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Real Estate News

Housing Starts Blow by Expectations

Home-building activity blew by expectations in January, with housing starts up 9.7 percent to a rate of 1,326,000, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Single-family housing starts increased 3.7 percent to 846,000. Starts for units in buildings with five units or more came in at 431,000.

Additionally, permits increased 7.4 percent from December to 1,396,000, according to the data. Single-family permits were down 1.7 percent, however, to 866,000, while permits for units in buildings with five units or more came in at 479,000.

Completions totaled 1,166,000 in January, falling 1.9 percent. Single-family completions increased 2.2 percent to 850,000, while completions for units in buildings with five units or more came in at 305,000.

“Terrific news on housing starts in January with a solid 10 percent gain,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), in a statement. “This rise in single-family housing construction will help tame home price growth, and the increase in multi-family units should continue to help slow rent growth. The large gain in housing starts in the West (10.7 percent) is especially welcomed, as that region has been facing acute housing shortages. Ultimately, there is still large room for improvement given the fact overall housing inventory is currently near historic lows.”

According to Yun, the ascent could cause the Federal Reserve to hit pause on rates. It will announce its decision to hold or raise them in March.

“This boost in housing supply not only helps the economy but may also help the Federal Reserve temper the pace of future short-term rate hikes,” Yun said. “That’s because the slow upward creep in the broad consumer price inflation is principally being driven by rising housing costs. Simply put, more housing supply means a lower inflation rate, and potentially a slower pace of interest rate increases by the Fed.”

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Mortgage Rates Rise Swiftly

The average 30-year, fixed mortgage rate is rising swiftly, at 4.38 percent this week, according to Freddie Mac’s recently released Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). The average 30-year, fixed mortgage rate was 4.32 percent last week.

Concurrently, the average 15-year, fixed mortgage rate is 3.84 percent, up from 3.77 percent last week, while the five-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable mortgage rate is 3.63 percent, up from 3.57 percent last week.

“Wednesday’s Consumer Price Index report showed higher-than-expected inflation; headline consumer price inflation was 2.1 percent year-over-year in January—two-tenths of a percentage point higher than the consensus forecast,” says Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac. “Inflation measures were broad-based, cementing expectations that the Federal Reserve will go forward with monetary tightening later this year. Following this news, the 10-year Treasury reached its highest level since January 2014, climbing above 2.90 percent. Mortgage rates have also surged. After jumping 10 basis points last week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose six basis points to 4.38 percent—its highest level since April 2014.”

Source: Freddie Mac

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Industry Praises House Passage of TRID Improvement Bill

The housing industry is applauding the House passage of the TRID (TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure) Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R. 3978) that aims to correct the disclosure of title insurance premiums, which are inaccurate in the majority of states. The bill, which was made part of a larger package, was passed on Wednesday.

“Although the bill has been made part of a larger legislative package, the genesis of the bill is about improving transparency and making sure consumers receive disclosures that accurately show the cost of the one-time fee that protects their property rights,” said Michelle L. Korsmo, CEO of the American Land Title Association (ALTA), in a statement. “Our research shows that 40 percent of consumers feel confused by the CFPB’s requirement to provide inaccurate pricing on title insurance. We’re thankful for Representative French Hill championing a straightforward fix that benefits consumers across the country. This isn’t about limiting Dodd-Frank. We’re eager to get this bill introduced and passed in the Senate and eliminate the inconsistencies in mortgage documents that cause confusion for consumers.”

“I…want to praise Representatives French Hill and Ruben Kihuen for Title I of the bill (the prior H.R. 3978) which will require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to allow the accurate disclosure of title insurance premiums and any potential available discounts to homebuyers,” said David H. Stevens, CEO and president of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), in a statement.

In most states, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) bars the calculation of a “simultaneous issue” rate. Consumers are given a simultaneous issue rate—a discount, in effect—when they obtain a lender’s and owner’s title insurance policy at the same time.

“Consumers deserve to know the costs of their title insurance premiums when they purchase a home,” said Congressman French Hill in October, when the bill was introduced. “As TRID has become a massive, complex rule, it is hindering financial institutions’ ability to share accurate information to consumers during the mortgage closing process. This legislation seeks to correct this error by ensuring that consumers know the exact cost of their title insurance—not the number reported as one price on a lending estimate and another price on a closing document.”

Hill introduced the legislation alongside Congressman Ruben Kihuen. TRID, colloquially known as “Know Before You Owe,” became effective in October 2015.

Stay tuned to RISMedia for more developments.

DeVita_Suzanne_60x60Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Appraisals Off by a Larger Margin

Appraisals are off by a larger margin, 0.6 percent below what was expected by homeowners in January, according to the latest Quicken Loans’ National Home Price Perception Index (HPPI). The latest Quicken Loans National Home Value Index (HVI) shows appraised values rose 7.03 percent year-over-year.


Appraisals in January were an average of 0.6 percent lower than the estimate homeowners give at the beginning of the mortgage process, as measured by the National HPPI. While not a drastic change from December, this marks the first decrease in the HPPI in eight months; however, January’s National HPPI value is much improved compared to the same time last year, when appraiser opinions were 1.47 percent lower than owner expectations.

“The appraisal is one of the most important pieces of data in the mortgage process,” says Bill Banfield, executive vice president of Capital Markets for Quicken Loans. “Often the entire transaction hinges on the appraisal showing a number similar to what the homeowner estimated at the beginning of the process. If the appraisal is lower, it could mean the homeowner needs to bring additional cash to close, or the loan may need to be reworked. It’s very promising to see the homeowner estimate and the appraiser opinion so close together.”

Home equity continued to rise across the country in January, with appraisal values increasing 0.46 percent from the previous month and jumping 7.03 percent as compared to the previous January. The only region that dropped in value was the South, showing a 0.54 percent decrease from December to January. Every region reported annual appraisal growth with the West continuing to lead the way.

“Low inventory of homes available for sale and a growing economy has led to steadily rising home values as indicated by the strong annual increase of the HVI index,” Banfield says. “The recent increase in interest rates could test affordability in the short run, but the desire to own a home remains on firm ground and may ultimately help normalize the inventory issues.”

For more information, please visit QuickenLoans.com/Indexes.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Home Prices Still on an Upturn

Home prices are still on an upturn, up 5.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

“A majority of the country saw an upswing in buyer interest at the end of last year, which ultimately ended up putting even more strain on inventory levels and prices,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist of NAR. “Remarkably, home prices have risen a cumulative 48 percent since 2011, yet during this same timeframe, incomes are up only 15 percent. In the West region, where very healthy labor markets are driving demand, the gap is even wider. These consistent, multi-year price gains have certainly been great news for homeowners, and especially for those who were at one time in a negative equity situation; however, the shortage of new homes being built over the past decade is really burdening local markets and making home-buying less affordable.”

Single-family home prices went up in 92 percent of markets assessed in the report, or 162 of 177 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). Fifteen percent of, or 26, metro areas saw prices up by double digits. At the national level, the median single-family home price was $247,800, and the median existing condominium price was $237,500.

Home prices in the Midwest and West grew at the highest year-over-year rate, both 7.2 percent to a median existing single-family value of $193,800 and $374,400, respectively, according to the report. Prices in the South followed, at 5.0 percent to a median $221,600. Prices in the Northeast grew at the lowest year-over-year rate, 4.2 percent to a median $268,100.

Affordability also declined in the fourth quarter. A homebuyer with a 5 percent down payment would need an income of $55,585 to afford a single-family home priced at the national median. A homebuyer with a 10 percent down payment would need an income of $52,659, and a homebuyer with a 20 percent down payment would need an income of $46,808.

“While tight supply is expected to keep home prices on an upward trajectory in most metro areas in 2018, both the uptick in mortgage rates and the impact of the new tax law on some high-cost markets could cause price growth to moderate nationally,” Yun says. “In areas where home-building has severely lagged job creation in recent years, it’s going to be a slow slog before there’s enough new construction to cool price appreciation to a pace that aligns more closely with incomes.”

The most expensive metro areas by median existing single-family price in the fourth quarter were: San Jose, Calif. ($1,270,000); San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. ($920,000); Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif. ($785,000); urban Honolulu, Hawaii ($760,600); and San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. ($610,000). The least expensive areas were: Cumberland, Md. ($84,600); Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio ($90,200); Decatur, Ill. ($100,000); Binghamton, N.Y. ($108,900); and Wichita Falls, Texas ($110,400).

Existing-home sales, including condos, rose 4.3 percent to 5.62 million in the fourth quarter, according to the report. Existing homes available for sale were down 10.3 percent year-over-year to 1.48 million at the end of the quarter, with an average supply of 3.5 months.

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Home Prices Still on an Upturn appeared first on RISMedia.

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