more jobs now compared to the turn of the century, home sales are clearly under performing today,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “That also means there is a steady longer-term growth potential.”

Mortgage Rates End Year Lower

Rates continued their two-month slide and are currently hovering around the same level as the early summer, which was before the deterioration in home sales. The negative headlines around the financial markets are concerning but the economy remains healthy, so the drop in mortgage rates should stem or even reverse the slide in home sales that occurred during the second half of 2018.

Past week:  30-Yr Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.55%   15-Yr Fixed Rate Mortgage  4.01%
Source: freddiemac.com

Homeowner Equity Growth Streak Continues

Homeowners with a mortgage saw their equity rise 13.3 percent year over year, according to CoreLogic’s Home Equity Report for the first quarter of 2018, released Thursday. The average homeowner gained $16,300 in home equity between the first quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018. That is the highest growth in home equity in four years.

Western states saw the largest uptick in home equity. California homeowners gained $51,000 on average in home equity, while Washington homeowners saw about $44,000 on average, in equity.

Source: “Homeowner Equity Report,” CoreLogic (June 7, 2018)

 

Fannie, Freddie’s Role Is Shrinking?

Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored enterprises, will likely be guaranteeing a lot fewer new loans over the next decade, as the private sector steps up its role, according to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office.

During and after the financial crisis — from 2008 to 2013 — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac backed about 60 percent of new mortgages. However, the CBO report predicts a big change: The two firms likely will only back about 40 percent of new mortgages by 2024 as private sources of capital take their place.

Fannie and Freddie’s market share is already showing signs of shrinking. In the first half of 2014, they backed about 50 percent of new mortgages.

Neither Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac issue loans directly. Instead, they purchase loans and resell them in bundles. In 2011 and 2012, they increased the fees they charge to guarantee mortgages, which reduced their advantage over private-sector firms.

Source: “Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac to Lose Market Share to Private Capital: CBO,” Reuters (Dec. 16, 2014)

Prospects of Condominiums Comeback Are High

Condo sales have been on a roller coaster ride in recent years, as the recession hit the sector hard. But is the country ready for a condo revival?

“Condo sales moved sideways several years after the recession before picking up steam again in 2013,” CoreLogic Deputy Chief Economist Sam Khater writes on the company’s blog. “This year, it continues to rebound and currently accounts for 12.3 percent of all sales in 2014.”

As of June 2013, 22 of the 25 top condo markets reported rises in sales compared to prior years. But interest-rate rises in the second half of 2013 caused sales to cool off somewhat, similar to what occurred in the overall market. By June 2014, only 14 of those same markets were showing increases year-over-year, CoreLogic reports.

Housing analysts are optimistic the condo market is poised for a big rebound, particularly since the largest cohort in the U.S. is the 20-to-24 age group.

“This specific age cohort might currently be driving today’s rental market, but they will likely be driving the first-time home buyer and condo markets over the next five to 10 years, driving demand for newly built condos,” Khater notes. “That demand is heavily needed in the market now, given that newly built condos were hit harder in the last housing downturn than newly constructed homes overall.”

Source: “The Long-Term Rising of Condo Sales,” CoreLogic (Sept. 30, 2014)