Mortgage Rates Head Even Lower

Mortgage rates inched lower for the third consecutive week. Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater says the lower rates bode well for the spring home buying season, typically the busiest time of the year for home shopping.  “Wages are growing on par with home prices for the first time in years, and with more inventory available, spring home sales should help the market begin to recover from the malaise of the last few months.” The National Association of REALTORS® reported this week that more houses were on the market in January, rising to 1.59 million nationwide and at a 3.9-month supply at the current sales pace.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Feb. 21:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.35 percent ,with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.37 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.40 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.78 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.81 percent average. A year ago at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.85 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

California’s solar mandate cost?

Recently, California became the first state in the nation to make solar mandatory for new houses. Beginning in 2020, newly constructed homes must have solar panels, which could be costly for homeowners: According to California’s Energy Commission (CEC),that mandate will add between $8,000 and $10,000 per home.

CEC estimates suggest that the solar addition will increase the average monthly mortgage payment by $40, but new homeowners will save an average of $80 a month on their heating, cooling and lighting bills.

Source: cnbc.com/2019/02/15/california-solar-panel-mandate

Rates at Lowest Levels in a Year

Cooling inflation and slower global economic growth prompted mortgage rates to drift down this week, Freddie Mac reports.

“While housing activity has clearly softened over the last nine months and the lingering effects of higher rates from last year are still being felt, lower mortgage rates and a strong job market should rekindle demand for the spring home buying season,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.37 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 4.41 percent average. A year ago, 4.38 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.81 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.84 percent average. A year ago, 3.84 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Homeowners ‘Tax Snags’ Update

Tax season is here, and many homeowners may have questions about what they can and can’t write off under the new tax code.

One big change: Homeowners who used to write off property taxes and interest paid on their mortgage may no longer be able to entirely. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll pay higher taxes. HouseLogic, the National Association of REALTORS®’ consumer-facing website, offers guidance and worksheets on the changes for homeowners.

Under the new law, the standard deduction every tax filer gets has nearly doubled ($24,000 for married couples who file jointly and $12,000 for single filers). Most people likely will be better off taking the standard deduction than itemizing their write-offs.

Other interesting information at: “Tax Deductions for Homeowners: How the New Tax Law Affects Mortgage Interest,” HouseLogic.com (2019) and “Are Closing Costs Tax Deductible Under the New Tax Law?” HouseLogic.com (2019)

Mortgage Rates at 10-Month Low

 “The U.S. economy remains on solid ground, inflation is contained, and the threat of higher short-term rates is fading from view, which has allowed mortgage rates to drift down to their lowest level in 10 months,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “This is great news for consumers who will be looking for homes during the upcoming spring home buying season.”

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.41 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 4.46 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.32 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.84 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 3.89 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.77 percent.
Source: “Mortgage Rates Drop,” Freddie Mac (Feb. 7, 2019)

Young Adults Living With Parents’

More young adults are still living with their parents and not branching out on their own, and that could have a long-term, negative impact to their finances, according to a new study from the Urban Institute. Researchers found there is no long-term advantage financially for young adults who live with their parents.

The share of young adults aged 25 to 34 who live with their parents rose from nearly 12 percent in 2000 to 22 percent in 2017. Young adults who stayed in their parents’ home longer did not end up buying more expensive homes or have lower mortgage debts later on than those young adults who moved out earlier, the study showed. Researchers say this suggests that “living with parents does not better position young adults for home ownership, a critical source of future wealth, and may have negative long-term consequences for independent household formation.”

Source: “Young Adults Living in Parents’ Basements,” Urban Institute (January 2019)

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

Housing Market Looking Brighter

Real estate indicators are starting to shift in favor of home buyers as the housing market sets its sights on spring. Mortgages are getting cheaper, housing inventories are growing, and home prices are rising at a slower pace.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.45 percent last week, Freddie Mac reports.  Late last year, mortgage rates were nearing the 5 percent threshold, but several weeks of decreases have offered some relief to home shoppers.

For home sellers, lower prices may not sound ideal. But housing analysts say sellers need to set a realistic price up front to find a buyer as the market shifts.

Source: “Housing Market’s Fundamentals Actually Turning Brighter,” The Washington Post (Jan. 23, 2019)

Hackers Access Data on Loans

Banks are in the process of trying to identify the customers affected and inform them of any possible account hacking.

“These documents contained highly sensitive data, such as Social Security numbers, names, phones, addresses, credit history, and other details which are usually part of a mortgage or credit report,” says security researcher Bob Diachenko, who discovered this.

Consumers are urged to change the passwords on their financial accounts. The database itself that was hacked was not password protected, but in the data theft, hackers may have gained access to personal information that hackers could then use to access a person’s other accounts.

Source: “Fraud Alert: Your Mortgage Info Could Be at Risk,” USA Today (Jan. 23, 2019) and “Document Management Company Left Credit Reports Online,” SecurityDiscovery.com (Jan. 23, 2019)