Mortgage application volume drops again
As a gauge of home buyer interest, we look to mortgage application volume to measure what the future holds for closed contracts, and when the volume falls week after week, it is a sign that sales may have hiccups in coming months as well.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending July 26, 2013, mortgage applications fell 3.7 percent from the previous week, marking the seventh consecutive week of declining application levels.
The Refinance Index decreased 4.0 percent from the previous week and the Purchase Index fell 3.0 percent. The silver lining is that application volume is sliding, but the Purchase Index is actually 5.0 percent higher than the same week one year ago.
“Mortgage rates were little changed last week, but remain roughly one percentage point higher than they were three months ago,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics. “Refinance application volume continues to decline, with the refinance index now more than 55 percent lower than its recent peak, reaching the lowest level in over two years. Applications for home purchases dropped for the fourth time in five weeks, but purchase volume is running about 5 percent higher than last year at this time.”
After hovering around 80 percent for most of last year, the refinance share of mortgage activity was at 63 percent of total applications, unchanged from the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 6.0 percent of total applications. The HARP share of refinance applications increased to 37 percent from 34 percent the week prior.
Average contract interest rates
- The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,500 or less) was unchanged at 4.58 percent, with points decreasing to 0.38 from 0.40 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
- The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,500) decreased to 4.64 percent from 4.66 percent, with points decreasing to 0.39 from 0.41 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
- The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased to 4.30 percent from 4.28 percent, with points decreasing to 0.31 from 0.33 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
- The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 3.67 percent from 3.63 percent, with points increasing to 0.40 from 0.35 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
- The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased to 3.39 percent from 3.30 percent, with points increasing to 0.36 from 0.34 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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