2019 Employee Relocation Report

Corporate relocation volumes and budgets are increasing, helping employees to more easily make a move for a job. In particular, 60% of mid-size firms with 500 to 4,999 salaried employees reported relocation budget increases, according to national moving company Atlas Van Lines’ Corporate Relocation Survey. About 40% of small firms (fewer than 500 salaried employees) and 40% of large firms (5,000-plus) saw employee relocation increase over the past year.

Companies are optimistic that 2019 will be a good year for relocations.  About 50% of firms say they plan to restructure their relocation policy, withhold taxable relocation benefits, and streamline relocation processes to reduce costs, the survey showed.

Source: “Corporate Relocation Survey,” Atlas Van Lines (May 2019)

 

Waiting Longer for Loan Approval?

If you’ve been following the news, you might have heard that the Federal Housing Administration is putting up hurdles for higher-risk borrowers to get their home loan application approved. On March 14, the FHA said applicants with a credit score of 620 or lower, or with a debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent, would get their loan application reviewed manually rather than through automated underwriting. This isn’t a new policy—it’s a return to a policy the agency had but moved away from in 2016.

As a result of this return to its previous practice, high-risk borrowers will still have their application reviewed, but it will get extra scrutiny and take longer.

In a sense, the agency is going back to basics. There’s been an uptick in higher risk loans getting into its insurance fund, and it wants to take action before problems appear. “Continuing to endorse mortgages with higher risk characteristics, without changes, negatively affects the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund,” the agency says in its memo announcing the policy.

 

Slight ‘Mortgage Rates Rise’

For the third week in a row, mortgage rates inched upward, but economists were quick to reassure home buyers and potential refinancers that rates remain still are below year-ago averages.

“After dropping dramatically in late March, mortgage rates have modestly increased since then,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “While this week marks the third consecutive week of rises, purchase activity reached a nine-year high—indicative of a strong spring homebuying season.”

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

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.17 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.12 percent. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.47 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.62 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.60 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.94 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Saving Enough for Remodeling?

Eighty-two percent of consumers believe the home they own is a financial asset, the study says. As such, they want to tackle home improvement project to increase the value of their home even more. More than half—52 percent—of consumers say they plan to take on a home improvement project in the next year. Kitchen and bathroom remodels lead in projects. (Read more: Design TV Shows Are Inspiring Optimistic Home Renovators)

But many consumers have failed to save enough. Sixty-four percent of consumers say their home improvement project will cost under $15,000. Bathroom remodels can cost anywhere from $19,000 upwards to $61,000; significant kitchen remodels can cost upwards to $125,000, according to the study from Discover Home Equity Loans.

Biggest Rate Drop in a Decade

“The Federal Reserve’s concern about the prospects for slowing economic growth caused investor jitters to drive down mortgage rates by the largest amount in over ten years,” says Sam Khater, with Freddie Mac. “Despite negative outlooks by some, the economy continues to churn out jobs, which is great for housing demand. We have recently seen home sales start to recover and with this week’s rate drop, we expect a continued rise in purchase demand.”

Freddie Mac reports the following mortgage rates for the week ending March 28:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.06 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.28 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.40 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.57 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 3.71 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.90 percent.

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)

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)

‘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.