Real Estate Sales & Marketing


Mortgage lending at lowest level since 1997

Despite near-record-low mortgage rates, a combination of factors is depressing the industry. Many people have simply decided homeownership isn’t for them.

 

  • Despite the confluence of lower home prices and rates, new mortgages are down by a third compared with 2010. Lenders will write about $1 trillion in home loans this year, the smallest total since 1997, according to the Mortgage Bankers Assn., which projects home lending will fall even lower in 2012.
Despite the confluence of lower home prices and rates, new mortgages are… (Seth Perlman, Associated Press)

 

August 06, 2011|By E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times
Despite near-record-low mortgage rates and the cheapest housing prices in eight years, home lending has slipped this year to the lowest level since 1997.The laggard loan market can be explained in part by the slow economy, numerous foreclosures and the proliferation of “underwater” loans, those that exceed the value of the properties they secure.

 

But other factors are compounding the problem, including so-called refi burnout — how many times, after all, can one refinance a home? — and a wave of people who have simply decided that homeownership isn’t what it was cracked up to be.

Weary of a noisy tenant on the other side of a common wall, Bruce and Deborah Dennis sold their Arcadia duplex in April, banked a $600,000 profit and went looking for a quieter place to spend their 60s.

Bruce’s boss, a property manager, urged them to buy another home, saying they’d never again see prices and mortgage rates so low at the same time. The couple searched seriously for two months, even bidding on a home. In the end, they opted to rent a house, leery of tying up capital and taking on the headaches of ownership with the housing market so shaky.

“We thought, ‘Is buying really what we want to do?’ I have no confidence that home prices are going back up any time soon,” Bruce Dennis said.

Opt-outs like the Dennises are one reason the mortgage business, which led the way into the Great Recession, is taking so long to come out of it.

Another factor is the slowing of the refinance market. Mortgage costs are near historical lows, with lenders offering 30-year fixed-rate loans at about 4.2% to Californians seeking $400,000 mortgages, online home-loan specialist Lending Tree said Thursday.

But most of the lucky homeowners who still have equity and solid finances have already refinanced once or more and have long since locked in annual rates of less than 5%.

In 2003, as the housing boom took hold and 30-year fixed mortgage rates fell below 6%, refinancings propelled home lending to four times the current volume. And as the rate tumbled toward 5% and then smashed that barrier in 2009 for the first time since 1956, there was twice as much mortgage lending as now.

“There is a burnout phenomenon,” said Mortgage Bankers Assn. economist Michael Fratantoni. In addition, many would-be refinancers have been stopped by the declines in home prices, now back at 2003 levels, which has left them owing far more than their homes are worth.

“Borrowers who couldn’t qualify for 4.5% mortgages last year for the most part still can’t qualify this year,” Fratantoni said.

And getting the purchase market up and running again would require “significant job growth,” he said, something that has failed to materialize in the sluggish recovery that is threatening to fall back into recession.

 

 

The result of all this: Despite the confluence of lower home prices and rates, new mortgages are down by a third compared with 2010. Lenders will write about $1 trillion in home loans this year, the smallest total since 1997, according to the Mortgage Bankers Assn., which projects that home lending will fall even lower in 2012.Some say the combination of falling home prices, tight credit in the aftermath of the financial crisis and the flood of foreclosure sales has undermined the traditional view of homeownership as the engine of financial success.

“The previous assumptions that housing is a good investment, or that home prices can only go up, or that all Americans should be able to buy a home, are being seriously challenged,” Morgan Stanley housing analysts wrote last month in a study titled “A Rentership Society.”

In the middle of the last decade, when the term “ownership society” was coined, the homeownership rate was nearly 70%, the report noted. If delinquent borrowers were excluded, it said, the current rate of 66.4% today would instead be 59.7%.

For those willing to take out mortgages despite all the grim news, the prospects are improving slightly. Lenders have eased certain terms for the first time since the mortgage meltdown took hold, and some on the front lines say banks are abandoning the scrutiny bordering on suspicion with which they had come to regard potential borrowers.

“All those granular issues we were beating people up about over the last three years seem to be going away,” Laguna Niguel mortgage broker Jeff Lazerson said. “The hassles over old credit inquiries. Having to explain every entry on a bank statement.”

Spokesmen for Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp., the largest mortgage companies, said they recently eased standards slightly for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, which are attractive to first-time buyers because they require relatively small down payments.

However, among younger buyers, “there’s not much feeling that they need to buy right away,” Fratantoni said. “I expect that may change over the next couple of years, but certainly for the first-time buyer there’s less near-term demand.”

Older people can be ownership-averse as well, like the Dennises, who intend to work five more years before they retire.

“To buy another house, we were going to have to come up with a chunk of change for a down payment,” Bruce Dennis said. “Then there were property taxes, and of course maintenance — that gets expensive in a hurry.

“The glories of homeownership we no longer have to face.”

scott.reckard@latimes.com

Will the S&P Downgrade Affect Interest Rates?

Daily Real Estate News | Monday, August 08, 2011

 

Standard & Poor downgraded the U.S.’s credit rating on Friday, despite Congress reaching a deal in the final hours on the debt ceiling crisis last week. And now many of your customers may be asking: What does this mean for interest rates?“The impact on your wallet of the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the nation’s credit rating is similar to what would happen if your own credit score declined: The cost of borrowing money is likely to go up,” the Washington Post explained in the aftermath of S&P’s decision.

S&P downgraded the U.S.’s top-notch AAA credit rating for the first time in history, moving it down one notch to AA+; the rating reflects a downgrade in S&P’s confidence in the U.S. government’s ability to repay its debts over time. It’s not clear, however, whether S&P’s downgrade will instantly effect rates, analysts say.

The 10-year Treasury note is considered the basis for all other interest rates. And “the downgrade could increase the yields on those bonds, forcing the government to spend more to borrow the same amount of money,” the Washington Post article notes. “Many consumer loans, such as mortgages, are linked to the yield on Treasurys and therefore would also rise.”

Watch this video with NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun for more information.

While consumers who have fixed interest rate mortgages will be immune to any changes in borrowing costs, home buyers shopping for a loan or those with mortgages that fluctuate may see a rise in rates later on, some analysts say.

Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, told the Associated Press that he doesn’t expect the downgrade to drive up interest rates instantly since the economy is still weak and borrowers aren’t competing for money and driving rates higher. However, he expects in three to five years, loan demand will be much higher and then the downgraded credit rating might cause rates to rise.

Analysts are still waiting to see if the other rating agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, follows S&P’s lead in its downgrade of the U.S. credit rating. If so, the aftermath could be much worse, analysts say.

The debt deal reached by Congress last week was expected to save the U.S. from any credit rating downgrade. However, S&P said lawmakers fell short in its deal. Congress’ deal called for $2 trillion in U.S. deficit reduction over the next 10 years; S&P had called for $4 trillion.

Source: “5 Ways the Downgrade in the U.S. Credit Rating Affects You,” The Washington Post (Aug. 8, 2011); Questions and Answers on Standard & Poor’s Downgrading of U.S. Federal Debt,” Associated Press (Aug. 6, 2011); and S&P Downgrade Will Shake Consumer and Business Confidence at a Fragile Time, Economists Say,” Associated Press (Aug. 6, 2011)

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Real Estate OK in Debt Deal But Risks Remain

Commodity prices

Good news bears

Aug 8th 2011, 13:39 by The Economist online

A fall in commodity prices offers some cheer among the market gloom

THE equity markets may be suffering again as investors worry about sovereign debts and a slowing global economy. But the sell-off has also extended into the commodity market, particularly in oil: West Texas intermediate is trading at around $84 a barrel. This is a bearish story that is good news for western consumers. High raw-materials prices acted as a tax rise in the first half of the year; now they are falling the effect will be akin to a tax cut. There is just one caveat. The working assumption is that the recent sharp fall in the oil prices is caused by concerns about a slowing US economy; if it is really due to a sharp slowdown in emerging markets as well, equity markets will really have cause to worry.

Readers’ comments

The Economist welcomes your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful of other readers. Review our comments policy.

 

Welcome back to Earth !

BRL, you better find a parachute for you…

Deflation, your time has finally come, after 2.5 years of delay

We called it:
http://seekingalpha.com/article/285619-the-debt-downgrade-and-the-summer…

We’re outperforming today as we did all of last week.

I remember in 2008 petroleum peaked in May for their highest price in history. The cause was never explained.

This price exceeded 2004 levels when the Gulf refineries were smashed by a series of Hurricanes notable Katrina and Rita. The prices exceeded the outbreaks of Gulf War 1 and 2 with Iraq and even the 9/11 attacks. The price of oil exceeded Supertankers being attacked by terrorist teams, Iran mining the critical choke point of the Strait of Hormuz where 40% of World travels, Putin’s energy cut offs, or raging piracy off the Somalian coasts.

I want to propose an actor and a plot. Follow the Money. Who has the Wealth and Power and the Means and Motive? The world’s largest exporter of oil is Saudi Arabia.

And in 2008 they saw an opportunity to influence the election of the most powerful office in the world. The Saudis grew tired of Bush and the Republicans. And the Republican Presidential Candidate McCain seem to want to open up a third war front on Iran. The other candidate was named Hussein and may prove to be a tribal brother.

And when your only tool is a hammer, every thing looks like a nail. By reducing oil imports by 5%, the Saudis can affect oil prices world wide instantly and to astonishing effect. The Saudis used their control over oil supply to jigger a shortage, which lead to price spikes 6 months before the election and precipitated the American Great Recession of 2008. John McCain argued their was no recession under Republican leadership and was soundly trounced in the election.

But this Recession snowballed into the Nov 2008 banking crisis, Lehman Bros downfall, the mortgage crisis, AIG insurance crisis, Automaker bankruptcy and the unemployment morass. All because of oil spikes.

An incumbent President’s greatest opponent is the state of the economy in an election year. And the Saudis are again using their hammer this time to LOWER the price of oil to brighten the American economy and re-elect President Obama. We are puppets on a string.

Unfortunately, the law of unintended consequence, the Recession they brought on in 2008 is still around and may be into a double dip. The Saudis are at it again doing their best to suppress the price of oil to promote a recovery.

Surprise, Money is Power! And Economic issues can influence Politics. Strange things happen in election years. Yes, even foreign actors can also pull some stringshmTzic3YT/

Your assertion that the Saudis influenced oil price to rout the Republicans in American presidential election is clever, but simply UNTRUE. The Saudis, or more accurately King Abdullah and the House of Saud, most likely WANTED warmongering hawks in the White House again, so that the US could wipe Iran and its nuclear programmes off the map. Wikileaks showed that King Abdullah, while posturing as an Islamic patriot who wanted the US to moderate its Mideast policies, privately encouraged GWB to attack Iran. This explains the confusion and the disorderliness with which the Saudi diplomatic corps to Washington D.C. have been conducting themselves vis-a-vis the Iranian issue.

And in this day and age, it is unwise to assume that the power to set the price of oil is centralized in Riyadh, Caracas or whatever. Thousands of traders tinker with the price of crude, and other governments can simply flood the market with their strategic oil reserves to drive the price down.

On this blog we publish a new chart or map every working day, highlight our interactive-data features and provide links to interesting sources of data around the we

 

Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty? No…it’s Neither!

By Dave Robison

The crowd cheers, “Half-full, half-full!” Buzzer rings…nope, the answer is neither.

Why are so many people saying the glass is half-full? There are people saying half-empty as well. Those Debbie Downers (the half-empty glass people) might say something like this: “Ohhhh, the market, it’s awful. It’s killed our business.” Those saying their glass is half-full might say something like this: “At least I can feed my family and I’m still in the business.”

But the answer is still neither.

In the glass there are two components…the water that everyone readily sees and is anxious to claim as blessings in life. And there’s a second part, which is the unseen part in that glass — oxygen.

We need both oxygen and water to live. Everyone readily looks at the water as being blessings in their life. The oxygen represents the trials. We need blessings and trials in order to grow personally. The person who will come out on top in today’s market is the person that yells out, “MY GLASS IS FULL.” This person understands that today’s market brings them opportunity. They also understand that, although painful at times, if they focus and work hard, they will grow stronger. These people will welcome the challenge and focus on accomplishing something great.

The real estate community is changing in our local markets. Top producers of yesterday are gone. There is a breeding ground, ripe, waiting to harvest new leaders. Before you realize what happened, those who yell, “MY GLASS IS FULL,” are going to be the leaders of tomorrow.

What is your glass?

Dave Robison, known as “Utah Dave,” is a broker of Robison & Company Real Estate.

Loan-Limit Deadline Looms

Practitioners are speaking out against proposals in Congress that could potentially devastate sales.

 

July 2011 | By Robert Freedman

 

 

 

 

Vacaville, Calif., is a middle-class outpost on the outskirts of pricey San Francisco and nearby East Bay communities like Walnut Creek. In some parts of the city, homes sell for about $300,000, says local practitioner Jeannette Way, CRS, of Gateway Realty. The vast majority of buyers—up to 90 percent, Way estimates—rely on financing backed by the Federal Housing Administration because the conventional lending market simply isn’t there.But now even FHA lending is at risk because of a proposal floating in the U.S. House of Representatives to change the formula with which loan limits are calculated. It would reset the maximum loan values and could remove the “floor” that keeps FHA limits from dropping to unrealistically low levels—in the case of Vacaville, limits could fall to about $170,000.

“You might as well just wipe the industry away,” says Way, CRS, who also serves as 2011 chair of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ Federal Housing Policy Committee. “It just won’t be there anymore.”

Lawmakers are deep into talks about changing limits not just for FHA loans but also for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s conventional conforming loans. Talks are happening now because the current limits expire on Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year.

NAR estimates that reverting to the lower FHA limits on Oct. 1 will impact 612 counties in 40 states and the District of Columbia, with an average loan limit reduction of more than $50,000.

Concern in Moderate Markets, Too

In Plymouth, Mich., not far from Detroit, the area would take a hit similar to what’s expected in Vacaville. “The housing market here would come to a standstill and I’d have to find a new job,” says Claire Williams, ABR, GRI, a practitioner with Remerica Hometown One and 2011 vice chair of the Federal Housing Policy Committee.

In parts of Wayne County, homes cost around $200,000, Williams says. But if the proposal circulating in the House becomes law, the maximum FHA loan amount throughout the county, which includes Detroit, would drop to less than $66,000.

NAR President Ron Phipps has made clear that Realtors® would fight such a drastic drop. “Our housing recovery remains fragile at best,” he said in testimony before the House Financial Services housing subcommittee in May. “Changing the loan limits at this critical time will only restrain liquidity and hamper the recovery.”

Since 2008, the floor has been $271,050 for FHA loans and $417,000 for the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie and Freddie. For expensive areas like San Francisco, loans can go up to $729,750 under the FHA and the GSEs.

It’s the FHA floor of $271,050 that would go away under the House proposal. Loans would be limited to 125 percent of the area median home price, so if the median home price is $175,000, the highest loan the FHA would guarantee would be $218,750. But it gets more complicated than that, because the floor would be calculated based on county rather than metropolitan statistical area.

“Counties across the country would see their loan limits reduced by tens of thousands of dollars,” says Barry Rutenberg, a home builder from Gainesville, Fla., who testified at the same House housing subcommittee hearing as President Phipps.

A Push to Keep Limits As Is

NAR has been fighting for months to retain the existing $417,000 loan limit for Fannie and Freddie loans and the $271,050 limit for FHA loans, along with the higher limits for expensive areas. These limits were enacted two years ago, and were critical in helping to stem the home sales crisis, lawmakers have said. NAR and other groups have rallied around bipartisan legislation written by Reps. Brad Sherman (R-Calif.) and Gary Miller (D-Calif.) to make these limits permanent.

Despite bipartisan support for maintaining stable loan limits, keeping limits where they are will be an uphill battle because of the country’s pressing budget concerns, NAR analysts say. To allay those concerns, industry analysts and academics have made clear that higher limits by themselves don’t cost the government more money than lower limits. In fact, higher loan sizes have actually helped the FHA insurance fund because on a historical basis they’ve performed better than lower-balance loans, according to an internal 2009 FHA audit.

The Cost of Non-Action

If lawmakers fail to act on the Sherman-Miller legislation, and if they don’t pass the House proposal to lower the limits and remove the FHA floor, loan limits for both the FHA and the GSEs would revert to levels that were set in emergency legislation enacted during the financial crisis.

Under those levels, FHA and GSE limits would drop from 125 percent to 115 percent of the area median home price, although limits couldn’t go below the current floors: $417,000 for Fannie- or Freddie-backed loans and $271,050 for the FHA-backed loans. Limits in expensive areas would drop to $625,500 for the FHA and Fannie and Freddie alike.

That’s clearly far better than the House proposal, but NAR will continue to urge lawmakers to support the Sherman-Miller bill. “If Congress does nothing and loan limits revert to the levels in the emergency bill, that’s a far better outcome than other scenarios, including if the FHA floor is removed,” says Way, “especially given the pressure Congress is under to address the federal deficit. But it will still hurt. At least 40 states will see their limits drop, and thousands of households won’t be able to buy. We have to keep fighting to keep loan limits where they are.”

Mortgage Rates Hit Record Lows Amid Signs of Weakening Economy

MCLEAN, Va., Aug. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Freddie Mac (OTC: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing mortgage rates dropping sharply amid falling bond yields and signs of a weaker than expected economy. The 30-year fixed averaged 4.39 percent, its lowest level for 2011. The 15-year fixed and 5-year ARM set new historical record lows averaging 3.54 percent and 3.18 percent, respectively.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.39 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending August 4, 2011, down from last week when it averaged 4.55 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.49 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.54 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it also averaged 3.66 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.95 percent.
  • 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 3.02 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.95 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 3.55 percent.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following links for Regional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions.

Quotes

Attributed to Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac.

  • “Treasury bond yields fell markedly after signs the economy was weaker than what markets had previously thought allowing fixed mortgage rates to follow this week with the 15-year fixed and 5-year ARM setting new historical lows. The economy grew 1.3 percent in the second quarter, which was below the market consensus forecast, and first quarter growth was cut to less than a quarter of what was originally reported. In fact, the first half of this year was the worst six-month period since the economic recovery began in June 2009. Moreover, consumer spending fell 0.2 percent in June, representing the first decline since September 2009.
  • “On a positive note, there were indications that the housing market is firming. Real residential fixed investments added growth to the economy in the second quarter after subtracting from growth over the first three months of the year. The CoreLogic® National House Price Index rose for the third straight month in June (not seasonally adjusted) and was the first three-month gain since June 2010. Finally, pending existing home sales rose for a second consecutive month in June and was up nearly 20 percent from June 2010 when the housing tax credits expired.”

Get the latest information from Freddie Mac’s Office of the Chief Economist on Twitter: @FreddieMac

Freddie Mac was established by Congress in 1970 to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the nation’s residential mortgage markets. Freddie Mac supports communities across the nation by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Over the years, Freddie Mac has made home possible for one in six homebuyers and more than five million renters.

SOURCE Freddie Mac

Mortgage Applications Jump 7%

Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, August 03, 2011

 

 

Mortgage applications were on the move up last week, with loan application volume soaring 7.1 percent last week over the previous week, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports.The refinance index rose 7.8 percent while the purchase index — the gauge for home loan requests — increased 5.1 percent.

“Treasury rates plummeted more than 20 basis points last week as all eyes were focused on the debt ceiling negotiations in Washington, and economic data depicted much slower than anticipated economic growth,” said Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics. “Mortgage rates fell, with the rate on 15-year mortgages reaching a new low in our survey. Refinance application volume increased, but even though 30-year mortgage rates are back below 4.5 percent, the refinance index is still almost 30 percent below last year’s level.”

Source: “Mortgage Applications Rise 7.1%,” HousingWire (Aug. 3, 2011)

Read more:
Lenders Can Do More to Spur Growth

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