Another Week of Mostly Flat Mortgage Rates

Borrowing costs haven’t budged much in recent weeks, offering some relief from the weekly rate increases that had almost become routine at the start of 2018.

“Rates have bounced around 4.4 percent since mid-February. Rates could break out and head higher if inflation continues to firm. … If inflation continues to trend higher, we may see two or three more rate hikes from the Fed this year, and mortgage rates could follow. For now, mortgage rates are still quite low by historical standards, helping to support home buyer affordability as the spring home buying season ramps up.” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending April 12:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.42 percent, with an average 0.4 point, up from last week’s 4.40 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.08 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.87 percent, with an average 0.4 point, holding the same average as last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.34 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Loan Payments Up 13% This Year

Monthly mortgage payments have risen an average of nearly 13 percent nationwide over the last year—or an extra $168—as buyers grapple with both higher home prices and increasing mortgage rates, according to a realtor.com® analysis. Luxury buyers are feeling the worst sticker shock, paying double the rate. In the top 10 percent of the market, owners are now paying an average $241 more per/mo.

Mortgage interest rates are about a half of a percentage point higher than they were at the beginning of the year, and the Federal Reserve has signaled there are more hikes to come.

Different generations of home buyers may have varying tolerance levels for mortgage rate fluctuations. Millennials are pursuing homeownership at a time when interest rates are at historic lows, averaging in the 4 percent range, while older buyers remember when they were in the double digits. So for millennials, “even a minor upswing [in interest rates] may seem significant,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Source: “Rising Interest Rates Squeeze Homeowners’ Budgets,” The Wall Street Journal (April 4, 2018) [Log-in required.]

Desperate Buyers ‘Snag Homes Sight Unseen’

Some home shoppers are feeling hopeless this spring and making competitive moves in order to get a home. They’re reportedly rushing to making offers without seeing homes first, bidding well above the asking price, or waiving inspections entirely to get sellers to find their offer the most alluring.

Record low supplies of homes for sale are driving up prices across the country.

As for sellers, they may find some big profits when they do sell. “It’s going to have the feel of a hot market” with multiple offers and bidding wars, says Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®. Still, Yun expects sales to be flat compared to a year ago due to the shortage of homes for sale as well as reduced affordability for many house hunters.

Source: “Home Buying Market so Brutal, Some Home Buyers Make Offer Sight Unseen,” USA Today (April 5, 2018)

Mortgage Interest Rates Ease This Week

Borrowers found some relief for the second consecutive week with lower mortgage rates.

“After dropping earlier this week on trade-related anxiety in financial markets, the benchmark 10-year Treasury stabilized on Wednesday, but at a level slightly lower than from the start of last week,” explains Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist.

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages for the week ending April 5:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.40 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.44 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.10 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.87 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 3.90 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.36 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Homeowner Equity Is Hitting a Record High

Homeowners are getting richer, thanks to rising home values. The amount of equity that homeowners can tap into is now at the highest level on record, according to Black Knight Financial Services, a mortgage and finance industry solution provider.

The amount a borrower can take out of a home—while still leaving 20 percent in it—increased by a collective $735 billion during 2017. That is the largest annual increase by dollar value on record, according to Black Knight. The collective amount of tappable equity now stands at $5.4 trillion, 10 percent more than the prerecession peak in 2005.

The amount of homeowner equity varies depending on location. Thirty-nine percent of the nation’s total tappable equity is in California alone. Seattle and Las Vegas have also seen large increases in home equity, Black Knight notes.

Source: “Homeowners Are Sitting on $5.4 Trillion in Ready Cash, the Most Ever,” CNBC (April 2, 2018)

Home Loan Rates Ease Slightly This Week

“Treasury yields fell from a week ago, helping to drive mortgage rates modestly lower,” asys Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s a economist. “The yield on the 10-year Treasury dipped below 2.8 percent for the first time since early February of this year. The decline in Treasury yields comes as investors move into safer assets amid increased trade tensions. Following Treasury yields, mortgage rates fell slightly.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending March 29:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.44 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.45 percent average. Last year at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.14 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.90 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.91 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.39 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Cash Sales Soar to Post-Recession High

Cash sales accounted for 8 percent of new-home sales in the fourth quarter of 2017, matching a high that has not been seen since 2014, the National Association of Home Builders reports on its Eye on Housing blog. Cash sales make up an even larger share of existing-home sales—about 20 percent in December, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

Cash hardly makes up the bulk of financing options for buyers, however. The share of new homes financed with conventional mortgages has dropped slightly from 73.2 percent to 72.7 percent. In the fourth quarter of 2017, 12.9 percent of new-home buyers used FHA loans. The share of sales financed with FHA-backed mortgages has dropped 4 percentage points since reaching a peak in the second quarter of 2015.

Source: “Cash Sales Tie Post-Recession High,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (Jan. 26, 2018)

Millennials Are Saving More Than You Think

Millennials have been stereotyped as a generation that lacks savings or money management skills. But the data isn’t backing that up.

Sixteen percent of millennials ages 23 to 37 have $100,000 or more in savings, which is double the number of young people who had that much stowed away in 2015, a newly released survey from Bank of America shows. Nearly half—or 47 percent—have $15,000 saved, up from 33 percent in 2015.

63 percent of millennials surveyed say they are saving, compared to 64 percent of Generation X and 75 percent of baby boomers. Fifty-four percent of millennials say they have a budget; 60 percent say they “feel financially secure.” The top priorities for their savings: in case of an emergency (64%), retirement (49%), and buying a house (33%).

Source: “2018 Better Money Habits Millennial Report,” Bank of America (Winter 2018) and “Millennials: 1 in 6 Now Have $100,000 Socked Away,” USA Today (Jan. 23, 2018)

Have We Seen the Last of 3% Mortgage Rates?

Average interest rates rose for the second consecutive week for the first time since last summer, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage shot above 4 percent, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly survey.

“This is the highest weekly average for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage since May of 2017,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist. “Inflation is firming, the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book indicates broad-based economic growth, and labor markets are tightening. This means upward pressure on long-term rates, like the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, is building.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Jan. 18:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.04 percent, with an average 0.6 point, up from last week’s 3.99 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.09 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.49 percent, with an average 0.5 point, increasing from last week’s 3.44 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.34 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Foreclosed Homes Dip to 12-Year Low

Foreclosures hit a 12-year low in 2017, and the distressed properties remain increasingly difficult to find in many markets. Foreclosure filings in 2017—which include default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions—dropped to the lowest level since 2005.

Foreclosure starts are at a new record low nationwide. Lenders started the foreclosure process on 383,701 properties in 2017, down a whopping 82 percent from a peak of more than 2 million in 2009. That marks a new all-time low for foreclosure start data since ATTOM Data Solutions began collecting such data in 2006.

Source: DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 2018