A poll of prospective homebuyers found 42 percent believe home prices typically appreciate by 7 percent a year. The survey, which assessed prospective buyers’ knowledge of the home purchase process, shows continued optimism despite recent volatility in the housing market. Additionally, nearly half of the survey’s respondents said a buyer owns a home once the purchase contract is signed, though the signing only begins the closing phase of the process. And 56 percent said the purpose of an appraisal was to determine if the home is in good condition, when that is the reason for an inspection. But, despite some mistaken beliefs, the majority of prospective buyers were able to correctly answer basic questions about purchasing a home 65 percent of the time. More here.
Will underwater homeowners be strumming a tune of relief with HARP? Of course I am referring to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) that was first enacted in April 2009 to help millions of homeowners underwater with their mortgage payments. President Obama announced upcoming changes to this program in a speech on October 24th in Las Vegas, the city often referred to as the “Ground Zero” of the current and prolonged housing crisis. Read the rest of this entry »
The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s New Residential Sales report for September shows sales of new single-family homes rose 5.7 percent above August’s estimate to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 313,000. The increase was the largest since March and exceeded economists expectations. The median sales price was $204,400; the average sales price was $243,900. The estimate of new houses for sale at the end of the month was 163,000. At the current sales pace, that represents a 6.2 month supply. More here and here.
According to The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances was unchanged last week at 4.33 percent. The average 30-year rate on jumbo loans increased slightly to 4.68 percent from 4.64 percent the previous week. The Market Composite Index, which measures total mortgage loan application volume, was up 4.9 percent from the week before, as both the Refinance and Purchase indexes saw gains. Refinance demand rose 4.4 percent from the previous week, while purchase application demand was up 6.4 percent. More here and here.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices shows home values up 0.2 percent in August for both the 10- and 20-city composites. Home values increased in ten of the 20 cities covered by the indices. It was the fifth consecutive month that at least half of the surveyed cities saw monthly gains. David Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s index committee, said, in addition to the monthly increase, 16 of 20 cities and both composites saw their annual rates of change improve in August, offering a glimmer of hope that the market may be stabilizing. Regionally, home prices in the Midwest have shown sharp monthly increases since May, despite being among the hardest hit markets during the housing crisis. More here and here.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency is easing the terms of the Home Affordable Refinance Program in order to help the estimated 11 million homeowners who have been making their mortgage payments but are unable to refinance because their loans are worth more than their homes. The HARP program has helped more than 890,000 homeowners since its launch but has been criticized for inefficiency. The changes hope to streamline the program and include allowing homeowners that owe more than 125 percent of the market value of their home to get new loans. Edward DeMarco, acting director of the FHFA, said the goal is to create refinancing opportunities for borrowers while bringing some stability to the housing market. More here and here.
In September, housing starts rose at their fastest pace in 17 months, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Privately-owned housing starts were 15.0 percent above August’s estimate and 10.2 percent above September 2010. Single-family housing construction was at an annual rate of 425,000 units, 1.7 percent above August. Despite surging housing starts, building permits fell in September, dropping 5.0 percent from the previous month. Permits to build single-family homes were down just 0.2 percent from the revised August figure. More here.
According to The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances was 4.33 percent last week. The average 30-year rate for jumbo loans increased to 4.64 percent. The Market Composite Index, which measures total loan application volume, was down 14.9 percent after both the Refinance and Purchase Index decreased. In September, purchase applications rose 19.6 percent in the Pacific region, while refinance activity was up in the Mid-Atlantic, East North Central, and New England regions. Wyoming saw the largest gains in purchase activity and Vermont led in refinance applications. More here.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose four points to 18 in October, the largest one-month increase since April of 2010. The index measures builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes on a scale where any number below 50 indicates more builders view the market as poor than good. David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist, said the latest boost in builder confidence is a good sign that some pockets of recovery are starting to emerge across the country. Each of the Indexes three components saw significant gains, with the component gauging sales expectations for the next six months rising seven points to 24. Regionally, the West increased nine points to 21, the highest level since August 2007, while the Midwest and South each recorded four-point increases. More here.
With mortgage rates hovering near all-time lows, a bipartisan group of senators has sent a letter urging the Obama administration to make changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program in order to help more homeowners take advantage of the historically low rates. More than 13 million homeowners have refinanced their mortgages since 2009, saving nearly $20 billion. But federal programs put in place to boost the number of homeowners able to refinance their mortgages have been slow moving and received criticism for inefficiency. The senators’ letter said time is of the essence and urged the administration to act quickly and aggressively to ensure responsible homeowners receive the full benefit of the lower rates. More here.