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More Loans Close Despite Tight Standards | Bedford NY Real Estate


Latest mortgage data is a puzzlement. A higher percentage of mortgage applications, including purchase mortgages, closed in June than in the past three years even though lending standards for purchase mortgages are virtually unchanged in a year.

The closing rate for mortgages received by lenders in the past 90 days closed in June. The jump in approvals drove the closing rate to 60.7 percent, higher than any month since Ellie Mae began tracking data in August 2011.

Purchase loans also hit a record high at 63.6 percent, up from 61.1 percent in May. Last year purchase loans averaged a closing rate of 60.1 percent. In June 2012, the closing rate for purchase loans was 57.8 percent.

“That 60.7 percent marks the first time since August 2011, when we began tracking data, that the closing rate for all loans eclipsed 60%. Parsed out, closing rates for refinances and purchases landed at 55.8 percent and 63.6 percent, respectively — both highs for 2014. With more loans closing, average days to close a loan increased, albeit slightly, to 41 days,” said Ellie Mae CEO Jonathan Corr.

Though closings increased, lending standards have barely budged. In June, 32 percent of all closed loans had an average FICO score of under 700, the same percentage as June 2013. Median FICOS for closed purchase conventional loans have fallen only 5 points in a year.


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Purchase Mortgage Applications Plunge | Bedford NY Real Estate

It might be hot outside but its freezing in the inboxes of hundreds of the nation’s mortgage lenders. Last week applications fell to their lowest level since February.

Maybe it’s just a sign that the selling season is winding down. More likely it’s something a lot more serious—yet another signal that the housing recovery is seriously sick and keeps getting sicker.

Mortgage applications decreased last week from the previous week, led by a drop in purchase loan requests. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index revealed that loan application volume fell 3.6% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the period ending July 11 after increasing the previous week, which included an adjustment for the July 4 holiday.

The dip in mortgage activity was mainly attributed to an 8% decline in purchase applications. These applications, where the average loan size sought was $268,500, plunged to their lowest level since February, the Washington-based trade group said on Wednesday. Meanwhile, refinance activity was only down 0.1% from the prior week.

Yet this time no one is attributing the decline to interest rates. Bankrate reports that mortgage rates dropped to record lows again last week after a sluggish employment report disappointed investors. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 8 basis points to 3.79 percent. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 8 basis points to 3.05 percent. The average rate for 30-year jumbo mortgages, or generally for those of more than $417,000, fell 3 basis points to 4.44 percent.



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Jonathan Smoke will interpret housing data | Bedford Real Estate


Realtor.com operator Move Inc. has hired Jonathan Smoke to interpret housing data and act as a public voice for the site as its first chief economist.

For the last six years, Smoke held various executive roles at real estate information and strategic marketing services company Hanley Wood, most recently as the company’s chief economist.

Economist image via Shutterstock.
Economist image via Shutterstock.

Realtor.com competitors Zillow and Trulia have long had their own chief economists. Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries and Trulia’s Jed Kolko have become high-profile sources in media stories and housing forums, giving their firms added exposure and credibility with consumers.

Jonathan Smoke

Smoke’s appointment concludes a monthslong search for 18-year-old realtor.com, which up until recently had been barred by the National Association of Realtors from having a chief economist. NAR changed its position sometime in the last year, giving Move its blessing to bring on a real estate spokesperson for the site.

“As the real estate industry and our relationship with realtor.com continue to evolve, both organizations agreed that two voices are stronger than one,” NAR spokeswoman Sara Wiskerchen told Inman News in February when news broke that Move was on the hunt for a chief economist.

NAR has its own chief economist, Lawrence Yun, who helps Realtors interpret housing trends for their clients.



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Fixed Mortgage Rates Down Slightly | Bedford Real Estate


Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates reversing course and moving slightly lower for the week.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.17 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending June 19, 2014, down from last week when it averaged 4.20 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.93 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.30 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.31 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.04 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.00 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.05 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.79 percent.
  • 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.41 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.40 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.57 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 the Regional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Attributed to Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Mortgage rates were down slightly for the week ending on June 19, 2014. Meanwhile, housing starts in May were 6.5 percent below the revised April rate. Following a similar pattern, building permits fell 6.4 percent in May after a 5.9 percent increase a month earlier. Also, CPI rose 0.4 percent in May, more than expected, following a 0.3 percent rise in April.”







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From Houston to LA, “luxury housing” remains relative | Bedford Real Estate


Luxury living is highly dependent on the local market when it comes to defining it, an article in the Los Angeles Times said. The article covered a panel of experts at the National Association of Real Astate Editors’ annual conference.

While the luxury price start point differs with geographic region, Frank Malpica of ERA Franchise Systems pegs it at about $500,000 outside of metropolitan areas.

Popular amenities vary by location as well. Media rooms are still “in” in L.A. — less so in Houston. Fireplaces are shrinking and changing in L.A., since newly constructed houses can no longer have wood-burning ones.

Source: L.A. Times

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Refinance share continues to grow | Bedford NY Real Estate


After weeks of steady declines and levels well below originations the same time last year, mortgage applications jumped a surprising 10.3% from one week earlier, according to data for the week ending June 6 from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The previous week’s results included an adjustment for the Memorial Day holiday.
The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 10.3% on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.

The Refinance Index increased 11% from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 9% from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 19% compared with the previous week and was 13% lower than the same week one year ago.

“The jump in applications shows folks are taking notice of rates near six-month lows,” said Quicken Loans vice president Bill Banfield. “The jump in purchase applications is especially good to see, as homeowners may finally be getting comfortable putting their home on the market with the level of inventory they see around them.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 54% of total applications from 53% the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity remained unchanged at 8% of total applications.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) increased to 4.34% from 4.26%, with points increasing to 0.16 from 0.13 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value ratio loans. The effective rate increased from last week.



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Home price gains over 20% vanish with cooling market | Bedford NY Real Estate


Home price gains have been slowing and now Bloomberg confirms what we’ve been seeing.

None of the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas had increases of more than 20% in residential asking prices last month — the first time in almost two years that’s happened, San Francisco-based Trulia Inc. (TRLA) said in a report. That compares with seven metro areas, including Las Vegas, Phoenix and California’s Silicon Valley, that had such year-over-year gains in May 2013.

“Big price increases mean there are fewer bargains to be found, and the closer prices get to where they should be, the less prices will rise,” Jed Kolko, chief economist at the property-data provider, said in a telephone interview. “I’d be surprised if we see markets getting back to 20%-plus gains. More inventory should be coming onto the market, investor activity is declining and affordability is worsening.”



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‘Prima Luce’ and its Two-Story Playhouse Want $23.5M | Bedford NY Real Estate


25 images

Location: Montecito, Calif.
Price: $23,500,000
The Skinny: Built from hand-chiseled sandstone quarried from the two-acre estate on which it stands, Prima Luce is a beautiful example of a modern luxury home that successfully (and tastefully) echoes golden age Mediterranean-style California architecture. Built in 2001 from a design by Robert Webb, this 11,440-square-foot Tuscan villa is wonderfully laid out, from the pleasing symmetry of the manse to the expansive grounds that feature a mix of formal gardens, ponds, and even a “Kid’s World” with a two-story, 310-square-foot playhouse built in the same style as the main house. The inside of the home is also top-drawer, with travertine marble, distressed wood floors, and tremendous ocean and valley views, complemented by interiors by Los Angeles designer Mark Weaver, and decorative paintings by Elisa Stancil Studios of San Francisco. Rounding out Prima Luce’s literal embarrassment of riches is a swimming pool and cabana, a guest house, and a seven-hole putting green. It’s asking $23.5M.



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Here are the top 10 markets for luxury homes | Bedford NY Real Estate


Despite reports of tight inventory across the nation, not all markets are struggling to survive. In fact, one market segment is reporting record growth, according the latest Redfin report.

Luxury home sales are skyrocketing and are on pace to beat last year’s numbers.

Sales of the priciest 1% of homes are up 21.1% so far this year. This follows a gain of 35.7% in 2013.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the bridge, home sales in the remaining 99% of the market have fallen 7.6% in 2014.

Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors’ chief economist, noted in the most recent existing-home sales report from NAR, “Some growth was inevitable after sub-par housing activity in the first quarter, but improved inventory is expanding choices and sales should generally trend upward from this point. Annual home sales, however, due to a sluggish first quarter, will likely be lower than last year.”

But the one exception, luxury home sales, paints a very different picture as 10 markets have already seen sales growth above 50% so far in 2014.

Click the next page to see the top 10 most expensive luxury markets.



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Luxury market’s ticking time bomb: If this were a virus, you would call it a full-blown epidemic | Bedford Real Estate


There is a ticking time bomb hidden in the top end of the housing market that I don’t see the mainstream media addressing. And this is no hidden bomb — it is glaringly obvious and sitting right out in the open.

McMansions image via Shutterstock.
McMansions image via Shutterstock.

The question is not, “Will it blow up?” The simple question is, “What will the fallout be when it does explode?”

Do we still love our McMansions?

This is not a Tallahassee problem — this is a U.S. housing market issue that will be felt in most areas. Only the highest-growth, strongest economic areas of our country will be shielded from the blast when it occurs.

We have built too many McMansions; too many homes for an upper 10 percent of the market that is going to change dramatically when the trigger point is reached. As with any time bomb, you have to wonder just what is needed to make it explode.



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