September 2011


Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, September 28, 2011
In the past, both the luxury housing market and the low-end market moved in tandem, but these days, they're moving in opposite directions.

The luxury market is outperforming the rest of the market, with Zillow reporting a 0.7 percent gain since February in the prices of properties worth $1 million or more but more than a 1.5 percent decline in lower-priced homes.

At the lower end, houses sit on the market for months without receiving an offer, and most buyers are unable to qualify for financing despite record-low mortgage rates. In Miami, $1 million-plus condos are flying off the shelves, but two-bedroom condos in gated communities can be had for as little as $25,000.

Condo Vultures founder Peter Zalewski says, “In the 20 years that I have been in South Florida real estate, I have never seen a greater divide between those who have and those who have not.” Experts attribute the strength of the luxury market to international buyers, who view U.S. properties as undervalued assets and who can pay in cash. Home purchases by foreign buyers rose to $82 billion in 2010 from $66 billion in 2009; and they accounted for 33 percent of purchases in Florida, up from 10 percent four years ago.

Source: “Housing Market Is Terrific, If You Are Rich,” USA Today (09/25/11)

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Daily Real Estate News | Friday, September 30, 2011

 

Starting Saturday, many borrowers in pricey housing markets may find they’ll need a higher down payment or pay higher rates. The size of mortgages that the government will back in several high-priced regions is set to drop on Oct. 1, which some analysts expect will serve as another thorn to the housing market.

In 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac raised its cap on conforming loans up to $729,750 in some of the most expensive housing markets so that larger mortgages would be available to home buyers. But those caps are set to reset on Oct. 1, scaling back to a maximum of $625,500 in some areas of the country.

Housing analysts say the drop will make it more expensive and harder for some buyers to qualify for home purchases in expensive markets, particularly along the coasts.

“The down-payment issue is the most significant aspect form borrowers standpoint,” says Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “These changes will price some prospective borrowers out of the market.”

Source: “Big Borrowers Face Larger Down-Payments, Rates,” MarketWatch (Sept. 30, 2011) and “Big Mortgages: Harder to Get and More Expensive With Loan Caps,” CNNMoney (Sept. 30, 2011)

Read More:
On Loan Limit Drop, Middle Faces Hard Hit

House Fails to Vote on Extending Loan Limits

As part of the Administration’s plan to increase homebuyer use of private mortgage insurance (PMI) on mortgages underwritten or purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has proposed changes to shift the risk of loss on mortgage defaults and foreclosures from the U.S. Treasury to the private sector.

The two government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) currently require PMI or Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-provided insurance on some but not all mortgage loans with loan-to-value ratios (LTVs) over 80%. [For more on the comparative costs of PMI and MIP, see the first tuesday Market Chart, FHA, PMI, or neither?]

The FHFA now seeks to make GSE-based financing more comparable to financing independently provided by the private sector, partially in an effort to recoup losses sustained by Fannie and Freddie (and thus the U.S. Treasury) during the Great Recession and financial crisis. Fannie and Freddie have been repeatedly criticized since the collapse of the housing market for their loss-generating business practices and lack of “skin in the game.” [For other recent attempts to encourage private-style lending practices from GSEs, see the May 2011 first tuesday article, Fannie and Freddie show some skin.]

first tuesday take: Political ill will for Fannie and Freddie as they currently exist seems likely to succeed in the long run — either by making the GSEs fully-independent private entities or dissolving them altogether. Neither step, however, can take place successfully unless private mortgage bankers step up to the plate and deliver the loans it is their business function to make.

The federal government needs to quickly take the GSEs out of the lending business – especially by removing their government guarantees. Only then, when the playing field is leveled, will private mortgage bankers see they can achieve profitability through fully-regulated mortgage activity structured to prevent any hazardous competitive advantage in the market.

With luck, we can soon do away with both GSEs once and for all, and in the process be rid of their government-backed guarantees that have so badly misaligned mortgage funding and misallocated personal wealth in the real estate industry. With the removal of these agencies, and the simultaneous elimination of harmful mortgage interest tax deductions, it will finally be possible to achieve long-term stability in sales volume and prices. [For more on the flaws of mortgage tax deductions, see the June 2011 first tuesday article, Subsidizing the American dream.]

RE: “FHFA changes may boost private mortgage insurance”, from Housingwire.com

 

 

 

Loan Applications Rise for Refinancing, Home Purchases

Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, September 28, 2011

 

Mortgage applications increased last week, with both refinancing and home purchase demand increasing, the Mortgage Bankers Association says in its weekly report.

Applications for U.S. home mortgages increased 9.3 percent for the week ending Sept. 23, according to MBA’s seasonally adjusted index.

Refinancing applications made up the biggest part of that increase, rising 11.2 percent last week. Loan requests for home purchases increased 2.6 percent.

Meanwhile, mortgage rates continue to hover near record lows, luring home owners and buyers who can qualify for the low rates.

“Mortgage rates declined last week, at least partially in response to the Fed’s announcement that they would shift their portfolio toward longer-term Treasury securities, and that they would resume buying mortgage-backed securities,” Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and cconomics, said in a statement.

Source: “Mortgage Applications Rose Last Week: MBA,” Reuters (Sept. 28, 2011)

Read More

Fed’s Latest Move May Send Rates Lower

Mortgage Rates Remain at Record Lows

 

10 YR Treasury 2.027 (time of CMG Rate Sheet Release)
Open is about 4 tix worse from yesterday. Approximately 0.174 worse in rebate on rate sheet.

Growing concern that Greece’s leaders are divided as to how to handle their current financial crisis has lead most US stocks to go down. The Netherlands and Germany are leading a drive to include more private-sector involvement in the next austerity package for Greece. “Europe is the issue that is first and foremost in everyone’s mind, so any news that comes out on that does have a strong impact on the market,” Peter Jankovskis, of Oakbrook Investments in Lisle, Illinois. “Any weakness there is going to be a drag worldwide.”

As a further sign that consumer spending has taken a turn for the worst, the world’s largest consumer electronics chain, Best Buy, is planning on slashing its holiday hiring by about half of what it was last year. This is a poor indicator both for the economy and is real bad news for the unemployed. Best Buy hired 29,000 seasonal employees last year, and anticipates hiring only 15,000 this year. “Our plan isn’t built or predicated upon a meaningful move in the economic environment,” said Brian Dunn, CEO of Best Buy, “The consumer is being really careful about where he or she is spending the dollars, and I think that will continue through the holidays.”

US home mortgage applications rose last week, showing that refinance demand is going up as rates are going down. Refi applications, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index, went up 11.2 percent and purchase applications rose 2.6 percent. “Mortgage rates declined last week, at least partially in response to the Fed’s announcement that they would shift their portfolio towards longer-term Treasury securities, and that they would resume buying mortgage-backed securities,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics.

Market Summary

At 12:32 PM ET: Although the major indexes are mixed in trading today, most stocks are lower on the NYSE where declining issues lead advancing issues by 2.0 to 1. Among individual stocks, the top percentage gainers in the S.&P. 500 are Jabil Circuit, Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. http://markets.on.nytimes.com/research/markets/usmarkets/usmarkets.asp