What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 30, 2015

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Last week’s economic reports included reports on new and existing home sales and FHFA’s monthly home price index for properties associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages. The details:

New Home Sales Surge, Existing Home Sales Drop

According to the Department of Commerce, new home sales rose in January to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 539,000 which exceeded the expected rate of 455,000 sales and the revised figure of 500,000 sales of new homes in December 2014. This was a 7.80 percent increase over December’s figure and was the first time since 2008 that new home sales met or exceeded the benchmark of 500,000 sales for two consecutive months.

Sales of new homes were close to 25 percent higher than for January 2015, and analysts said that more jobs and relatively low mortgage rates could boost the traditionally busy spring and summer home buying season.

The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of previously owned homes rose by 1.20 percent in February to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million sales against expectations of 4.94 million sales of previously owned homes. Extreme winter weather was cited as a cause for the decline in sales.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® said that the average price for pre-owned homes rose to $202,600, which represents a 7.50 percent increase year-over-year. Wages are rising at an average of 2.00 percent annually and rents are rising at an average of 3.50 percent annually. This is creating affordability issues for renters and would-be homebuyers as their incomes are not keeping pace with escalating housing and rental prices. The share of first-time home buyers rose by 1.00 percent in February, but analysts said that historically the market share for first-time buyers averages about 40.00 percent.

FHFA: Home Price Index Falls by 0.30 Percent

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that home prices for sales of homes associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages fell by 0.30 percent year-over-year in January to an increase of 5.10 percent year-over-year as compared to January 2014’year-over-year increase of 5.40 percent.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates fell last week. Freddie Mac reported average rates for fixed rate mortgages fell by none basis points with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaging 3.69 percent and the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaging 2.97 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by five basis points to an average of 2.92 percent. Discount points also fell from 0.50 percent to 0.40 percent.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 282,000 new claims against an expected reading of 290,000 new claims and the previous week’s reading of 291,000 new jobless claims. This reading supports reports of expanding labor markets that may give would-be home buyers the confidence to buy homes.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales, Non-Farm Payrolls and the National Unemployment Rate along with regularly scheduled releases on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims.

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Just How High Can a Landlord Raise Your Rent Before It’s Illegal?

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When news broke last week that a San Francisco woman’s rent was increasing by 400% (yes, you read that right, 400%), we all clutched our pearls and muttered through clenched jaws, “Only in the Bay Area.”

Except it’s not.

While the Bernal Heights woman’s situation is somewhat nuanced and unique (her place had been rent-controlled, but the landlord got the building rezoned so those regulations would no longer apply), the issue of skyrocketing rent is affecting people across the country.

In 2014, rents nationwide increased an average of 3.6%, and nearly 11% over the past three years, according to Freddie Mac. Another study last week from the National Association of Realtors® shows that cities across the nation are seeing rent growth far exceeding wages.

In New York, for example, rents have increased 50.7% since 2009. In San Jose, it’s nearly 26%. And even in America’s heartland––St. Louis––it’s a 22.3% increase.

For me, the issue hits close to home. I’m a Bay Area renter whose monthly costs went up nearly 25% last year. In my sticker shock, I called the local Fair Housing office, where I was told by a volunteer, “Sometimes housing isn’t fair.” Ain’t that the truth.

I ended up resigning myself to last year’s rent increase. A move within the Bay Area would only mean trading one expensive apartment for another, and as a singleton, I certainly wasn’t in a position yet to dump my rental digs and buy.

This year, however, my neighbors and I are facing the same quandary—rents are rising again (by 25% if I want to continue month to month, or by 10% if I lock into a yearlong lease). I don’t particularly care for either option.

And so, for my own sake and for America’s, we’re asking: What does happen when your landlord jacks up your rent? What’s a fair rent increase? An unfair increase? And what’s downright illegal?

Landlords can raise your rent as much as they want

First thing’s first, let’s be clear that we’re not talking about rent control here. Rent-controlled and rent-stabilized areas are pretty rare, are governed on the local level, and have rules around how often and how much rent can be increased.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the arguably more complicated topic of non-rent-controlled areas, which make up most of the nation’s rental market.

Rentals in these places are subject to whatever the market will bear. While it doesn’t feel fair, landlords are often perfectly within their rights to raise your rent, says Nick Emanuel, a San Jose attorney who specializes in real estate litigation and landlord tenant law.

“It’s precisely the reason for rent-control laws,” Emanuel said. “It may be the case the market will bear a drastic increase and a landlord will be able to get a tenant at that price. But what that does, for all intents and purposes, is make that area unaffordable.”

The hard truth is: Short of locking yourself into a longer lease or buying a home, there’s little you can do to control your costs as a renter.

With that knowledge in mind, it was time for me to look at my budget and see if I could afford to buy. I met with a mortgage lender, and I crunched the numbers in our site’s mortgage calculator. It would take every cent I have––and I’d still be left with monthly payments I can’t afford. My choices seemed bleak.

David Shankbone/flickr

It’s not a free-for-all—landlords have rules, too

Even in non-rent-controlled areas, landlords do have limitations on how and when they can raise the rent, Emanuel noted.

Just as you’re tied down by your lease, so is your landlord. A landlord can raise the rent only when your lease expires and with the appropriate amount of notice (if you’re month-to-month, the landlord could conceivably increase your rent at the end of any month). Unlike rent-controlled areas, there is no cap on the amount a landlord can increase your rent.

The exception to all of this is if there’s a question of legality––specifically, discrimination or retaliation, Emanuel said. Many of the cases that cross his desk are illegal rent increases based on retaliation (say, for example, your landlord didn’t like that toilet-repair request you made, or that stinging article you wrote about your rent going up 25%). Then you might very well have a case.

If a lease is in effect, you’ll want to make sure any rental increases don’t violate the terms of the lease. The longer your lease, the longer a landlord has to wait to implement a rent increase.

“As a landlord, I’d want to make awful sure I’m in compliance of all aspects of the law before I raised rents to such a degree it would cause a tenant to look at their legal options,” Emanuel said.

But if you just think the increase feels like too much, you probably don’t have much legal basis for a claim, experts say.

“They get to determine the prices, and you get to determine whether you’d like to live there,” said Robert Collins, deputy director of the San Francisco Rent Board.

What you (and I) can do

If you’ve done your research on the market, negotiated with your landlord, and the increase still feels out of line, try contacting a real estate lawyer or a housing mediation service, which have staff on hand to step in and investigate. There’s no nationwide database of such services, so you’ll have to Google around to find them.

You can also try to lobby your local officials to enact a rent-control ordinance. (Beware, though, that rent ordinances aren’t always a silver bullet––they sound pretty great until you consider the fact that in some places, such as New York City, the cost of rent-stabilized units is increasing faster than that of their market-rate counterparts.)

Community members pushed recently for rent control in my city, but local officials seem to favor increasing housing stock over enacting laws.

I know it’s the price I have to pay for living in a tech bubble hot spot. The market can bear that 25% rent increase, and so it will. In the end, I chose to ride out one more year in my apartment and save like crazy.

Maybe this time next year, I can say hello to homeownership and goodbye to my landlord—for good.

Read the original here:

http://www.realtor.com/advice/is-big-rent-increase-illegal/?identityID=10111628&MID=2015_0327_WeeklyNL&RID=358638162&cid=eml-2015-0327-WeeklyNL-blog_1_raising_rent-blogs_rent

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Housing Inventory Slowly Disappearing

Housing Inventory Slowly Disappearing | Keeping Current Matters

The price of any item is determined by the supply of that item, and the market demand. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their latest Existing Home Sales Report this week.

Inventory Levels & Demand

Amidst reporting on the fact that sales of existing homes rose 1.2% from January, and outpaced year-over-year figures for the fifth consecutive month, was the news that total unsold housing inventory is at 4.6-month supply.

This is down 0.5% from last February and remains below the 6 months that is needed for a historically normal market.

Consumer confidence is at the highest level in over a decade. Pair that with interest rates still under 4%, new programs available for down payments as low as 3%, and you have an attractive market for buyers.

Buyer demand for housing remains twice as high as this time last year.

Prices Rising

February marked the 36th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains as the median price of existing homes sold rose to $202,600 (up 7.5% from 2014).

So What Does This Mean?

The chart below shows the impact that inventory levels have on home prices.

Impact of Inventory on Home Prices | Keeping Current Matters

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun gave some insight into the correlation:

“Insufficient supply appears to be hampering prospective buyers in several areas of the country and is hiking prices. Stronger price growth is a boon for homeowners looking to build additional equity, but it continues to be an obstacle for current buyers looking to close before (interest) rates rise.”

Bottom Line

If you are debating putting your home on the market this year, now may be the time. The amount of buyers ready and willing to make a purchase is at the highest level in years. Contact a local professional in your area to get the process started.

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Freddie Mac’s New 3% Down Program

Freddie Mac's New 3% Down Program | Keeping Current Matters

Today, Freddie Mac is scheduled to start buying mortgages with down payments of only three percent – the first time down payments have been this low on Freddie Mac loans in nearly five years. The program is called Freddie Mac Home Possible AdvantageSM.

In a recent Executive Perspectives, Dave Lowman EVP, Single-Family Business Freddie Mac, explained the potential impact this program will have on the housing market:

“There’s a new reason Realtors and lenders may expect more qualified borrowers at the closing table during this spring’s home buying season. In addition to low mortgage rates and rising job growth, the down payment hurdle is starting to shrink for creditworthy borrowers, including first-time homebuyers.”

And the mortgage industry agrees with Mr. Lowman. In a recent survey of mortgage originators by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), it was revealed that most loan officers believe the move to a lower down payment will increase access to mortgage credit. Here are that survey’s findings:

Down Payment Survey | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Many potential buyers are “ready and willing” to buy a home but have been afraid they may not be “able” because of a lack of adequate savings for a down payment. Check with a local real estate or mortgage professional to understand what the new rules may mean to you. I am happy to help, you can call or text at 612-345-9070.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 23, 2015

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Last week’s events included the National Association of Home Builder’s Housing Market Index, which fell to its lowest reading since last summer. Other news included reports on housing starts and building permits, the FOMC meeting statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s press conference.

Home Builder Confidence Falls, Building Permits Rise

The NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index fell by two points for a reading of 53 in March. The expected reading was 57. Analysts said that this proves that lower mortgage rates and steady job growth aren’t fueling housing markets as expected. NAHB chief economist David Crowe also cited supply chain issues such as a shortage of available lots, labor shortages and tight mortgage underwriting standards. Home builders remain optimistic that as labor markets continue to improve and more home buyers enter the market during the traditional spring and summer buying season, that builder confidence will also grow.

The Department of Commerce reported that building permits for February rose from January’s reading of 1.06 million to 1.09 million. This represents a 3.00 percent increase and was the highest reading since October. Permits fell for single family homes fell by 6.20 percent in February, but were 2.80 percent higher year-over-year. Single family permits account for 75 percent of building permits issued.

Housing starts fell dramatically due to bad weather. The Northeast saw housing starts fall by 56 percent due to extreme snowfall; Housing starts in the Midwest fell by 37 percent and the West saw housing starts decline by 18.20 percent in February. The South reported a 2.50 percent decrease in housing starts, but since nearly 50 percent of housing starts are in the South, this decline is more significant than it appears.

Fed Rates Hold Steady, Mortgage Rates Fall

The Federal Reserve noted in its post FOMC meeting statement that the Fed is in no hurry to raise rates. Citing ongoing concerns about low inflation and a sluggish housing market recovery, the Fed’s policymakers indicated that they don’t plan to rush on raising the target federal funds rate. In her press conference held after the FOMC statement, Fed Chair Janet Yellen reiterated the Fed’s intention to raise rates only when domestic and global economic developments warrant.

Mortgage rates fell according to Freddie Mac with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage eight basis points lower at 3.78 percent. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was four basis points lower at 3.06 percent; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was also four basis points lower at an average rate of 2.97 percent. Discount points were unchanged at an average of 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Ahead

This week’s housing-related news includes new and existing home sales, the FHFA home price index and FHFA’s home price index. Freddie Mac mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims will also be released as usual on Thursday.

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Billionaire Says Real Estate is Best Investment Possible

 

Billionaire Says Real Estate is Best Investment Possible | Keeping Current Matters

Billionaire money manager John Paulson was interviewed at the Delivering Alpha Conference presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor. During his session he boldly stated:

“I still think, from an individual perspective, the best deal investment you can make is to buy a primary residence that you’re the owner-occupier of.”

Who is John Paulson?

Paulson is the person who, back in 2005 & 2006, made a fortune betting that the subprime mortgage mess would cause the real estate market to collapse. He understands how the housing market works and knows when to buy and when to sell. What do others think of Paulson?

According to Forbes, John Paulson is:

“A multibillionaire hedge fund operator and the investment genius.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Paulson is:

“A hedge fund tycoon who made his name, and a fortune, betting against subprime mortgages when no one else even knew what they were.”

Why does he believe homeownership is such a great investment?

Paulson breaks down the math of homeownership as an investment:

“Today financing costs are extraordinarily low.”

The latest numbers from Freddie Mac show us that you can still get a 30-year mortgage for under 4%.

“And if you put down, let’s say, 10 percent and the house is up 5 percent,” as many experts predict, “then you would be up 50 percent on your investment.”

How many are seeing a 50% return on a cash investment right now?

Paulson goes on to compare the long term financial benefits of owning verses renting:

“And you’ve locked in the cost over the next 30 years. And today the cost of owning is somewhat less than the cost of renting. And if you rent, the rent goes up every year. But if you buy a 30-year mortgage, the cost is fixed.”

Bottom Line

Whenever a billionaire gives investment advice, people usually clamor to hear it. This billionaire gave simple advice – if you don’t yet live in your own home, go buy one.

 

http://goo.gl/hlPPsb

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Don’t Let Your “Luck” Run Out

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The 30-year fixed mortgage interest rate is currently still below 4%. Many buyers may be on the fence as to whether to act now and purchase a new home, or wait until next year, believing they still have time to lock in a low rate.

If you look at what the experts are predicting over the course of the next 12 months, it may make the decision for you.

Predictions for 2016 2Q:

Even an increase of half a percentage point can put a dent in your family’s net worth.

Let’s look at it this way…

The monthly payment (principal & interest only) on a $250,000 home today, with the current 3.86% interest rate would be $1,173.

If we take that same home a year later, the Home Price Expectation Survey projects that prices will rise about 4.4% making that home cost $11,000 more at $261,000.

If we take Freddie Mac’s rate projection of 4.7%, the monthly mortgage payment climbs to $1,354.

Some buyers might not think that an extra $181 a month is that bad. But over the course of 30-year mortgage you have spent an additional $65,160 by waiting a year.

 

http://goo.gl/5MaeNr

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 16, 2015

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Last week’s economic reports included job openings, retail sales, retail sales except automotive, consumer sentiment for March and the usual reports on weekly jobless claims and mortgage rates.

Job Openings Highest in 14 Years

The Labor Department reported that job openings reached their highest level in 14 years in January, and rose by 2.50 percent over December 2014 job openings. On a seasonally adjusted basis, there were five million job openings in January. Job openings rose by 28 percent year-over-year.

Hiring rose by 3.50 percent to 5.24 million, but analysts said that employers continue to have difficulty in finding workers with skills needed to fill their job openings. Winter weather was also mentioned as contributing to lower hiring rates.

Stable full-time employment is a key requirement for qualifying for a home loan. Inconsistent, part-time and self-employment typically make it more difficult to qualify for mortgages in today’s conservative lending environment.

Retail Sales Lower

Retail sales fell by –0.60 percent in February against an expected reading of +0.30 percent and January’s reading of -0.80 percent. This was the third consecutive drop in retail sales volume and suggests that consumers are not confident about spending. Retail sales except automotive were also lower with a February reading of -0.10 percent against an expected reading of +0.40 percent and January’s reading of -1.10 percent.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

According to Freddie Mac average mortgage rates rose across the board with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 3.86 percent, an increase of 11 basis points. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage rose by seven basis points to 3.10 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose five basis points to 3.01 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 389,000 against expectations of 310,000 new jobless claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 325,000 new claims filed. This was good news after a spike in new jobless claims that was likely caused by bad weather. Although week to week data tends to be more volatile than month-to-month trends, there was good news in that new jobless claims fell below a benchmark of 300,000 new claims filed. Readings of 300,000 or fewer new jobless claims filed represent strong labor market conditions.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reports include the NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, federal reports on housing starts and building permits and the Federal Reserve’s FOMC meeting statement. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to present a press conference, which analysts will watch closely for any indication of when the Fed will raise interest rates.

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FSBO’s Must Be Ready to Negotiate

 

FSBO’s Must Be Ready to Negotiate | Keeping Current Matters

Now that the market has showed signs of recovery, some sellers may be tempted to try and sell their home on their own (FSBO) without using the services of a real estate professional.

Real estate agents are trained and experienced in negotiation. In most cases, the seller is not. The seller must realize their ability to negotiate will determine whether they can get the best deal for themselves and their family.

Here is a list of some of the people with whom the seller must be prepared to negotiate if they decide to FSBO:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house.
  • The termite company if there are challenges
  • The buyer’s lender if the structure of the mortgage requires the sellers’ participation
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value
  • The title company if there are challenges with certificates of occupancy (CO) or other permits
  • The town or municipality if you need to get the COs permits mentioned above
  • The buyer’s buyer in case there are challenges on the house your buyer is selling.
  • Your bank in the case of a short sale

Bottom Line

The percentage of sellers who have hired a real estate agent to sell their home has increased steadily over the last 20 years. Meet with a professional in your local market to see the difference they can make in easing the process.

 

http://goo.gl/67XTJY

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 9, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week March 9 2015Last week’s economic news was light on housing related reports, but several employment reports were released along with the national unemployment rate, which dipped to 5.50 percent. This was a full point below the Federal Reserve’s original target rate of 6.50 percent. Construction spending was incrementally lower than expected and mortgage rates also fell.

Fewer Private-Sector Jobs, Non-Farm Payrolls Increase

The ADP employment report for February fell from January’s reading of 250,000 jobs to 212,000 private-sector jobs. January’s reading was upwardly revised from the original tally of 213,000 jobs added. News was better for Non-Farm Payrolls for February. The Labor Department reported that 295,000 jobs were added; analysts expected a reading of 238,000 new jobs based on January’s original reading of 257,000 jobs added, but January’s reading was revised to 239,000 jobs added. The Non-Farm Payrolls report includes both public and private-sector jobs.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 320,000 against expectations of 301,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 313,000 new jobless claims. The week-to-week jobless claims report is considered volatile; most analysts base forecasts on a four-week rolling average.

National unemployment decreased from 5.70 percent in January to 5.50 percent in February as compared to an expected reading of 5.60 percent. February’s reading was the lowest since May 2008. Construction added 29,000 in February, which could indicate a boost in home construction. The unemployment rate does not account for 17.50 million workers who work part-time but want full-time work and those who have left the job market. The labor market participation rate fell to 62.8 percent, which was its lowest since the late 1970s.

Analysts said that based on the lower unemployment rate, the Fed may move as soon as June to raise the target federal funds rate to prevent rapid inflation, but Federal Reserve policy makers have consistently cited concerns over labor markets as a reason why the fed funds rate hasn’t been raised. A combination of stagnant wages, higher mortgage rates combined with stubbornly strict mortgage credit requirements could cause housing markets to lag behind other economic sectors until would-be home buyers achieve steady employment and can qualify for home financing.

Mortgage Rates Drop

Freddie Mac provided good news as average mortgage rates dropped.  Last week’s rate for a 30-year mortgage was 3.75 percent and lower by five basis points; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by four basis points to 3.03 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 2.96 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic news includes reports on job openings and labor market conditions along with retail sales reports. Consumer sentiment will be release and Freddie Mac mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims data will be released as usual on Thursday.

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