Industry News & Trends

NEWS RELEASES:

DECEMBER 31, 2017 - MURRET BEGINS TERM, INCREASED MORTGAGE RATES

James L. Murrett, MIA, SRA of Hamburg, New York will begin his one-year term as president of the Appraisal Institute (AI) on Jan. 1. “I’m excited to help guide appraisers and the valuation profession on the path to future success,” Murrett said. “We’re faced with both challenges and opportunities, and the Appraisal Institute is uniquely positioned to maintain and enhance its leadership role.” A new AI book … Subdivision Valuation, by Don M. Emerson, Jr. … will address subdivision valuation practices. It will provide a comprehensive overview of the methodology used in valuing existing and proposed single-unit residential subdivisions. FHA to Halt Insuring Mortgages on Homes with Pace Asses

FHA to Halt Insuring Mortgages on Homes with Pace Assessments
After hitting a peak in March, the rate of monthly home price appreciation has fallen each month since. The annual gain stabilized at 6.2 percent beginning in July and seems to be holding.

FHFA Index Shows Mortgage Rates Increased in November
The effective interest rate on all mortgage loans was 4.06 percent in November, up 5 basis points from 4.01 in October. The effective interest rate accounts for the addition of initial fees and charges over the life of the mortgage. The average loan amount for all loans was $307,800 in November, up $300 from $307,500 in October.

  • The National Average Contract Mortgage Rate for the Purchase of Previously Occupied Homes by Combined Lenders Index was 4.05 percent for loans closed in late November, up 7 basis points from 3.98 percent in October.
  • The average interest rate on all mortgage loans was 4.03 percent, up 6 basis points from 3.97 in October.
  • The average interest rate on conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages of $424,100 or less was 4.17 percent, up 6 basis points from 4.11 in October.
  • The effective interest rate on all mortgage loans was 4.06 percent in November, up 5 basis points from 4.01 in October. The effective interest rate accounts for the addition of initial fees and charges over the life of the mortgage.
  • The average loan amount for all loans was $307,800 in November, up $300 from $307,500 in October.

Home Sales Flatten in November

Sales of existing and newly built homes slowed during the summer but increased dramatically in October and November, surprising experts who point to a low supply of homes for sale as a drag on the market.

“The housing market is closing the year on a stronger note than earlier this summer, backed by solid job creation and an economy that has kicked into a higher gear,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR.


OCTOBER 31, 2017 - HOMEOWNERSHIP RATES RISE TO HIGHEST LEVEL SINCE 2014

The national homeownership rate continued its slow trek back above last year’s historic lows in the third quarter, rising to levels not seen since 2014.

The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, released this week, shows that the homeownership rate rose to 63.9% in the third quarter from 63.7% in the second quarter. In last year’s third quarter, the homeownership rate was 63.5%.

Case-Shiller Home Price Index Rises 5.9%, Beating Expectations

The U.S. National Home Price Index rose 5.9 percent from a year ago, beating estimates of economists as polled by Reuters. Seattle, Portland and Las Vegas reported the highest year-over-year gains.

High Home Prices May Be Hitting Their Limit
After hitting a peak in March, the rate of monthly home price appreciation has fallen each month since. The annual gain stabilized at 6.2 percent beginning in July and seems to be holding.

Pending Home Sales Drop to Lowest in Nearly 3 Years

  • The Pending Home Sales Index was flat in September, according to the National Association of Realtors.
  • August's reading was revised down, putting the index at its lowest level since January 2015.
  • Realtors blamed falling supply for the lackluster showing in September.

Weekly Mortgage Applications Fall 4.6% as Rates Rise

  • Total mortgage application volume fell 4.6 percent from the previous week.
  • The average loan amount on purchase applications increased to $317,000, the highest since May.
  • Mortgage applications to refinance a home loan fell 3 percent for the week.


SEPTEMBER 30, 2017 - THIRTY-YEAR FIXED MORTGAGE RATE RISES TO 3.83 PERCENT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term mortgage rates rose this week, lifting the 30-year fixed mortgage from the lowest levels of 2017. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.83 percent, up from 3.78 percent last week and above last year’s average of 3.65 percent. The 15-year fixed rate, popular with homeowners who are refinancing their mortgages, rose to 3.13 percent from 3.08 percent last week. Rates on long-term home loans typically track the yield on 10-year Treasury notes, which moved higher this week. Rates on adjustable five-year mortgages rose to 3.17 percent from 3.13 percent last week. To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount. The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged at 0.5 point. The fee on 15-year home loans also remained at 0.5 point. The fee on an adjustable five-year mortgage was unchanged at 0.4 point.

Fed announces a start to modestly reducing its bond holdings
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is announcing that it will begin shrinking the enormous portfolio of bonds it amassed after the 2008 financial crisis to try to sustain a frail economy. The move reflects a strengthened economy and could mean higher rates on mortgages and other loans over time.

Yellen stays quiet on wanting 2nd term
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is staying mum about whether she wants a second term as the head of the U.S. central bank. Yellen says she intends to serve out her four-year term. That term ends Feb. 3, 2018. Yellen declined to say at a news conference whether she would like to serve a second term.

US home sales off 1.7 pct., hurt by Harvey and low supply
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home sales fell 1.7 percent in August, pulled down by the effects of Hurricane Harvey and a worsening shortage of available properties. The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes sank last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index inched up 1.59 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,508.24. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 41.79 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,412.59. The modest gains nudged both indexes to record highs, extending a run of milestones that stretches back to last week. The Nasdaq composite lost 5.28 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,456.04. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 5.02 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,445.42. Benchmark U.S. crude added 93 cents, or 1.9 percent, to settle at $50.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $1.15, or 2.1 percent, to $56.29 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.66 a gallon. Heating oil added 3 cents to $1.81 a gallon. Natural gas declined 3 cents to $3.09 per 1,000 cubic feet.

JULY 31, 2017 - HOMEBUILDER CONFIDENCE FALLS

Homebuilder Confidence Falls
A monthly index of homebuilder confidence in the single-family market fell 2 points in July. This is the lowest reading on the National Association of Home Builders/Well Fargo Housing Market Index since November 2016. “Our members are telling us they are growing increasingly concerned over rising material prices, particularly lumber,” NAHB chairman Granger MacDonald says.

Proposal to Raise Threshold for Commercial Real Estate Appraisals
The Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC and the Comptroller of the Currency in July issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to increase to $400,000 the threshold for commercial real estate transactions requiring an appraisal.

From CNBC Real Estate:

  • Sale prices of luxury homes in the second quarter of this year were up 7.5 percent from a year ago, the first time luxury gains have outpaced the rest of the market since 2014.
  • The real reason for the luxury recovery may be a shift in the mind of sellers: They were asking too much, and now that they're asking less, there is more action in the market.
  • Luxury home sales have been rising steadily, causing the supply of those homes for sale to drop.
  • While buyers in June were still requesting tours at the same rate as May, 11 percent fewer were putting pen to paper on an offer.
  • Mortgage applications to purchase a home have fallen for three out of the past four weeks.
  • While mortgage rates have remained low, the expectation is that they will move higher toward the end of this year, which could sideline even more would-be buyers.
  • Total mortgage application volume fell 2.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
  • Mortgage applications to refinance a home loan fell 4 percent for the week, seasonally adjusted, and were 41 percent lower than the same week one year ago.
  • Mortgage applications to purchase a home, which are far less sensitive to weekly rate moves, fell 2 percent for the week.

Controversial Law Set for Repeal A controversial Louisiana law that governed how much appraisal management companies pay real estate appraisers for their work is now set to be repealed after the state’s governor took action in response to the Federal Trade Commission accusing the state of Price-fixing.



JUNE 30, 2017 - THE MEDIUM FICO SCORE FOR ORIGINATIONS PLUMMETED IN APRIL ACCORDING TO THE URBAN INSTITUTE:

The medium FICO score for originations plummeted in April according to the Urban Institute. FICO scores for agency originations dropped a full 17 points from 742 in June 2016 to 725 in April.

The majority of the drop came from refinance originations, which fell 27 points from 752 in October last year to April’s 725. Comparatively, purchase FICOs dropped by four points during that same period from 729 to 725.

Urban Institute suggests that as mortgage interest rates rise and refinance volumes fall, lenders began accepting borrowers with lower FICO scores in order to increase the margin of financeable borrowers.

Inventory Woes Force Faster Buying Pace
According to Trulia, more home buyers are making an offer before actually seeing the house.

Housing inventory dropped for nine consecutive quarters (see Housing Starts Take A Nosedive), and is currently down a full 20% from Inventory levels of five years ago.

Now, homeowners are snatching up homes at the fastest pace since Trulia began tracking in 2012. While 57 percent of homes were still on the market after two months in 2012, today that number has shrunk to 47 percent.

Competition is so fierce, that 33 percent of American’s who bought a home in the last year made an offer without even seeing the home in person according to a survey from Redfin, an online real estate brokerage.

Home Purchase Sentiment Index Drops
The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index decreased slightly as consumers express diverging opinions on home buying and selling.

The share of Americans who said now is a good time to buy a home dropped to a record low of 27% after falling eight percentage points in May. And, the share of those who reported now is a good time to sell reached a record high, increasing six percentage points to 32 percent.

This is only the second time in the Survey’s history that the net share of those saying it’s a good time to sell surpassed those saying it’s a good time to buy.



MAY 31, 2017 - THIS WEEK PER WASHINGTON AP NEWS REPORTS:

Long-term U.S. mortgage rates were flat to slightly lower this week, as the key 30-year rate marked a new low for the year. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate home loans slipped to 3.94 percent from 3.95 percent last week. The rate stood at 3.66 percent a year ago and averaged 3.65 percent in 2016. The lowest level in records dating to 1971. The rate on 15-year mortgages held steady at 3.19 percent.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged at 0.5 point. The fee on 15-year loans also held steady at 0.5 point. Rates on adjustable five-year loans rose to 3.11 percent from 3.07 percent. The fee increased to 0.5 point from 0.4 point.

APRIL 30, 2017 - SUPREME COURTS RULES CITIES CAN SUE BANKS:

The Supreme Court recently handed down a landmark ruling stating that cities can sue banks for discriminatory mortgage lending practices. In a 5-3 ruling, the Supreme Court rules cities hold the right to sue banks over the banks’ lending practices, if an alleged violation of the Fair Housing Act is Claimed.

The ruling is a result of a lawsuit brought by the City of Miami, which sued Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup claiming the banks engaged in predatory lending to minority borrowers in the city.

Residential Construction Spending Continues to Rise:
Construction Spending dipped slightly in March, although privately funded spending held its ground and residential construction activity was at a higher pace than in February. The U.S. Census Bureau said that construction of all types was put in place at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.22 trillion in March, down 0.2 percent from February but 3.6 percent higher than the estimate of $1.8 trillion in March 2016.

Rates Tick Down in March:
Following four consecutive monthly increases, results from the Mortgage Interest Rate Survey (MIRS) released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FIFA) indicate that mortgage rates fell in March. Over the month, contact rates on mortgages used tp purchase single-family newly constructed homes declined by 6 basis points to 4.12 percent. Despite the decline, rates remain above the low of 3.54 percent in October 2016, however, even at this level rates remain historically low.

MARCH 31, 2017 - UPCOMING REFORMS

Our December Newsletter, explored the differences between urban and rural mortgage lending. In February, the Appraisal Institute released a new textbook to fill “a void in the current literature of rural property appraisal.”

Rural Property Valuation is the first new textbook by the Appraisal Institute in 16 years and is devoted to the topic of rural property appraisals. The book provides up-to-date information on the many forces that affect agricultural and ranch properties and offers specific data and analytical tools appraisers can use in their daily work.

“Understanding the uses, characteristics and value of rural land can be challenging for those who work the land and for the real estate professionals who value it,” Appraisal Institute 2016 President Scott Robinson wrote in the book’s forward. “While the need for agricultural products to feed, and clothe the population may be relatively stable, the demand for land for recreational and residential use continues to expand.”

This book is an invaluable tool for anyone interested in rural land appraisal.

In other Industry News:

Home flipping just reached a 10-year high, according to the 2016 Year-End U.S. Home Flipping Report by ATTOM Data Solutions.

The report shows that 193,009 single family homes and condos were flipped, or sold in an arms-length transfer for the second time in a 12-month period, in 2016. This is an increase from 2015 to the highest level since 2006.

And additionally:

The Mortgage Bankers Association projects commercial and multifamily mortgage originations to grow to $515 billion in 2017, an increase of 3 percent from $502 billion in 2016 estimated volumes.

Mortgage banker originations of multifamily mortgages, specifically, are forecast at $219 billion in 2017, with total multifamily lending at $267 billion.

“Nationally, commercial real estate fundamentals and prices remain strong, “said MBA Vice President of Commercial Real Estate Research Jamie Woodwell. “That overall strength is expected to continue to support active sales and mortgage markets.”



FEBRUARY 28, 2017 - UPCOMING REFORMS

Executive Order:
On February 24, President Trump signed an executive order in support of his promise to significantly cut government regulations. The order directs federal agencies to create “regulatory reform” task forces to evaluate existing federal rules and to recommend whether to keep, repeal, or change them according to CNCB’s Jacob Pramuk. In keeping with past executive orders, Trump signed the latest order on a Friday afternoon surrounded by business executives in the White House.

GSE Reform Update:
U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says housing reform is still on his agenda reaffirming his desire to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“I’m, committed that under this administration we’re going to have housing reform so that we don’t just leave these entities the way they are,” Mnuchin said. “They’ve been sitting there for too long of a period of time and we need a solution.”

He went on to say than when saying that change is on the horizon, that it may not come as soon as some would hope. He further stated that tax reform is much higher on the agenda, but that GSE reform remains a high priority.

New Home Sales Slow in January:
According to Bloomberg News, new home sales in January were slower than forecast. This may indicate that an increase in mortgage rates is giving some potential buyers pause.

Mortgage rates picked up since early November spurred on by speculation that the economy will strengthen and Federal Reserve policy makers will keep raising interest rate in 2017.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was at 4.16% in the week ended Feb. 23, according to Freddie Mac figures. That’s up 3.54%.

Housing Prices Rise in Fourth Quarter:
According to the latest FHFA HPI releases, U.S. house prices rose 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016. This is a 6.4 percent over the same quarter in 2015 and up .04 percent in December from November.

House prices rose in 46 of the 50 states with Oregon, Colorado, Florida, Washington, and Nevada leading the way.



JANUARY 31, 2017 - HUD Announces Additional Funds

As an update to our October Newsletter story about the devastation wrought by Hurricane Matthew, former HUD Secretary Castro announced in December additional funds to the weather-weary region – Louisiana, West Virginia, Texas, North Carolina, South Caroline and Florida – to aid recover efforts.

This spending measure, which was signed into law in early December, allocates $1.8 billion “in the most impacted and distressed areas.” These grants are in addition to the $500 million allocated in October and are not subject to the new administration’s “freeze” on new programs.

Also earlier this month, HUD and the U.S. Census released the results of the 2015 American Housing Survey focusing on 25 metropolitan areas across the country. The data includes detailed information on everything from monthly housing costs, hunger, and neighborhood characteristics including crime and the prevalence of rodents and cockroaches.

The survey is the most comprehensive of its kind and covers a variety of “core” housing topics and neighborhood conditions. And for the first time in its 42-year history includes questions on food security status. The report can be viewed at: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/ahs/

And finally, in Hud news Dr. Ben Carson has been confirmed as the next HUD Secretary replacing Julian Castro.

In other industry news:

The latest FHFA index shows that mortgage rates increased in December. According to FHFA, interest rates on conventional purchase-money mortgages increased from November to December. Highlights of the index show:

  • The National Average Contract Mortgage Rate for the Purchase of Previously Occupied Homes by Combined Lenders Index was 4.00 percent for loans closed in late December, up 34 basis points from 3.66 percent in November.
  • The average interest rate on all mortgage loans was 3.91 percent, up 27 basis points from 3.64 in November.
  • The average interest rate on conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages of $417,000 or less was 4.08 percent, up 28 basis points from 3.80 in November.
  • The effective interest rate on all mortgage loans was 3.99 percent in December, up 22 basis points from 3.77 in November. The effective interest rate accounts for the addition of initial fees and charges over the life of the mortgage.
  • The average loan amount for all loans was $319,100 in December, up $4,400 from $314,700 in November.

FHFA will release January index values Tuesday, February 28, 2017.



NOVEMBER 23, 2016 - FHA Clarifies Appliance Inspection Rules

Often, properties bought or refinanced with an FHA loan require a more stringent review by the appraiser than similar conventional loan products. With conventional loan products, the appraiser is responsible for determining the fair market value of the home. With an FHA-insured loan, the appraiser not only determines the fair market value but also inspects the home to ensure it meets certain minimum property standards.

When the Federal Housing Administration’s Office of Single Family Housing issued its latest overhaul to the Single Family Housing Policy Handbook (SF Handbook) last year, many in the appraisal community were concerned that its requirements to operate and physically observe appliances as part of the valuation process blurred the lines between the appraiser’s responsibility and the responsibility of home inspectors.

“Appraisers have a lot on their plate, and their work is important to ensuring buyers, sellers, lenders and everyone else involved in a transaction has a credible source to turn to when determining the value of a property,” said National Association of Realtors President Tom Salomone. “Requiring appraisers to perform duties that are better left to a home inspector only slows the process while potentially adding unnecessary costs.”

To address these concerns, the FHA recently released updates (September 30, 2016) to their SF Handbook that clarify this requirement. Accordingly, the update states that appraisers must note that certain appliances that contribute to the market value of the property are physically present. The update does not change what the appraiser is being asked to do, it simply describes what the appraiser must do as part of the process. The handbook now states specifically an appliance includes:

  • Refrigerators
  • Ranges/ovens
  • Dishwashers
  • Disposals
  • Microwaves
  • Washers/dryers

The definition of “appliance”’ was previously unclear leading many appraisers to include spas, trash compactors, sound systems, security systems, garage door openers, etc. in their reports. The update also clarifies “when” appliances are required to be operational stating “[a]ppliances that are to remain and that contribute to the market value opinion must be operational.”

If an appliance is not included in the sale of the property, it is not required to be operational. In addition, if the appliance is not included in the appraiser’s market value it too is not required to be operational. The bottom line is if an appliance is not real property, then the appraiser is not required to operate it.

In response, Salonone further states that the “FHA did appraisers and consumers a big favor by clarifying appraiser duties and specifically listing the appliances to which this new guidance applies.”



OCTOBER 20, 2016 - FHFA Announces a New Refinance Offering

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced in August that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) will implement a new streamlined refinance offering for borrowers with high loan-to-value (LTV) ratios. The program will provide much-needed liquidity to borrowers who are current on their mortgage but exceed maximum LTV limits through traditional refinance programs.

“Providing a sustainable refinance opportunity for high LTV borrowers who have demonstrated responsibility by remaining current on their mortgage makes financial sense both for borrowers and for the Enterprises, “said FHFA director Melvin l. Watt.” This new offering will give borrowers the opportunity to refinance when rates are low, making their mortgages more affordable and thus reducing credit risk exposure for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

To qualify for the new offering, borrowers:

  • must not have missed any mortgage payments within the previous six months;
  • must not have missed more than one payment in the previous 12 months;
  • must have a source of income,
  • and, must receive a benefit from the refinance such as a reduction in their monthly mortgage payment.

The new offering has many similarities to the HARP program. In both offerings there is no minimum credit score and no maximum debt-to-income ratio or LTV. But unlike HARP there are no eligibility cut-off dates. Borrowers will also be able to refinance their mortgage more than one time.

The new offering will not be available to borrowers until October of 2017. To avoid leaving eligible borrowers without refinance offerings, the FHFA is extending the HARP program through September 30, 2017. HARP was originally scheduled to end on December 31, 2016.

AUGUST 14, 2016 - U.S. House Prices Rise 1.2 Percent in Second Quarter; Some Signs of Deceleration

Significant Findings

  • Home prices rose in every state except Vermont between the second quarter of 2015 and the second quarter of 2016. The top five states in annual appreciation were: 1) Oregon 11.7 percent; 2) Washington 10.3 percent; 3) Colorado 10.2 percent; 4) Florida 10.0 percent; and 5) Nevada 9.6 percent.
  • Among the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., annual price increases were greatest in North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL, where prices increased by 15.7 percent. Prices were weakest in Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT, where they fell 3.3 percent.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the Mountain division experienced the strongest increase in the second quarter, posting a 1.9 percent quarterly increase and an 8.1 percent increase since the second quarter of last year. House price appreciation was weakest in the Middle Atlantic division, where prices rose 0.6 percent from the last quarter.