The Lending Coach

Coaching and teaching - many through the mortgage process and others on the field

Category: Mortgage (page 1 of 16)

Housing Market Forecast in Today’s Coronavirus Economy

Everyone is rightly concerned about the Coronavirus – as well as its impact on the economy and on housing.

But before the Coronavirus took hold, housing was very strong, with both new construction data and existing home sales at 13-year highs.

Believe it or not, we expect the strength to resume in housing when things get better, and I’m quite confident they will get better!

Sure, there might be a slower period as we practice social distancing, but most experts believe that when the economy comes back, it’s going to come back strong.

Did you know affordability is actually improving in the United States? You can find out more on that here…

In addition to that, homes are valued quite fairly; they’re not overpriced…and home appreciation has been steady and sustainable (more on that here…)

Look at this metric: when you take annual rents, the value of a home is about 17 times what annual rents would be. The historical average is 16, so we’re right there.

The peak was 24 times annual rents and we’re nowhere near that level! And if you take a look at replacement costs, home values are 1.59 times the cost to replace the home. The 40-year average is 1.58. It’s nowhere near the peak of roughly 2.

We can expect housing to come back very strong and this may be a great opportunity to buy that home you were looking for and benefit from it well into the future.

Please do reach out to me for more information and to set up your strategy!

March Mortgage Rate Update – COVID-19 Edition

Mortgage rates went from ridiculously low to “still not-so-bad” in just over a week.  I can’t say that I recall ever seeing mortgage backed securities and mortgage rates having such gigantic swings in 6 days.

A flood of demand for refinancing combined with volatile credit markets last week caused mortgage rates to actually spike on Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday, buyers for mortgage debt had largely stopped making bids.

Borrowers who were looking at a 3.25% or a lower rate on a 30-year mortgage the prior week were quoted 4% on Tuesday and then above 4.25% on Wednesday.

When U.S. mortgage rates spiked last week, the entire market clogged up on Thursday and bidding on mortgage loans essentially stopped.

Secondarily, the Federal Reserve cut the federal funds to near zero on Sunday, adding to their earlier rate cut of a half a percent last week.

The Fed has also stated it will purchase $700 billion in bonds and mortgage backed securities on Sunday. Last week’s Fed injection was to allow banks to have the appropriate levels of cash reserves.

This new one is to bolster markets ahead of potential coming weaknesses.

Nearly all of this was in direct reaction to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) threat and fears of an economic calamity that could be brought on by the virus.

Stock trading was halted for 15 minutes a few times last week due to a 7% drop in the market.

Treasuries tumbled to levels never seen before and the stock market dropped to a point where the Dow officially entered the bear market, ending the 11-year run in bull market territory.

Given all this, mortgage rates should have seen a serious decline last week. Instead, they’ve climbed nearly 0.75% in the last couple of days.

Why the disconnect?  There are 3 main reasons for this anomaly:

Capacity

Mortgage applications soared 55% last week from the previous week and demand for refinances rose to an almost 11-year high, as borrowers responded to the historically low rates.

Because of this volume, multiple investors actually stopped taking applications due to capacity concerns.  Many mortgage lenders would no longer accept locks less than 60 days for refinances. Their systems are stressed and they do not have the capacity to originate, process, and underwrite such an extremely high influx of loans. 

Essentially, mortgage lenders are trying to put 10 gallons of water in a 2 gallon jug.

So, investors are raising rates to combat the surge in an attempt to slow things down a bit.

Out With The Old and In With The New

The surge in refinances has increased prepay speeds for securities backed by recent mortgages.  This is essentially shortening the term of the investment and reducing the expected return of previous mortgages by the investor and servicer.

With this increased flood of refis, many previously funded and serviced loans are actually money losers now.

These losses for investors and servicers will see their revenue streams from their mortgage servicing rights dry up.  Most mortgage servicers see a break-even of 3 years for each transaction – and most mortgages are kept on an average for 7, so there’s generally a tidy profit for the average loan. 

A vast majority of the loans being refinanced are less than 3 years old – many are less than 18 months old, as a matter of fact..

So, investors are adding in some padded profits to cover those losses…and they do they by increasing mortgage rates they charge to borrowers.

Margin Calls

Because of the intense stock market drop this week, many investors were forced to sell their most easily liquidated assets to cover stock losses.

Many of those assets were mortgage backed securities that had appreciated and were easily available to be sold.

In the short term, that made mortgage backed securities more expensive, forcing rates higher in the short term.

Fed Rate Cut and Mortgage rates

Also, many erroneously believe that Federal Reserve rate cut directly correlates to mortgage interest rates moving downward.  As you can see by the piece I’ve written here, the Fed does not control mortgage rates.  As a matter of fact, there have countless times where the mortgage rates moved higher the day fed cut the federal funds rate.

Note that the federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions lend reserve balances to other depository institutions overnight on an uncollateralized basis.  This is not what drives mortgage rates – it does influence them, but does not “set” them.

Treasury Yields and Mortgage Rates

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate and 10-year treasury yield generally move together because investors who want a steady and safe return compare interest rates of all fixed-income products.

You can find out more on that here…

This week, that relationship seemed to disappear, as the 10-year treasury plummeted and mortgage backed securities increased, due mainly to the 3 factors listed previously.

What Does The Future Hold?

It’s important to understand that mortgage rates are still extremely attractive relative to historical norms.

Until things normalize a bit, we can continue to expect volatility in the marketplace, although yesterday’s Fed actions could move the market in the short term.

If you haven’t locked and started already with a refinance, then I recommend that you get ready to do so, as timing could be everything. Once the investors clear out some backlog and more economic data comes out (especially concerning COVID-19 ), mortgage backed securities will most likely get a boost and mortgage rates should ease back down once again.

My advice is to stay patient and be ready to move when the numbers work for you.

Secondly, inflation (the arch enemy of interest rates) is low, and the latest measures show that pressures are actually easing…again, good news for interest rates in the long term.

What Can You Do Now?

I recommend that you reach out to your mortgage lender right away and put a plan in place for a future drop in rates.  It would be my pleasure to give you some scenarios that might help you in your decisions making to know when/if you should make a move. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me for more!

March Home Appreciation and Interest Rate Update

Good news for home owners and buyers alike – home appreciation remains strong.

Interest have moved to historic lows due to multiple factors, including the virus scare.

The Federal Reserve has cut it’s funds rate by .50 basis points in an attempt to “provide a meaningful boost to the economy”, per Chairman Jerome Powell.

With these things in mind, make sure you have a solid game plan to navigate the market right now. Think about inventory, equity in your home, second homes, and investment properties as strategies to build wealth.

It’s also a good time to take a look at refinancing any properties you own, as rates have dropped significantly over the last 2 years.

The housing reporting benchmark, CoreLogic, reported that home prices rose 0.1% in January and 4.0% year over year.

The year-over-year reading remained stable from last month’s report. CoreLogic forecasts that home prices will appreciate by 5.4% in the year going forward, which slightly higher pace. from the 5.2% forecasted in the previous report.

This is great news for would be buyers, as they can expect a great return on their investment!

Do reach out to me to find out more, as it would be my pleasure to help you determine the right strategy for today’s environment.

Second Homes and Investment Properties – A Mortgage Primer

I work with a wide variety of clients, from first time buyers to seasoned investors…and many in between.  However, some of the most frequent questions I receive deal with second home mortgages versus investment property financing.

Interestingly, there are specific rules and regulations for both, and I’d like to outline a number of major differences between them.

In general, whether you’re buying a vacation home or an investment property, you’ll pay slightly higher mortgage rates and have to meet stricter guidelines to qualify.

I’m linking to an article from Peter Miller at The Mortgage Reports – and you can see his entire piece here…

Interest Rate Differences

Mortgage rates are generally higher for second homes and investment properties than for the home you consider your primary residence.

In general, investment property interest rates are about 0.625% to 1% higher than market rates for primary homes.

For a second home or vacation home, they’re only slightly higher (generally .125% to .25% higher) than the rate you’d qualify for on a primary residence.

Of course, investment property and second home mortgage rates depend on similar factors as those for your primary home. Each borrower’s situation will vary based on income, credit score, assets, and down payment percentage, just to name a few elements.

Why Are Second Home and Investment Interest Rates Different?

Per Miller, “The home you live in (your “primary residence”) is seen as the least risky form of real estate. It’s likely to be the one bill homeowners will pay if times get tough. A vacation home or investment property, on the other hand, is riskier. Borrowers are a lot more likely to forego those payments when money is short.

Because of the higher risk second homes pose, they come with stricter rules about financing.”

Second Home Mortgage Regulations

There are a few key things a buyer needs to know about mortgage requirements if they are considering a second or vacation home.  First of all, one you will essentially live in for part of the year, but not full time.

Lenders expect a vacation or second home to be used by you, your family, and friends for at least part of the year. However, you’re generally allowed to rent the house out when you’re not using it.

If you plan to rent the property when you are not there, you cannot use expected income from that property to help income qualify for the loan.

Down Payment of 10% or More

Most lenders will want at least 10 percent down for a vacation home. If your application isn’t as strong (say you have a lower credit score or smaller cash reserves), you may have to put 20 percent or more down.

Also, gift funds are generally allowed for a portion of the down payment, but at least 5% of it must come from the borrower’s own funds if bringing in less than a 20 percent down payment

Credit Score

The purchase of a second home or vacation home requires higher credit scores, typically in the 640 or higher range. Lenders will look for less debt and more affordability, think of tighter debt-to-income ratios. Strong reserves (extra funds after closing) are a big help.

Investment Property Mortgage Regulations

If you are planning on purchasing an investment property there are specific rules that apply.

If you’re financing a home as an investment property, and you plan to rent it out full-time, you are not personally required to live in the building for any amount of time.

Down Payment of 15% to 25%

Down payment requirements for an investment property range from 15 percent for a one-unit property to 25 percent for a two- to four-unit property. You may also be required to make a bigger down payment depending on your application and the type of loan.

No gift funds are allowed for investment property purchases, so most lenders will require down payment funds “seasoned” for at least 60 days in the borrower’s personal account.

Using Expected Rental Income to Help Qualify

The good news about utilizing an investment property loan is that the borrower can use expected rents as income to help in qualification.

Here are some of the guidelines:

  • If the property is leased, then copies of the current signed lease agreements may be required.
  • If the property is not currently leased, then the lender may use “market rent” information provided by the appraiser.
  • When there is no rental income for the subject property on the borrowers tax returns, the rental income will be reduced to 75% of the gross rental income provided on the lease.

You can find more on this subject here…

Credit Score

Lenders generally require borrowers to have a credit score above 640 for an investment property loan. With that said, rates can run very high for low credit scores.

The Bottom Line

When you apply for a mortgage, you are required declare how you intend to use the property. Lenders take such declarations seriously because they don’t want to finance riskier investment properties with residential financing.

Make sure to find a lender who truly understands the differences and requirements between second homes and investment properties.  I’d be more than happy to share other resources I have on the subject, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your questions!

Homes Are MORE Affordable Today – Not Less

You might be seeing in the press or hearing from others that owning a home today is less affordable than it has been in the past.  Sure, home prices have increased over the last five years and current inventory is tight.

However, that narrative is completely wrong, when you look at the data. Now is the most affordable buying a home has been in the last 30 years.

I’m linking to an article from Caety James at Keeping Current Matters that outlines some of the reasons.  You can find the article in its entirety here…

Low Mortgage Rates a Key Driver

James writes: “Homes, in most cases, are purchased with a mortgage. The current mortgage rate is a major component of the affordability equation. Mortgage rates have fallen by over a full percentage point since December 2018. Another major piece of the affordability equation is a buyer’s income. The median family income has risen by approximately 3% over the last year.”

Just take a look a the National Association of Realtors “Housing Affordability Index” – it shows that home affordability is better today than nearly any point over the last 30 years!

Potential buyers really should take the time to find out why now is the time to make that purchase.

Payment as Percentage of Income

The report on the index also calculates the mortgage payment on a median priced home as a percentage of the median national income. Historically, that percentage is just above 21%. Here are the percentages since June of 2018:

Again, we can see that affordability is much better today than the historical average and has been getting better over the last year and a half.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re thinking about buying your first home or contemplating a vacation home or investment property, don’t let the false narrative about affordability prevent you from moving forward.

From an affordability standpoint, this is truly one of the best times to buy in the last 30 years.  Please do reach out to me to find out more and how I can help!

Shop for a Mortgage Without Hurting Your Credit Score

Make sure to do a little planning before you start looking for a mortgage.  With a some work, you can keep your score in top shape relatively easily as you shop for the right mortgage lender.

“Metaphorically, not letting your lender check your credit is like not letting a doctor check your blood pressure. Sure, you can get a diagnosis when your appointment’s over — it just might not be the right one.” – Gina Pogol, The Mortgage Reports

When you start looking for the right mortgage provider, shop carefully because your credit score might suffer if you don’t take care. Each time you apply for a home loan, a mortgage lender will make a credit inquiry to review your credit history. These inquiries are reported to the three major credit-reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

I’m linking to a great article by Gina Pogol of The Mortgage Reports that discusses credit inquires and how it impacts a borrower’s score – you can view the entire article here…

If there’s one thing to take away, from Pogol’s article…”do make sure to share your social security number with your lender so they can give you accurate mortgage rate quotes instead of just best guesses or ‘ballpark rates’.”

Mortgage vs Credit Card Inquiries

A hard inquiry generally means you’re searching for additional credit. “Statistically, you’re more likely to have debt problems and default on financial obligations when you increase your available credit. This is especially true if you’re maxed out or carrying credit card balances and looking for more”, says Pogol.

She continues, “Understanding this, it makes sense that your credit scores drop when you go applying for new credit cards or charge cards. Fortunately, credit bureaus have learned that mortgage shopping behavior does not carry the same risks and they no longer treat a slew of mortgage inquiries the same way.”

They key point here is that multiple mortgage companies can check your credit report within a limited period of time – and all of those inquiries will be treated as a single inquiry. That time period depends on the FICO system the lender uses. It can range from 14 to 45 days.

What FICO Says

This is what MyFICO says about its algorithms and how it treats rate shopping inquiries:

FICO® Scores are more predictive when they treat loans that commonly involve rate-shopping, such as mortgage, auto, and student loans, in a different way. For these types of loans, FICO Scores ignore inquiries made in the 30 days prior to scoring. 

So, if you find a loan within 30 days, the inquiries won’t affect your scores while you’re rate shopping. In addition, FICO Scores look on your credit report for rate-shopping inquiries older than 30 days. If your FICO Scores find some, your scores will consider inquiries that fall in a typical shopping period as just one inquiry. 

For FICO Scores calculated from older versions of the scoring formula, this shopping period is any 14-day span. For FICO Scores calculated from the newest versions of the scoring formula, this shopping period is any 45-day span. 

Mortgage rate shopping / credit score Q&A with Gina Pogol

Do mortgage pre-approvals affect credit score?

Yes, but only slightly. Credit bureaus penalize you a small amount for shopping for credit. That’s a precaution in case you are trying to solve financial problems with credit. But requesting a mortgage pre-approval without applying for other types of credit simultaneously will have little to no effect on your score.

Will shopping around for a mortgage hurt my score?

You have 14 days to get as many pre-approvals and rate quotes as you’d like — they all count as one inquiry if you are applying for the same type of credit.

How many points does your credit score go down for an inquiry?

About 5 points, but that could be lower or higher depending on your credit history. If you haven’t applied for much credit lately, a mortgage inquiry will probably have a minimal effect on your score.

How much does a mortgage affect credit score?

Having a mortgage and making all payments on time actually improves your credit score. It’s a big loan and a big responsibility. Managing it well proves you are a worthy of other types of credit.

What’s the mortgage credit pull window?

You have 14 days to shop for a mortgage once you’ve had your credit pulled. Within 14 days, all mortgage inquiries count as one.

The Final Take-Away

A mortgage credit inquiry does have a small effect on your score, but it’s still worth shopping around to find the right lender. Borrowers can save both money and headaches by doing some work to find the lender that you trust the most.

Forecast 2020 – Housing and Interest Rates in the New Decade

A strong job market, increased real wages, and historically low mortgage rates should support a solid housing market in 2020, most economists predict.

Believe it or not, the problem will be finding enough homes for buyers, as housing inventory is near all-time lows throughout much of the country.

With low unemployment and interest rates well below historical averages, the real estate industry is being constrained by shortage in housing availability, especially at lower price ranges. Not enough homes are being built, and homeowners are staying put longer, creating a bit of a bottleneck.

With that said, most experts believe it will be a good year for home buyers – and even better for home sellers.

Let’s take a look at what the insiders are saying about housing, the Federal Reserve, and mortgage interest rates in 2020….

HOUSING

“The housing market appears poised to take a leading role in real GDP growth over the forecast horizon for the first time in years, further bolstering our modest-but-solid growth forecasts through 2021,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist. “In our view, residential fixed investment is likely to benefit from ongoing strength in the labor markets and consumer spending, in addition to the low interest rate environment.”

Affordability

Current research shows that housing has actually become more affordable this year, despite home appreciation and tight inventory. Affordable homes are possible thanks to lower mortgage rates and greater purchasing power.

For the average home buyer, month-to-month housing costs are lower than they’ve been at almost any point in the last three years because real wages are up and interest rates are down.

You can find out some specifics about housing affordability here….

Appreciation

The trade association for real estate agents predicts moderate growth in the housing market and continued low mortgage rates.

They believe that new-home sales are expected to rise to 750,000, an 11 percent increase that puts them at a 13-year high. Existing-home sales will continue to be held down by lack of supply, rising modestly to 5.6 million, a 4 percent increase.

The national median sale price of an existing home is expected to grow to $270,400, an increase of 4.3 percent from 2019.

Here’s what CoreLogic sees regarding appreciation for 2020:

Rents Rising

Rents are rising and will likely continue to accelerate in 2020, according to the latest market report from Zillow.

Apartment rents grew 2.3% year-over-year, driving the median U.S. rent up to $1,600 per month. At the same time, housing values showed the lowest growth since February 2013, and inventory of for-sale homes fell.

With fewer homes on the market, national rent growth is projected to rise in 2020.

Single-family rents rose 2.9% year over year, according to CoreLogic’s Single-Family Rent Index, which measures rent changes among single-family rental homes, including condos.

As you might expect, now is not good time to be a renter, especially when you consider the missed opportunity on home appreciation.

Historically Low Inventory

According to the 2020 National Housing Forecast from Realtor.com, the national housing shortage will continue in 2020, possibly reaching historic low levels.

The graphic below shows where inventory is today relative to other times over the last 35 years:

“The market is still years away from reaching an adequate supply of homes to meet today’s demand from buyers,” Realtor.com’s senior economist George Ratiu says. “Despite improvements to new construction and short waves of sellers, next year will once again fail to bring a solution to the inventory shortage.”

THE FEDERAL RESERVE

Many consumers believe that the Federal Reserve sets mortgage interest rates. Interestingly, that’s not the case….the Fed doesn’t make mortgage rates, they are driven by the bond market market on Wall Street.

The Federal Reserve surely influences mortgage rates, but they don’t set them.  You can find out more on that here…

For the Federal Reserve, manipulating the Federal Funds Rate is one way to manage its dual-charter of fostering maximum employment and maintaining stable prices.  So, when the Fed lowers or raises the Fed Funds Rate, interest rate markets generally move in that direction.

Quantitative Easing and Interest Rate Manipulation

The Federal Reserve started re-purchasing Treasury Bonds in September of 2019, something which they have not done since 2017.

Blogger Craig Eyermann does a fantastic job of defining Quantitative easing: “(QE) is an extraordinary monetary policy that the Federal Reserve implemented during the Great Recession to stimulate the economy after it had cut interest rates to zero percent by purchasing government-issued debt securities, such as U.S. Treasury bills and bonds, to get the effect of additional cuts to interest rates. As a result of its QE policies, the Federal Reserve became one of the largest single creditors to the U.S. government at a time when the size of the national debt was surging.”

What many experts generally agree upon is that the Fed has utilized QE to keep interest rates low, especially considering they lowered the Federal Funds rate 3 times in 2019. 

What all of this means is that, essentially, the Fed is trying to maintain a relatively low interest rate environment…which should be good for mortgage rates in general.

Voting Membership Changes

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) consists of twelve members–the seven members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; and four of the remaining eleven Reserve Bank presidents, who serve one-year terms on a rotating basis.

This year, there are four presidents rotating out that voted in 2019: Boston (Eric Rosengren), Chicago (Charles Evans), KC (Esther George), St Louis (James Bullard).

The new four presidents that are rotating in for 2020 are: Cleveland (Loretta Mester), Philly (Patrick Harker), Dallas (Robert Kaplan), Minneapolis (Neel Kashkari).

The make up of the 2020 Fed is a bit different that 2019, as three of the new members are generally in favor of lower interest rates, and only one (Mester) has been open about raising the Federal Funds rate.

Most experts agree that this board will opt for lower rates than previous administrations.

MORTGAGE INTEREST RATES

The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage is hovering in the low 4% range as we enter 2020, a full percentage point lower than where it was a year ago. Low rates are boosting already strong demographic demand drivers in the market.

Many prognosticators are stating the average fixed rate might well fall into the mid 3% range in 2020.  That would be the lowest annual average ever recorded in Freddie Mac records going back to 1973.

Why are lower rates expected?  Let’s take a look…

Reasonably Low Inflation

As stated earlier, mortgage rates are set by bond investors who keep a watch on inflation as a gauge of the yields they are willing to take. Rising inflation eats into their returns and leads to higher mortgage rates. In a low-inflation environment, like today, they can still make money while taking low yields, which translates into low rates for borrowers.

Inflation has been extremely low over the last year and a half – and most experts (including those that sit on the Federal Reserve Board) are not seeing many new inflationary indicators, either. 

This means that interest rates should stay low, unless inflation rears its ugly head.

Recession Fears

Many, like me, were predicting a recession in 2019 , but it never really emerged. Unemployment stayed low and corporate profits continued to rise.

With that said, a recession at end of 2020 still possible, but may be delayed into 2021 due to some financial engineering by the Federal Reserve.

A couple of things to keep in mind…

  • Manufacturing already struggling
  • Shipments have been declining
  • Yield curve was inverted earlier this year (this inversion has happened before every single recession on record)

The key metrics to watch will be an uptick in initial jobless claims and the overall unemployment rate

When recession eventually comes, rates will significantly decline.

Stocks – Longest Expansion in History

The U.S. is officially in its longest expansion, breaking the record of 120 months of economic growth from March 1991 to March 2001, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The economy has been on a growth spurt since June 2009 and now surpasses the previous record expansion set between March 1991 and March 2001 before the dot-com bubble burst.

The decade-long expansion has been fueled by job growth, record-low unemployment rates and low interest rates.

There were 21.4 million jobs created during the expansion after a loss of 9 million during the recession.

Overall household wealth — which includes home values, stock portfolios and bank accounts minus mortgages and credit-card debt — spiked 80 percent over the last decade.

At the same time, some experts worry that a recession is on the horizon as history suggests that expansion can’t continue forever. Other causes for concern are the US-China trade and tariff dispute and a sluggish global economy.

“It’s unusual to have gone so long without a recession” ​when looking at the economic data going back to the 1950s, ​said David Wessel, director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and ​M​onetary ​P​olicy at the Brookings Institution.​

As mentioned previously, if there is a recession, rates will most definitely come down even more.

In Conclusion

2020 looks to be a positive one for both buyers and sellers, although the market would clearly be considered a “seller’s market”, because inventory is so low.

However, because real wages are up, home affordability is up, and interest rates are forecasted to remain low, buyers are in a great position to purchase.  It just might take a little more negotiations to agree upon the purchase price!

In reality, now is a fantastic time to purchase. Contact me for more information, as it would by my privilege to help you.

Forecast Shows That 2020 Will Be a Big Year for 1st Time Buyers

Next year should be a big one for first-time homebuyers.

I’m linking to an article by Aly J. Yale at The Mortgage Reports that shows that the 1st time buyer market is getting bigger.

According to new data, up to 9.2 million first-time buyers will hit the market between 2020 and 2022.

A New Frontier for First Timers

Says Yale, “according to a new analysis from credit bureau TransUnion, anywhere from 8.3 million to 9.2 million first-time homebuyers will enter the housing market between 2020 and 2022.

That’s up from just 6.67 million between 2013 to 2015 and 7.64 million between 2016 to 2018.”

Joe Mellman, senior vice president at TransUnion, the next couple of years should mark a turn-around for homebuyers.

“While we’ve recently seen a boom in refi activity, actual homeownership rates are down,” he said. “Challenges have included high home prices, sluggish wage growth, and limited housing inventory, but we may be starting to see daylight as slowing home price appreciation, low unemployment, increased wage growth, and low interest rates are helping affordability. As a result, we are optimistic that first-time homebuyers will contribute more to home ownership than at any time since the start of the Great Recession.”

Survey Results

TransUnion also surveyed potential first-time homebuyers on the perceived challenges that they face.

Interestingly, their results showed that most people are interested in buying a house for more privacy or the opportunity to build wealth.

Only about a quarter said they want to buy a home due to getting married or having children.

Per Yale’s article, “more than a third said they want a more steady job before buying a house. Another third said home prices are just too high.” 

Finally, the survey also found that many first-time buyers aren’t aware of their financing options.

“Many of our potential first-time homebuyer respondents don’t seem to be aware of the wide variety of financing options available to them,” Mellman said. “It suggests there’s a large opportunity for lenders to proactively identify consumers who are interested in becoming first-time homebuyers and then educating them on options they may not be aware of.”

Where to go for help

It would be my pleasure to help any first time buyers through the home buying process. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me for more information or to schedule a consultation.

Buying a Home Is the Most Affordable It’s Been in Almost 3 Years

Home prices have slowed a bit in some areas, but they continue to climb in the majority of markets in the U.S.  Inventory is stubbornly low in many parts of the country, but even with these factors, now is actually a good time to purchase.

Believe it or not, research shows that housing has actually become more affordable this year, despite home appreciation and tight inventory. Affordable homes are possible thanks to lower mortgage rates and greater purchasing power.

“Affordability is about the best it can be compared to what it is likely to be over the next few years. So, in that sense, it’s a good time to buy right now if you have the financial means.” –Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors

However, this positive development may not last for too much longer. That’s why it pays to hunt for homes and mortgage rates now, as waiting could prove expensive.

I’m linking to an article from Erik Martin at The Mortgage Reports – you can find the entire piece here…

What The Numbers Show

Martin highlights a Black Knight study (found here) that shows “housing affordability hit nearly a three-year high in September.” Other findings from the report include:

  • The drop in mortgage rates since November has been enough to amp up buying power by $46,000 while keeping monthly principal and interest (P&I) payments the same
  • The monthly P&I needed to buy an average-priced home is $1,122. That’s down about $124 a month from November 2018, when interest rates were near 5%
  • Monthly P&I payments now require only 20.7% of the national median income. That marks the second-lowest national payment-to-income ratio in 20 months

Martin writes “that last point may be the most important. For the average home buyer, month-to-month housing costs are lower than they’ve been at almost any point in the last three years.”

Why Is Housing More Affordable Now?

Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, states that lower mortgage rates right now are helping to offset higher home prices.

“Assuming you put down 20% on a median-priced home, your monthly mortgage payment would be $1,070 at this time last year. That’s assuming a 4.7% mortgage rate at that time,” he says.

Today, your monthly payment on that same home could be down to $990 — $80 less — even though you would have paid more for the home thanks to rising real estate prices.

Will This Trend Continue?

Yun, and many other economists, believe that mortgage rates will likely remain attractive through 2020.

“But then they will rise, which will knock off many buyers from the pool of eligible purchasers,” predicts Yun. 

Should You Act Now?

Please do reach out to me so we can analyze your current situation to see if a home purchase might be in your best interest.  Based on the data, now is really the time to get started…and it would be my pleasure to help you.

New and improved conforming loan limits for 2020!

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced last week that it is raising the conforming loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to more than $510,000.

In most of the U.S., the 2020 maximum conforming loan limit for one-unit properties will be $510,400, an increase from $484,350 in 2019.

What this means is that many buyers who were unable to qualify for $500,000 mortgages due to “jumbo loan” restrictions can now re-visit an application!

Data from FHFA shows that home prices increased by 5.38% on average between the third quarter of 2018 and the third quarter of 2019. So, the baseline maximum conforming loan limit in 2020 will increase by the same percentage.

As a result of generally rising home values, the increase in the baseline loan limit, and the increase in the ceiling loan limit, the maximum conforming loan limit will be higher in 2020 in all but 43 counties or county equivalents in the U.S.

Find out more from Housingwire here…

Conforming Loans – what are they?

A conforming loan gets its name because it meets or “conforms” to specific guidelines set by the two largest government-controlled loan entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Loans that are greater than $510,400 in general are considered “jumbo” mortgages and are not controlled by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Recent History

This marks the fourth straight year that the FHFA has increased the conforming loan limits after not increasing them for an entire decade from 2006 to 2016.

In 2016, the FHFA increased the Fannie and Freddie conforming loan limit for the first time in 10 years, and since then, the loan limit has gone up by $93,400.

Back in 2016, the FHFA increased the conforming loan limits from $417,000 to $424,100. Then, the next year, the FHFA raised the loan limits from $424,100 to $453,100 for 2018. And in 2018, the FHFA increased the loan limit from $453,100 to $484,350 for 2019.

Median home values generally increased in high-cost areas in 2019, driving up the maximum loan limits in many areas. The new ceiling loan limit for one-unit properties in most high-cost areas will be $765,600 — or 150% of $510,400.

Find out More

Please do reach out to me and find out what the conforming loan limit is for your neighborhood!

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