According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, demand for loans to buy homes fell last week. In fact, purchase application demand was down 2.3 percent from one week earlier. Joel Kan, an MBA economist, told CNBC there are a couple of factors that could be contributing to the decline. “Recent volatility in the financial markets and increasing rates continue to adversely impact mortgage application activity, even as the general economic outlook remains positive,” Kan said. In other words, potential home buyers are feeling cautious, despite being relatively confident about their financial situation and the overall economy. Part of that has to do with rising mortgage rates and the recent ups-and-downs of the stock market. Another factor could be the normal sales slowdown that usually follows the summer season. Whatever the case, purchase demand is now 3 percent lower than at the same time last year. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications. More here.
The housing market has been hot for a while. As the number of buyers outpaced the number of houses for sale, competition and prices rose. But just as competition helps push prices higher, higher prices help motivate homeowners to sell. Which is where we are today. Americans feel now is a good time to sell a house and, as more homeowners decide to list theirs, prices and competition will begin to slow down. That should start making conditions more favorable for buyers. But when will the seller’s market become more buyer friendly? Well, that depends on a number of factors. One new survey shows the tide may have already started to turn. That’s because survey results show 75 percent of Americans feel their local housing market is “cooling off” and an almost equal number report competition easing. Which means, the number of buyers and the number of available homes has become more balanced, which is good news for home buyers looking to make a move in the coming months. More here.
Homeownership isn’t a get rich quick scheme. So you shouldn’t buy a house expecting its value to skyrocket and your wealth to instantly rise. The housing market will have its ups-and-downs and there are no guarantees. Which means, you probably shouldn’t buy a house hoping it’ll make you rich. And while that’s generally good advice, it doesn’t mean owning a home won’t benefit your bottom line. For example, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ Q3 2018 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report, there are now nearly 14.5 million equity rich properties across the country. Equity rich refers to when the amount owed on the mortgage is less than 50 percent of a property’s market value. And the new numbers are not only good news, they represent a new high and an increase of 433,000 from one year ago. Daren Blomquist, senior vice president of ATTOM, says part of the improvement is the fact that people are staying in their homes longer. “As homeowners stay put longer, they continue to build more equity in their homes despite the recent slowing in rates of home appreciation,” Blomquist said. In other words, the longer you stay in a house, the more likely you’ll see a return on your investment. More here.
How much money you spend is dependent on how much money you have. This is a simple equation and one that explains the current housing market. That’s because, though home prices and mortgage rates have gone up recently, home buyer demand remains high. And the most likely explanation for this is that the economy is stronger and people feel more secure financially. In short, they have more money so they’re able to afford more. Take Fannie Mae’s most recent Home Purchase Sentiment Index. The survey asks Americans for their perception of the current housing market, prices, rates, the economy, etc. According to the most recent results, 30 percent of Americans who say it’s a good time to buy a house cited favorable economic conditions as the reason they felt like the time was right. This is a good indication that financial confidence is helping to fuel interest in buying a home. However, though the economy may be helping keep buyers interested, affordability conditions are having an effect. In fact, the overall index fell 2 points from the month before with five of the six components seeing declines. More here.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, average mortgage rates were up last week from one week earlier. The increase is a continuation of a recent trend upward that has been propelled by improved economic conditions. As the economy has grown stronger, interest rates have grown along with it. Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasts, told CNBC last week’s increase was due, in part, to newly released employment numbers. “Rates increased slightly last week, as various job market indicators showed a bounce back in job gains and an acceleration in wage growth in October,” Kan said. Naturally, increasing rates have had an effect on mortgage demand and last week was no different. The number of requests for loans to buy homes fell 5 percent from the week before. But despite the drop, purchase application demand remains virtually unchanged from where it was at the same time last year, when rates were lower. This is an indication that there is still a high level of demand from home buyers. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications. More here.
Millennials are now at, or quickly approaching, the age when the average American buys their first home. And though attitudes can shift from one generation to the next, when it comes to buying a home, millennials seem to agree with their parents and grandparents. In fact, they may be even more enthusiastic about buying a home. According to one recent survey of potential home buyers, millennials consider owning a home a top priority, second only to being able to retire. Homeownership was even named a higher priority than getting married and having kids. But though they may want to pursue homeownership in the near future, they also share some of the same misconceptions about the buying process that earlier generations had. The survey found that nearly half of current renters said they believe a 20 percent down payment is required to buy a home and almost a quarter of them said they think they’ll need to have a perfect credit score before they’re qualified for a mortgage. More here.
At a glance, it might seem like home prices can only increase so much before they crash again. After all, they’ve largely recovered and are now at or above where they were just before they fell the last time. So doesn’t that mean we’re entering another housing bubble? Well, no. And the reason we aren’t is fairly simple. According to Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors’ chief economist, the difference is what is pushing home values higher. “The current market conditions are fundamentally different than what we were experiencing before the recession 10 years ago,” Yun says. “Most states are reporting stable or strong market conditions, housing starts are under producing instead of over producing and we are seeing historically low foreclosure levels, indicating that people are living within their means and not purchasing homes they cannot afford. This is a stronger, more stable market compared to the loosely regulated market leading up to the bust.” Generally speaking, home prices have been moving up because there are more buyers than available homes for sale. And while that produces its own set of challenges, it doesn’t indicate the market is headed for another crash. More here.
Real estate, of course, is about location. From neighborhood to neighborhood, conditions may differ. Pricier neighborhoods will have different dynamics than more affordable areas. Hot spots that offer buyers features and amenities will have different conditions than less popular areas farther from the action. That’s why most people work with professionals when buying or selling a home. It’s good to be able to lean on the experience of someone with expertise in the specific parts of town you’re interested in. But that’s not to say you can’t have a general sense of where the market is headed and what to expect when you hit the streets in search of a house. Take the most recent forecast from Freddie Mac, for example. The outlook says, though the market will slow down this fall and winter, high demand for homes will mean more sales and competition next year. It also says home price growth will begin to slow next year, though you should expect mortgage rates to continue to edge higher through 2020. Overall, according to Freddie Mac’s outlook, home buyers and sellers should expect next year’s market to look relatively similar to this year’s. More here.
First-time home buyers are important to the health of the housing market, since they typically account for around 40 percent of the homes sold. And though that number has fallen in recent years, a stronger economy and job market has led to increasing demand among younger buyers. In fact, according to one recent survey, an overwhelming majority of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 say they want to own a home, if they don’t already. And while that’s not that surprising, the fact that the youngest respondents were among the most enthusiastic is. Generation Z – which includes Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 – were more than twice as likely to have started, or plan to start, saving for a home before the age of 25 than previous generations. Two in five Gen-Z participants said they hope to become homeowners by that age. But while they want to become homeowners, they may not have the same motivations as previous generations. Fewer of them said they wanted to become homeowners to live the American Dream or because they think real estate is a good investment. Instead, 61 percent said they want to own a home because they want to customize their own space. More here.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, average mortgage rates were mostly flat last week from one week earlier. There was little change across all loan categories, including 30-year fixed-rate loans with both conforming and jumbo balances, loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, and 15-year fixed-rate loans. However, though rates were virtually unchanged, demand for mortgage applications moved lower, with both purchase and refinance activity posting declines. Joel Kan, AVP of economic and industry forecasts for the MBA, said there are a few factors that may have led to the decreases. “The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage held steady over the week, but total applications decreased overall,” Kan said. “Purchase applications may have been adversely impacted by the recent uptick in rates and the significant stock market volatility we have seen the past couple of weeks.” Still, despite the dip, demand for loans to buy homes was just 0.4 percent lower than during the same week last year when rates were lower. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications. More here.