Mortgage rates on the rise
According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year mortgage rate hit a two year high in June, jumping 0.22 percentage points to 4.51 percent while the average rate for a 15-year mortgage rose 0.14 percentage points to 3.53 percent as mortgage rates in general continue to increase.
Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist of Freddie Mac said, “”June’s strong employment led to more market speculation that the Federal Reserve will reduce future bond purchases causing bond yields to rise and mortgage rates followed. The economy gained 195,000 jobs in June, above the market consensus forecast, while revisions to the prior two months added 70,000 on top of that.”
“Moreover, hourly wages rose by 2.2 percent over the last 12 months and represented the largest annual increase in nearly two years,” Nothaft added. “However, the minutes of the June 18th and 19th Federal Reserve’s monetary policy committee meeting, released July 10th, stated that many members indicated further improvement in the outlook for the labor market would be required before it would be appropriate to slow the pace of bond purchases.”
Just two weeks ago, rates rose substantially, leading many to speculate that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would begin tapering off its purchases of bonds and mortgage-backed securities which keep borrowing costs down. Unemployment is at the center of the speculation, but CalculatedRisk Founder, Bill McBride asserts that the Fed will not taper in September if the August unemployment rate is 7.6 percent.
Consumers are worried but not yet discouraged
Dr. Jed Kolko, Chief Economist at Trulia reports that rising rates are currently the top consumer worry (41 percent), followed by rising prices (37 percent) and not being able to find a home they like (36 percent), with more than half of all consumers who plan to buy a home someday indicating that if rates reach 6.0 percent, they would be discouraged from buying.
Dr. Kolko notes, “However, asking-price and home-purchase mortgage applications through the end of June show little impact so far of rising rates. The main effect of rising rates has been a sharp drop in refinancing. Rising rates are unlikely to derail the housing recovery because: (1) The economy is strengthening at the same time as rates are rising. (2) Rising rates could lead to expanded credit availability. (3) Rates remain at historically low levels, making buying still much cheaper than renting at current prices, rents, and rates.”
The rising rates have had a slight impact on the number of applications for new mortgages, but homeowners looking to refinance are pulling out, as the refinance share of total mortgage applications hovered around 80 percent for almost all of 2012, sliding downward quickly in 2013, now resting at just 64 percent.
Average mortgage rates
According to Freddie Mac, for June:
- 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.51 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending July 11, 2013, up from last week when it averaged 4.29 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.56 percent.
- 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.53 percent with an average 0.8 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.39 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.86 percent.
- 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.26 percent this week with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.10 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.74 percent.
- 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.66 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, unchanged from last week. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.69 percent.
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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