Thinking of Moving Up or Listing Your Home?

March 10, 2017

NEW YORK – March 9, 2017 – Borrowers are getting spooked by rising mortgage rates and, as a result, rushing to lock in rates before any further increases. That, in turn, is pushing mortgage application volume higher – increasing a seasonally adjusted 3.3 percent week over week, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday.

More buyers are also turning to adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) to try to get more savings in their monthly payments too.

“Mortgage rates increased last week as remarks by several key Federal Reserve officials strongly signaled a March rate increase,” says Joel Kan, an MBA economist. “This was further supported by a few solid economic data releases, including GDP, inflation and manufacturing gauges.”

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 4.36 percent from 4.30 percent the previous week, the MBA reports; and the share of ARMs reached its highest level of mortgage applications since 2014. The average loan size for purchase applications also reached a survey high of $313,000.

Refinance volume was up 5 percent last week. Applications for home purchases rose 2 percent higher for the week and, and they’re about 4 percent higher than a year ago.

The MBA says mortgage volume remains 18 percent lower compared to the same week a year ago. Volume is mostly lower from a year ago due to a significant decrease in refinance applications from a year ago when interest rates were lower. Refinance volume is down 34 percent annually.

Source: “Borrowers Rush to Beat Rising Rates, Pushing Mortgage Volume 3.3% Higher,” CNBC (March 8, 2017)

© Copyright 2017 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD


86% of buyers don’t know what a CLUE report is. Do you??

November 21, 2016

WASHINGTON – Nov. 16, 2016 ­– Homebuyers often shop around for the best rate on a homeowners insurance policy, but 86 percent of Americans don’t realize that the policy amount is based, in part, on the home’s claim history.

Sellers who make too many property insurance claims could harm future buyers, yet most buyers are unaware that actions take by a home’s previous owners may be considered when an insurance company sets a premium under their new policy.

Many insurers use CLUE – an acronym for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange – to report and check the claims history of homes. Yet, only 12 percent of buyers say they ask for a CLUE report before buying their current home, according to a new survey of more than 1,000 adults by InsuranceQuotes.

“Consumers of all ages, from millennials to seniors, are almost entirely unaware of how the CLUE database affects their insurance rates,” says Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst at InsuranceQuotes. “In most states, an inquiry about property damage can be added to your CLUE report and used against you, even if you never file a claim.”

Only the owner of a property can request a CLUE report. Homebuyers, therefore, need to ask sellers to obtain a copy on their own behalf.

“The CLUE report, which maintains data up to seven years, is a valuable tool for homebuyers because it reveals prior claims and potential risks,” Adams says. “It also helps home sellers provide full disclosure about their property’s condition.”

Homeowners can get a CLUE report free once every 12 months.

Source: InsuranceQuotes

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD


Is Your Home a Smart Home?

October 8, 2016

The term “smart house” was coined in the 1980s to refer to a home with integrated telephones, lighting, audio and security.

Today, a smart home is defined as equipped with network-connected products…connected via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or similar protocols for controlling, automating and optimizing functions of the home.

This definition stipulates that the home has internet access, a smart security or temperature system and at least two other smart features, such as appliances, entertainment devices, cooling or heating equipment, lighting, landscaping elements, air quality monitors or thermostats.

Anything mentioned above that you can add to your home will increase your home’s value.


Baby boomers chart new direction in housing

August 23, 2016

NEW YORK – Aug. 22, 2016 – Economists are having a tough time figuring out what housing market moves baby boomers will make next. Americans over the age of 55 are veering from previous generations, opting not to retire but instead launching second or even third careers. They are shunning the traditional patterns of retirement, and that could have a big impact on their housing choices, according to a Freddie Mac Insight report.

Baby boomers are a critical piece to the housing market puzzle. Americans over the age of 55 make up a quarter of the population and control about two-thirds of the single-family home equity in the nation. Sixty-five-year olds who, on average purchased a home 35 years ago now tend to have a home value that is likely 3.7 times the purchase price.

Nearly a quarter of baby boomers recently surveyed by Freddie Mac say they need major renovations in their current home in order to stay there as they age – and many say they face financial constraints to take on those remodels. And some of the baby boomers may be underestimating the financial costs of outfitting their home with age-in-place features, says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

As a result, about 18 million homeowners over the age of 55 may be shopping for another house in the next few years, according to the Insights Report.

Unlike earlier generations, however, baby boomers’ main reasons to move aren’t due to downsizing. Instead, the survey showed the key influences making these generations move are: Affordability of the community, the need for retirement amenities and a home with less maintenance.

Bottom line, the authors note: The 55-plus population is likely to be an active part of the housing economy for years to come still.

Source: “Boomers Ignoring Conventional Housing Wisdom,” Mortgage News Daily (July 19, 2016)

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD


2016 International Profile

August 23, 2016

International Homebuyers


Most in U.S. say it’s a good time to buy

July 14, 2016

WASHINGTON – July 13, 2016 – Despite lackluster economic growth and stark home-price appreciation in several parts of the country in recent months, roughly three-quarters of surveyed households still believe it’s a good time to buy a home – but there’s a considerable morale gap between homeowners and renters, according to the latest installment of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey.

The survey also found that roughly half of young adults with student debt are uncomfortable about taking on a mortgage.

In NAR’s second quarter HOME consumer survey, respondents were asked about their confidence in the U.S. economy and various questions about their housing expectations, including whether student debt is tempering their ability and appetite to take on mortgage debt.

NAR’s survey found that the share of homeowners and renters who believe it’s a good time to buy a home has held steady so far this year, with 80 percent of homeowners (82 percent in March) and 62 percent of renters (unchanged from last quarter) saying it’s a good time to buy. However, the share of renters who think so is down from 68 percent in December 2015, and those under 35 were the least confident.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the survey brings to focus the ongoing disparity in buyer confidence between current homeowners and renters.

“Existing-home prices surpassed their all-time peak this spring and have climbed on average over 5 percent nationally through the first five months of the year, and even faster in areas with severe supply shortages,” he says. “Most homeowners appear to realize that if they’re ready to sell, they’ll likely find a buyer rather quickly and be able to use the sizeable equity they’ve accumulated in recent years towards their next home purchase. Meanwhile, renters interested in buying continue to face minimal choices, strong competition and home prices growing faster than their incomes.

This HOME survey also found that student debt is causing many potential homebuyers to be uneasy about taking on additional debt: Roughly two-thirds of non-homeowners and half of respondents under 35 with student debt said they aren’t comfortable also having a mortgage. Furthermore, of those with student debt, non-homeowners and younger adults were less likely to believe they’d be able to qualify for a mortgage if they applied.

“It’s becoming very evident from this survey and our research released last month that the financial and emotional impact of repaying student debt is contributing to a delay in purchasing a home for many would-be buyers,” adds Yun. “At a time of quickly rising rents, mortgage rates at all-time lows and increasing housing wealth, a lot of young adults in their prime buying years are struggling to enter the market and are ultimately missing out on the stability and wealth accumulation that owning a home can provide.”

Attitudes about U.S. economy, personal finances outlook mostly unchanged

About half of all households surveyed believe the economy is improving (49 percent), which is mostly unchanged since the inaugural HOME survey in December 2015. Renters, respondents living in urban areas, and those in the West were the most optimistic.

When asked if they thought their personal financial situation would be better in six months, the latest survey reflected a little less optimism. The survey’s monthly Personal Financial Outlook Index of all households decreased slightly (to 57.7 in June) month-to-month (58.1 in March), but it’s unchanged from June 2015.On the other hand, nearly two-thirds of those living in rural areas don’t believe the economy is improving.

More believe it’s a good time to sell

With strong price growth prevalent in most of the country and homes selling at a quickened pace, more current homeowners (61 percent) believe it’s a good time to sell compared to the first quarter of this year (56 percent). Respondents in the West were again the most likely to think now is a good time to sell, but they’re also least likely to think it’s a good time to buy.

“More homeowners acknowledging this pent-up demand may perhaps mean we begin to see more supply come online in the near future,” adds Yun.

When asked about their outlook for home prices in their community in the next six months, almost all believe that prices will stay the same or rise (93 percent), which is consistent with last quarter (91 percent). Respondents from the West, those living in urban areas and renters are most likely to believe prices will go up in their communities.

© 2016 Florida Realtors®


Home sales and taxes: How much will you owe?

June 22, 2016

NEW YORK – June 21, 2016 – One of the questions readers ask most often is how much of their gain will go to Uncle Sam if they sell their home. Tax rules are highly favorable for homeowners. Most sellers wind up owing no capital-gains tax on their profits, according to a spokesman for the National Association of Realtors.

However, there are important exceptions, such as for those with exceptionally large gains who live in high-tax areas.

Married couples filing jointly typically can exclude as much as $500,000 of the gain on the sale of their primary residence. Singles can exclude up to $250,000. In most cases, they can qualify for the maximum exclusion amount if they have owned their home – and used it as their main home – for at least two of the five years before the sale date.

Sellers who do not qualify for the maximum exclusion still may be eligible for major relief depending on several factors, such as why they sold – like a work-related move, health reason or unforeseeable events.

Source: Wall Street Journal (06/12/16) Herman, Tom

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD