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Homeownership

Pending home sales are at their highest level since July

(HOMEOWNERSHIP NEWS) Usually, the PHSI sees a seasonal downswing after summer. This is a great precursor to 2017.

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All signs point up

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), an indicator based on sales contract signings, is back up this year to its highest point since July. Usually, the PHSI sees a seasonal downswing after summer. At 110, this October’s PHSI is up .1 percent from September and up 1.8 percent from October 2015.

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Buyer demand remains strong

More good news: the PHSI shows broad growth across the country, not just in the biggest cities. “Most of the country last month saw at least a small increase in contract signings and more notably, activity in all four major regions is up from a year ago,” reports Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. “Despite limited listings and steadfast price growth that’s now carried into the fall, buyer demand has remained strong because of the consistently reliable job creation in a majority of metro areas.”

Pending home sales are up in every quarter of the country.

In the Northeast and West, sales are up 3.9 and 2.5 percent since last year, respectively, coming in at 96.9 and 108.3. In the Midwest and the South, sales are up 1.2 and 0.8 percent, respectively, coming in at 106.3 and 120.1. Sales are slightly down in the South since last month, but the yearlong trend is the number that especially matters.

Sales aren’t the only thing on the up

After a consistent standstill below 4 percent, mortgage rates are finally rising. The combination of stable job growth and stuck mortgage rates could have easily facilitated the steady gains in housing sales and development in the last year and heading into October.

Yun adds, “Many of the successful shoppers in October likely had to move fast and outbid others for the few listings available in the affordable price range. Those obtaining a mortgage last month were likely the last group of buyers to lock in a rate near historically low levels now that rates have marched to around 4 percent since the election.”

But don’t let that dishearten you. Sales prices are also up, which translates to more wealth disbursed within each community. This October, 40 percent of home sales closed at or above list prices. For comparison, that number was only 33 percent a year ago.

With its steady rise, Yun predicts sales closing pace of 5.25 million this year—that is the highest number since 2006, which closed at a pace of 6.48 million. Keep your eyes up for the November numbers once the new mortgage rates kick in.

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Becky Nathanson is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. She has a Master's degree in music from Indiana University and a Bachelor's degree in music and creative writing from the University of Michigan. In addition to writing, she has performed as an opera singer on major international stages. When she isn't making her voice heard by pen or in song, she is a serious amateur chef.

Homeownership

FHFA extends rent moratoriums through August

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Don’t freak out about the FHFA extending the moratorium, while many in the pay chain are affected, here’s what it means for Real Estate.

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FHFA moratorium

As millions of Americans lost their jobs at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, the FHFA announced a temporary prohibition of evictions and foreclosures that was set to expire on June 30. After reevaluating the job market and the record low unemployment rate, the FHFA extended this moratorium through August 30.

However, never did the FHFA nor the federal government put a hold on the rent, utility bills, or car insurance. Instead, most peoples’ bills have become endless. It’s a full circle here, those who can’t pay their rent impact their landlords ability to pay rent, so on and so forth.

The FHFA moratorium extension allows Americans to attempt to catch up on their bills as their jobs open back up. That said, there will be a glut of rental inventory as thousands of residents have been laid off or furloughed and can’t possibly come up with several months’ worth of rent. The long term effects will ripple through the sector, from rent decreases in some areas, to vacancy levels plummeting in others.

That said, industry experts maintain that while the industry will slow due to the global pandemic, the housing sector will be revived toward the second half of the year. It is not expected to be at full steam within this calendar year, however.

NAR President Vince Malta recently commented on existing home sales, “Although the real estate industry faced some very challenging circumstances over the last several months, we’re seeing signs of improvement and growth, and I’m hopeful the worst is behind us.”

But landlords are in a different boat than the rest of the sector, and have a certain struggle ahead. Some refused to be flexible with renters, while others have sought ways to retain residents without having vacancies or having to invest in turning a unit. This moratorium helps many renters, but landlords, particularly private landlords (not multifamily) will be hard hit.

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Homeownership

4 million homeowners skip mortgage payments as forbearance requests slow

(REAL ESTATE) It is no surprise that mortgage payments are being skipped across the nation, but it’s not all a total loss…

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Over 4.1 million American homeowners are currently skipping their mortgage payments on a temporary basis as COVID-19 keeps the economy shut down, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).

Meanwhile, forbearance requests have slowed – the MBA’s weekly survey indicates that 8.16 percent of total loans are now in forbearance plans, up from 7.91 percent the week prior, and while the share of loans in forbearance is rising, the trend is toward requests decreasing.

Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, said in a statement, “There has been a pronounced flattening in loans put into forbearance – despite April’s uniformly negative economic data, remarkably high unemployment, and it now being past May payment due dates.”

Congress passed the $2.22 trillion CARES Act (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act), under which homeowners holding a federally backed home loan may delay mortgage payments for up to a year, but politicians are quick to remind folks that the money is still due, and fees may still apply during the forbearance period.

This relief effort is the primary reason so many did not pay their mortgage this month. People are still unsure of whether or not they will be employed in the near future, and are managing their finances accordingly, particularly while lenders are still in the mood to negotiate. Economists believe that difficulties will be ongoing, and homeowners will continue to struggle as a whole.

While our economy hasn’t been hit this hard since the Great Depression, and unemployment numbers reveal widespread economic devastation, slivers of hope remain. Forbearance requests slowing isn’t the only housing hope – new home construction levels are down, but nowhere near at the same pace as other sectors harder hit.

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Homeownership

Find out if your rental home is under the 120-day federal eviction moratorium

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) COVID-19 has thrown many certainties into chaos, but heres a beacon of light if you are worried about paying rent and if you will fall victim to eviction.

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Proactively prevent foreclosure eviction

The Texas Supreme Court extended a moratorium on evictions through April 30. Dallas County’s moratorium runs through May 18. Tarrant County, next to Dallas County, has an indefinite moratorium. Meanwhile, cities, counties, and states across America have different moratoriums.

The CARES Act includes a federal eviction moratorium that begins on March 27 and lasts for 120 days.

Federally subsidized housing cannot evict tenants for non-payment for 120 days. If you’re like most renters, you may not know if your property is backed a federal program, such as HUD, FHA, USDA or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Here is a searchable database helps renters identify if their home is covered by the CARES Act

The National Low Income Housing Coalition offers a searchable database of homes that are covered by the CARES Act. Please note that the database is not comprehensive. Just because your home isn’t listed, doesn’t mean that the CARES ACT doesn’t apply.

The NLIHC offers updates on COVID-19 housing issues. They also have a page for state housing assistance. Low income households in Austin may qualify for assistance through the Austin Tenant Stabilization Program. Share that program with tenants and landlords to prevent evictions.

Eviction moratoriums do not mean that tenants don’t have to pay rent or late fees.

Tenants and landlords need to work together to find a solution to paying rent during the COVID-19 pandemic. The eviction moratorium is not a rent freeze. When life gets back to normal, tenants will still owe back and current rent or risk eviction.

We wrote that the National Multifamily Housing Council is recommending that its members waive late fees and administrative costs and help residents with payment plans.

It’s going to take everyone working together to keep families stable after the pandemic. We will do our best to keep you updated on any new options and helpful programs.

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