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Tag Archives: Housing Affordability

Why so Few Houses for Sale? Lots of Reasons.

Inventories of homes for sale have been slow to bounce back since the 2007-09 recession, despite steady price appreciation since January 2012. Normally, higher prices reflect robust sales. But lately, prices have been rising even though sales remain stuck at relatively low levels, largely due to a lack of inventory. So why are there so few homes for sale? Two Fed economists examine the many factors affecting today's inventory levels.

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Fed Cites Improvements in Real Estate in Half of Districts

""Modest to moderate"" economic growth continues to be the theme at the Federal Reserve, which this week released its Beige Book, tracking expansion across the 12 Fed districts from October through mid-November. The central bank reported improvements in residential real estate activity in the Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and San Francisco regions, with single-family home sales softening in most of the remaining districts.

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Mortgage Rates See Sharp Increases

Fixed mortgage rates increased sharply this week while reports on adjustable-rate mortgages were mixed. Freddie Mac puts the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4.46 percent for the week ending December 5, up from 4.29 percent last week. Bankrate's weekly national survey showed a rise of 11 basis points for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to 4.55 percent. Economists pinned the increases on encouraging growth in new home sales and private jobs.

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October Home Prices Maintain Trend of Slow but Steady Gains

Home prices are keeping with their trend of slow, but steady, month-to-month improvements. CoreLogic's October Home Price Index (HPI) reveals a 0.2 percent month-month rise in the national home price but a 12.5 percent year-year increase. October marked the 20th straight month of annual price gains, according to CoreLogic, which conceded in its latest report that appreciation was beginning to fall more in line with normal seasonal patterns.

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Eminent Domain Takes Root in Areas with High Unemployment, Poverty

To address widespread negative equity, at least 15 cities and counties are considering using eminent domain to seize underwater homes and lower borrowers' mortgage principal balances, according to the Urban Institute. The institute conducted a study to see what commonalities these communities share and found that all 15 suffer from high levels of poverty and unemployment, stagnant incomes, and low housing prices.

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Mortgage Rates Fall Slightly in October

Having risen for the previous four months, mortgage interest rates stumbled in October, according to data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Using data on more than 5,700 loans from 33 different lenders, FHFA calculated a composite contract rate of 4.32 percent for loans closed in late October, a decline of 4 basis points from September.

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Yellen’s Likely Confirmation Puts the Brakes on Rising Interest Rates

After two straight weeks moving upward, mortgage rates reversed course following Federal Reserve chair nominee Janet Yellen's comment to lawmakers that ""there is more the Fed can do."" Investors expect Yellen's retraction of the central bank's stimulus measures to be slow and measured, and both bond yields and mortgage rates came in lower in response. Freddie Mac puts the average 30-year rate at 4.22 percent.

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Sales of Existing Homes Slip for Second Straight Month

Existing-home sales translate to an annual rate of 5.12 million at the October sales pace, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). October's sales volume was down 3.2 percent from September and marked the second consecutive month of declining transactions. NAR blames low inventory, diminished buying power from rising prices and interest rates, and a restrictive credit environment for the drop in sales.

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Is Tighter Credit for the Better?

It's no secret underwriting standards have tightened in recent years, and while many decry the heightened standards for making homeownership less accessible to some Americans, an economist with CoreLogic points out in a report released Wednesday that heightened standards are, without question, impacting delinquencies for the better, with 2013 vintage loans carrying a serious delinquency rate of just six basis points.

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Housing’s ‘Perfect Storm’ Puts Homeownership out of Reach for Some

Housing affordability took a hit in the third quarter--the result of climbing interest rates and recovering home prices. According to an industry index assessing consumers' opportunities for homeownership, families earning the national median income of $64,400 in the July-September period could afford 64.5 percent of the new and existing homes sold during that time. That's down from 69.3 percent in the second quarter, marking the biggest index decline since Q2 2004.

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