Are Your Neighbors Copycats?

Seventy percent of homeowners admit that they’ve copied their next-door neighbor’s decor. The most common similarity was to their neighbor’s indoor furniture, according to a new international survey from the U.K. of 2,275 homeowners from My Job Quote, a job network resource.

And while imitation can be the sincerest form of flattery, most homeowners say—65%–say that they’re uncomfortable when they learn a neighbor has copied them. Yet, when homeowners were asked whether they’ve ever imitated aspects of their neighbor’s house, 70% admit yes.

Interesting USA data at source: My Job Quote

Mortgage Rates Drop

“Mortgage rates fell to the lowest level in thirteen weeks, as investors sought the quality and safety of the U.S. Treasury fixed income markets,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “The drop in mortgage rates, combined with the strong labor market, should propel a continued rise in homebuyer demand.”

News Facts:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.64 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending January 9, 2020, down from last week when it averaged 3.72 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.45 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.07 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.16 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.89 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

New Home Loan Limits Take Effect

The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s new loan limits for 2020 have gone into effect; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are operated by the FHFA, began backing larger loans last week when the new year started. The cap on Fannie and Freddie loans has increased to $510,400 from 2019’s $484,350 limit.

View a breakdown of loan limits by county for Fannie and Freddie.

The Federal Housing Administration also increased its loan limit to $331,760, which is a $17,000 increase from 2019. In about 70 designated high-cost counties, the FHA’s 2020 loan limit has climbed to $765,600, a $40,000 increase from 2019. Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have higher limit ceilings than the rest of the country, the FHA says. Those areas have a 2020 FHA loan limit of $1,148,400.

View a breakdown of loan limits by county for the FHA.

Source: “FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Are All Now Backing Larger Loans,” HousingWire (Jan. 2, 2020)

Home Loan Interest Rates Drop

What a difference a year makes. Home shoppers are being greeted with much lower mortgage rates to kick off 2020 than they were a year ago. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.72% this week, compared to 4.51% at the beginning of 2019.

“The stability is welcome news after the interest rate turbulence of the last year, which caused a slowdown in the housing market and other interest rate-sensitive sectors,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The low mortgage rate environment combined with the red-hot labor market is setting the stage for a continued rise in home sales and home prices.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Jan. 2:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.72%, with an average 0.7 point, falling slightly from a 3.74% average a week ago. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.51%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.16%, with an average 0.7 point, dropping from last week’s 3.19% average. A year ago, they averaged 3.99%.
Source: Freddie Mac

January Expected to Be ‘Hot for Home Shoppers’

The busy home-shopping season will start early in January this year, according to forecasters. The month of January in recent years has tended to have the second-most listing views across the year (just 1% below February), according to realtor.com® data.

With sub-4% mortgage rates, low unemployment, and higher wages, industry insiders are expecting a bustling winter real estate season.

Source: “New Analysis: January Home Shopping Is Getting More Popular,” The Mortgage Reports (Dec. 31, 2019)

Pending Home Sales Jump

Pending home sales rose 1.2% in November after slipping the prior month, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest housing report, which was just released. Year-over-year contract signings were up 7.4% nationally, according to the report. The West region of the country reported the highest monthly growth in pending home sales at 5.5%

“Despite the insufficient level of inventory, pending home contracts still increased in November,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, noting that housing inventory has been in decline for six straight months. “Favorable conditions are expected throughout 2020 as well, but supply is not yet meeting the healthy demand.”

Source: magazine.realtor/daily-news/2019/12/30

 

Average Credit Scores Surge

Americans are boosting their credit scores, which bodes well for applicants seeking a mortgage to snag the lowest rates. The average credit score hit its highest level since 2011, reaching 682–two points higher than a year ago, Experian reports in its State of Credit report. Consumers also are taking on more mortgage debt than a year ago, and delinquency rates are decreasing too.

Comparing borrowing behaviors between genders, women’s average credit scores are four points higher than men’s (686 vs. 682, respectively). Men tend to carry more mortgage debt than women–$220,421 compared to $203,603.

By generation, Gen Xers, millennials, and Gen Zers tend to carry more debt than older generations. They also tend to have higher delinquency rates, the Experian study shows. A breakdown showing their average credit scores and mortgage debts is detailed at: Experian

Universities Want Senior Housing?

Seniors are increasingly heading back to college, and many universities believe they’ll want to buy a home nearby too.

State government subsidies for higher education are below prerecession levels and traditional students are saddled with college debt—causing universities to look at retired baby boomers as a promising source of income, The Wall Street Journal reports. As such, several colleges are taking advantage of their extra land to develop upscale senior housing, looking to generate extra profits.

Senior living facilities on or near campus cater to baby boomers who may wish to take an occasional class or pursue their academic interests. Some baby boomers also view it as an opportunity to mentor younger students.

Source: “Seniors Want to Go Back to Class. Universities Want to Sell Them Real Estate,” The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 19, 2019) [Log-in required.]

Home Flipping Is Losing Fans

Home flipping plunged 12.9% in the third quarter of this year, following an unusually active spring, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ latest U.S. Home Flipping Report. In the third quarter, 56,566 single-family homes and condos were flipped, down 6.8% from a year ago. This marks the largest quarterly and annual drops in home flipping activity since the third quarter of 2014.

“After a springtime selling binge earlier this year, the home flipping business settled way down over the summer amid a continuing scenario of languishing profits,” says Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM Data Solutions. “The retreat back to more normal levels of sales comes amid broader market forces that are making it harder and harder for investors to complete the kind of deals they were getting as recently as last year. Those forces are keeping profits way down from postrecession highs and show no signs of easing.”

Source: ATTOM Data Solutions

Mortgage Rates Tick Up

“With Federal Reserve policy on cruise control and the economy continuing to grow at a steady pace, mortgage rates have stabilized as the market searches for direction,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “The risk of an economic downturn has receded and, combined with the very strong job market, it should lead to a slightly higher rate environment.”

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.73 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending December 12, 2019, up from last week when it averaged 3.68 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.63 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.19 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.14 percent. A year ago they averaged 4.07 %.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.36 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.39 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 4.04 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac