“It’s a tale of two economies. The services economy remains in the doldrums, but the production side of the economy remains strong,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “New COVID-19 cases are receding, which is encouraging and that has led to a rise in Treasury rates. But, the run-up in Treasury rates has not impacted mortgage rates yet, which have held firm.”
Khater continued, “The residential real estate market remains solid given healthy purchase demand while implied real-time home price growth is high, due to the inventory shortage that is plaguing the housing market.”
30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.73 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending February 11, 2021, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.47 percent.
15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.19 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.21 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.97 percent.
The S&P/Case-Shiller national index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7% during the three-month period ending in September, and was up 6.2% compared to the same period a year ago. The 20-city index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.5% for the month and 6.2% for the year.
What happened: Economists had forecast a 0.4% monthly increase, and a 6.2% yearly increase, for the 20-city tracker.
Case-Shiller’s national index regained its previous, bubble-era peak last year — and is 5.9% higher as of September. But the 20-city index, which is skewed toward the metro areas that experienced the biggest booms, is still 1.5% shy of its 2006 high.
Big picture: Home prices have surged in recent years as housing demand stirred to life amid ultra-lean supply. But Case-Shiller’s index, developed as a tool for tracking prices for real estate investors, may not capture the full story of what’s going on in the housing market.
An analysis by Trulia for MarketWatch shows that only 38% of U.S. homes have recovered their pre-recession peak. (That analysis is an update of a Trulia report from last spring, more on which can be found here.)
The two sets of data differ, in part because Case-Shiller’s is an index derived from observing price changes over time for a small subset of homes — and then extrapolating those across the broad market. The index also gives more weight to higher-priced homes, which are of greater interest to investors. In contrast, Trulia has individual price estimates of most of the homes in the U.S.
As Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia’s chief economist, told MarketWatch last spring, price trackers like Case-Shiller are a bit like stock indexes, like the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +1.09% , while data like Trulia’s is akin to the prices of individual equities.
Each method has its purpose, and each relies on assumptions. But using Case-Shiller to tell the story of how individual homeowners or neighborhoods may be faring “distorts the impression of how recovered the U.S. housing market is,” McLaughlin said.
Perhaps more striking is that McLaughlin thinks it will take years before all homes have regained pre-recession peaks. In fact, assuming a linear pace of recovery, that might not come until 2025, he thinks.
In September, Case-Shiller data showed that 16 cities saw annual prices accelerate from last month. Of three cities with monthly price declines, one was Seattle, continuing the trend of tepid monthly performances for one of the frothiest markets of the country.
Strong price gains were also seen in the FHFA’s house price index, released Tuesday. Nationally, prices were up 6.5% from the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2017.
BEIJING — When the Chinese government privatized housing in the 1990s, enriching a vast swath of the urban population, it was hailed as a remarkable achievement of the reform economy. Since then, the housing industry has ballooned into a juggernaut that accounts for 70 percent of the country’s household wealth.
More than just a place to live, private housing in the past two decades came to underpin the aspirations of urban Chinese. Homeownership, especially in cities, proved to be a reliable investment outlet. The skyrocketing values of housing have been providing money for sickness and old age in a country where the state has largely dismantled the welfare system. Real estate profits have allowed parents to finance their children’s education abroad.
But the impressive size and wealth of the propertied class belies the growing strains plaguing new home buyers. The country now has some of the least affordable housing markets in the world. The ratio of median home price to median income, a common measure of affordability, in most first-tier cities has soared to higher than that of London.
To cool the markets, local governments have issued myriad purchasing restrictions, like requiring high down payments and banning the purchase of multiple apartments. The proliferation of red tape, together with the increasingly unaffordable real estate, has become a potent symbol of the thwarted economic hopes and the dwindling social mobility that characterize today’s urban China.
In newspapers and dinner table conversations, stories abound of husbands and wives filing fake divorces to get around stringent real estate purchasing restrictions for families. There are also tales of acrimonious disputes between the parents of divorcing couples when both sets claim ownership of the couple’s apartment because they contributed to the purchase. Recently, more than 10,000 home buyers in Beijing found themselves stuck in financial limbo when the government suddenly increased down payment requirements after they had agreements to buy, leaving them short overnight.
In some cases, the housing challenges affect decisions about having children. After the one-child policy was scrapped in 2015, several mothers with single sons confessed to me their reservation about giving birth again: Adding another son would wreck the family’s finances in the future, they explained, because parents are still expected to provide sons with apartments when they reach marriage age to make them eligible bachelors for potential mates.
Nowhere are home buyers’ struggles better reflected than in the saga surrounding “school-district apartments.” Home ownership guarantees owners access to public schools, and the fierce competition among parents for apartments near highly valued schools has long been considered a culprit of the exorbitant housing prices in prosperous metropolises. In certain areas in Beijing, families are now asked to own homes for at least three years before they can qualify for local schools.
Earlier this month, Zillow Group Z, +0.39% , the popular online real estate data provider, reported blowout earnings. Revenue rose 32% compared to a year ago, and online visits were up 18%.
But there was a note of caution in its earnings release. In April, the company said, it had received a notice from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that questioned whether some of Zillow’s advertising revenues violated regulations against kickbacks.
At issue is the question of how a real estate service provider, like a real-estate agent or lender, gets business from a home buyer. Congress passed the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, also known as RESPA, in 1974 to make sure those providers weren’t funneling customers to each other in exchange for kickbacks or other inappropriate rewards.
Real estate market observers say that while Zillow’s broad footprint and accessible data have been a boon for customers, deciding whom to hire for the transaction is often a fraught process that could benefit from more transparency and less of the old handshake-deal approach that has often characterized real estate.
In Zillow’s case, what’s called “co-marketing” works by allowing a real estate agent to share the cost of an ad on the web site with a preferred lender.
This practice makes it seem as though those lenders or agents are receiving a seal of approval from each other or from Zillow itself. Many industry participants see the co-marketing process as little more than advertising that may appear like due diligence to a captive and uninformed customer.
There’s broad recognition among consumer advocates – and the CFPB itself – that would-be home buyers don’t shop for mortgages. It’s hard to spend the time required with more than one lender, and there are concerns about checking credit scores too frequently. And many lenders use confusing jargon that makes it hard for consumers to compare one offer to another.
“People do real estate transactions rarely, a couple times in their lifetime, so it’s not like people can gain experience, and it’s hard to shop around because you don’t know what you’re asking for,” said Andrew Pizor, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.
“It’s opaque and there’s very little competition,” Pizor continued. “It’s a horrible market. As a consumer advocate I have my doubts about the free market, but this is not a free market in terms of supply and demand and transparency. It just puts consumers even more at risk.”
As Pizor puts it, “you only want people to be making a referral for reasons based on the merits of the product or the service: they’re good and you trust them or they have a product you can’t get elsewhere, not because you’re getting referrals.”
The CFPB’s interest dates back to 2015. The agency has requested information several times since then, with the most recent request, a civil investigative demand, coming in April. “We are continuing to cooperate with the CFPB in connection with their most recent request for information,” Zillow’s earnings report noted. “We continue to believe that our acts and practices are lawful and that our co-marketing program allows lenders and agents to comply with RESPA.”
The next step, Zillow added, could be what’s known as an “enforcement action,” which could include “restitution, civil monetary penalties, injunctive relief or other corrective action. We cannot provide assurance that the CFPB will not ultimately commence a legal action against us in this matter, nor are we able to predict the likely outcome of the investigation into this matter.”
A Zillow spokeswoman declined to answer MarketWatch questions on the scale of the co-marketing program. Company management fielded four analyst questions on the CFPB review on its quarterly earnings call and said little except that “it’s a small portion of overall revenue.”
But the prepared remarks for the earnings release noted that customer leads rose 30% compared to a year ago in the first quarter, and “we continue to expect that growth in contacts sent to Premier Agent advertisers will outpace unique user growth.”
In an emailed statement, the spokeswoman wrote, “Zillow offers myriad ways for consumers to comparison shop for lenders and agents. Rather than offer a few service providers, consumers can browse more than a million reviews for agents and lenders, including published, up-to-the-minute mortgage rates being offered and skill sets of particular agents. Zillow Group’s mission is to give consumers lots of information so they can make good choices when choosing agents and lenders for one of the most important transactions of their lives.”
The CFPB also declined to discuss the matter with MarketWatch.
The agency usually only takes actions like the ones against Zillow when it believes its case is “pretty clear-cut,” Pizor told MarketWatch. “I think the CFPB is being generous. I think the law is pretty clear.”
Still, Pizor said, a ruling from the CFPB would help bring clarity to the market – a step many real estate professionals would welcome. The National Association of Realtors has released best practices materials recommendations and industry lawyers are watching carefully.
The CFPB earlier this year fined Prospect Mortgage, a lender, with failing to comply with RESPA. It also fined two real estate brokers and a mortgage servicer, all of whom it said took kickbacks from Prospect.
To many industry participants, it seems clear that the co-marketing arrangement must be very profitable for Zillow. Why else would a new-media company founded to, as it says in its mission statement, “empower” customers with new ways of shopping for and maintaining a home cling to an outdated way of doing business, rather than trying to disrupt it with a newer, better model?
“Nobody is doing referral fees any more. They were done away with. Marketing service agreements are the next wave of that,” said Brian Faux, CEO of Morty, an online mortgage brokerage.
Faux describes Zillow as a “great web site with a lot of data that’s good for consumers,” including data that helps them understand the cost of owning a home.
Crowds press together in the streets of New Orleans as people gather to see the city’s festivities, but this year, there’s something different about the tourists. This year, instead of staying in the city’s hotels, more tourists are pouring into residential areas after using an app to quickly book a home for the week.
Airbnb, founded in 2008 as an online marketplace for short-term rentals, has seen its business grow exponentially in the last few years. In 2014, rooms available through the site jumped from 300,000 in February to more than 1 million in December, outpacing many of the largest hotel groups in the world. In May of 2016 Airbnb had almost 1.4 listings on the site and raised its revenue projection for this year to more than $900 million.
But the site impacts more than just hotel chains. As more investors, not just homeowners, use the site to rent out spare rooms — and even spare couches — it strains the supply of rental houses.
This is especially true in a place like New Orleans, where rising home prices have caused serious affordability problems. Home prices have risen 46% since Hurricane Katrina hit, according to an article by Katherine Sayre for The Times-Picayune.
Besides the number of lives lost, the most tangible impact the hurricane had on the city was the demolition of its housing stock, where 26% to 34% of its housing was lost or damaged, according to an article by Allison Plyer for The Data Center. The Center’s “The New Orleans Index” was the most widely used means of tracking rebuilding efforts in the months and years following Hurricane Katrina.
As of February 2016, Airbnb had a total of 3,621 active listings in New Orleans, according to data from Inside Airbnb, a non-commercial set of tools and data that shows how Airbnb is being used in different cities around the world.
Of course, there would seem to be a correlation between the rise in home prices and the gains in the app’s popularity, however, correlation does not always equal causation.
In order to truly understand the app’s effects, or lack thereof, you have to look deeper.
One letter circulating on Facebook entitled “Dear Airbnb Renter!” talks about what it sees as the dangers of Airbnb.
“The spread of tourism into residential neighborhoods is pushing out the people who live there,” the letter stated. “When landlords can get so much more for a property on Airbnb they no longer want to rent to actual working New Orleanians. Even residents that own their home are finding it difficult to pay their taxes because of the rising property values.”
That kind of outcry has reached lawmakers. In a letter sent on July 13 to Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, several prominent senators expressed their concern. Sens. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, and Diane Feinstein, D-Calif, stated that they are especially concerned that short-term rentals are not only making housing more expensive in certain communities, but also making it harder to buy a house in the first place.
Barry Sternlicht, chairman and chief executive officer of Starwood Capital Group LLC, said his former town of Greenwich, Connecticut, may be the worst housing market in the U.S.
“You can’t give away a house in Greenwich,” Sternlicht said Tuesday at the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha Conference in New York.
The town — about 45 minutes north of Manhattan and home to some of the country’s largest hedge funds — is seeing a pile-up of houses on the market and prices that are faltering as properties linger. Home sales in the second quarter fell 18 percent from a year earlier to 169 deals, according to a report by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
At the same time, new listings surged 27 percent. The absorption period, or the time it would take to sell all the homes on the market at the current pace, was 12 months, compared with 7.7 months a year earlier, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman said.
Home prices in the United States climbed again at the start of the year, adding to pressure on buyers in a sellers’ market. Americans are feeling more confident this month, another report released on Tuesday showed, as a rebounding stock market brightened their outlook.
In January, the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5.7 percent from a year earlier, a slight increase from the 5.6 percent annual increase in December.
“The pace of U.S. home value growth has been picking up bit by bit over the past few months, driven in large part by stubbornly low inventory in most markets that creates competition and drives up prices for those homes that are available,” said Svenja Gudell, chief economist at the real estate firm Zillow.
Home values have risen at a faster pace than average hourly wages, which have improved just 2.2 percent, according to a government report this month. Tight supplies of homes on the market have propelled much of the price growth, as low mortgage rates and steady hiring have increased demand.
Denver, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle each registered double-digit annual price increases. Home values rose in all 20 metro area markets, which account for roughly half of the housing stock in the country.
The index remains more than 11 percent below its mid-2006 peak, when subprime mortgages pushed the market to heights that set off the recession in late 2007.
Existing homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million in February, the National Association of Realtors said this month. Sales dipped 7.1 percent from a relatively healthy pace in January, but an increase in the number of signed contracts to buy houses indicates that purchases should rebound in March.
Despite the demand, listings in February declined 1.1 percent from a year ago. Many homeowners are reluctant to sell, because they lack the equity to cover the down payment for upgrading to a new house.
“The low inventory of homes for sale — currently about a five-month supply — means that would-be sellers seeking to trade up are having a hard time finding a new, larger home,” said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.
In a separate report, the Conference Board said that its consumer confidence index rose to 96.2 this month, after tumbling to a revised 94 in February.
Consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions has dipped. But their outlook for the future has improved modestly.
United States markets got off to a dismal start in 2016, driven by fears of economic weakness overseas and plunging oil prices, but they have since recovered most of those losses. This month, 28.7 percent of consumers said they expected stocks to rise over the next year. That was up from 26.9 percent in February, the lowest share since July 2012.
Of total sales in November 2015, distressed sales made up 11.9 percent and real estate-owned (REO) sales made up 8.7 percent
Maryland remains the state with the largest share of distressed sales among all states at 20.3 percent
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. had the lowest distressed sales share among the largest Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) at 3.1 percent
Distressed sales, which include REOs and short sales, accounted for 11.9 percent of total home sales nationally in November 2015, down 1.9 percentage points from November 2014 and up 1.4 percentage points from October 2015. This month-over-month increase was expected due to seasonality, and the magnitude of the change was in line with previous Novembers.
Within the distressed category, REO sales accounted for 8.7 percent and short sales accounted for 3.2 percent of total home sales in November 2015. The REO sales share was 1.5 percentage points below the November 2014 share and is the lowest for the month of November since 2007. The short sales share fell below 4 percent in mid-2014 and has remained in the 3-4 percent range since then. At its peak in January 2009, distressed sales totaled 32.4 percent of all sales, with REO sales representing 27.9 percent of that share. While distressed sales play an important role in clearing the housing market of foreclosed properties, they sell at a discount to non-distressed sales, and when the share of distressed sales is high, it can pull down the prices of non-distressed sales. There will always be some level of distress in the housing market, and by comparison, the pre-crisis share of distressed sales was traditionally about 2 percent. If the current year-over-year decrease in the distressed sales share continues, it will reach that “normal” 2-percent mark in mid-2019.
All but nine states recorded lower distressed sales shares in November 2015 compared with a year earlier. Maryland had the largest share of distressed sales of any state at 20.2 percent in November 2015, followed by Connecticut (19.1 percent), Florida (19 percent), Michigan (18.9 percent) and Illinois (17.8 percent). North Dakota had the smallest distressed sales share at 2.7 percent. Nevada had a 5.4 percentage point drop in its distressed sales share from a year earlier, the largest decline of any state. California had the largest improvement of any state from its peak distressed sales share, falling 59.2 percentage points from its January 2009 peak of 67.4 percent. While some states stand out as having high distressed sales shares, only North Dakota and the District of Columbia are close to their pre-crisis levels (within one percentage point).
The oldest forms of indigenous shelter were often round in shape. (Think the Southwest USA Hogan,Mongolian Yurt, North American Teepee and the Greek Tenemos, among others.) Why did our ancestors choose to build round? Because the ovid shape — eggs, earth, tree trunks, and stones — is what they saw reflected in the surrounding natural environment. And, as usual, Mother Nature knows best. There is some nifty natural science that makes round buildings more comfortable, more energy-efficient and safer — especially if you combine the ancient shape with modern materials!
Wind and tsunami waves move naturally around a round building rather than getting caught at (and potentially ripping off) corners. A rounded roof avoids ‘air-planing’- a situation where a strong wind lifts the roof structure up and off of the building.
There are dozens of interconnected points in a round home. These are sites where builders can connect parts of the building together. In the olden days, the connecting materials were rope, vine and hides. Modern materials are engineered components- like a center radial steel ring, steel brackets,Seismic and hurricane ties, bolts and steel cables. These connect the structural pieces and give the building a unique combination of flexibility and strength- qualities which causes them to be significantly safer in severe weather conditions like earth quakes, extreme winds and heavy snowfall.
The roof structure incorporates a unique architectural design that has its origins in the mountain steppes of Central Asia. Roof trusses meet in a center ring, producing inward and outward pressure which holds the roof in a state of compression. In modern round buildings using the ancient Yurtdesign, 1-3 airplane grade steel cables circle the outer perimeter where the trusses meet the wall and hold the natural outward thrust. Because of this combination of a central compression ring at the top of the roof and the encircling cables where the roof meets the walls, long roof spans are possible without any internal support system (like beams or posts). The interconnected tension in the building goes all the way to the ground and uses gravity and compression to hold it together with incredible strength.
The natural thermal dynamics of open-at-the-top architecture round space uses no external energy to circulate temperature. It works like this; heated air naturally rises till it reaches the insulated ceiling, it moves up the domed ceiling till it reaches the center skylight, which is cooler, the air reacts by dropping to the floor where it moves across to the walls and rises again till it meets the skylight and drops again. This action constantly circulates the air and temperatures in the home.
Round buildings use less wall, floor and roof materials to enclose the same square footage as a rectangular structure. 15 to 20% less material is used to create the same square foot building compared to a rectangular design! This means the possibility for a smaller eco-footprint and more living space for less cost. It also means less surface area in contact with adverse weather conditions, which improves the overall durability and energy efficiency of the home.
The acoustics of round space can be out of this world. The curve softens the sounds inside the building making it the perfect place for rest and reflection or for socializing and listening to and playing music (…think long winter evenings of storytelling around the central fire….) The shape also prevents noise from penetrating in from the outside. Sound waves dissipate as they wrap around the building, shielding the interior from loud outside noise.
Our ancestors also understood a round home quality that is less measurable than the intelligent use of energy, the clever space allocation and the powerful and natural movement of air and sound. David Raitt, yurt builder, describes it “Circular living provides a balance of looking inward and outward, looking out at the natural environment and surroundings but then coming in again to the self and the hearth.” You might call it curve appeal.
30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.04 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending July 23, 2015, down from last week when it averaged 4.09 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.13 percent.
15-year FRM this week averaged 3.21 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.25 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.26 percent.
1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.54 percent this week with an average 0.3 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.50 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.39 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 links for theRegional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.
Quote Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.
“U.S. Treasury yields dropped following announcements that many blue chip companies’ earnings failed to meet expectations. This drove the 30-year fixed rate mortgage down 5 basis points to 4.04 percent this week. Housing continues to be the bright spot in the economic recovery. Existing home sales beat market expectations coming in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.49 million homes. This is up 9.6 percent from a year ago and the fastest pace since 2007. Also, housing starts jumped 9.8 percent responding to strong demand in the multifamily market.”