Planning for Home Ownership?

When is the right time to purchase your first home? The answer differs across age groups, family pressures and life goals.

One in five parents say they expect their child to own a home by age 25, yet this doesn’t match up to reality. Younger adults tend to feel the most pressure to own a home, but they’re still waiting on their own time terms, according to a new survey from Porch.com, a home remodeling website. Porch.com surveyed nearly 1,000 individuals, ages of 18 to 81.

“Purchasing a home is one of the most complex and expensive decisions most of us make, so it’s easy to see how not choosing the right style, location, or size can invoke criticism from relatives,” the report notes. “Of the three generations, millennials felt the least amount of pressure from relatives when it came to housing choices, whereas both baby boomers and Gen Xers felt slightly more judged.”

Source: “Exploring Generational Differences in Life Goals,” Porch.com (June 4, 2019)

Homeowners may ‘Benefit from Refinancing’

A recent sharp drop in mortgage rates hasn’t unlocked savings just for those looking to purchase a home—homeowners may also benefit. About 5.9 million borrowers could see their rates drop by at least 75 basis points by refinancing their mortgages, according to Black Knight, a mortgage software and analytics firm. That is up by 2 million in the past month alone.

That’s the largest population of eligible borrower candidates in nearly three years for savings. The savings could add up to about $271 per month per borrower.

The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.94% in the latest week.

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)