Bidding Wars to Heat Up This Spring

Likely to be a hallmark of this year’s spring homeselling season: Bidding wars. As home listings are scarcer and buyer demand remains high, home shoppers are finding a lot more competition this spring, particularly in hot markets like the San Francisco Bay area, Denver, and Boston.

An improving job market, growing consumer confidence, and the threat of rising mortgage rates have Americans flocking to housing. But many markets remain tight for listings. Housing starts remain well below levels prior to the recession and are geared more toward the higher end of the market. Homeowners also are reluctant to sell their existing home because they’re unsure of where they’d move to with the dearth of listings.

Homes are selling at a rapid clip in places like Denver; Seattle; Oakland, Calif.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Boise, Idaho; Madison, Wis.; and Omaha, Neb., according to the real estate brokerage Redfin.

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Fed Hikes Rates: The Mortgage Impact

Time to Buy

The Federal Reserve hiked short-term interest rates recently, in a move largely predicted by economists. So, what does this mean for mortgage rates and buyers?

First off, the Fed does not set mortgage rates. Short-term rates are different from long-term rates. Mortgage rates typically follow long-term bond rates, such as the 10-year U.S. Treasury note. Longer-term rates typically adjust before the Fed makes a move.

Indeed, mortgage rates have risen near to 60 basis points since the presidential election. More than twice the quarter-point increase that the Fed voted on Wednesday.

The Fed announced that it expects to raise short-term rates three times next year by a total of 75 basis points.

“That means rates like we’ve seen for most of the past five years are indeed history,” writes Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist, in his latest column. Mortgage rates in the 3 percent range are gone.

“Mortgage rates will move higher before the Fed acts again, so if the Fed carries out its three planned hikes in 2017, we could come close to 5 percent on 30-year conforming rates before the end of next year,” Smoke notes.

On Wednesday, the average 30-year conforming rate was just under 4.2 percent.

Smoke believes that rates are more likely to move in the month ahead of each key Fed policy meeting. As such, the important meetings to note are in March, June, September, and December 2017.

How big of an impact could rising rates have in the coming months? A median-priced home would be $978 per month payment at Wednesday’s rate of 4.2 percent (and assuming a 20 percent down payment), realtor.com® notes. Take that rate to 5 percent, the monthly payment jumps up to $1,074, nearly $100 more.

“If you intend to buy next year and finance the purchase with a mortgage, acting sooner rather than later will cost you less,” Smoke says is the message to home buyers.

Source: RealtorMag

Mortgage Rates Hover Near All-Time Low

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Fixed-rate mortgages recently dropped to their lowest averages of the year, which analysts attribute to the fallout from the recent “Brexit” vote. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.48 percent, only 17 basis points from its all-time record low of 3.31 percent in November 2012, Freddie Mac reports.

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4 Big Trends to Watch in Real Estate

Thoughts

What should you watch for this year? The Urban Land Institute recently released its “Emerging Trends in Real Estate” report, covering the U.S. and Canada, for the coming year. The report covers some of the top trends expected to impact real estate in the short and mid-term.

Here are a few trends ULI says you should have on your radar screen for this year.

The Next Three Months: Best Time to Buy

Time to Buy

Low mortgage rates, declining home prices, and homes that are lingering on the market longer are three main reasons why the next three months could be the best time to buy so far this year, says Jonathan Smoke, Realtor.com®’s chief economist.

“The spring and summer home-buying seasons were especially tough on potential buyers this year with increasing prices and limited supply,” Smoke says. “Buyers who are open to a fall or winter purchase should find some relief with lower prices and less competition from other buyers.”

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Why Everyone Is Talking About Mortgage Rates

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Borrowing costs got even cheaper for home buyers and refinancers last week, as mortgage rates continued to descend.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.66 percent last week, the lowest weekly average since May 23, 2013, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey. What’s more, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped below 3 percent, also for the first time since May 2013.

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Experts Shoot Down Housing Bubble Warnings

Several experts at a conference in Miami a couple weeks ago called into question economist Robert Shiller’s recent comments that the housing market was starting to look “a little bubbly.” Shiller, who co-developed the S&P/Case-Shiller Composite 10 Home Price Index, has said he’s concerned some markets across the country may be over-correcting and starting to resemble a housing bubble.

However, a group of housing experts disagreed during the ABS East 2013 conference. Price appreciation is slowing, says Mark Fleming, CoreLogic’s chief economist. Fleming says that the rapid growth in appreciation in previous months was a correction after an overshoot in prices falling during the housing crisis.

“We are certainly not in a housing bubble,” added Laurie Goodman, who heads the Urban Institute.

Even if interest rates continue to move higher, the housing market would still be OK, say Goodman and Fleming. Goodman says that even with a 6 percent interest rate, affordability would remain at 2000-2003 levels.

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