When to Drop Your Listing Price

Though low inventory is prompting buyers to raise their offers in order to beat out competitors, you still want your sellers to know: an overpriced listing will linger on the market. Buyers pay attention to time on market and may erroneously assume something is wrong with a property that has gone “stale.” Real estate pros say it’s critical to determine what time frame is considered stale in your market and drop the price of your listing before getting to that pivotal moment.

Soaring home prices may make buyers pause, but houses are still selling fast. Nationwide, the average time a home spent on the market was 34 days in September, down from 39 days a year prior, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Some sellers may be adamant about “testing the market” with a high asking price, so you should have a game plan for what to do if it backfires.

Source: “How to Know When to Drop the Asking Price on Your Home,” CNBC (Oct. 27, 2017)

Home Loan Rates Jump to 3-Month High

Mortgage rates reached their highest averages since July this week.

“The 30-year mortgage rate followed suit, increasing 6 basis points to 3.94 percent. Today’s survey rate is the highest rate in three months,”  says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.94 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.88 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.47 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.25 percent, with an average 0.5 point, increasing from 3.19 percent last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.78 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Wildfire Victims Get ‘Mortgage Reprieve’

Homeowners affected by the California wildfires may be eligible to defer their mortgage payments for up to 12 months. Mortgage financing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have issued guidelines for wildfire victims with single-family mortgages.

Victims may be eligible to stop making mortgage payments in three-month intervals, up to 12 months. They also may be eligible to avoid late fees during this temporary payment break, and to not have delinquencies reported to the credit bureaus.

Mortgage servicers have been authorized by Fannie and Freddie to suspend or reduce a homeowner’s mortgage payments immediately for up to 90 days without any contact from the homeowner if the servicer believes the homeowner has been affected by the disaster. For any additional payment forbearance of up to 12 months, homeowners will need to reach out to their lenders. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provide disaster relief information.

Also, HUD’s Section 203(h) program provides FHA insurance to disaster victims who have lost their homes and now face the task of rebuilding or buying another home. Borrowers with FHA-approved lenders may be eligible for 100 percent financing, including closing costs.

Source: “HUD Announces Disaster Help for Wildfire Victims,” Napa Valley Register (Oct. 19, 2017); “Fannie Mae Reminds Homeowners and Servicers of Mortgage Assistance Options for Areas Affected by California Wildfires,” Fannie Mae (Oct. 13, 2017); “Freddie Mac Confirms Disaster Relief Policies Amid California Wildfires,” Freddie Mac (Oct. 13, 2017)

Survey: Buyers Leery of Online Mortgage Info.

Consumers trust real estate professionals and lenders more than online sources or family and friends when it comes to obtaining information about mortgages, according to a new Fannie Mae survey based on 1,000 responses. Recent home buyers surveyed, including younger age groups, say they consulted multiple sources of information about the mortgage process but found lenders and real estate agents to be more credible than mobile apps, websites, and social media.

Though survey respondents say online sources are more convenient, they indicated a higher level of confidence in getting information through person-to-person interaction. However, home buyers do report using online sources to shop for a home much more often than to shop for a mortgage, according to the survey.

Source: “Lenders and Real Estate Agents Still Beat Online Sources as Top Mortgage Influencers,” Fannie Mae National Housing Survey (Oct. 19, 2017)

Home Lot Sizes Shrink to New Low

Lot sizes on new single-family homes have reached a new record low. New homes sold in 2016 had a median lot size of 8,562 square feet, or slightly under one-fifth of an acre.

The median lot size fell to under 8,600 square feet in 2015, according to the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction data. Lot sizes have continued to shrink since then.

Location plays a big role. For example, the median lot size in the New England region is nearly twice as large as the national median, exceeding a third of an acre.

On the other hand, the Pacific region—where densities are often high and developed land is more scarce—has the smallest lots. Half of the lots in the region are under 0.15 acres.

US regional differences map at: “Lot Size Is at a Record Low,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (Oct. 3, 2017)

Consumers: Home Appraisals Still Falling Short

Appraisals continue to lag homeowners’ price expectations, according to the latest Quicken Loans’ National Home Price Perception Index, which compares homeowners’ initial estimates and appraiser’s opinions of home values. Appraised values were 1.35 percent lower than homeowners’ expectations in August. That has narrowed from a 1.55 percent difference in July.

Many homeowners are still not understanding their home’s current value, according to the analysis. The perceptions can vary quite a bit across the country, too. For example, home values are 3 percent higher than homeowners’ estimated values in the West, while they are 3 percent lower than expected in the Midwest and Northeast.

More interesting data and graphs at: quickenloans.com/press-room/2017/09/12/quicken-loans-study-shows-consumers-continue-to-be-too-optimistic-with-anticipated-home-value/

Home Loan Interest Rates Hit New Yearly Lows

Average mortgage rates moved lower this week, as the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage continues to sit well below 4 percent.

“The 10-year Treasury yield fell to a new 2017 low on Tuesday,” says Freddie Mac chief economist Sean Becketti. “In response, the 30-year mortgage rate dropped four basis points to 3.82 percent, reaching a new year-to-date low for the second consecutive week.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the most recent week through Aug. 31:

30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.82 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.86 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.46 percent.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.12 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.16 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.77 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Fannie Mae Loosens ARM Down Payment Rules

Fannie Mae is changing the requirement that borrowers pay a higher down payment to qualify for an adjustable-rate mortgage, announcing that it is bringing this type of financing more in line with that of fixed-rate mortgages.

Now, borrowers can make as little as a 5 percent down payment on a one-unit primary property using an ARM. Also among the changes is that borrowers need less equity in order to refinance into an ARM; they now need just 5 percent of equity to refinance. For purchasing a two-unit property, borrowers will need a 15 percent down payment for an ARM, or a 25 percent down payment for a property with three or four units.

An ARM is fixed for a set part of the mortgage term—often 5 or 7 years—and then adjusts depending on the current market rate. There are caps on how much it can adjust in one year. ARMs tend to have lower rates than fixed rates, making them an attractive option to borrowers who need to lower their initial costs or plan to own for a short time.

Source: “Fannie Mae Lowers Down Payment Requirements for ARMs,” OriginatorTimes.com (Aug. 26, 2017)

30-Year Mortgage Rate Hits New 2017 Low

Borrowers applying for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage this week locked in the lowest rate of the year, as it dropped to its lowest average since November 2016, Freddie Mac reports. Additionally, “the 10-year Treasury yield fell 6 basis points this week amid concerns over lagging inflation,” says Freddie Mac chief economist Sean Becketti.

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages for the week ending Aug. 24:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.86 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.89 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.43 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.16 percent, with an average 0.5 point, the same average as last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.74 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Report: Kids Have Big Say in Real Estate

Buyers with children put more weight on the neighborhood, local schools, and size of homes when shopping for the right property, according to the 2017 Moving With Kids report, produced by the National Association of REALTORS®.

The neighborhood, in particular, has a big influence on home buyers with children under the age of 18. Forty-nine percent of buyers who have children consider the neighborhood based on the quality of the school district, and 43 percent choose a neighborhood by the convenience to schools.

Sellers with kids also have unique needs. One notable need is that they usually have to sell their homes faster. Twenty-six percent of owners with children under the age of 18 sold their home urgently compared to 14 percent of owners with no children at home. The main reasons for selling a home for sellers with children were that the home was too small or they faced a job relocation or a change in their family situation.

Source: “2017 Moving With Kids,” National Association of REALTORS® (Aug. 21, 2017)