Survey: Spring Real Estate Market

A growing number of Americans believe now is a good time to purchase a home as the real estate market heads into what is traditionally its busiest season of the year. In the first quarter of 2019, 37 percent of consumers said they “strongly believe” that now is a good time to buy, up from 34 percent in the last quarter of 2018, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest Housing Opportunities and Market Experience Survey.

Why are Americans more upbeat? Lower mortgage rates and greater inventory may be driving more home shoppers this spring. “Inventory has been rising, so those buyers interested in making a purchase will not be limited in choices,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Additionally, more stable home price trends are leading to more foot traffic at various open house gatherings.”

Source: “Q1 2019 Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) Survey,” National Association of REALTORS® (March 20, 2019)

30-Year Rates Plunge This Week

Home shoppers are finding some of the lowest mortgage rates in more than a year. “Mortgage rates declined decisively this week amid various market reports, a strong bond auction, and further uncertainty around the Brexit deal, which all contributed to driving bond yields lower,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending March 14:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.31 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 4.41 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.44 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.76 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 3.83 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.90 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Home Remodel ‘Without Permits’

Some homeowners bypass the permit process when they remodel their home. They may find the process too expensive or cumbersome. Permitting fees can sometimes cost hundreds of dollars or more. Some homeowners may do a kitchen or bath remodel without a permit thinking they’ll likely never get caught.

But failing to get a permit could be troublesome when they go to sell the home. Most states require homeowners to fill out a disclosure statement when they go to sell. In that form, sellers are usually asked if they completed work to the home without a required permit. Lying about it can also backfire—the sellers could be sued later by the new homeowner for making false statements.

Source: “Should You Buy a House Remodeled Without Permits?” RISMedia’s Housecall (Feb. 25, 2019)

Mortgage Rates Inch Up!

After weeks of declines, mortgage rates reversed course, but are still lower than a year ago.

“While mortgage rates very modestly rose to 4.41 percent this week, they remain below year-ago levels for the fourth week in a row,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s  economist. “In late 2018, mortgage rates rose over a full percentage point from the prior year, which was one of the main reasons that weakness in home sales continued into early 2019. However, the impact of recent lower rates and a strong labor market has led to a rise in purchase mortgage demand as we start the spring home-buying season.”

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.41 percent,with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.35 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.46 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.83 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 3.77 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.94 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Report: ‘Homeowners 8% Richer’ Over the Past Year!

The average homeowner has gained $9,700 in home equity between the fourth quarter of 2017 and the fourth quarter of 2018, the report showed. Western states saw the most significant gains.

“As home prices rise, significantly more people are choosing to remodel, repair or upgrade their existing homes,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “The increase in home equity over the past several years provides homeowners with the means to finance home remodels and repairs. With rates still ultra-low by historical standards, home-equity loans provide a low-cost method to finance home-improvement spending. These expenditures are expected to rise 5 percent in 2019.”

Source: “Homeowner Equity Report: Fourth Quarter of 2018,” CoreLogic (3/7/2019)

Home Loan Rates Remain Low

“Mortgage rates remained mostly unchanged this week, while mortgage applications rose 5.3 percent from the previous week,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The general decline in rates we have seen recently, combined with rebounding pending home sales, hint at a strong spring home buying season.”

Freddie Mac reports national rates for the week ending Feb. 28:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.35 percent, with an average 0.5 point, unchanged from last week. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.43 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.77 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping slightly from last week’s 3.78 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.90 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

‘Bank of Mom and Dad’ for Loans?

Parents and grandparents are increasingly helping their adult children buy their first home. A new study suggests that if families were considered a financial institution, the “Bank of Mom and Dad” would be the seventh largest mortgage lender in the country.

One in five of buyers received gifts or interest-free loans from family members, the study shows. The average amount buyers received from them was $39,000. The Pacific region saw the greatest share of young adults receiving financial help in buying.   Source: Legal & General Group

“For many, perhaps most,young adults, buying a house without help is an increasingly unattainable goal,” says Nigel Wilson, chief executive at Legal & General Group.

The Bank of Mom and Dad “reflects, first and foremost, a housing market where significant problems remain in matching the supply and demand of different types of housing, most notably starter homes and affordable housing of all kinds,” Wilson says.

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