July 20, 2021

NAHB: Supply Problems Continue to Worry Builders

Buyer demand remains strong, but builders can’t deliver homes until supply-side challenges subside, pushing NAHB’s builder attitude index one point lower this month.

WASHINGTON – Strong buyer demand helped offset supply-side challenges in the new-home industry this month, pushing the monthly index – the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) – one point lower in July to 80.

“Builders continue to grapple with elevated building material prices and supply shortages, particularly the price of oriented strand board, which has skyrocketed more than 500% above its January 2020 level,” says NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke, a custom home builder from Tampa. “We are grateful that the White House heeded our urgent plea to hold a building materials meeting with interested stakeholders on July 16 to seek solutions to end production bottlenecks that have harmed housing affordability.”

“Builders are contending with shortages of building materials, buildable lots and skilled labor as well as a challenging regulatory environment,” adds NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “This is putting upward pressure on home prices and sidelining many prospective homebuyers even as demand remains strong in a low-inventory environment.”

The three major HMI indices were mixed in June. The HMI index gauging current sales conditions fell one point to 86, the component measuring traffic of prospective buyers dropped six points to 65, and the gauge charting sales expectations in the next six months posted a two-point gain to 81.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast fell four points to 75, the Midwest moved one-point lower to 71 and the West posted a two-point decline to 87. The South held steady at 85.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 35 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

Posted in National News
July 19, 2021

Buyers’ Pressure Cooker Eases a Bit as Bidding Wars Drop

A survey of Redfin agents found a slow but steady drop in the percentage of listings engaged in a bidding war. In April, 74.1% of sellers entertained multiple bids; in May it dropped to 72.1%; and in June, it fell to 65%. But Sarasota tops the list of U.S. bidding-war cities at 87%.

SEATTLE – While the U.S. remains in a strong sellers’ market, the buyer competition seems to be easing a bit as home prices continue to rise.

In June, two out of three (65%) home offers written by Redfin agents faced competition, but that’s down from a revised rate of 72.1% in May and a pandemic peak of 74.1% in April. Still, the percentage of bidding wars in June was higher year-to-year. In June 2020 – the housing market’s early rebound after the first wave of pandemic shutdowns – the agents reported a 56.8% bidding-war rate.

While the study didn’t outline the reasons for a drop in buyer competition, buyer fatigue is likely one factor. Some house hunters have moved to the sidelines after losing bidding war after bidding war. An improving supply situation may also be making a difference, with new listings up 4% year over year. With more properties to bid on, the competition for any one property may have dropped a bit.

“The first half of this year was red hot – it was almost impossible to get an offer accepted. But recently, we’ve started to see buyers get cold feet,” says Laura Sechrist Molenda, a Southern California Redfin agent. “Two of my buyers just had their offers accepted because the sellers’ first buyers backed out. The market is still competitive, but buyers are more trepidatious than they were at the start of 2021, and less willing to pull out every stop in order to win.”

Redfin agents report that more buyers are starting to keep contingencies – a sign that competition is beginning to abate.

Sarasota and Charleston have highest bidding-war rates

Of the 52 U.S. metropolitan areas in the analysis, Sarasota, Florida, had the highest bidding-war rate – 87% of offers in June. Next came Charleston, South Carolina (82.9%); Reno, Nevada (80%); Charlotte, North Carolina (78.9%); and Kansas City, Missouri (78.6%).

“It’s still really competitive when there’s a lower-priced home in a very-sought after area,” says Seattle agent Kristi Miller. “But bidding wars are starting to slow for mid- and higher-priced homes.”

Metros must have had at least 20 offers recorded by Redfin agents in both June 2021 and May 2021 to be included in the analysis.

Florida metro areas by percentage of bidding wars

  • Sarasota: 87.0% in June 2021; 70.0% in June 2020
  • Orlando: 66.2% in June 2021; 68.1% in June 2020
  • Jacksonville: 63.6% in June 2021; 52.9% in June 2020
  • Tampa: 56.3% in June 2021; 68.2% in June 2020
  • Miami: 49.4% in June 2021; 59.4% in June 2020
July 19, 2021

Retirees Can Use a Reverse Mortgage to Buy a Home

An “HECM for Purchase Loan” allows adults age 62+ to buy with a larger-than-usual down payment, often with transferred equity, and skip future home payments.

WASHINGTON – While most reverse mortgages allows adults age 62 and over to stay in their current home and forego future mortgage payments, one type of loan can be used to purchase property.

Retirees often use an “HECM for Purchase Loan” when they want their next home to be bigger than one they just sold, though it can be used for any size. The rules can be complicated, and anyone considering a reverse mortgage should understand the benefits and their obligations. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offers more information on its website.

For the HECM for Purchase Loan, buyers make a substantial down payment, usually somewhere in the 45% to 62% range. Once qualified for a reverse mortgage, they can then live in the new home without making monthly mortgage payments.

“This is incredibly important insight, especially when you consider more and more baby boomers are moving into bigger homes rather than downsizing,” says Rob Cooper, national sales leader at Reverse Mortgage Funding LLC. “There is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to recommending reverse mortgage for purchase financing because most people are not even aware of this option – or have not been well informed about it.”

Older adults considering any type of reverse mortgage should fully understand the benefits and penalties before committing. The FHA-insured program has a non-recourse feature, meaning the home is the only source of repayment, regardless of the loan balance at maturity. It must also be a primary residence and buyers must participate in loan counseling.

HECM loan details vary by transaction. Older adults interested in using an HECM for Purchase Loan should make sure they understand those details and even consider how unexpected events could impact the decision, such as surprise medical issues. Homeowners must also pay non-mortgage home expenses, such as property taxes and property insurance. Failing to do so could potentially lead to foreclosure.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®

July 16, 2021

Yes, Florida, People Are Listing Homes for Sale

Florida Realtors chief economist: More homes are being listed than you think. Despite record-low inventory levels, the reason for current buyer frustrations isn’t “fewer homes coming into the market.” It’s strong buyer demand – so strong that listings don’t stay active very long.

ORLANDO, Fla – When it comes to housing, there’s no denying that the U.S. is currently experiencing a seller’s market for the ages – but there’s some confusion about the underlying reason.

We’ve all heard the stories. Tearful would-be homebuyers being outbid at every turn. Their frustrated and exhausted agents turning the town upside-down, trying to find the next listing before it’s gone.

The struggle is real, and the data backs it up.

Here in Florida, there were only about 60,000 active listings of homes for resale as of the end of May. That’s a roughly 56% decline from the more than 135,000 homes on the market just one year ago, at the end of May 2020.

It also happens to be the lowest level of inventory ever reported by Florida Realtors Research Department, whose statistical records extend back to January 2008. The department calculates monthly resale market statistics from data provided by Florida’s numerous multiple listing services.

This decline in resale inventory is not unique to Florida, either. Recent housing market commentary from nationally prominent real estate analysts and economists has zeroed in on the low inventory counts being reported all around the country – and rightly so.

Chart showing end-of-month inventory of active listings
Dr. Brad O'Connor


Unfortunately, though, this laser-like focus on inventory levels – along with all those vivid stories of buyer hardship – has given rise to a broadly held belief that significantly fewer homes are being listed today than before the pandemic.

As it turns out, that’s not really true.

Inventory is simply not a good measure of how many homes are being listed for sale. When it falls from one month to the next, it only means that fewer listings became active compared to the number that became inactive. A home going under contract affects inventory just as much as a home being listed for sale.

Most housing market commentators have been so busy telling you about our shockingly low inventory that they’ve forgotten to mention (or haven’t noticed) what’s going on with another key statistic: new listings of properties for sale.

Well, here’s what’s been happening with new listings. From January through May of this year, more than 246,000 existing homes were listed for resale in Florida.

That figure should raise some eyebrows. It is quite close to the roughly 250,000 and 248,000 properties that were listed during the same period in 2018 and 2019, respectively. And with the exception of those two years, it’s the largest total recorded for the first five months of any year dating back to at least 2008.

In truth, apart from a bad April last year (30% fewer new listings than in April 2019), the number of properties coming onto the market each month wasn’t substantially different during the pandemic than what it was pre-pandemic.

The count for July through December last year – over 263,000 – actually set a record for the second half of any year, coming in about 10,000 listings above 2018’s tally.

Chart showing monthly new listings


This trend has been visible for months now, not only in the statewide data, but also across local markets and different property types. And local data from markets elsewhere in the U.S. also reflect this trend, indicating it is happening nationally, not just here in Florida.

So why, then, is our inventory so low? Because all these homes being listed are selling – and selling fast. We’ve obviously had more closings so far this year than in the early months of last year due to the onset of the pandemic. But we’ve also had 28% more closings than during the equivalent period in 2019. Half of the sales that closed this May were only on the market for, at most, 12 days before going under contract. In May of 2020, that figure was 34 days. In May 2019, it was 44 days.

Chart showing monthly closed sales


At this current rate, a lot of homes being listed aren’t even showing up in the end-of-month inventory figures. They’re going under contract before they can be counted.

The bottom line: Our inventory has been eaten away by a huge influx of buyers motivated by record-low interest rates and a pandemic-driven desire for a change of residence – not a decline in new listings.

A useful analogy is to think about an empty shelf at the grocery store. That shelf might be empty because the store stopped getting shipments of the product that goes on the shelf. On the other hand, it could be empty because demand has dramatically increased for that product and the shelf is being picked clean as soon as it gets stocked.

The latter scenario is a better description of our housing market right now – and that’s the better scenario. If inventory were instead falling due to a lack of new listings, there would be nothing to sell. Sales over the past year would have been down in a very big way, not marching at the record pace they have been.

Now, are there constraints that are keeping the number of new listings from rising to meet this elevated level of demand? Absolutely. We want to have a lot more new listings than normal right now, and we’re not getting them. That’s why it’s still accurate to call this a housing shortage.

At least, though, we’ve been getting enough listings to accommodate a huge expansion in the number of sales. This expansion has put the housing market at the forefront of our economic recovery.

That’s something we can all take solace in, even if it is cold comfort for all of those prospective buyers waiting to pounce on the next listing that pops up.

Brad O’Connor, Ph.D. is the Chief Economist for Florida Realtors

July 15, 2021

CoreLogic: Mortgage Delinquency Rate at Lowest Level in a Year

More homeowners have started paying their mortgage: Only 4.9% were behind in April 2021. Early-stage delinquencies dropped to 1%, but serious delinquencies rose to 3.3%.

NEW YORK – Overall delinquency rates dropped annually for the first time since March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

According to the latest report from CoreLogic, 4.7% of mortgages in the United States were in some state of delinquency in April, down from 6.1% in April 2020. It’s the lowest overall delinquency rate observed in a year.

Early-stage delinquencies are down to 1% compared to 4.2% in April 2020, while foreclosure rates are unchanged at 0.3%.

However, the percentage of serious delinquencies rose to 3.3% from 1.2% in April 2020.

“Of all metros, Odessa and Midland, Texas, had the largest one-year jumps in serious delinquency rates, followed by Lake Charles, Louisiana, which was hit hard by Hurricanes Laura and Delta in 2020,” says Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic.

“The sharp rebound in the economy, as well as a potent combination of government fiscal and regulatory help, is fueling unprecedented demand for residential housing and enabling people to buy and stay in their homes,” adds Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic.  “The drop in delinquency rates is a further manifestation of the benefits of these tail winds.”

Unless something unexpected happens, Martell expects “rates to continue to fall and home prices rise over the next 12-to-18 months.”

Source: Inman (07/13/21) Bondarenko, Veronika

July 14, 2021

The Economics of Home Offers: Above or Below List Price?

Florida Realtors economist: In today’s market, prepare buyers to consider paying at least asking price – over half of successful Fla. transactions do. But it’s not a simple question, and the pressure varies by property type and asking price.

ORLANDO, Fla. – In May 2021, 55% of Florida buyers paid the seller’s asking price or higher in order to close the deal. That’s a higher probability than the flip of a coin! It’s good news for sellers and valuable information to help your buyers strategize what to offer.

Those in the single-family home market face the strongest competition. In March 2021, half of single-family homebuyers paid a price greater than or equal to the listing price, and in April, the number pushed higher to 57%. May’s figure moved higher still to 62%.

Searching for a $250,000-$300,000 single-family home? Seventy percent of these buyers shelled out at least the list price last month.

Sellers in the middle of the pricing spectrum seem to be in a sweet spot. Homes ranging from $150,000 to $600,000 have a high success of earning their asking price.

Conversely, buyers face a predicament of what offer will bear fruit.

Chart showing change in sellers getting the price they asked for

What about prices on the periphery? Historically, the upper end of the market tends to have more breathing room as demand is less robust compared to inventory available. But 2020 was unique, and post-initial-lockdown Florida had a surge of luxury buyers in the second half of the year. Closed single-family sales of $1 million or higher, generally considered luxury in most of the state, were up 51% in 2020 compared to 2019.

January and February 2021 had fewer $1 million-plus, single-family closed sales than December 2020 – but that’s a typical trend due to seasonality in the marketplace. Then in March, $1 million-plus closings hit a record-high (Florida Realtors statistics begin in 2008), only to be surpassed the following month. In May, closed sales of $1 million or more fell slightly compared to March and April yet reached significantly beyond historical norms.

As the pace of sales intensified, luxury sellers gained an upper hand. Four-in-ten (40%) homes sold in May 2021 for $1 million or more received at least their list price.

On the opposite end, single-family homes under $150,000 were also less likely to garner an offer at or above their list price than homes in the middle. Perhaps a bit unintuitive, the proportion of sales in May at or above list price for homes priced less than $100,000 was lower than that of $1 million+ closings.

Although the lower-end homes are at a more affordable price point, they’re likely older, smaller homes that could require extensive renovations. Investors and buyers may be less willing to budge on price or may hope for a discount, since they’ll need to account for after-purchase expenses.

Townhomes and condos have a similar sweet spot akin to single-family homes. Those that sold between $150,000 and $600,000 had the highest rate of selling at or above their list price. The peak is lower: 51% of townhomes and condos between $250,000-$300,000 met this signpost in May 2021 compared to 70% of single-family homes.

Buyers searching for a manufactured or mobile home also need to consider their competition. The market is more compact, and in 2021, roughly 80% of manufactured/mobile homes sold between $50,000-$200,000. In this price range, 37% obtained a price equal to or above the seller’s asking.

For non-single-family homebuyers, exceeding or offering the list price could help them stand out, as these offers aren’t as commonplace.

Of course, offering above the asking price is just one tactic to win the home. Other buyer options include offering all cash, eliminating contingencies such as requiring the sale of a prior home or waiving inspections, or letting the seller dictate a closing that works for them.

Closed sales at or exceeding list price increased since the start of the year and may continue to climb as the spring and summer buying seasons heat up. Whether you engage with buyers, sellers, or both, information on successful closings will benefit your conversations about pricing.

Erica Plemmons is an economist and Florida Realtors Director of Housing Statistics

July 13, 2021

What Happens After the Foreclosure Ban Ends on July 31?

Some foreclosures were postponed due the pandemic, but for some homeowners, COVID-19 forced them into foreclosure. In either case, a courthouse backlog is likely starting Aug. 1, though most at-risk homes will be listed for sale before any foreclosure can be finalized.

MIAMI – Time is running out for thousands of South Florida families who are facing foreclosure on their homes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For some, the nightmare started more than a year ago but was stalled by the willingness of government officials to prevent banks from forcing people out during an unprecedented public health crisis. The Trump administration and most states stopped foreclosure and eviction proceedings on federally backed loans back in April 2020, setting expiration dates for their protection that have repeatedly been extended as the COVID crisis continued.

For others, the pandemic kept the foreclosure process from legally beginning – the moratorium on foreclosures kept banks from initiating the lawsuits in the first place, giving homeowners time to catch up or work things out with their lenders.

Now the moratorium, which applies to federally backed, single-family homes, is set to expire at the end of this month. It was scheduled to expire June 30 before the Biden administration stepped in and extended it one last time.

Three federal agencies back mortgages: the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs and Agriculture. In addition, the Federal Housing Finance Agency oversees the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lending programs. All have implemented the final moratorium that expires July 31.

Some experts are warning about a deluge of pent-up foreclosure cases they believe will flood the courts and possibly depress the local real estate market.

“Courts are going to be swamped,” said Margery Golant, a Broward-based mortgage lawyer who’s been studying the trends. “I believe we’re looking at the probability of overwhelmed courthouses.”

Laura Wagner, executive director of Floridians For Honest Lending, agreed.

“Property values have gone up, and that gives banks a big incentive to file foreclosures,” said Wagner, whose Miami-based nonprofit pushes for laws to protect homeowners from shady lending practices like those exposed during the last foreclosure crisis 13 years ago. “What happens in an environment like that, the courts get inundated, which leads to pressure to clear those cases.”

In that environment, troubled homeowners can get lost in the process.

In the 2008 crisis that crippled the economy, the number of cases led to what became known as “rocket-dockets,” a tendency in courts to focus on clearing cases. Homeowners did not benefit, Wagner said, as it was easier to give banks what they wanted than to give homeowners what they needed.

Since then, reforms were passed to make sure predatory lending practices were barred and homeowner rights were protected. If a post-COVID crisis does materialize, the efficacy of those reforms will be put to the test.

In Broward County, 2,110 foreclosure cases are listed as pending. Those are cases where the banks have filed suit to take possession of the property. They are usually resolved by auction, short sale or, in cases where the owner can work out an arrangement with the lender, a loan modification. Rocket-dockets discourage arrangements that benefit the borrower, especially when home prices are up and banks can get more from new customers than old ones.

The pandemic moratorium stalled many pending cases as well: Palm Beach County saw 1,829 foreclosure homes sold at auction in 2020. This year, that figure dropped to 1,589. The decline was more pronounced in Broward, from 2,184 last year to just 1,458 this year.

But the number of pending cases foretells only part of what Wagner called a looming crisis.

Hiding behind the statistics are thousands of cases that have not been filed because of the pandemic and the moratorium. So far in 2021, just 468 new foreclosures have been filed in Broward. At this point last year, there were 1,365 filings. In 2019, with no pandemic to stop the banks, there were 3,692. The figures were similar in Miami-Dade County – 650 cases were filed by the end of May 2021, compared to more than 2,500 in 2019. The figures were not available for Palm Beach County.

The implications are stark, Golant said. Thousands of delinquent homeowners could see cases filed starting Aug. 1, the day after the moratorium expires.

Thousands of additional homes on the market could drive down prices and property values, which could be seen as good news for homebuyers.

Even beyond that, the outlook is not entirely gloomy.

The federal agencies and programs are continuing to allow homeowners who have not taken advantage of “forbearance” measures (temporary assistance, such as extensions, to get back on track) to enter into COVID-related forbearance through September 30, 2021. Troubled homeowners need to contact their lenders to apply.

Through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal government is requiring mortgage service companies to work with borrowers to help them stay in their homes. That could partly offset the banks’ incentive to foreclose or push for options that result in displacing homeowners, Golant said.

“If you have a government-backed loan and are facing foreclosure, this could be a very good time to get a modification,” she said. “Federal programs make it almost mandatory.”

July 12, 2021

FHA and VA Buyers Struggle to Compete in Today’s Market

Only 30% of sellers are OK with a VA or FHA loan because buyers can’t easily forego things like inspections to compete – plus the home appraisals often come in low.

WASHINGTON – House hunters with conventional financing are edging out buyers using government-backed loans.

A new study of real estate agents by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) found that 89% of sellers would likely accept an offer from a buyer with conventional financing, but only 30% would be willing to accept one using a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Veterans Affairs (VA) loan.

In a recent Urban Institute (UI) article, researchers Janneke Ratcliffe and Laurie Goodman said rejection of government-backed loans puts buyers with lower incomes at a disadvantage, notably those with lower credit scores and less wealth.

As a result, homebuyers making an offer using FHA or VA financing find it difficult to compete against buyers offering cash or using conventional financing. Some real estate pros say it’s because VA and FHA loans tend to have “low appraisals,” which makes it difficult when home prices are rising fast and homes are selling quickly.

Also, government-backed loans can take longer to close. The average time to close on an FHA or VA purchase loan in the first three months of 2021 was 57 and 58 days, respectively, compared to 51 days for conventional loans.

VA and FHA buyers also have less latitude to waive appraisals or inspections to close on a transaction quickly, a common tool used by buyers today to win bidding wars. FHA and VA buyers can’t generally waive these contingencies due to their loan guidelines.

The problem is reflected in the percentages of approved VA and FHA loans. The share of FHA-insured mortgages dropped to 14% of total mortgages in May. In years past, FHA loans accounted for about 20% of the mortgage market, according to NAR data. The share of VA-guaranteed loans also decreased to 7% in May.

UI’s Ratcliffe and Goodman are calling on the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help level the playing field for those using VA and FHA loans. They want HUD to consider eliminating some of the home inspection requirements and offer more flexible appraisals that are similar to conventional financing.

“Reducing these barriers can help government borrowers gain more equal footing with conventional borrowers,” they write. “It is just one of many steps that could shrink the racial homeownership gap and make the mortgage market fairer and more equitable for all borrowers.”

Source: “Sellers Are Rejecting FHA/VA Backed Offers,” Mortgage News Daily (July 6, 2021) and “More Homebuyers Making 20% Down Payments and Waiving Appraisal and Inspection Contract Contingencies,” National Association of REALTORS® Economists’ Outlook blog (June 23, 2021)

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

July 12, 2021

Seller Optimism Has Never Been This High

Survey: 8 out of 10 consumers (77%) say it’s a good time to sell a home. Buyers, however, aren’t quite as pumped: 2 out of 3 (64%) say it’s a bad time to buy a home.

WASHINGTON – Almost eight out of 10 U.S. consumers (77%) say it’s a good time to sell a home – a record high, according to Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index.

Sellers have plenty of reason to feel so upbeat: Existing-home sales prices were at a record high in May and up nearly 24% compared to a year earlier ($350,300), according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Those higher home prices translate into greater equity for home sellers. In the first quarter of 2021, the average homeowner saw their equity climb nearly 20% over the past year, gaining about $33,400, according to a report from CoreLogic.

On the other hand, homebuyers aren’t feeling as good about the housing market: 64% of consumers say it’s a bad time to buy a home, up from 56% the previous month – also a record high, Fannie Mae reports.

The “buy and sell components continued to diverge,” Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist, said about the latest consumer sentiment index readings. “Consumers also continued to cite high home prices as the predominant reason for their ongoing and significant divergence in sentiment toward homebuying and home selling conditions.”

Renters planning to purchase a home in the next few years have demonstrated the steepest decline in homebuying sentiment, Duncan adds. “It’s likely that affordability concerns are more greatly affecting those who aspire to be first-time homeowners than other consumer sentiments who have already established homeownership,” Duncan says.

Despite the pessimism over buying, “We expect demand for housing to persist at an elevated level through the rest of the year,” Duncan says. “Mortgage rates remain not too far from their historical lows, and consumers are expressing even greater confidence about their household income and job situation compared to this time last year, when the pandemic had shut down wide swaths of the economy.”

Highlights from Fannie Mae’s latest Home Purchase Sentiment Index

  • 77% of consumers said it’s a good time to sell, up from 67% last month; 15% said it’s a bad time to sell.
  • 64% said it’s a bad time to buy, up from 56% last month; 32% said it’s a good time to buy.
  • 48% of respondents said they expect home prices to rise over the next 12 months, up from 47% last month.
  • 57% of respondents expect mortgage rates to go up over the next 12 months, up from 49% last month; 30% expect mortgage rates to stay the same; 6% expect rates to decrease.
  • 88% of consumers aren’t concerned about losing their job over the next 12 months, up slightly from 87% last month.
  • 27% of respondents say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago, a drop from 29% last month; 56% say their household income is about the same, and 13% say their household income is significantly lower.

Source: “Consumers Increasingly Adamant That It’s a Good Time to Sell, Bad Time to Buy a Home,” Fannie Mae (July 7, 2021)

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

July 8, 2021

Adjustable-Rate Mortgages Staging a Comeback

An “every penny counts” approach by buyers boosted ARMs 12.5% year-to-year, even though average ARM rates (2.54%) are only a bit lower than FRM rates (2.98%).

CHICAGO – Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) dropped in popularity after the 2008 financial crisis, but they’re starting to reemerge as buyers contend with record high home prices. “The epic surge in home prices has people looking to save money on monthly payments anywhere they can,” says Matt Graham, chief of operations at Mortgage News Daily.

Applications for ARMs were up 12.5% year-to-year for the week ending June 18, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).

With an ARM, buyers usually get a lower mortgage rate. In exchange, however, they also agree that the rate can go up (or down) after a set number of years, usually five or 10. If national mortgage rates go up in that time, they’ll likely face higher monthly mortgage payments. Given today’s historically low mortgage rates, that means today’s FRM borrowers will be paying more when their loan adjusts at some future date.

Some borrowers may think they’ll refinance to a fixed-rate mortgage or move before the loan adjusts. Some may assume they’ll be in a better financial position to pay a higher amount five or 10 years in the future. For still others, the lower rate offered via an ARM may be their only option if they want to buy rather than rent.

The average rate for a 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage was 2.54% for the week ending July 1, according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 2.98%. Those two rates may not be far apart, but even minor differences in rates can quickly add up.

Still, lenders say that only the most qualified borrowers are getting approved for ARMs; they tend to have higher credit scores and put more money down than fixed-rate mortgage borrowers. There is also more education around these loans than in the days of the financial crisis. Interest-only ARMs are also less prevalent. (With an interest-only ARM, borrowers don’t start paying anything toward their principal until a time established in the loan documents.)

ARMs are a relatively small part of the mortgage market, comprising just 3.6% of applications for the week ending June 25, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

In general, financial experts say ARMs are less useful if homeowners plan to stay in their homes for decades. But for those who plan to stay in their homes for less time, ARMs may be a more attractive option.

ARMs are most popular among borrowers seeking higher-priced mortgages. The average ARM loan size was $904,000 compared to $317,500 for a fixed-rate loan for the week ending June 25, according to the MBA’s data.

Source: “Why More Homebuyers Now Are Turning to This Much Riskier Type of Mortgage,” realtor.com® (July 5, 2021)