According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, average mortgage rates fell last week, reversing an upward trend seen over the past several weeks. Though the decline was slight, it affected all loan categories except those backed by the Federal Housing Administration. Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, says rates slowed due to economic concerns. “Treasury rates declined last week, as equity markets continued to see large swings amidst investor concerns over global economic growth,” Kan said. “As a result, mortgage rates inched back across most loan types, including the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, 5/1 ARM, and 30-year jumbo mortgage rate. The 30-year fixed rate-mortgage also declined, stopping a run of six straight weekly increases.” Decreasing rates helped boost demand for loans to buy homes, which rose 3 percent higher than the previous week. Refinance activity, however, remained down, falling 5 percent. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications. More here.
The vast majority of surveyed Americans say that homeownership is among their retirement goals, according to a recent survey. In fact, 85 percent of non-retiree respondents said they want to own their own home in retirement and believe they can pay off their mortgage before they retire. But, though non-retiree participants feel like they’ll have their mortgage paid off in time, more than 25 percent of retired respondents said they’re still paying off a mortgage and over half of those had a balance of more than $50,000. In short, Americans may be a bit too optimistic. But regardless of whether or not they make it, the debate about homeownership and retirement will continue. On the one hand, tax breaks and equity make a good case for the wealth-building benefits of owning a home. But, on the other hand, property tax, maintenance and potential renovation costs can add unpredictability to a household budget that may largely be fixed. In the end, which situation is the right one for you will ultimately depend on your personal finances, assets, and outlook – as there is no one-size fits all strategy for meeting your retirement goals. More here.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, the number of Americans requesting loans to buy homes last week was 5 percent higher than the same week one year ago – indicating that there is a high level of buyer demand around the country. But though buyers are active in the market, they are also keeping a close eye on affordability. And last week, mortgage rates were also up. In fact, rates rose 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 mortgages. The increase was driven by confidence in the overall economy. “Market sentiments about strong domestic growth and higher inflation in the U.S. pushed the 10-year Treasury to the 3 percent mark last week, the first time since 2014 that yields have hit that level,” MBA economist, Joel Kan, told CNBC. In other words, continued economic optimism is responsible for increasing rates. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications. More here.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, average mortgage rates fell last week for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, and 15-year fixed-rate loans. Rates for jumbo loans increased from the previous week. Despite favorable rates, however, total demand for mortgage applications was down nearly five percent. Joel Kan, an MBA economist, told CNBC there are a couple of reasons application demand may have slowed – including news of the tax plan moving through congress. “The seasonal slowdown is certainly a key factor, but it could be that some buyers wanted to see the fine print of the bill before making a commitment, and that led to a pullback,” Kan said. Whatever the case, demand for loans to buy homes was down six percent from the week before, though it remains one percent higher than it was during the same week 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 fact that young Americans aren’t buying homes at the rate they used to isn’t news. Ever since the housing crash, Millennial homeownership rates have been lower than historically normal. In fact, homeownership rates among buyers between the ages of 18 and 34 dropped 8 percent between 2006 and 2015. There are, of course, many factors that have made it difficult for younger Americans to buy in recent years – including student loan debt, a challenging job market, rising rent, and higher home prices. However, though overall numbers show fewer first-time buyers active in the market, in some cities Millennial home buyers are actually quite well represented. Take Elk Grove, CA, for example. In Elk Grove, the homeownership rate among people under the age of 35 was just over 60 percent in 2015, mostly due to its proximity to major metropolitan areas and a median home value around $350,000. Other cities that have an above average number of Millennial home buyers include Sioux Falls, SD, Bakersfield, CA, Peoria, IL, Cary, NC, and Chattanooga, TN. And, though they all have a different mix of factors, the most common thread among all the top cities for younger buyers are affordable homes for sale and a growing economy. More here.
For many years now, the average size of a newly built home has been going up. In fact, by 2015, the typical new home was 2,689 square feet – by comparison, the average was 1,660 square feet in 1974. That longtime trend took a step back last year, however. In 2016, the average new home fell 55 square feet. And, though that doesn’t sound like much, it is the first time in eight years new homes were smaller than the year before, according to Rose Quint, the National Association of Home Builders assistant vice president for survey research. “The data on new home characteristics show a pattern,” Quint said. “2016 marked the end of an era that began in 2009 when homes got bigger and bigger with more amenities. I expect the size of homes to continue to decline as demand increases from first-time buyers.” But though Quint believes home size will continue to fall as more first-time buyers enter the market, she doesn’t expect added features and amenities to become less popular. In fact, Quint says a majority of home buyers would prefer amenities and features over square footage. “More than two-thirds are willing to trade size for high quality products and features,” Quint said. Among the most coveted home features, a separate laundry room, energy-efficient windows and appliances, outdoor living space, exterior lighting, and a full bath on the main floor rank high. More here.
Naturally, affordability is a concern for anyone deciding whether they’ll rent or buy their next home. Buying a house is a significant undertaking and involves a number of costs and responsibilities that renters don’t have to worry about. That, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that renting is always going to be the more affordable option. In fact, rent has been climbing for years and continues to increase, according to a recent analysis from ABODO. The analysis determined that the average renter last year paid $1,001 per month for a one-bedroom home and the average month-over-month increase was .67 percent. In short, the average rent rose about $85 from where it was at the beginning of last year to where it ended up at the end of the year. Still, when looked at on a state-by-state basis, rental prices vary greatly. For example, the average rent in states like Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina is far lower than it is in areas like the District of Columbia, California, and New York. However, that doesn’t mean rents aren’t rising in metropolitan areas within states with lower overall averages. A look at the cities with the largest average monthly increase in rental costs shows Columbus, GA, Raleigh, NC, and Nashville, TN among the top 10, while San Francisco, Oakland, and Las Vegas experienced some of the largest declines in monthly rent. More here.
Sales of newly built homes fell 2 percent in October, according to new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. But, despite the month-over-month dip, sales were still strong when compared to the same time last year. In fact, October sales were 17.8 percent higher than the year before. Part of the reason for this is that monthly sales figures are typically volatile, while year-over-year numbers provide a better look at the big picture. And so far this year, low mortgage rates, a stronger labor market, and high buyer demand have led to overall gains in both new and existing home sales that should push sales to levels last seen before the housing crash. According to Doug Berson, chief economist at Nationwide, there may be reason to expect more improvement in the future. Berson told ABC News the millennial generation should provide increasing demand for single-family homes in the years ahead. “Historically, there is a significant uptick in homeownership at the age of 35 – an age that the oldest millennials are reaching now,” Berson said. Regionally, new home sales were down in the Northeast, Midwest, and South, while the West saw improvement. More here.
If you’re buying or selling a house, the new home market should matter to you. Why? Well, new home construction is the best way to increase the overall number of homes available for sale. And, as that number rises, the gap between supply and demand shrinks and home price increases begin to moderate. Whether you want to see home price increases begin to slow depends, of course, on whether or not you’re buying or selling but, either way, it’s likely something that is of interest to you. So what’s happening in the new home market these days? For one, housing starts – which measure the number of new homes that began construction during the month – were up 25.5 percent in October, according to new numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That number includes multi-family residences but single-family home construction also increased, jumping 10.7 percent over the month before. That was a better than expected result and is an indication that builders are feeling confident in the economy. Another is the fact that the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, which gauges builders’ perception of the market for new homes, scored a 63 in November. The Index measures builder confidence on a scale where any number above 50 indicates more builders view conditions as good than poor. In other words, according to recent news, the new home market is looking steady and poised for further improvement. More here.
In September, new home sales were 29.8 percent higher than they were at the same time last year, according to new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The data shows sales up 3.1 percent from the month before and at their second-highest level since the recovery began. That’s good news for the housing market because any increase in new home sales helps spur more new home construction, which raises for-sale inventory and moderates price increases on all homes up for sale. As it is, the median price of a new home sold in September was $313,500; the average sales price was $377,700. And, with the number of new homes for sale lower than the month before, prices will likely continue to rise in the near term. Still a more favorable labor market and low mortgage rates have helped balance higher prices and kept buyer demand high. As an example, economists and analysts predicted a sales decline for September, making the results both unexpected and a good indication that potential home buyers aren’t being deterred by higher prices. More here.