30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.13 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending December 8, 2016, up from last week when it averaged 4.08 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.95 percent.
15-year FRM this week averaged 3.36 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.34 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.19 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.
Quote Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.
“The 10-year Treasury yield dipped this week following the release of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. The 30-year mortgage rate rose another 5 basis points to 4.13 percent, starting the month 18 basis points higher than this time last year. As rates continue to climb and the year comes to a close, next week’s FOMC meeting will be the talk of the town with the markets 94 percent certain of a quarter-point-rate hike.”
When Shaun Alfreds and his wife decided to build a house for their family of five in Cumberland, Maine, they didn’t know if a high-performance project would be within their budget. “We aren’t wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but we wanted an energy-efficient home,” says Alfreds, a chief operating officer at HealthInfoNet, a local health information technology company.
After some research, however, the couple realized that they achieve their dream for a nominal additional investment over the cost of a conventional house if they opted for a modular high-performance house. They chose a two-story, Cape Cod–style design from Portland, Maine–based BrightBuilt Home, and moved in last December.
At more than 3,000 square feet, the house is spacious, but its full sun exposure and a 10-kilowatt solar array of 39 photovoltaic (PV) panels should cover its energy consumption year-round. Alfreds says the house cost “almost exactly what other [builders] were bidding” for a standard, code-compliant project that was custom designed. And their small additional investment goes to building equity in the house, rather than to paying utilities.
BrightBuilt, a sister company of local firm Kaplan Thomson Architects (KTA), joins an increasing number of design companies that are expanding the market for high-performance residential projects. While KTA has custom-designed many energy-efficient houses, principal Phil Kaplan, AIA, says the firm also wanted to offer an off-the-shelf product. In 2015, it launched BrightBuilt with nine design templates. Starting at $175 to $180 per square foot, the houses bring net-zero energy to a price more people can afford. “We’re definitely seeing a lot of demand,” Kaplan says.
But some architects and builders have found ways to lower the price of net-zero housing even more.
Marie de Verneil dreamed of building a retirement home on land she owned in central Virginia. “To me, green was very important,” she says. However, her savings from teaching French and international relations at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, didn’t seem like enough. “It’s kind of discouraging for someone like me,” she says.
Then de Verneil heard about Deltec Homes, in Asheville, N.C. The company—known for its distinctly round, prefabricated, and hurricane-resistant houses—recently launched Renew, a collection of models that use about two-thirds the energy of a conventional house and can include a PV array. De Verneil estimates she spent $250,000 on her 1,600-square-foot house (less than $160 per square foot), which includes a roof-mounted solar array. Her monthly electric bill is $30, the base fee for taxes and distribution. And when she is retired and living on a fixed income, she knows she’ll never have to say, “I can’t put the heat on.”
For those wanting to build a passive or net-zero energy house, right-sizing expectations is a crucial step to meeting one’s budget. And, as Deltec president Steve Linton adds, every project—modular or not—must be tailored to the particular site and climate. The company’s design team also conducts an energy model to evaluate site variables, solar energy capacity, building-shell size, features, and cost trade-offs.
Much of the market for high-performance housing is around single-family units in the suburbs, but the past few years have seen an uptick for multifamily dwellings and affordable housing projects in cities, including Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia.
For low- and middle-income residents, in particular, an energy-efficient house can provide substantial benefits, says Orlando Velez, director of Housing Programs and Community at Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C.The organization recently built six passive townhouses last year in the district’s Ivy City neighborhood, whichhas a lot of air pollution. By creating a tight building envelope and filtering outside air, “you’re improving the air quality significantly,” Velez says. “It’s a healthier living environment.”
With savings from the lower utility bills, he says, residents may be able to spend more within the community. The organization plans to study those benefits over time to know whether energy efficiency is the best investment for its limited funds.
Living in a high-performance house can take some adjustment. Residents are often unfamiliar with high-tech HVAC equipment, such as energy recovery ventilators and solar water heaters. A tight building envelope also means that the size of the HVAC system can be decreased (fresh air supply is increased for indoor air quality purposes). The word that many residents use is “comfort”—indoor temperatures stay remarkably consistent across different areas of a house throughout the year.
NAHB’s analysis of Census Data from the Quarterly Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design survey indicates that the number of custom home building starts (homes built on an owner’s land, with either the owner or a builder acting as the general contractor) posted a slight increase on a year-over year basis as of the second quarter of 2016. There were 47,000 total custom starts for the quarter, compared to 45,000 for the second quarter of 2015.
Over the course of the last four quarters, there were 167,000 total custom single-family home construction starts. Note that this definition of custom home building does not include homes intended for sale, so the analysis uses a narrow definition of the sector.
As measured on a one-year moving average, the market share of custom home building in terms of total single-family starts is now 22%, down from a cycle high of 31.5% set during the second quarter of 2009.
The onset of the housing crisis and the Great Recession interrupted a 15-year long trend away from homes built on the eventual owner’s land. As housing production slowed in 2006 and 2007, the market share of this not-for-sale new housing increased as the number of single-family starts declined. The share increased because the credit crunch made it more difficult for builders to obtain AD&C credit, thus producing relatively greater production declines of for-sale single-family housing.
The market share for custom home building will likely experience ups and downs in the quarters ahead as the overall single-family construction market expands. Recent declines in market share are due to an acceleration in overall single-family construction.
In your permaculture design, you want to shoot for a near-zero-waste system. That doesn’t have to happen overnight, but it is definitely a primary goal. If the systems you design are wasteful, they will forever be reliant on large quantities of external inputs to keep them running. Most lawns are like this. Without chemical fertilizers, city water, and gasoline to run the mower, they would very quickly cease to look the way they do.
Many of the external resources we rely on every day are nonrenewable (at least in a human timescale). Once we use them, they’re gone. Relying heavily on these resources for day-to-day operations means we are more susceptible to market fluctuations and supply chains, and thus less resilient. In an emergency the lawn can just grow and become weedy, but what happens when we rely heavily on external inputs for our food, water, and heat?
This chapter focuses on where leaks often appear in systems and how we can minimize them, thus eliminating waste. The idea is to integrate those surpluses (another name for waste considered from a different perspective) back into our systems in some way. For instance, if we produce compost, apples that go bad can’t really go to waste. If we apply the principle of efficient energy planning and the concept of next highest use, we don’t really waste energy. Overall, the goal is to manage the inflows and outflows of our systems. We aren’t going to create completely closed-loop systems (where nothing enters or leaves), but we want to get a lot closer to that than where we are right now. Ultimately, we want to be very conscious of how the outflows of our systems can be used as inflows. Any outflows we do end up with should not harm the environment nor our neighbors.
Types of waste to address in your design include human waste, greywater, food and yard waste, and heat. We have already explored some ways to turn food and yard waste into compost in the earlier chapter on soil fertility. We’ll look more closely at the other topics here.
The topic of managing human waste, also known as humanure, is pretty much considered taboo in Western culture. You don’t talk about it in polite company. However, it is imperative that we begin to take responsibility for the humanure we produce. Unfortunately, the centralized systems upon which many of us rely and conventional home septic systems do not score that well on their ecological report card. In many parts of the world, waste collected by municipal sewer systems is dumped into the ocean or injected into the groundwater. Even the municipal systems that are ecologically kinder often have enormous energy inputs. The amount of fresh, clean water wasted by these systems is staggering. Consider, for example, that the Colorado River no longer reaches the Gulf of Mexico, thanks partly to all the flush toilets in huge desert metropolises like Las Vegas and Phoenix.
On the campaign trail, Jeb Bush has repeatedly emphasized his record overseeing Florida’s boom economy as the state’s governor. He says it’s an example of an economy that created a huge number of jobs and benefited the middle class — an example of what he could do as president. “I know how to do this,” he said in Maitland, Fla., on Monday.
But according to interviews with economists and a review of data, Florida owed a substantial portion of its growth under Bush not to any state policies but to a massive and unsustainable housing bubble — one that ultimately benefited rich investors at the expense of middle-class families.
The bubble, one of the biggest in the nation, drove up home prices and had many short-term benefits for the state, spurring construction, spending and jobs. But the collapse of the housing bubble as Bush left office in 2007, after eight years of service, sent Florida into a recession deeper than that in the rest of the country, and hundreds of thousands lost their homes.
“Who got hammered? Lower- and middle-class America,” said Marshall Sklar, a real estate investor who, like other well-off financiers operating in the state, has benefited from the wreckage.
Sklar recently won an online auction for a small stucco condominium in Boca Raton that a married couple had bought in 2004 for no money down. They borrowed against it as the state’s housing bubble inflated and then, like so many others, had to walk away heavily in debt when it burst.
Marshall Sklar says that after the bubble burst, housing wealth was redistributed in Florida: “You took it out of the sheep and gave it to the wolves.” (Edward Linsmier/For The Washington Post)
After buying their busted dream, Sklar flipped it to a wealthy investor, banking a commission. His investor will probably earn a 12 percent return by renting out the condo. The value of the condo was redistributed upward, like so much of Florida’s housing wealth in recent years. “You took it out of the sheep and gave it to the wolves,” Sklar said after touring several houses he recently bought at bargain prices.
The story of this house and its owners is in many ways emblematic of much of the experience of Florida’s economy in the 2000s — a story that contrasts sharply with the record Bush recounts.
Total housing starts expanded 9.8% month over month in June, reaching a 1.174 million annual starts pace, which was led by a surge in multifamily development.
Single-family starts were effectively flat, recording a 0.9% monthly decline to a 685,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate but were up 14.7% year over year. As measured on a three-month moving average, the pace of single-family starts hit a post-recession high in June. Looking forward, single-family permits were up 0.9% for June and 6% year-over-year, reaching a 687,000 annual rate. Regionally, single-family starts were up 6.8% for the month in the South, but down 27.3% in the Northeast, 7.1% in the West, and 4% in the Midwest.
Pointing to future growth, the July NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reached 60 in July, which is the highest level since November 2005. Two of its three components also rose to levels last seen in late 2005. The index of current sales rose one point from the June level to 66, the highest in 10 years. The index for expected sales rose two points from June’s 69 to 71, also the highest in almost 10 years. The index for traffic fell one point to 43 from the six-month high in June of 44.
And more good news from June: The National Association of Realtors measure of existing home salesexisting home sales increased 3.2%, reaching the highest level since February 2007. Given that most new home sales are to move-up buyers, a rise in the volume of existing sales bodes well for additional single-family construction. Inventory of resale homes continues to be limited, falling to a five-month supply in June as the current sales rate.
However, the standout of the June housing starts report was multifamily construction, which for units in buildings with five or more units climbed to a 476,000 annual rate with a 28.6% monthly growth rate. Permits also expanded greatly, jumping 16.1% to a 621,000 annual rate. NAHB expects this level of apartment development to cool in the coming months.
On the supply side of the market, the most recent Producer Price Index data from the BLS revealed a small increase for wood products in June after trending down for the start of 2015. Softwood lumber prices rose 1% for the month but are down 9.1% from a recent high in September 2014. Prices for OSB rose 2.4% in June after a 20.4% slide that followed the collapse in prices that ended in July 2013. Gypsum prices slipped 1.5% in June after being flat in May, increasing to 5.3% the retreat from a February peak.
Freddie Mac today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates moving higher amid a strong employment report. Regardless, fixed-rate mortgages rates still remain near their May 23, 2013 lows.
30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.76 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending February 19, 2015, up from last week when it averaged 3.69 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.33 percent.
15-year FRM this week averaged 3.05 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.99 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.35 percent.
1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.45 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.42 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 theRegional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.
Quotes Attributed to Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist, Freddie Mac.
“Mortgage rates rose for the second consecutive week as 10-year Treasury yields surged. Housing starts declined 2 percent to a seasonally adjusted pace of 1.065 million units and housing permits dipped 0.7 percent in January. However, homebuilders remain confident about new home sales although slightly tempered from last month as the NAHB Housing Market Index slipped 2 points to 55 in February.”
If you’ve been thinking about giving your bathroom an overhaul but aren’t sure how, one way to start is to look to the latest design trends for inspiration. We’ve made it our mission to find out what design ideas are expected to make a splash in 2015 to help make planning your bathroom makeover project a little bit easier.To compile our list, we enlisted the help of four award-winning designers, who share here their predictions for thelooks, finishes and features they think will be on everyone’s radar next year. They also reveal how they would work these ideas into their own projects.
1. Feature floor tiles. Statement-making floor tiles proved popular in 2014, and this striking look doesn’t appear to be leaving in a hurry, says interior designer Jasmine McClelland. “I have done a couple of feature floor bathrooms this year. They are stunning and provide a great design opportunity when working with challenging bathrooms that have no clear walls for a feature wall,” she says.
“In smaller bathrooms a feature floor tile adds style without overwhelming the space, and when used in a larger bathroom, the effect is elegant,” McClelland says. “I love the space when the freestanding bath hits the feature tile … beautiful!”
2. Natural beauty. Want a bathing area that’s welcoming and serene? Then drawing design inspiration from nature is a great way to warm a typically very hard room of the house and infuse the space with a calming vibe. It’s one of the key bathroom trends of 2015, according to designers Simona Castagna and Darren Genner of Minosa.
An easy way to incorporate this trend into a bathroom design, Castagna and Genner say, is to introduce earthy materials like natural stone or wood-look tiles. The luxe bath seen here features marble floors and an onyx countertop, as well as a walnut-plank feature wall.
3. Plant life. “I know some of us have been scared off indoor plants … but it’s time to reclaim the idea of indoor plants with cascading creepers that can dress any bathroom,” McClelland says.
If you’re eager to try this trend in your bathroom but want a more sophisticated and design-savvy alternative to potted plants (hanging or not), a vertical garden may be the way to go, McClelland says.
“I love them for the interest and feel they bring to a bathroom and can’t wait to use them more in my designs for 2015,” the designer says. Another benefit of green or living walls is that they are good for the environment (as well as your health and well-being), she says.
4. The master suite retreat. Is your master bathroom cramped, not particularly inviting and tucked away out of sight? Then you may be more than happy to try this design trend when renovating your home.
Castagna and Genner say people want bigger bathrooms that are connected to the bedroom or closet, or even more open to the bedroom. People want to see their beautiful basins, custom vanities and freestanding baths from the bedroom, say the designers, who were the team behind the luxe, open-plan bedroom and en suite pictured here. They’re also using bigger sliding doors so people can open up or close off a space.
5. Clever water control. Say goodbye to basic shower and basin faucets, and hello to smart, user-friendly fixtures (such as thermostatic mixers; mixers that control multiple water sources, like the one used in this shower; and touchscreen-operated showers) that give users more control over the flow, mix and temperature of water, says Adelaide, Australia, interior designer Jordan Smith of Brilliant.
“Double showers would be a good place to use this, as multiple people can use the shower at the same time, with individual settings for their own shower,” Smith suggests when explaining how she’d incorporate this trend into one of her designs. “One mixer can control both multiple showers or a combination shower-bath.”
6. Freestanding bathtubs. According to McClelland, our love affair with freestanding baths isn’t over just yet, and not just because they make striking, sculptural design features, but because they help set the mood for rest and relaxation too. “The freestanding bath is more than aesthetic — it is emotive,” the designer says. “Clients connect with the possibility of a bathroom that symbolizes their own space or downtime, and a freestanding bath inspires this feeling of self-indulgence in the midst of a busy life.”
First came a historic national crash in home prices, then a surprisingly sharp jolt off the bottom. Investors, desperate for yield and fueled by Fed-induced cheap cash, swarmed the most distressed housing markets, buying bargain-basement properties and turning them into rentals. Some markets saw double-digit annual price appreciation. Some analysts started to float the word “bubble,” again.
Now, finally, reality is setting in yet again.
Foreclosures have fallen to new lows since the crisis, and investors, while not selling their homes, are not buying nearly as many. That has taken much of the air out of home prices. In addition, the number of homes for sale is rising, pushing sellers from the driver’s seat to the way, way back.
“What a difference a year makes,” said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. “At this time last year, we were worrying about a number of frothy markets that looked like they could be on the edge of another housing bubble, places where homes were appreciating at more than 20 percent per year and where buyers’ heads were spinning just trying to keep up.”
Now those markets, while not in the red, are barely in the black. Los Angeles, for example, saw home prices rise over 18 percent in the third quarter of 2013 from the same time in 2012. Now its annual appreciation for the quarter is down to 8 percent, according to Zillow.
“Buyers don’t have the same sense of urgency as they did before. They can be a little bit more discerning,” said Greg Bender, a Los Angeles-area Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.
Bender is seeing homes sit on the market far longer than they did just six months ago. It is no longer a seller’s market.
In Phoenix, hard hit by the housing crash and a favorite among investors in 2012 and 2013, the price deflation is even more dramatic. Last year, prices were up 18 percent annually at this time. Today they are up barely 1 percent. Demand and supply are low.
“Most of the median-price increase over the last 12 months is because a greater percentage of the homes being sold are in the luxury market, not because home values overall are increasing,” Arizona State University’s Mike Orr wrote in a recent report. “We anticipate pricing will move sideways or slightly down over the next few months until supply and demand get back into balance.”
While most housing analysts do not expect home prices to go negative on a national level again, some have floated that possibility. Home prices soared from 2003 to 2007 due to cheap and easy credit. When that went away, prices plummeted nationally for the first time in history.
More proof that low mortgage rates are not the key to home ownership: Rates dropped to their lowest level in nearly 18 months last week, causing an 11.6 percent rise in applications, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday. The gains, however, were driven entirely by refinances, just as they have been for several weeks.
Refinance applications jumped a whopping 23 percent week-to-week on a seasonally adjusted basis; volume was at the highest level since November. Mortgage applications to purchase a home saw no boost at all from lower rates, falling 5 percent from the previous week and 9 percent from a year ago.
“Continuing concerns about weak economic growth in Europe and a few U.S. economic indicators that came in below expectations caused a flight to quality into U.S. Treasurys last week, leading to sharp drops in interest rates,” said Mike Fratantoni, the MBA’s chief economist. “Mortgage rates have fallen close to 30 basis points over the last four weeks.”
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased to 4.1 percent, the lowest level since May 2013, from 4.2 percent, according to the MBA. Some lenders are now offering rates below the psychologically significant 4 percent line, but only to their highest credit-worthy customers. The average loan balance for refinance applications increased to $306,400, the highest level in the MBA survey’s history, suggesting that wealthier homeowners are benefiting most from the drop in rates.
Sales of existing homes did increase in September by just over 2 percent from August, according to the National Association of Realtors; however, they are weaker than a year ago, when investors were competing for distressed homes and pushing prices ever higher. The NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said sentiment among real estate agents was at its lowest level of the year, suggesting that sales may be weaker going forward.
“It’s turned into what I think is really a classic buyers’ market,” said Sherry Spinelli, a real estate agent with Long and Foster in Northern Virginia. “More days on market, prices are coming down, the offers are even lower and there are just a lot of houses out there, so it’s a challenge for sellers. I think you have to lower the price in order to sell it.”
Mortgage rates, while lower now than they were a year ago, have not been the biggest barrier to entry for home buyers in this recovery. Even the high 4 percent range on the 30-year fixed is historically low. The trouble is not the rate, but credit availability. Banks have required higher credit scores, full documentation and strict debt limits because they do not want to be forced to buy back any loans that might go into default. They have already paid billions to the government on bad loans left over from the housing crash.
This week, Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, said in a speech that there would soon be better clarification for banks, “rules of the road,” on how to safeguard against these so-called ‘buybacks,’ but the details were general.
“We have started to move mortgage finance back to a responsible state of normalcy—one that encourages responsible lending to creditworthy borrowers while maintaining safety and soundness of the enterprises,” Watt said in prepared remarks Monday