Home Lot Sizes Shrink to New Low

Lot sizes on new single-family homes have reached a new record low. New homes sold in 2016 had a median lot size of 8,562 square feet, or slightly under one-fifth of an acre.

The median lot size fell to under 8,600 square feet in 2015, according to the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction data. Lot sizes have continued to shrink since then.

Location plays a big role. For example, the median lot size in the New England region is nearly twice as large as the national median, exceeding a third of an acre.

On the other hand, the Pacific region—where densities are often high and developed land is more scarce—has the smallest lots. Half of the lots in the region are under 0.15 acres.

US regional differences map at: “Lot Size Is at a Record Low,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (Oct. 3, 2017)

Mortgage Rates Hit Highest Levels in 6 Weeks

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage inched upwards this week, averaging 3.85 percent. It’s the highest average in six weeks, Freddie Mac reports. “After holding steady last week, rates ticked up this week,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Oct. 5:

’30-year’ fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.85 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.83 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.42 percent.

’15-year’ fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.15 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.13 percent. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.72 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Loan Interest Rates Stuck in Holding Pattern

Mortgage  rates barely budged this week, staying well below the 4 percent mark. “Rates held relatively flat this week,” says Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti. “The 10-year Treasury yield fell just 1 basis point, while the 30-year mortgage rate remained unchanged at 3.83 percent.”

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages for the week ending Sept. 28:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.83 percent, with an average 0.6 point, holding the same as last week. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.42 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.13 percent, with an average 0.5 point, also holding the same average as last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.72 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Consumers: Home Appraisals Still Falling Short

Appraisals continue to lag homeowners’ price expectations, according to the latest Quicken Loans’ National Home Price Perception Index, which compares homeowners’ initial estimates and appraiser’s opinions of home values. Appraised values were 1.35 percent lower than homeowners’ expectations in August. That has narrowed from a 1.55 percent difference in July.

Many homeowners are still not understanding their home’s current value, according to the analysis. The perceptions can vary quite a bit across the country, too. For example, home values are 3 percent higher than homeowners’ estimated values in the West, while they are 3 percent lower than expected in the Midwest and Northeast.

More interesting data and graphs at: quickenloans.com/press-room/2017/09/12/quicken-loans-study-shows-consumers-continue-to-be-too-optimistic-with-anticipated-home-value/

Home Loan Interest Rates Maintain Yearly Lows

Great news! Mortgage rates mostly held at last week’s year-to-date lows, offering another opportunity for borrowers to take advantage of savings. Ask a local lender for what is your best type of loan.

“The 30-year mortgage rate, however, remained unchanged at 3.78 percent. If Treasury yields continue to rise, mortgage rates could see an increase in next week’s survey,” says Freddie Mac chief economist Sean Becketti.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Sept. 14:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.78 percent, with an average 0.5 point, holding the same average as last week. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.50 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.08 percent, with an average 0.5, the same average as last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.77 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Mortgage Rates Strike New 2017 Low

For the third consecutive week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged a new year-to-date low.

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

’30-year’ fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.78 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s previous yearly low of 3.82 percent. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.44 percent.
’15-year’ fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.08 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.12 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.76 percent.
‘5-year’ hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.15 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 3.14 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.81 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Are Supply Woes Causing Loan Demand Drop?

The number of mortgage applications for home purchases continues to underwhelm, despite rates being at their lowest levels since November. Mortgage applications for purchasing a home dropped 3 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The annual gain in purchase applications remains positive (4 percent higher than a year ago), but they’re narrowing as the supply of homes for sale falls and makes it tougher for buyers to find and afford a home, CNBC reports.

Meanwhile, current homeowners may be holding out for even lower rates. Refinancing application volume dropped 2 percent last week and is down 41 percent from a year ago, when mortgage rates were lower.

Source: “Weekly Mortgage Applications Drop 2.3% as Borrowers Wait for Lower Rates,” CNBC (Aug. 30, 2017)

Report: Kids Have Big Say in Real Estate

Buyers with children put more weight on the neighborhood, local schools, and size of homes when shopping for the right property, according to the 2017 Moving With Kids report, produced by the National Association of REALTORS®.

The neighborhood, in particular, has a big influence on home buyers with children under the age of 18. Forty-nine percent of buyers who have children consider the neighborhood based on the quality of the school district, and 43 percent choose a neighborhood by the convenience to schools.

Sellers with kids also have unique needs. One notable need is that they usually have to sell their homes faster. Twenty-six percent of owners with children under the age of 18 sold their home urgently compared to 14 percent of owners with no children at home. The main reasons for selling a home for sellers with children were that the home was too small or they faced a job relocation or a change in their family situation.

Source: “2017 Moving With Kids,” National Association of REALTORS® (Aug. 21, 2017)

Will These Lower Interest Rates Entice Buyers?

Fixed-rate mortgages continued to drop this week, lowering borrowing costs for home buyers.

“Following a mild decline last week, the 10-year Treasury yield rose 1 basis point this week,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The 30-year mortgage rate similarly remained relatively flat, falling just 1 basis point to 3.89 percent. Mortgage rates are continuing to hold at low levels.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Aug. 17:

  • 30-year fixed rate mortgages: averaged 3.89 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 3.90 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.43 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.16 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.18 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.74 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

A Cruel Season for Home Buyers

Typically, the housing market starts to slow in late summer, and prices drop slightly. But so far this year that hasn’t been the case.

“Homes are not selling faster than last July, but faster than last year’s peak months,” says Javier Vivas, manager of economic research at realtor.com®. “However, quick sales don’t necessarily mean more sales, particularly when there isn’t enough inventory, as is the current case. Home prices also remain stubbornly high, failing to show hints of the usual seasonal cool down. Low and moderately priced homes are being snatched up especially quickly, keeping many would-be buyers from being able to get into the market.”

“In this market, home buyers have to move fast, yet high prices and low inventory are slowing down even the most earnest of house hunters,” Nela Richardson, Redfin’s chief economist, told CNBC. “Faced with a low supply of homes for sale and extremely competitive conditions, many home buyers are struggling to make it to the offer stage.”

Source: “Housing Demand Strengthens Through Summer, But Here’s Why Some Buyers Are Giving Up,” CNBC (Aug. 2, 2017)