Are Mortgage Rates Stabilizing?

Mortgage rates mostly held steady this week—and home buyers responded by rushing to lock in rates. “Mortgage rates stabilized the last couple of months as interest rate-sensitive sectors, such as new auto and home sales, have clearly softened the outlook for the economy,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac report for the week ending Nov. 29:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.81 percent, with an average 0.5 point, unchanged from last week. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.90 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.25 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 4.24 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.30 percent.

More Buyers Turn to ARM Loans

Rising interest rates are prompting more home buyers to turn to adjustable-rate mortgages—which come with potential financial risks. Though these mortgages typically come with lower interest rates initially, they reset to market rates after five or seven years, potentially shocking borrowers with much higher costs.

“As interest rates continue to rise, the percentage of adjustable-rate mortgages is increasing, as home buyers are looking to take advantage of the best rates from their lenders,” says Jonathan Corr, president and CEO of Ellie Mae.

Source: “Ellie Mae Origination Insights Report: October 2018,” Ellie Mae (Nov. 21, 2018)

The Makings of a Buyer’s Market

Buyers are pulling back. Home prices have been rising too much relative to income for many would-be buyers to keep pace. Since 2011, the U.S. median home price has risen 55 percent while wages are up only 18 percent. Now, the Federal Reserve has become more aggressive against inflation; with several short-term interest rate increases over the past year. A monthly mortgage payment on a typical home today is $1,136, up from $639 in 2011.

And confidence is down. Only 38 percent of consumers today strongly believe it’s a good time to buy, down from 43 percent last year, and the numbers are lower for renters who don’t have equity to tap for a down payment.

With buyers stepping back a bit, inventory is no longer falling. New-home construction is increasing and more homeowners are considering listing. A recent survey NAR conducted shows 50 percent of consumers strongly indicate it is a good time to sell, compared to only 28 percent just two years ago. Most home sellers will also be buyers. With inventory expected to grow, prices will stop rising so fast. That’s a healthy adjustment. Buyers can soon resume their search for the American dream.

Source: magazine.realtor/news-and-commentary/economy/article/2018/10/the-makings-of-a-buyer-s-market?

Homes with Patios now Popular

More new homes are being built with patios, as homeowners show a greater craving for more outdoor space. About 58.6 percent of new single-family homes started in 2017 included a patio, according to an analysis by the National Association of Home Builders. That makes patios more common than decks (23.8 percent), but still shy of the popularity of porches (64.7 percent).

The Annual Builder Practices Survey, conducted by Home Innovation Research Labs, shows that the average size of a patio on a new home is about 260 square feet. Poured concrete is the most often material used for the surface, followed by concrete pavers, natural stone, and brick pavers.

Read more ideas about getting the most out of a patio space: That Small Backyard Can Still Be a Selling Point and 5 Biggest Yard and Patio Staging Mistakes

Why Home Buyers Need to Hurry

While there have been signs recently that the market may be shifting toward the favor of home buyers, prices are still on the rise in many areas around the country. The median sales price in July was $230,411, up 5.8 percent year over year.

The typical mortgage payment jumped 13.1 percent over that same one-year period, due to a nearly 0.6 percentage point increase in mortgage rates, according to new data from CoreLogic, a real estate research firm.

Rates are expected to increase by about 0.43 percentage points between July 2018 and July 2019. Housing forecasters predict median home sale prices to continue to rise by 1.8 percent in real terms over that same period.

With these projections, CoreLogic researchers predict the inflation-adjusted typical monthly mortgage payment to rise from $937 in July 2018 to $1,003 by July 2019.

Source: “Homebuyers’ ‘Typical Mortgage Payment’ Rising at Twice the Rate of Prices,” CoreLogic Insights Blog (Oct. 17, 2018)

Some Relief With Mortgage Rates

Following weeks of gradual increases, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped slightly this week, offering a slight window of opportunity at lower borrowing costs to some would-be buyers.

“While the housing market has clearly softened in reaction to the rise in mortgage rates, the economy and consumer sentiment remains very robust and that will sustain purchase demand, particularly in affordable markets and neighborhoods,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports these rates for the week ending Oct. 18:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.85 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.90 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.88 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.26 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 4.29 percent average. A year ago, averaged 3.19 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Buyers Should ‘Ask After a Home Inspection’

After an inspector has finished a home report, buyers may feel overwhelmed by any flaws that might have been found. That’s why it’s important they take the opportunity to learn more so that they can move forward confidently in the transaction.

A recent article at realtor.com® recommends home buyers ask their inspector clarifying questions like: “I don’t understand this; what does it mean?” or “Is this a major or minor problem?” and “Do I need to call in another expert for a follow-up?”

If the inspector identifies a potentially major problem, consumers will want to follow up whether they should call an additional expert in to investigate further. For example, consumers may need to bring in an electrician to take a closer look at potential electrical issues that were flagged or a roofer if a roofing problem is suspected. Those specialists can then give an idea of the cost to fix it, which the real estate agent can take to the seller to request a concession, if the seller doesn’t want to fix it prior to the sale.

Source: “Home Inspection’s Complete? Here’s What You Must Ask Afterward,” realtor.com® (Oct. 9, 2018)

Mortgage Rates Surge to 7-Year High

Mortgage rates surged to their highest averages since 2011 following the Federal Reserve’s announcement Wednesday that it is raising its benchmark interest rate by a quarter point. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage jumped to 4.72 percent, up from 4.65 percent last week.

“The robust economy, rising Treasury yields, and the anticipation of more short-term rate hikes caused mortgage rates to move up,” says Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater. “Even with these higher borrowing costs, it’s encouraging to see that prospective buyers appear to be having a little more success. With inventory constraints and home prices starting to ease, purchase applications have now trended higher on an annual basis for six straight weeks.”

 Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Sept. 27:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.72 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.65 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.83 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.16 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.11 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.13 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Home Loan Interest Rates Keep Increasing

For the fourth consecutive week, mortgage rates continued to climb as home buyers face higher borrowing costs. But, mortgage applications for home purchases have managed to increase.

“Mortgage rates are drifting upwards again and represent continued affordability challenges for prospective buyers—especially first-time buyers,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Borrowing costs are moving right now for three main reasons: the very strong economy, higher U.S. government debt issuances, and global trade tensions.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Sept. 20:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.65 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.6 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.83 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.11 percent, with an average 0.5 point, increasing from last week’s 4.06 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.13 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Home Loan Interest Rates ‘Continue to Decline’

Borrowers continued to get relief with mortgage rates this week, as the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage sank lower for the third consecutive week. Mortgage rates are now at their lowest level since April.

“Backed by very strong consumer spending, the economy is red-hot this month, which is in turn rippling through the financial markets and driving equities higher,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “It is clear affordability constraints” have cooled the housing market, particularly in expensive coastal markets. “Many metro areas desperately need more new and existing affordable inventory to break out of this slump,” he notes.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Aug. 23:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.51 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.53 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.86 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.98 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.01 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.16 percent.
Source: “Mortgage Rates Maintain Downward Trend,” Freddie Mac (Aug. 23, 2018)