Mortgage Rates Hit Highest Level in 7 Years

“Healthy consumer spending and higher commodity prices spooked the bond markets and led to higher mortgage rates over the past week,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Not only are buyers facing higher borrowing costs, gas prices are currently at four-year highs just as we enter the important peak home sales season.”

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.61 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 4.55 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.02 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.08 percent, with an average 0.4 point, increasing from last week’s 4.01 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.27 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Best Tip to First-Time Buyers: Act Fast!

A shortage of homes for sale and rising home prices are making it challenging for first-time buyers, in particular, this spring. For those who want to land a home, urge them to move fast and be less picky.

The price of an existing home in March was about $250,000, up nearly 6 percent from a year ago, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Homes are selling in about a month.

Home buyers needn’t wait for a 20 percent down payment. More than half of first-time buyers make down payments of 6 percent or less, according to NAR data from 2017. Both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae support home loans to eligible buyers who put down as little as 3 percent on a home purchase, as does the FHA.

Source: “First-Time Home Buyers Learn to Move Quickly in Tight Markets,” The New York Times (May 11, 2018)

Mortgage Rates Barely Stirred This Week

Mortgage rates have mostly taken a pause after a series of rises in April. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.55 percent last week, unchanged from a week ago.

“The minimal movement of mortgage rates in these last three weeks reflects the current economic nirvana of a tight labor market, solid economic growth, and restrained inflation,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending May 10:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.55 percent, with an average 0.5 point, unchanged from a week ago. A year ago, 30-year rates averaged 4.05 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.01 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 4.03 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.29 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

FHA Borrowers Get Help Funding Solar Panels

A growing number of lending programs are helping homeowners pay the upfront costs of solar panels. One lender, Guild Mortgage, an independent lender, recently announced a program that allows home buyers to lump the costs of solar panels into an FHA loan. California residents will be the first to have access to the program.

Guild Mortgage’s FHA Solar program follows Federal Housing Administration loan requirements and offers down payment options as low as 3.5 percent. The down payment is based on the purchase of the home before the panels are added into the cost of the mortgage. “This program will give more options to home buyers looking for solar because it gives them the flexibility to purchase panels and add them to any home they choose,” says Guild Mortgage President and CEO Mary Ann McGarry.

Other programs are also available for financing solar, such as PACE loans. Also, some homeowners fund the purchase of solar panels through a second trust deed.

Source: Guild Mortgage

After April Hikes, Mortgage Rates Slide in May

“While mortgage rates have increased by one-half of a percentage point so far this year, it has not impacted home purchase demand, which continues to grow this spring,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The observed buyer resiliency in the face of higher rates reflects the healthy economy and strong consumer confidence, which are important drivers of home sales activity.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending May 3:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.55 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.58 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.02 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.03 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 4.02 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.27 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Kitchens Dethroned as Top Remodeling Project

Bathrooms overtook kitchens as the most popular remodeling project, according to a new NAHB survey. NAHB has released the results highlighting the most common remodeling projects to kick off National Home Remodeling Month in May.

While remodeling is commonly associated with kitchens and baths, demand for green upgrades continues to swell as home owners seek to save on utility costs, improve air quality and increase the value of their homes. An additional survey by NAHB Remodelers showed that high-performing, low-emissivity (Low-E) windows are the most common green-building product installed by residential remodelers.

Source: National Association of Home Builders

 

Home Loan Interest Rates Surge to 4-Year High

“Higher Treasury yields, driven by rising commodity prices, more Treasury issuance’s and the steady stream of solid economic news are behind the uptick in rates over the past week,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Despite the increase in borrowing costs, demand for home purchase credit remains solid.” The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that mortgage applications were up 11 percent from a year ago.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending April 26:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.58 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.47 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.03 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.02 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s average of 3.94 percent. A year ago, 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.27 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Sales Should Be Higher—But They’re Not

Following population trends, the U.S. should be adding more than a million households each year for the next few years, economists note in Freddie Mac’s April Outlook report. But higher housing costs and a delay in younger adults’ buying are prompting an uptick in shared living arrangements, multigenerational households, and delayed household formation.

A shortage of homes for sale continues to press on many markets across the country. The number of single-family homes available for sale in the U.S. in February was 1.41 million units, less than half of the inventory peak in 2007, according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®.

Researchers predict that home sales will rise from 6.12 million in 2017 to 6.3 million in 2018, and to 6.44 million in 2019. They are forecasting that new home sales will be a significant driver in home sales over the next few months.

Source: “Nothing Draws a Crowd Like a Crowd: The Outlook for Home Sales,” Freddie Mac Outlook (April 2018)

Warning of Russian Cyberattacks to Private Homes

The U.S. and Britain have issued a warning about Russian cyberattacks that could extend to individual homes. The warning was the first of its kind, The New York Times reports. The warning extends to possible cyberattacks to government and private organizations in both countries as well.

The countries are asking the public to upgrade passwords and computer security to make themselves less vulnerable. U.S. and U.K. officials are warning that Russians are tapping into internet-connected devices in homes and businesses. Hackers allegedly could secretly inserting themselves into the exchange of data between a computer or server to eavesdrop, collect confidential information, misdirect payments, etc.

The officials said that the full extent of Russia’s ability to penetrate Western computer networks is still unknown.

More information at source: “U.S.-U.K. Warning on Cyberattacks Includes Private Homes,” The New York Times (April 16, 2018)

Seniors’ Growing Debt Casts Retirement Doubts

The percentage of families in which the head of household is 75 or older and carrying debt grew by 60 percent between 2007 and 2016, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. In 2016, nearly 50 percent of such families had debt; the average debt was $36,757. Meanwhile, the average monthly Social Security check is $1,404, and more than 40 percent of single adults receive more than 90 percent of their income from Social Security alone, according to government data. Many may find Social Security payouts aren’t sufficient to maintain their lifestyle and pay off debt.

“To pay off the debt, you’re going to have to give up some living standards,” says Craig Copeland, a senior associate with the Employee Benefit Research Institute. For some homeowners, that may mean having to relocate to a place where the cost of living is less expensive. “They may be able to move into a retirement community, where there may be a better social aspect than living in a house in the suburbs with a bunch of young people,” Copeland says. “Or they may have to move in with a relative or friend to share living expenses.”

Source: “Growing Debt Among Older Americans Threatens Their Retirement,” CNBC (April 4, 2018)