Home buyers looking to buy a home this spring have their eye on two things: home prices and mortgage rates. Lately, both have been rising but the latest numbers from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey offers some potential relief. That’s because the survey – which has been conducted every week since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications – found average mortgage rates were down last week across all loan categories, including 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with both conforming and jumbo balances, loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, and 15-year fixed-rate loans. Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, told CNBC rates fell slightly last week due to concerns about the global economy. “Rates slipped slightly over the week as concerns over U.S. trade policy and global growth sent some investors back to safer U.S. Treasurys,” Kan said. In short, the decline may be a temporary break, as long-term trends remain in place. Still, lower rates, regardless of the reason, are good news for buyers. More here.
Home prices are a top concern for both home buyers and sellers. After all, a lot of the calculus that goes into determining whether or not it’s a good time to sell or buy a house is based on where home values are and where they are expected to be in the future. For that reason, it’s good to follow the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, as they are considered the leading measure of U.S. home prices. According to the latest data, prices have continued to rise at around the same pace they’ve been increasing, with both month-over-month and year-over-year data showing little change. In short, prices are going up but no faster than they have been. David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, says things aren’t expected to change any time soon. “Unless inventories increase faster than sales, or the economy slows significantly, home prices are likely to continue rising,” Blitzer says. But despite rising prices, Blitzer notes that the market is calmer today than it was during the last price boom in the early 2000s. More here.
If you aren’t in the market for a new home, why should you care about the new home market? Well, for starters, it plays a very important role in the health of the housing market. And that affects all buyers, not just new home buyers. How? Simply put, new home construction is the quickest way to add homes for sale to the market. And, when more homes are added, buyers can be more choosy, which results in less competition and fewer home price spikes. In other words, when new homes are being built and sold, the overall real estate market benefits, including buyers looking for an existing home in a more affordable price range. So, if that’s true, how’s the new home market doing? According to the latest numbers from the Commerce Department, new home sales were 11.6 percent above last year’s level in April, which is good. But, though year-over-year numbers are positive, recent revisions to totals from the first three months of the year were revised downward, indicating some lingering weakness in the market. More here.
New data from the National Association of Realtors shows the typical for-sale property was on the market for just 26 days in April. And, though sales were down during the month, the speed with which homes are selling is evidence that buyers are interested and active in the market. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says homes are selling at a record pace. “What is available for sale is going under contract at a rapid pace,” Yun said. “Since NAR began tracking this data in May 2011, the median days a listing was on the market was at an all-time low in April, and the share of homes sold in less than a month was at an all-time high.” In fact, 57 percent of homes were sold in less than 30 days in April. Among the reasons homes are selling so quickly this spring is a lower-than-normal number of homes available for sale. Since buyer demand is high and the number of homes available to buy is low, homes are being sold very quickly. However, April’s numbers also show inventory was up 9.8 percent from the month before, which is an encouraging sign for hopeful home buyers.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, average mortgage rates increased last week across all loan categories. Rates were up for 30-year fixed-rate loans with both conforming and jumbo balances, loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, and 15-year fixed-rate loans. Joel Kan, an MBA economist, told CNBC higher rates are the result of improved economic data. “Treasury rates increased 10 basis points last week, driven largely by favorable news on retail sales data and industrial production in April, which more than offset data showing still-slow new residential construction,” Kan said. In short, the more the economy improves, the more likely it is that mortgage rates will continue to climb. But though mortgage rates were higher last week, demand for loans to buy homes still edged above last year’s level, with the purchase index 3 percent higher than the same week last year. The refinance, index, on the other hand, fell 4 percent and is now at its lowest level since 2000. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications. More here.
Prosperous is defined as “successful in material terms; flourishing financially.” And, while money isn’t everything, it’s safe to say we all want to be successful and wouldn’t mind flourishing financially. So where in the country is the best place to live if you want some prosperity? Well, the answer might surprise you. That’s because a new study – looking at factors such as population, median income, home values, share of inhabitants holding higher education degrees, poverty rate, and unemployment – determined that Odessa, Texas was the the top city for prosperity, beating out heavy hitters like Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Charleston. So what about Odessa makes it the most prosperous city in America? Well, from 2000 to 2016, the city experienced a 38 percent spike in income growth, home values rose 91 percent, and the poverty rate dropped by 36 percent. Those are some impressive numbers but the story behind the story is that Odessa benefited from a surge in crude oil production, which boosted the city’s fortunes and lifted it to the top spot on the list. More here.
The housing market has been in a bit of a holding pattern lately. While there is a high level of home buyer demand, there are a lower-than-normal number of homes for sale. That means, though sales should be booming right now, they are only making modest gains. But things can change. And, if more houses become available for sale, it could begin to reverse home price trends, making it easier for interested buyers to find and buy homes. So what is likely to happen in the coming months? Well, according to Fannie Mae’s most recent Economic and Housing Outlook, things will grind forward, but we shouldn’t expect major changes in market fundamentals anytime soon. “Housing’s upward grind should continue, despite a lackluster first quarter,” Fannie Mae’s chief economist, Doug Duncan, says. “We expect home sales to post modest gains both this year and next, as prices rise and affordability declines amid low for-sale inventory.” For buyers and sellers who may be waiting for conditions to change before making a move, this means the market isn’t likely to be significantly different in the coming months. More here.
Generation Z – which is defined as people born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s – is quickly approaching adulthood and will soon face the decision of where to live and whether to rent or buy. But, according to a recent analysis, they may be facing challenges past generations didn’t. For example, the results of one study show that they will spend less time renting but will pay more than young people have in the past. With current median rent at $1,418 per month and rising, generation Z is expected to spend $226,000 on rent in their lifetime. That’s a lot. And it’s more than baby boomers or millennials spent. But despite that, generation Z is expected to become homeowners earlier than millennials have. One reason is the cyclical nature of the economy. Another is the fact that more than half say they considered buying before renting their current place. Also, they are just as likely as older generations to say they consider owning a home as part of achieving the American Dream. In other words, if long-term economic trends hold up, the next generation of home buyers will have a better economy and job market to help fuel their dreams of homeownership. More here.
The high end of the real estate market has followed a different path since the financial crisis and housing crash. But while the luxury home market was able to avoid some of the ups-and-downs the rest of the market has endured, things are beginning to change. In fact, one recent analysis shows the number of homes for sale priced at or above $1 million dollars fell significantly during the first quarter of this year, as compared to the year before. And, if inventory continues to drop, the luxury home market could see some of the spiking prices and competition for available homes that buyers have found in more affordable price ranges. However, those this may be true, the effects have, so far, been far more muted than in the overall market. For example, the average luxury home was on the market for 82 days during the last quarter. That’s faster than the same time last year but much longer than the overall average. For comparison, the National Association of Realtors’ most recent numbers show the typical existing home was on the market for just 30 days, with 50 percent of homes sold in less than a month. More here.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, mortgage rates showed little movement last week and were virtually unchanged from the week before. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances and FHA loans fell slightly, while rates for 15-year loans were flat from the previous week. Jumbo loans saw an increase from one week earlier. But though rates were steady, demand for mortgage applications fell. In fact, both refinance and purchase activity were down from the week before. The week-over-week drop puts demand for loans to buy homes 4 percent higher than at the same time last year. But, despite the improvement, analysts say application demand should be much higher, as the number of interested home buyers has grown. One explanation is that, though there are many buyers active in the market, they are having a harder time finding homes to buy, which has depressed demand for loans. As more homes become available to buy, the numbers will begin to catch up with the current level of interest in buying a home. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications.