Lower mortgage rates are bringing out more potential home buyers. In certain parts of the country, this has translated into a lot more competition. In markets that have seen prices become more moderate, supply is lower than it was a year ago and bidding wars are becoming more prevalent. For example, a recent Redfin housing index notes that cities like Oklahoma City; Richmond, Va.; Memphis, Tenn.; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Atlanta are seeing buyer demand outpace the number of available homes for sale.
“With low mortgage interest rates luring more home buyers off the sidelines as supply dwindles, we’re likely to see competition pick up, especially for the most affordable homes and neighborhoods, where inventory is limited and buyers are most rate-sensitive,” says Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist. He says his brokerage is starting to see an increase in the number of home buyers starting their searches and taking home tours following the latest mortgage rate drops.
In just a few months, home shoppers may begin to see a drop in the number of homes for sale, which could lead to the return of bidding wars and quicker home sales, a new report from realtor.com® predicts.
Realtor.com® researchers predict a major shift to occur in the housing market that will affect buyers’ bargaining power well into 2020. With high demand for the limited number of homes for sale, buyers may need to be braced to pay higher home prices.
The U.S. median listing price in June reached its highest point of the year at $316,000. Properties in June spent an average of 56 days on the market, a two-day increase from a year ago.
“It was only 18 months ago that the number of homes for sale hit its lowest level in recorded history and sparked the fiercest competition among buyers we’ve ever seen,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “If the trend we’re seeing continues, overall inventory could near record lows by early next year. So far there’s been a lackluster response to low mortgage rates, but if they do spark fresh buyer interest later in the year, U.S. inventory could set new record lows.”
Newly listed homes have either declined or only increased very little in 2019. Why aren’t more homeowners taking advantage of the market and listing their homes for sale? “It’s likely a combination of a rate lock, recently decreased consumer confidence, and older generations choosing to age in place,” Hale says. Consumers are showing slightly more concern over a potential recession and future economic growth that could be making them skittish.
But low mortgage rates also may be keeping many homeowners in place. Seven years ago, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage reached its lowest average at 3.3%, according to Freddie Mac’s records. That prompted many homeowners to refinance and lock in lower monthly mortgage payments.
Rates today remain low, but they’re still 50 basis points higher than they were in December 2012. That means many homeowners still have mortgages with rates well below today’s averages.
For most Americans, a home purchase is the biggest purchase of their life and thus requires taking on a large amount of debt. The average mortgage debt can vary considerably from state to state.
“Cost of living and home prices are a big factor,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate. “The cost of living impacts how much you can save for something like a down payment, and home prices impact how much you have to borrow.”
Wealthier states tend to have the highest amount of mortgage debt. 24/7 Wall St., a personal finance website, pinpointed which states have the highest amount of mortgage debt. Here are the top 10: Read more...
Mortgage products that haven’t been widely used since before the Great Recession are making a comeback. The volume of loans with alternate documentation has more than doubled in the last two years among loans included in mortgage-backed securities, according to a report from Fitch Ratings.
The alt-doc loans have performed well since the housing crisis, but Fitch analysts say they’re still concerned about the uptick. “Although alternative document residential mortgage loan products that were introduced in the U.S. after the financial crisis have performed better than our expectations, we maintain a cautious approach to these loans because of their limited history,” Fitch analysts noted in the report.
One such no-income, no-asset mortgage program called the Agency NINA was recently announced by the 360 Mortgage Group. It does not require borrowers to prove their income or assets to be approved for the loan. The loan program is available to investors, not owner occupants.
These riskier loan products are appealing to borrowers who may be unable to qualify for a loan using traditional underwriting due to, for example, high personal debt-to-income ratios.
So far, the loans have been performing better in recent years due to the Ability-to-Repay rule and other protective measures that have taken affect since the housing crisis, Fitch notes. The Ability-to-Repay rule, “combined with increased third-party due diligence and improved alignment of interests with issuers, have all contributed to better than expected performance,” Fitch notes in its report. But when the housing market cycle turns, the industry will need to be prepared. The agency concludes: “Fitch will likely need to observe continued strong performance over a longer horizon before making any significant changes in its approach to the programs.”