Monday, July 30, 2012

Mortgage Rates Hit Another All Time Low

Freddie Mac reports 30-year fixed average at 3.49%

For the first time, according to records dating back to the 1950s, the average rate for a mortgage has dropped below 3.50%, hitting 3.49% last Thursday. That’s the lowest mortgage rate recorded since long-term mortgages were introduced 60 years ago.

Pending home sales rise for the 14th straight month

Spurred by low mortgages and gradually rising home prices, the National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index was at 99.3 in June, nearly nine points more than last June’s 90.7. What differentiates the Pending Home Sale Index from other trend trackers, like the Case-Shiller Index or monthly new home sales data, is that it points to future activity. By tracking home sales newly under contract, the Pending Home Sales Index offers a window into actual home sales a couple of months down the line, — with some degree of reliability. For example, on the average, 80% of open home sale contracts will close within 60 days.

For homeowners, refinancing should be a priority

With mortgage rates lower than they’ve ever been, many industry experts say now is the time to refinance. The economic recovery, though slow and sputtering, appears to be relatively steady compared to the last few years. The marketplace for loans has expanded far beyond local boundaries and homeowners are taking advantage of long-distance lenders offering better rates — and the record low rates speak loudly against homeowners taking an adjustable rate mortgage. Instead, experts advise making the most of the opportunity to lock in these low rates now, before more global economic upheaval turns the tides and the rates once again begin to rise.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Conflicting Signs for Housing Market Recovery

Mortgage rates hit another all time low last week, according to Freddie Mac — the average rate for a 30-year fixed loan sank to 3.56 percent, the lowest recorded rate since long-term mortgages were introduced in the 1950s.

At the same time, the median price for existing home sales rose nearly 8 percent from last June to $189,400 while existing home sales dropped 5.4 percent month to month from May to June this year — although the 4.37 existing homes that sold in June still represents a 4.5 percent increase from June of 2011.

A senior economist at BMO Capital Markets notes that “it is only one month and the rest of the housing indicators have all continued to show improvement.”

Perhaps the most encouraging sign of recovery is the behavior of mortgage bond investors, who are beginning to price bonds as though the housing market is at or close to its bottom. Indeed, Randy Robertson of BlackRock, Inc. said “the market is just starting to assimilate some of the numbers we've seen in terms of stabilization in housing.”

Via The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and CBSNews.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Housing Markets Recovering Coast to Coast

According to he National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI), 32 states and Washington, D.C. rose in July from 80 to 84.

Since April, when the index reached a high of 101 improving markets, more than 20 markets had fallen off — but the latest numbers appear to signify a slow but steady stabilization. Both Phoenix and Tampa, markets that were among the worst hit by the market crash, are again on the list of improving markets — as are Prescott, AZ and Springfield, MA for the first time.

The index, issued monthly, uses a multitude of factors, including home-price appreciation, increases in single-family housing permits and employment growth to analyze a market’s “improvement score.” One of the largest housing markets in the country, Houston, TX, appeared on the index for the first time this month, reflecting good news for that city’s recovery.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also sees notable signs of recovery in the housing market — pending home sales in May were on track to match the highest pace in two years, more than 13 percent above the rate recorded in May last year, while the national median home price is on track to go up three percent this year. According to Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, “ the latest increase in home contract signings marks 13 consecutive months of year-over-year gains… we’re on track to see a 9 to 10 percent improvement in total sales for 2012.”

As NAHB Chief Economist put it, “this is evidence that the housing recovery is slowly but surely taking root, one market at a time.”

For more on the Improving Markets Index, check out these sources:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Foreclosures — Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Year-over-year looking good

There were 63,000 foreclosures completed this May — down considerably from the 77,000 completed in May of 2011. CoreLogic reports that the number of homes in foreclosure inventory also went down year-over-year in May, from 1.5 million homes last year to 1.4 million homes this year. (via Trulia)

Month-to-month on the rise

From April to May of this year, also according to CoreLogic, there was about a 1.5 percent increase in completed foreclosures from 62,000 in April to 63,000 in May. (via Trulia)

Foreclosure inventory still high

Lender Processing Services recently issued its May Mortgage Monitor report, which stated that 4.12 percent of all active mortgages are in some stage of foreclosure, while another 3.2 percent are delinquent by 90 days or more. The average is a shade misleading, however, as it doesn’t reflect the dramatic difference between foreclosure inventories in states with judicial foreclosure processes and states with non-judicial processing. (via PR NewsWire)

Judicial states hold more than twice the foreclosure inventory

Judicial states are showing an inventory more than two and a half times that of non-judicial states — an average 6.5 percent of inventory in judicial states is in some state of foreclosure compared to an average of 2.46 percent in non-judicial states. In addition, the percentage of that inventory that is more than two years past due has increased about 50 percent in judicial states since 2008, compared to about a 30 percent increase in non-judicial states. (via Lender Processing Services)

Non-judicial state’s delinquency rates dropping fast

On average, the year-over-year change in non-current loans (30 days or more in delinquency or in foreclosure) in non-judicial states has dropped more than 7 percent. The trend in non-current loans in states with judicial foreclosure processing is also downward, albeit far slower, averaging less than 1 percent. (via Lender Processing Services)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mortgage Rates Down, Sales Up

“evidence is accumulating that the optimists may finally be right.

The housing market is starting to recover. Prices are rising. Sales are increasing. Home builders are clearing lots and raising frames.” ~The New York Times, June 27th, 2012,

Lowest rates in more than 40 years

Last week, mortgage rates hit new all-time lows —  the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.66 percent, while the average for a 15-year sank to 2.94 percent — both the lowest recorded rates since Freddie Mac’s records beginning in 1971.

Last year at this time, the rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage averaged about 4.51 percent, while the average rate for a 15-year fixed mortgage was about 3.22 percent. (via The Washington Post)

Existing home are sales up

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that existing-home sales for May 2012 — completed transactions including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops — are up nearly 10 percent year-over-year. Sales are down slightly — 1.5 percent — from April 2012, something NAR attributes to less inventory.

Listed inventory is down more than 20 percent from this time last year (dropping to 2.49 million homes or a 6.6 month supply), continuing a downward trend from the all-time high of 4.04 million homes listed in July 2007. (via Economic Populist)

Year-over-year prices see smallest decline since 2010

The S&P/Case Shiller index (based on home values in 20 U.S. cities) for April fell 1.9 percent from April of last year — the smallest drop since November 2010.  This continues the shrinking year-over-year drop in home prices — which saw a 3.8 percent drop in January, a 3.5 percent drop in February and a 2.6 percent drop in March.

Even more encouraging, home values in 10 cities in the index were on the rise — with Phoenix at the top of the list with a year-over-year increase of 8.6 percent. (via The Wall Street Journal)

Market continues with stronger signs of recovery than decline

For the fourth year in a row, the housing market looks like it’s climbing out of the depths. Although each of the three years previously have seen the market recovery end with a downward movement, each year real recovery looks more promising. The ratio of housing prices to income is close to where it was prior to the housing bubble. With falling prices combining with an improving economy, the number of potential buyers keeps growing. (via The New York Times)