National Association of Realtors

Mortgage News Key Mortgage Rate Sink To 49-Week Low



Mortgage News 
Key Mortgage Rate Sink To 49-Week Low

By Polyana da Costa – Bankrate.com

Mortgage rates defied the odds and edged lower for the fifth consecutive week, even as some economic reports show that the U.S. economy is growing.

The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.25 percent from 4.29 percent the previous week, according to the Bankrate.com national survey of large lenders. One year ago, that rate stood at 3.99 percent. Four weeks ago, it was 4.44 percent. The mortgages in this week’s survey had an average total of 0.34 discount and origination points.

This is the lowest level the 30-year rate has reached since June 19, when it was 4.12 percent.

  • The benchmark 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.35 percent from 3.38 percent last week.
  • The benchmark 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 3.24 percent from 3.21 percent. The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate jumbo fell to 4.29 percent from 4.31 percent.

Six Reasons Housing Inventory Keeps Declining


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A post I want to share with you….

By Nick Timiraos

 
The number of homes for sale fell to 1.82 million at the end of 2012, an 8.5% drop from November.

Home sales in December dropped by 1% from November, the National Association of Realtors reported on Tuesday, but still stood nearly 13% above the levels of one year ago. That means home sales have risen from the year-ago month for 18 straight months.

For 2012 as a whole, sales were up 9% to 4.65 million units, the highest annual total since 2007.

Prices, meanwhile, are picking up because the number of homes for sale continues to drop despite the sales volume gains. The number of homes for sale fell to 1.82 million at the end of 2012, an 8.5% drop from November and a 21.6% decline from one year earlier, the Realtors’ group said on Tuesday.

Here’s a breakdown of why inventory has continued to drop this year:

Many homeowners are underwater: More than 10 million homeowners owe more on their mortgage than their homes are worth, according to CoreLogic Inc. CLGX -1.45% That pencils out to around 22% of homeowners with a mortgage, or 15% of all homeowners (since not every homeowner has a mortgage). Underwater owners aren’t likely to sell unless they need to move due to changing life (marriage, divorce) or financial circumstances, and they’ll take a hit on their credit for pursuing a short sale, where the bank allows the home to sell for less than the amount owed.Data from CoreLogic show that inventory has been the most constrained in housing markets where there’s the largest concentration of underwater borrowers.

Others don’t have enough equity to “trade up”: Another 10 million homeowners have less than 20% equity in their current residence, meaning they can’t easily “trade up” to their next house. Traditionally, homeowners have relied on home equity to make the down payment on their next home, and to pay their real-estate agent to sell their current home and buy their next one. These “under-equitied” homeowners—meaning they don’t have enough equity to make a move to a more expensive home—have added to the drag on inventory.

Everyone wants to buy at the bottom, but few want to sell: Even those people who do have plenty of home equity are likely reluctant to sell if they think prices will be higher tomorrow. Would you sell your largest asset today if you thought it might be worth 5% more next year? This helps explain why markets such as Denver and Dallas, which didn’t have huge housing bubbles and thus had smaller shares of underwater borrowers, have also seen double-digit inventory declines.

More purchases from investors of all stripes: From the big institutional investors that have been grabbing all the headlines, to the mom-and-pop landlords that have traditionally played a much larger role renting out homes, investors have increasingly bought homes that can be rented out rather than flipped and resold for quick profits. This is further keeping inventory off the market in two ways: homes that are bought at courthouse foreclosure auctions never show up on multiple-listing services when they’re initially sold. They’re also held out of the for-sale pool because they’re being rented out.

Banks have been slower at foreclosing: Banks and other companies that process delinquent mortgages have had trouble proving that they’ve followed state law in taking title to homes ever since the “robo-signing” scandal surfaced in late 2010, and they’ve also had to meet a host of new state and federal rules governing loan modificationsand foreclosures from settlements spawned by the robo-scandal. Banks have also become better about approving short sales and loan modifications, which has curbed the flow of foreclosed properties onto the market.

Builders have been putting up fewer homes: Housing starts were severely depressed from 2009 through 2011 and have only recently rebounded off of those low levels. Consequently, there’s been much less new home inventory being added to the market at a time when demand (boosted by increases in household formation) is picking up. If more homes are held off the market—for any of the five reasons above—you can bet that builders will move in to fill the void.

Many of these factors that have been dragging down inventory aren’t signs of “normal” or “healthy” housing markets—but then, we probably haven’t had a normal market for around a decade now. If anything, declining inventory shows that normal supply-and-demand dynamics are returning, which is an important step towards putting a floor under home prices and giving markets time to get back to health.

 

Thinking of a Vacation or Retirement Home? Buy It Now


 

Newton, MA.  real estate, Realtor, Newton, MA

 

 

Thinking of a Vacation or Retirement Home? Buy It Now

by The KCM Crew on September 19, 2012 · 0 commentsWhen the economy was exploding in the early 2000s, many of us began to dream about purchasing that vacation home on the lake or securing a home in a more appropriate location for our retirement years. However, with the booming economy came skyrocketing house prices. Many of the homes we fell in love with quickly became out of reach financially. Perhaps we should take a second look at these same homes today.

With prices dropping by over 30% in some markets and with interest rates at historic lows, this may be the perfect time to do what we and our families have always dreamt of doing – buying that second home. Let’s look at the numbers.

Back in 2006 we may have seen the ‘perfect’ home but the $500,000 price tag was just out of reach. Today, we could probably get that home for $400,000 (if not less). We also would be financing it at the current mortgage rate instead of the rates available six years ago. The table below shows the difference in impact on our family’s finances:

Not every family is in the financial position to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities the current real estate market offers. But, if yours is, this may be the time for dreams to come true.

 

 

What Does QE3 Mean to Housing?


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What Does QE3 Mean to Housing?

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke announced last week that the Fed would again be pumping money into mortgage-backed-securities as a way to stimulate the economy. The big question for us becomes what impact this will have on the housing market. There is absolutely no doubt that Bernanke had the housing industry in mind while making this decision. In his post meeting news conference Bernanke explained:

“I think that house prices are beginning to rise in some markets, which will encourage people to look at homes, will encourage lenders to make more mortgage loans. I am hoping we will continue to see progress in the housing market. That is one of the missing pistons in the engine here, housing is usually a big part of a recovery process. We haven’t had that nearly to the usual extent. And to the extent that we can support housing I think that would be a very useful outcome.”

How does keeping rates low help the market?

HSH Associates which reports on trends in the mortgage rate environment explains:

“Of all the Fed policies, driving down mortgage rates has arguably been the most successful. Low rates have fostered refinancing, putting money in homeowner pockets and helping to spur consumer spending. Those low rates have enhanced housing affordability, while the steadying aspect of the Fed’s presence in the market has allowed for more of those transactions to complete; in turn, this has helped to firm up home prices. The Fed is trying to cause at least some inflation, namely in asset prices — homes, stocks.”

But what impact will it actually have on home sales?

Keeping interest rates low will definitely help. However, we are not sure it will be a driving force in a housing recovery. Rates are already at historic lows and  the challenge to many buyers is availability of mortgage money more than it is the cost of that money (rate). HSH Associates believes:

“Looking across the potential audiences who want to buy homes, can a claim be made that interest rates are an impediment? More likely, credit ruined in the downturn, a lack of income, unemployment or even asset strength are keeping people out of the market. In addition, there is arguably a cohort which cannot participate due to a foreclosure, short-sale or deed-in-lieu effected over the last few years, and there is likely still another group who will not buy a home at all, having watched family and friends suffer mightily with real estate issues and losses in the downturn. In this way, lower interest rates aren’t much of an inducement for a lot of folks, and except at the margins, the change merely enhances the opportunity for people already well-positioned and motivated to buy a home.”

Richard Green, director of the University of Southern California Lusk Center for Real Estate, echoed this sentiment in a recent MarketWatch article:

“While QE3 certainly won’t hurt the housing market, its short-term effect will likely be limited. The constraint that is keeping people out of the housing market is absence of equity. The drop in house prices means that many borrowers are underwater on their houses, and high unemployment has prevented potential first-time buyers from accumulating down payments.”

Keeping rates low can’t hurt the market and perhaps it will encourage some move-up buyers to make the move now. But few believe it will spur a dramatic increase in home sales.

 

Mass. single-family home sales post best July in seven years


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Warren Group: Mass. single-family home sales post best July in seven years

By Chris Reidy, Globe Staff

July sales of single-family Massachusetts homes rose 27 percent on a year-to-year basis, the best July in seven years, the Warren Group reported Wednesday morning.

A total of 4,979 single-family homes statewide sold last month, the best July for sales volume since 2005, the firm said.

The median price of single-family homes inched up about 1 percent to $318,000 from a year ago, added the Warren Group, a Boston firm that tracks real estate activity.

July condo sales in Massachusetts were up 34 percent to 1,994 units sold, and the median condo selling price was $295,000, down 0.3 percent from July 2011, the Warren Group said.

“There are a lot of good signs pointing toward a real estate recovery,” Cory S. Hopkins, editorial director of the Warren Group, said in a statement. “But we are comparing sales to a very depressed market last summer, so it’s important to step back and realign expectations.”

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors issued a separate monthly report Wednesday morning on the Massachusetts housing market. The association uses a different method to measure local real estate activity.

The association noted that July was the 13th straight month of year-to-year increases for sales of single family homes.

“While we’ve hit a ‘baker’s dozen’ with months of sales increases now at 13, prices continue to stabilize,” association president Trisha McCarthy said in a statement. “The probability that home prices will begin a more steady increase is good if the combination of higher buyer activity and lower inventory levels continue. What is needed are more sellers at all levels to insure that price increases happen at a more reasonable pace than during the bubble years.”

MA. Pending Sales Increase Hits 15 Straight Months in July!


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Mass. Pending sales increases hits 15 straight months in July

Today we released our July pending home sales numbers and for the 15th straight month, single-family and condominium pending sales have gone up.  On a month-to-month basis pending sales have ticked down from June . This is the 2nd straight month-to-month decrease.

Link to release: July 2012 Pending Home Sales

Here are the highlights:

  • Single-family pending home sales were up 33.58% compared to July 2011
  • Single-family month-to-month pending home sales were down 8.52% from June 2012
  • Condo pending home sales were up 29.87% compared to July 2011
  • Condo pending month-to-month home sales were down 11.78% from June 2012

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Buying a Home? The COST Is More Important Than the PRICE


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We have often advised buyers to look at the COST of purchasing a house more than the PRICE of the home. Obviously, price is part of the cost equation. The other piece, assuming you are not an all cash buyer, is the mortgage rate. The mortgage rate to finance a purchase can have a dramatic impact on the overall cost. Recently, there are more people talking about the possibility that mortgage rates could begin to increase.

HSH.com studies trends in mortgage rates. They explain:

“A better economic climate almost always brings higher rates, and a lessening of the troubles in Europe from massive central bank assistance adds to the movement of money from safe havens to more risky assets, driving rates upward.”

Dan Green of The Daily Market Reports recently stated:

“The Fed sees growth coming faster than originally expected. There’s suddenly less chance that the Federal Reserve will intervene to help keep mortgage rates low. Absent Fed intervention, mortgage rates are apt to rise and Wall Street is now betting that the Fed has bowed out. With no stimulus, mortgage rates rise.”

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Assoc of Realtors, recently wrote:

“Mortgage rates will be starting to rise. From the 3.9 to 4.0 percent average rate in the past five months on a 30-year fixed mortgage, the new rates will soon be in the range of 4.3 to 4.6 percent.”

Yun explains his logic here.

We do not attempt to predict future interest rates. We leave that up to the experts in the field. However, we want our readers to understand the potential impact on the cost of purchasing a home if they do rise. Here is a simple table that shows, even if the PRICE of a home softens, the COST of a home could increase.

Bottom Line

Many purchasers think they should wait until they are sure that prices have hit bottom. Deciding whether or not to wait should be determined by where the COST of a home is headed.

5 Real Estate Trends to Look For in 2012 and How they Pertain to Newton, MA.


Newton, MA. Realtor

5 Real Estate Trends to Look For in 2012

by THE KCM CREW on JANUARY 3, 2012

Predicting trends during the most volatile housing market in American real estate history is no easy task. We strongly believe these are the five real estate items we should keep an eye on in 2012:

1. Buyers Will Return

In 2011, a lack of consumer confidence in the overall economy dramatically impacted the housing market. Buyers were afraid to make a purchasing decision on any big ticket item. By the end of 2011, consumer confidence began to return and sales increased. Economic conditions will continue to improve throughout 2012 and consumer sentiment will solidify. Once that happens, home buyers will realize that now is the time to buy.

Yes, buyers are returning in droves, but only for property that has a real perception of value.

2. Foreclosures Will Increase

The ‘shadow inventory’ of foreclosures which has been growing since the robo-signing challenges of late 2010 will finally be introduced to the market. Distressed properties sell at discounted prices. They will impact the housing values of the non-distressed homes in the area.

There were more foreclosures in Newton during 2011, however there are not enough of them to have a significant impact here in Newton

3. Prices Will Soften

As more and more foreclosures come to market, there will be greater downward pressure on the values of houses in the region. Foreclosures impact values of non-distressed properties in two ways:

  • They will eat up some of the buyer demand in the market.
  • They will impact the appraisal on ALL transactions in the area.

An increase in foreclosures will have a negative impact on values. This will cause more homes to be underwater.

Again, Newton has been spared the foreclosure debacle for the most part. Appraisals continue to be stressful, greater responsibility is required from the Agents to come armed with comps. Many appraisers have never stepped foot in Newton before.

4. Short Sales Will Increase

As mentioned above, we strongly believe that home prices will soften through at least the first half of 2012. Falling prices will force more homeowners into a position of negative equity. Negative equity is one of the triggers that cause people to strategically default on their mortgage obligations. If this happens, there could be an increase in the number of foreclosures. However, we predict that banks will take preventative measures which will help many of these homes avoid foreclosure by easing the requirements in the short sale process for both homeowners and real estate professionals.

Yes, there has been a noticeable increase in short sales. I believe this could impact the number of sales because these buyers for the most part are not moving up to larger homes. On the other hand, this is a supply and demand business, so less inventory usually means higher prices.

5. Great Agents Will Be VERY Successful

Real Estate professionals who have invested the money, time and energy to truly understand what is happening and why it is happening will separate themselves from their competition and do very well this year.

Those who take that next step of learning how to simply and effectively communicate the market to their clients will be seen as industry leaders. These experts will dominate their markets.

Yes, this is already happening. The old way of doing business doesn’t cut it anymore. You need an agent who is:

1.tech savvy

2. hard-working

3. knowledgeable

4.well-respected by the rest of the real estate community

5. strong negotiation skills with the ability to communicate effectively….sometimes that means speaking to your clients and not just e-mailing or texting.

Newton, MA. Comparing Newton to the Rest of US.


 

Newton, MA.

The US Housing Data Bank has rated Brookline and Cambridge in the top 25 places where home values have fallen less than 10%.  By my calculations Newton is down about 10.5%.  Newton has an unemployment rate of 5.60% well below both the federal and state levels.

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