Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) rate averaged 3.49 percent, the lowest it has been since October 2016.
Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist says, “Mortgage rates continued the summer swoon due to weaker economic data. While economic growth is clearly slowing due to rising manufacturing and trade headwinds, economic fundamentals are still solid for U.S. consumers. The unemployment rate is low, housing affordability is improving, homebuyer demand is rising, and home price growth is stable.”
30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.49 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending September 5, 2019, down from last week when it averaged 3.58 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.54 percent.
15-year FRM averaged 3.00 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.06 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.99 percent.
Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.
New York’s housing crisis has taken center stage in the last few months: A bold package of bills was passed in Albany to protect tenants, while the city’s Rent Guidelines Board voted to raise the rent despite clamors from residents of rent stabilized apartments. Something that housing advocates have continuously cited is the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless in the city.
A new study by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness (ICPH), found that on July 1, 2018, there were over 12,000 families with children sleeping in a city-run shelter. The study also explored the biggest factors—family, neighborhood, and shelter dynamics—that lead to homelessness.
Overall, the study says that in fiscal year 2016, the main reasons families entered shelters included domestic violence (30 percent), eviction (25 percent), and overcrowding (17 percent).
In terms of shelter dynamics, the ICPH analysis found that neighborhoods with the highest family shelter capacity include Concourse/Highbridge, East Tremont in the Bronx, and Brownsville in Brooklyn. The report also notes that in 2015, the district with the most families entering shelters was East New York in Brooklyn.
Neighborhood dynamics contributing to homelessness, the study found, include educational attainment, unemployment, rent burden (as well as disappearing affordable units), and poverty.
An interactive map (below) shows the percentage of severely rent-burdened households in each borough—meaning households spending 50 percent or more of their income on rent. The map shows that the Bronx had the most severely rent-burdened households with 33.1 percent, followed by Staten Island at 29.5 percent (those figures are based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey.)
The study lists specific neighborhoods facing the most instability for different reasons. In Borough Park, for instance, 44 percent of households are severely rent burdened, and in Mott Haven, 40 percent of residents have less than a high-school diploma.
“Severely rent burdened households are often just one lost paycheck or medical emergency away from eviction,” the study reads. “As rents continue to rise, the preservation of affordable housing is essential to keeping families on the brink of homelessness stably housed in their communities.”
Also included in the map are the number of disappearing affordable units in each neighborhood. Those with large numbers of lost affordable units include Battery Park/Tribeca, Midtown Business District, Williamsburg/Greenpoint, Fort Greene/Brooklyn Heights, Fresh Meadows/Briarwood, Coney Island, and East Harlem.
Though the ICPH report says the number of families with children in shelters has increased by almost 55 percent between 2011 and 2018, the city’s Department of Homeless Services told Curbed that the overall numbers have gone down.
“Our transformation plan puts people first, offering them the opportunity to get back on their feet in their home boroughs, closer to support networks, including schools,” Isaac McGinn, a city Department of Homeless Services spokesperson told Curbed in a statement.
“As we turn the tide on this citywide challenge, we’ve driven down the number of families experiencing homelessness overall, while also helping hundreds of families in shelter move closer to their children’s schools—and we’ll be taking this progress even further as we continue to implement our five-year plan,” he added.
Freddie Mac is launching a new mortgage product that allows borrowers to buy a fixer-upper and finance the renovation all with one loan. Existing homeowners can use it to repair or improve their properties.
The government-sponsored enterprise announced its new CHOICE Renovation loan product on Wednesday, saying it’s available immediately to all approved lenders. Lenders have two paths for delivering the loan to Freddie. They can either wait until the renovations are complete, or, for approved lenders, they can deliver the loan while work is ongoing if they’re providing oversight for the projects.
“We recognized there’s a significant amount of aging housing stock, both in under served areas and in the broader housing market, and there’s also a need for affordable housing,” Kelly Marrocco, director of credit policy at Freddie Mac said in an interview. “This is a new offering that allows people to purchase a home that needs repair, or allows existing homeowners to renovate without having to do a cash-out refinance.”
The new mortgage product has a unique feature to address the danger of natural disasters and flooding. It allows owners to use the funds to renovate or repair a property that has been damaged in a natural disaster or for changes that will help to prevent damage from a future disaster, such as work on storm surge barriers, foundation retrofitting, or retaining walls.
The funds “can be used to address housing resiliency items that will either repair damage or improve the homes ability to withstand environmental hazards,” Marrocco said.
The renovation market has grown by more than 50% since the Great Recession ended in 2009, Freddie Mac said in its announcement of the new loan product. Nearly 80% of the nation’s 137 million homes are at least 20 years old and 40% are at least 50 years old.
“Given the increasing age of existing housing stock, the growing number of millennials and other first-time home buyers looking for more affordable home buying options, and the increase in retirees opting to age in place, the Freddie Mac CHOICE Renovation mortgage is a flexible solution to finance or refinance these fixer-uppers,” Danny Gardner, a Freddie Mac senior vice president, said in the announcement.
The euro area is at risk of a new real estate bubble as a result of expansionary monetary policy from the European Central Bank (ECB), Commerzbankanalysts have warned.
The ECB council meets on Thursday June 6, and is likely to decide on the details of the third edition of its targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTRO-III) program, a series of Eurosystem operations that provide financing to credit institutions for periods of up to four years.
TLTROs offer long-term funding at attractive conditions to banks in order to encourage them to lend capital to the real economy.
The central bank has faced calls from some corners of the market for fresh stimulative measures to aid the anemic European economy, and the third round of TLTROs represent a continuation of its expansionary monetary course.
“With a view to low core inflation, some policies are often passed off as a free lunch,” a note from Commerzbank senior economists Dr Ralph Solveen and Dr Jorg Kramer said in a note Friday.
“Yet the ECB’s expansionary monetary policy has a cost and it comes in the form of higher house prices, which already appear expensive in some countries, and the threat of a property price bubble is a real possibility.”Rising house prices
Commerzbank highlighted that house prices have been rising rapidly in the majority of eurozone economies, including the large economies of Germany, Belgium and France. With an increase of around 4.5% in the course of 2018, Germany was slightly above average in terms of rising house prices, while Slovenia and Latvia saw double-digit rises. Portugal, the Netherlands and Luxembourg all rose at almost 10% rates.
Yet Commerzbank analysts anticipate that ECB interest rates will remain in negative territory for the foreseeable future, further heightening the threat of a real estate bubble.
“The relation between house prices and rents, a frequently used measure for the valuation of real estate, has risen by more than 10% since early 2015. This is less than 5% below its level at the beginning of 2008, when the housing market in some euro area countries had formed considerable bubbles,” the note stated.
Commerzbank expects that if the ECB maintains its monetary policy stance until the end of 2020, average house prices will exceed pre-crisis levels.Falling debt and no building boom
Solveen and Kramer pointed out that the strength of impact of a bursting price bubble on the real economy depends, in part, on the extent to which rising house prices are accompanied by rising debt and a construction boom.
The euro zone as a whole is not yet in this position, the analysts suggested, with private household debt relative to GDP falling steadily across most of Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), although Belgium and France were noted as exceptions.
There is also no question of a construction boom, the economists highlighted, and the share of residential construction investment in eurozone GDP is now significantly lower than at the beginning of 2008.
“The situation is somewhat different in Germany, where the rise in prices in recent years has been accompanied by a sharp rise in construction investment and bottlenecks are increasingly occurring in the construction sector,” the Commerzbank note stated.
“However, the share of residential construction investment in GDP is still lower than at the beginning of the monetary union, and there was certainly no construction boom in Germany at that time.”
Pending home sales rose in March, reversing course from a month prior, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Three of the four major regions saw growth last month, as the Northeast reported a minor slip in contract activity.
The Pending Home Sales Index,* www.nar.realtor/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, increased 3.8% to 105.8 in March, up from 101.9 in February. Year-over-year contract signings declined 1.2%, making this the 15th straight month of annual decreases.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, noted that pending home sales data has been exceptionally fluid over the past several months but predicted that numbers will begin to climb more consistently. “We are seeing a positive sentiment from consumers about home buying, as mortgage applications have been steadily increasing and mortgage rates are extremely favorable.”
Yun noted that sales activity in the West had increased at a relatively stable rate for five consecutive months before the region saw a significant spike in activity in March. “Despite some affordability issues in the West, the numbers indicate that there is a reason for optimism. Inventory has increased, too. These are great conditions for the region.”
Pointing to active listings from data at realtor.com®, Yun says the year-over-year increases indicate a potential rise in inventory. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo., Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash., and Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn., saw the largest increase in active listings in March compared to a year ago.
Although pending contracts appear to be on an overall upswing, Yun says current sales activity is underperforming. “In the year 2000, we had 5 million home sales. Today, we are close to that same number, but there are 50 million more people in the country,” he said. “There is a pent-up demand in the market, and we should see a better performing market in the coming quarters and years.”
March Pending Home Sales Regional Breakdown
The PHSI in the Northeast declined 1.7% to 90.5 in March and is now 0.4% below a year ago. In the Midwest, the index grew 2.3% to 95.3 in March, 5.0% lower than March 2018.
Pending home sales in the South jumped up 4.4% to an index of 127.2 in March, which is 0.7% higher than last March. The index in the West ascended 8.7% in March to 95.1 and fell only 1.6% below a year ago.
As the housing market shifts further in favor of homebuyers, Ellie Mae’slatest Millennial Tracker Survey reveals that purchase requests from Millennials increased to 87% of all purchase requests made in February, a 2% increase from January.
The survey also revealed that although conventional loans continue to be the most popular loan product among the generation, they fell slightly to 68% of all loans.
Interest in refinances fell two percentage points from the previous month, coming in at 11% of all loans for Millennial borrowers.
“The percentage of purchase loans is on the rise with Millennials continuing to enter the homebuying market for their first or maybe even second purchase,” Executive Vice President of Strategy and Technology Joe Tyrrell said. “The increase in days-to-close we saw in February is relative to the percentage increase in purchases versus refinances, as purchases typically take longer to close.
According to the survey, it typically took Millennials 46 days to close on conventional loans, which is the longest average time to close since January 2017. Among conventional loans closed by Millennials in February, it typically took the generation 44 and 53 days to close on a purchase and refinance loans, respectively.
Notably, the Millennial Tracker also discovered that the average time to close on all loans decreased to 42 days in February. During the same period, the average closing time on FHA loans fell to 42 days, while the average time to close on VA loans increased to 59 days month-to-month.
Lastly, the survey highlighted that the average FICO score for Millennial borrowers edged up to 723 in January, rising from 722 in January, according to Ellie Mae.
In July 2018, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced its intention to levy tariffs on a series of imports from China. USTR rolled out proposed tariffs in three waves, with the third list (List 3) covering approximately $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. The List 3 goods comprises 5745 items, approximately 450 of which are commonly used in the residential construction industry.
The NAHB economics department examined the imports identified on List 3 and published a special study that estimated the economic effects that the proposed 10-percent tariff would have on the residential construction industry. The value of the 450 building materials included on List 3 is roughly $10 billion. A 10-percent tariff on these goods, therefore, represented a $1 billion tax increase on the housing industry.
One of the questions going into the fourth quarter of 2018 was to what extent the tariffs—even the announcement of intent to levy tariffs in the future—would affect the amount of imports of building materials and construction supplies. As the recently released January 2019 trade data show, the effects of both tariffs levied, as well as announcement of future tariffs, have been substantial.
To analyze these effects, the average monthly change in import value of the 450 items between 2011 and 2017 was compared to monthly changes from January 2018 through January 2019. The “floating” nature of major Chinese holidays affecting capital flows necessitated comparison to the historical average in order to smooth out holiday induced seasonal effects that may occur in different months in different years.
As illustrated in the figure below, the largest disparities between trade flows in 2018 and the 2011-2017 period occurred in April and December 2018.
Although the 2018 study on building materials imports focused on List 3, some goods used in residential construction were affected by the section 232 tariffs (i.e. tariffs levied based on national security concerns) imposed on certain steel and aluminum imports (25 percent and 10 percent, respectively). These tariffs went into effect in March 2018 and clearly had an effect on April 2018 imports from China.
When the USTR announced tariffs to be levied on List 3 beginning September 24th, 2018, the office also announced that the tariff rate would be time sensitive. Although the tariff would initially be set at 10 percent, that rate had a planned increase to 25 percent on January 1st, 2019 in the event that China and the United States could not resolve their differences by the end of the year.
Expectations of a substantial tariff rate increasingly took hold as it was reported that the two countries were not making meaningful progress in negotiations. The data indicate that these expectations brought the timing of imports forward (to December) in order to avoid the increase.
On December 17th, 2018, however, President Trump announced that the rate hike would be delayed to March. Consequently, the data show that imports of building materials declined more than 20 percent in January 2019—in stark contrast to the historical 15-percent increase seen in January.
The President delayed the tariff rate increase indefinitely on February 24, 2019, citing “substantial progress” in trade talks between American and Chinese officials. NAHB will continue to monitor import data releases to examine the possible effects of that announcement.
Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that mortgage rates dropped with the beginning of spring homebuying season.Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “Mortgage rates have dipped quite dramatically since the start of the year and house prices continue to moderate, which should help on the homebuyer affordability front. The combination of improving affordability and more inventory than the last few spring selling seasons should lead to improved home sales demand.”
News Facts30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.28 percent with an average 0.4 point for the week ending March 21, 2019, down from last week when it averaged 4.31 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.45 percent. 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.71 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.76 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.91 percent. 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.84 percent with an average 0.3 point, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.68 percent.Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.Freddie Mac makes home possible for millions of families and individuals by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Since our creation by Congress in 1970, we’ve made housing more accessible and affordable for homebuyers and renters in communities nationwide. We are building a better housing finance system for homebuyers, renters, lenders, investors and taxpayers. Learn more at FreddieMac.com, Twitter @FreddieMac and Freddie Mac’s blog FreddieMac.com/blog.
Millennials are finding it increasingly difficult to become first-time buyers. Even for those that have managed to find (albeit shaky) footing on the housing market, it’s not easy. Moving to a bigger and better house is often out of the question, for example. But millennials are a crafty lot; if moving isn’t an option, why not remodel? In fact, over 25% of millennials are choosing to do just that. In this article, we focus on what they decide to focus their remodelling energies on.
As we’ve already mentioned, millennials are either choosing or being forced to stay in their homes. With moving an impossibility, even with growing families, millennials have had to get creative with maximizing space:
Function first. Style is important, but if space comes at a premium, then function is the first thing on the millennial’s mind.
Storage everywhere. Hooks against kitchen walls to hang pots and pans. Drawers under the couch. Pull-out closets. Cabinets against the ceiling. You get the drill.
Natural light. Sometimes it’s impossible to create extra space. So why not the next best thing? Adding a window or skylight can give you the illusion of a bigger home.
ENJOYING OUTDOOR SPACE
Millennials are massively investing in their gardens. In fact, it’s becoming kinda cool, with millennials now spending more on average than their parents. Growing vegetables is definitely becoming a thing, with millennials liking growing their own organic food. It’s tastier, better for the environment, and it’s a fun project to get involved in.
Millennials don’t tend to live in homes with a lot of outdoor space. Gardens are like gold dust, so it’s no surprise that if they manage to get their hands on one, millennials take care of it.They spend a lot of time researching sustainable designs and plants to occupy it.
LOW MAINTENANCE BEATS STYLE
Millennials are big on homes that don’t really take much effort to maintain. They want practical homes built with eco-friendly products. Homes that are built with cheap and sturdy materials, rather than the stylish but overpriced stuff. Here are two examples of what we’re talking about:
Hard flooring, not carpet. Carpets are expensive, get stained easily, will only be in decent condition for a few years tops (less if you have kids!), and it doesn’t look as cool as hardwood flooring.
Metal roof. Tiles have the traditional vibe going for them, but they’re more annoying to maintain than metal roofing. And it doesn’t have to look worse either; many of the newer metal roof varieties are modern and slick.
SMART TECHNOLOGY IS THE SMART CHOICE
Millennials are huge on tech, so it’s no surprise that many of them are turning to smart technology to transform their homes. And it’s not just buying an Amazon Echo. These are some remodelling upgrades that help millennials smarten up their homes:
USB outlets. Power outlets aren’t enough these days.
Built-in speaker systems. When it’s challenging to find space in smaller homes, solutions like built-in speaker systems are a cool way to solve the problem.
Motion sensors. Security is important, especially for millennials living in the big cities where break-ins are a little more common.
Smart thermostats. Not only to save bills, but these also help the environment by limiting your energy usage to when you actually need it.
State officials held hearings last week into Con Ed’s ban on new natural-gas customers in much of Westchester, but it’s the state itself that blocked new gas pipelines. What’d anyone expect?
Now, it turns out, the county’s nightmare may begin sooner than thought: When Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, who represents southern Westchester, asked Con Ed if it could delay the ban (set for March 15), the utility was frank: Supply and demand determine whether there’s enough gas, it said. So shortages could occur even beforethen.
Paulin isn’t the only one worried: “A March 15 deadline is just far too soon,” warned County Executive George Latimer. And the ban could choke an economic comeback in Westchester. “A moratorium of no new hookups would create a very chilling effect” on the “revival” in New Rochelle, Yonkers and White Plains.
Yet Con Ed has been warning for a long time now. In 2017, it tried to get the Public Service Commission to let it offer incentives to pipeline developers, who feared being denied permits — but was turned down.
The PSC denies that Con Ed came to it with any “pipeline solution,” Paulin said, but public documents show that’s not so.
Let’s face it: Even if the state forced Con Ed to sign up new customers, the utility still couldn’t deliver gas it doesn’t have.
Yet this disaster is entirely self-inflicted. To suck up to climate-change radicals, who hope to do away with all fossil-fuel-based energy, Gov. Cuomo has been slow to OK new pipelines. In response, pipeline companies have lost interest in New York.
Absent new gas supplies, businesses and residents will shun the county. No one will freeze, but Westchester faces new economic drag.
And New York City’s not far behind.
One hope: a court ruling last month that states can’t use their water-quality certification process to delay federal licensing of hydropower plants. “The scope of the ruling enhances the odds” that the Constitution pipeline will be built, notes Rob Rains of Washington Analysis. Constitution’s sponsors want the court to rule against New York efforts to block the pipeline.
Alas, anti-pipeline foes are gaining steam in New York. Last year, city Comptroller Scott Stringer bucked labor unions to denounce the plan for the Northeast Supply Enhancement pipeline, a source of natural gas that’s vital to the city’s growth. At least seven public-advocate wannabes have now joined him.
Maybe they want to send city folks fleeing, much as a dead economy has Upstaters doing. Then again, if everyone leaves, there’ll be no need for natural gas . .