Posts Tagged ‘interest rates’

Will Increased Interest Rates Affect the Housing Market?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

The reality of rising mortgage rates is of concern to home buyers and sellers. Normally interest rate increases alone would not be much of a concern but combined with continued low inventory and high prices many wonder if the housing market will be able to sustain itself; there are 3 – 4 expected rate increases remaining this year.

I feel it is safe to say that rising interest rates will have an effect on housing affordability and inventory. Here is how I see it:

1. Higher rates mean many buyers will not be able to afford the house they could afford today (if inventory was not an issue). Many people, especially the would-be first time home buyers, may choose to continue renting or live with parents. If there is less demand for the homes that are on the market, prices will drop.

2. Sellers may continue to withhold homes from the market for the same reason – if there is no inventory for them to move either up or down, selling may not make sense. Especially when you take into consideration the higher rates, plus property tax increases for move up buyers. With less homes hitting the market we will continue to see inventory shortages, BUT combined with higher rates, which could lead to lower demand, prices should start to come down.

3. Luxury markets will face even tougher challenges as rates rise. Combined with the new tax laws, which raise tax on purchases for loans over $750,000, many potential luxury buyers may decide to hold off. Luxury sellers will likely see longer market times and lower prices.

It is important to keep in mind that every market is different. Here in San Diego we have year-round desirable inventory due to weather and location – but the coming changes will affect us and could alter the second/vacation home market purchases as well. It is important to consult a local area real estate agent to understand what is going on in your specific area.

If the inventory rut continues on this path it could lead to a big problem in the real estate market. I feel, and many economists and real estate market watchers agree, that it will stall purchases, keep sellers in homes they would have otherwise sold, and have a deep effect on buyers currently in the market and future buyers. As we head into the Spring and Summer it is a good time to think about selling and purchasing, prior to further rate increases.

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Home Seller Dilemma: Sell Now or Wait Until Spring?

Monday, January 29th, 2018

A lot of homeowners have been wondering whether to sell now or wait until Spring. While Spring and early summer are typically the best times to sell, when a large majority of buyers are searching for homes, this year there is no reason to wait if you are a seller…and here is why:

Low Inventory – although picking up in some places, housing inventory is still low. The last year has been challenging for those who are ready, willing and able to buy, since they are unable to find homes that meet their needs or desires. This puts sellers in a great position while it is still a seller’s market.

Mortgage rates will continue to rise – rates have risen once already and will likely do so twice more this year. Combined with low inventory this double whammy will effect homebuyers, effecting their purchasing power and pricing some out of certain markets. If inventory picks up and the rates rise it will start to shift to a buyer’s market, and prices could come down in the long run.

Here is an example I read on a lender’s blog: If rates increase by 1%, from 4% to 5%, a buyer will lose 10% in purchasing power. This means that if a buyer can afford to purchase a $600k home today, but rates increase by 1%, she will only afford $540k using the same monthly payment.

Borrowing is still cheap – from a historical perspective it is still inexpensive to borrow money.

Prices will likely continue to rise – most economists and those who watch the real estate market predict that despite rate increases, prices will continue to rise in 2018. In the last year prices in San Diego County increased 9.1% – this was higher than the yearly increase of 4.2% in 2016. Again, this could impact homebuyers in many areas of the county.

New tax laws will likely effect high-end borrowers – those who are obtaining loans for high end properties will be effected from a tax perspective, as the new laws cap the mortgage interest deduction and the ability to deduct state and local taxes. Therefore the higher end market will be impacted this year, but we will have to wait and see the extent.

Based on the above it is an ideal time to sell. There is a great demand out there – I get emails from agents every week asking about whether I have any upcoming listings in certain neighborhoods. Many homes are selling before they even hit the MLS, and many agents are choosing to put their listings on sites other than the MLS first, in order to try to represent both parties in the sale (so some buyers may not even be aware of listings in neighborhoods they like).

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Will the Real Estate Market Continue it’s Upward Climb?

Monday, July 20th, 2015

The real estate market has been literally HOT for some time now – both 2014 and 2015 have shown record sales and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. It is still a seller’s market, inventory and interest rates are low, and it is the prime “selling season.” But how long can this last? dreamstime_6887078

There are several factors that could have an impact on our real estate market moving forward. Let’s look at those and analyze the possibilities:

1. New federal government policies. There are 2 big policies that are about to take effect which could have an impact on real estate sales. One of these could actually stimulate more sales because it advocates lower downpayment requirements and loosens up loan underwriting standards, which could help buyers, especially first time homebuyers, realize their homeownership dreams.

The other program on the horizon could have a detrimental affect on real estate sales. Home buyers and sellers will face a new hurdle in the sales process, one that could extend escrow periods – possibly for lengthy periods – and may cause other delays and issues. New requirements are being implemented that will make loan disclosures much stricter starting October 3, 2015. While the theory behind the disclosures makes sense, the implementation is sure to cause many headaches. In a nutshell, every time there is a change to any terms in the purchase contract, the borrower will receive new disclosures, and with it a new period to review them, which could extend the buyer’s contingencies for lengthy amounts of time, thus extending escrow periods.

statisticsFor example, say you are purchasing a home and everything is going along well, and you have a few days left to remove your contingencies. You have a home inspection and there are repairs you feel the seller should make, so you present a repair request. The seller agrees to credit you money toward closing costs so you can repair those issues after the close of escrow. Your lender will now have to issue new disclosures to you because you are changing the terms of the contract (by getting a credit back through escrow), and you will have more time to review these new disclosures. This will extend your contingency period – it is risky for sellers because it means their homes will be held up in escrow for longer periods, or at least they will be off market without a non-refundable deposit for a longer period of time. For more information on this topic visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

2. Foreign investors: Over the last few years foreign homebuyers have invested quite a lot of money in U.S. real estate markets. But with the strengthening of the dollar and weakening of other currency, there are many economists who predict these investments will start to ebb.

3. Decline of new construction: New construction has picked up in some places over the last few years, but in this seller’s market it is not increasing at a rate to keep up with demand for homes, especially entry-level properties in many markets.

4. Interest rate changes -? At some point rates will need to move upwards, and this could obviously put some entry-level buyers out of the market. While it doesn’t look like this will be the case any time in the near future, it is inevitable at some point.

I feel that the current market will remain strong moving forward, at least for some time. With the new policies and state of the factors mentioned above it is foreseeable that things could slow down possibly in a year or so. But like I always say, location is a big part of the picture – here in San Diego we will always have a desirable market due to our weather and proximity to the ocean. For specific market news and predictions in your hometown, consult a licensed and experienced area real estate agent.

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Mortgage Rates Predicted to Decrease & Existing Home Sales Hit 6 Year High

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Mortgage Rates Predicted to Decrease: There have been many reports that rates will do the opposite and increase as we head toward the end of the year. However, due to recent events in the last several days it appears this may no longer be the case. Here’s why this seems to be a reality, in a nut shell: for some time now the Feds were indicating that they were going to slow down their purchases of mortgage-backed securities. In anticipation of this event, mortgage rates jumped up several times over the summer. But the latest news is that the Feds are NOT going to taper off on their bond purchases, which means there is no reason to increase mortgage rates; thus, the likely result is that we will see rates drop or not rise – and this will likely be within the next 30 days according to many mortgage professionals.

You may wonder why the sudden change. The rationale is that with the ongoing housing recovery, raising rates may quash all of the healing and continued strong sales numbers that we are seeing – higher rates could lead to fewer buyers. The Feds do not want this to happen. The reduction in Fed monthly asset purchases was predicted to be around $10 billion. If you are a buyer NOW is definitely the time to make that purchase, as this will likely not last for a long period of time.

High Existing Home Sales Numbers: It is official – sales of existing homes are at a 6-year high, according to statistics just released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Sales in August rose 1.7%, bringing the total increase to 13.2% year over year for the month. NAR warned that inventory levels still prove challenging in many areas, and that the high prices may be a temporary peak. They surmise that the rising interest rates may have pushed more buyers to close deals in August.

dreamstime_4613470Qualifying for Loans Will Get Harder Come January: Beginning in January of 2014 it will be harder for many buyers to qualify for loans, as investors will have to be tougher on qualifying ratios due to stricter underwriting guidelines that take effect January 1. If you are a buyer please speak with your qualified mortgage professional to see how this may effect you, and to get more information.

All in all things in the housing market will likely continue to improve. Inventory is still on the low side, but with mortgage rates staying put or even decreasing buyers will have more buying power. My suggestion is to consider purchasing now, before the end of the year, if you are in the market to do so. Things may change after we head into 2014. Consult with your local experienced real estate agent or broker to discuss your individual market, and get informed so you can make smart choices.

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Home Prices Start to Return to the “New Normal”

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

For those who are regulars to my blog, I have predicted that home prices will soon stop escalating and will return to a “normal” growth, one that ascends slowly but steadily over time. I predicted we would start to see this by the end of this year, and especially heading into 2014. It appears that it is starting to happen right now, even in light of a new study that says that Americans believe housing prices will continue to rise despite rising interest rates.statistics

Clear Capital predicts that home prices across the country will “experience more moderate and sustainable increases” for the remainder of 2013, as we slowly transition into this “new normal” of slower and more consistent gains moving ahead into 2014 and beyond.

In the short term many areas will likely continue to see price increases  through the end of the year, despite the rise in interest rates. This could be due in part to rising inventories in many areas. Another explanation is that the rise in interest rates, along with the commonly held notion that these rates will continue to rise with time, may actually push buyers to make purchases in order to avoid higher rates. Likely, many sellers may see this as an opportune time to unload properties while the market is still rising and before rates climb higher, which will undoubtedly price some buyers out of the market.

As rates rise and inventories increase, we may also see a shift in the market, from a seller’s market (which we currently are experiencing in many areas, especially here in the western states), to a buyer’s market. Heading out of the summer buying season and into the Fall and beyond to the holidays, this is a realistic possibility. Demand will of course also continue to be fueled by the strength of local economies.

Interestingly, a study by Fannie Mae in July, the National Housing Survey, found that despite rising mortgage rates, consumers believe that prices will continue to rise. 53% of those polled thought that prices would rise in the next year. Those expecting prices to drop came to under 6%.

All in all, it is still a very interesting time in the housing market. I stand by my theory that prices may continue to rise through the end of the year, although possibly not as drastically. I believe we will continue to see inventory levels inch up in many areas, and that as we head into 2014 we will see prices stabilize somewhat, although I do believe tight lending standards could effect the state of the market as well (a topic for another blog). From there on out I believe we will see a more “normal” market moving forward, meaning one that grows slowly and consistently over time.

If you are thinking of buying or selling it is important to contact a knowledgeable Realtor and mortgage professional in your area to understand the makeup of your specific area.


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Will Home Prices Continue to Rise?

Monday, July 8th, 2013

One of the biggest questions in real estate right now is whether the market will continue to see rising prices. Many areas, including San Diego county, have seen price spikes over the last 6 months or so, anywhere from 10% to over 20%, depending on the neighborhood. We know that one of the main reasons for this is the lack of inventory combined with the time of year and low interest rates…but what will happen if those rates go up and as we head into Fall and Winter?

Inventory: Inventory will continue to play a big part in the market recovery, as well as help determine whether prices will continue to rise and the response thereto. It is a unique time right now because it is summer – the time when many buyers think of purchasing, and sellers think of selling. The demand is still very high in North San Diego, and I have agents calling me long after I close listings, asking if I have any others coming up in the neighborhood – AND if I have listings coming up in other places, so there are still buyers out there looking, with little to choose from.

There are several schools of thought as to what will happen to inventory levels moving forward, and how this might effect the market. As I always say, this will be determined by the specific market area, but as long as inventory remains low and there is a demand for properties I do not suspect we will see a drastic slow down in price increases; however I do think that as we coast through the remainder of the summer we will likely start to notice a leveling off, due to the factors below.

Interest Rates. If you have looked at the news lately you have seen that interest rates have risen in the last month, several times, and are expected to continue to do so. Some people fear that it will be the end of the housing recovery if they do in fact rise substantially, but as long as there is demand – and there still seems to be a great deal of it in San Diego – I do not think we will see a big drop in sales despite rising rates…after all, if you look at the rates from a historical perspective slight rises will still be considered low interest rates!

Interest rate effect on new inventory. One interesting thing to ponder is what effect rising interest rates will have on would-be sellers: those who have been thinking of selling but have been waiting (most for prices to continue to rise, many who are underwater and are waiting for the break-even point so they can get out from under there hefty mortgages). If we continue to see a spike in interest rates it is possible we may see a surge of inventory hit the market, created by a fear that buyers will no longer choose to purchase should the rates spike. This could be positive news for local markets, as the supply would be welcomed and met by the demand.

Another idea to consider is that those who have been searching for homes, getting outbid and frustrated with not finding homes, may decide to sit back should rates rise; the more probable scenario is that these buyers will want to jump into a purchase even quicker, and may step up their searches and even increase their range and criteria, in order to get into a home before the rates go up even more. It will be interesting to see the effect this has on the market, but I do not think it will be negative, at least not right away.

Dstatisticsistressed inventory. Over the years distressed and bank owned inventory has had an effect on home prices, playing a big role in gains. However, these sales have decreased in the last year, with REO (bank owned) sales decreasing by more than half. Radar Logic reports that from February of last year to April this year, REO sales declined from 26 percent of all home sales to 11 percent. This causes prices to increase more quickly than normal. If we see a return of these types of properties it could have an effect on prices, but I do not believe such would cause prices to go down, rather I think we would see a slower gain period moving forward.

Call it what you will, but a rise in interest rates could be a boost to local markets, at least those that have been climbing out of the doldrums of the crash and appear to be healthy and competitive. If you are thinking of buying or selling, this could just be the perfect time to do so, especially if you are now able to get out of an underwater loan and break even. Remember, after the market crashed many kept waiting for prices to “hit the bottom;” some people waited too long and missed out on purchasing property at the lowest levels. I do not believe prices will drop in San Diego, but rather I forsee a stabilization, combined with a “normal” annual rate of growth moving forward starting in 2014.

If you are interested in a detailed market analysis of your or other San Diego neighborhoods, please let me know.

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Rate Increases Will Affect Your Mortgage Payments

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

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Thinking of Buying Property? You’d Better Hurry!

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

If you have been contemplating purchasing a home, whether it be a starter home, your dream home, investment property, or any other type of property, you may want to get serious now before it’s too late. Here are some reasons why it’s better to jump off that fence now rather than wait:

1. It is cheaper to buy rather than rent. The last time this was the cast was 1973.

2. Home affordability is better now than it has been in a long time. Prices now are discounted 61.5% from 1981, the last time they were at an all-time low.

3. New home inventory has hit a 50 year low, contributing to very low inventory levels, which are not expected to improve for 3-6 years. Between 1968 and 2008 there were at least 1 million homes built per year. With the new home inventory at such a low, we have a deficit of 900,000 homes a year (homes that are not being built), thus making inventory even lower.

4. One third of all closed escrows in 2011 were cash transactions (2012 numbers are likely higher). There is a lot of competition out there, and will continue to be as inventory and rates remain low.

5. Recent changes to lending laws will likely make getting a loan much harder. While the new laws afford protections to consumers, lenders will scrutinize applicants even more so now. Click here to read more about this.

6. Interest rates will rise. With low inventory and high demand, and with an improving economy, it is only a matter of time until the rates are raised. (In fact, they just went up slightly last week).

7. Foreclosures are decreasing. Lenders are vying away from foreclosures, opting for short sales – which are being appraised closer to comparative market value nowadays, making the chance of getting a “great deal” lower. Many federal and state programs are also helping underwater owners to refinance and stay in their homes, meaning less distressed inventory.

(Information compiled from the Charfen Institute and Data Quick)

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A History of Interest Rates

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

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Are You Ready to Find a Home?

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Have you been considering buying a home, maybe for the first time, maybe to move up or down? Have you been waiting for the market to hit bottom, for prices to fall, for loan rates to get lower? Guess what? It is that time. Yes, I am a Realtor, and my telling you this may sound self-serving, but let me tell you why that is not the case:

1.  Rates are still low. They will get higher – that is something I would be money on. There are a few reasons why. One is that they have been historically low for a long time and it is inevitable. Another reason is that there could be some big changes coming up in the loan industry (see below), which will make them rise.

2.  Qualifying for a loan is not going to get any easier. Lenders are still reeling from the housing crash and make it difficult to qualify new borrowers (believe me, I have seen it happen to my own clients). If the new rules pass in September, come October 1 loan limits will decrease, meaning buyers will have to put MORE money down in order to qualify for a loan, and limits will be lower so that means less of a loan (buyers will have to buy smaller homes, or maybe even consider different areas/neighborhoods).

3.  Down payment requirements could rise. If the loan limit rates decline the downpayment amounts will increase. Borrowers will have to pay more money up front to get a loan. This will make buying a home a pipe dream for many Americans.

4.  There are still some great loan products out there. FHA loans require much lower downpayments and better interest rates. If the new limit restrictions pass they will have an effect on these loans.

5.  Selling a home could get much more difficult. If the loan rates change it may effect sellers the most, especially in higher priced areas like San Diego county. Buyers who could qualify for a loan to buy a home may no longer be able to afford that much house, so sellers may have a hard time finding qualified buyers. Many homeowners may not be able to sell their homes, which could lead to more foreclosures. Property values will go down, but who will buy these properties? One theory is that the lenders will simply rent them out rather than try to sell.

6.  It is a great time to negotiate! With the market slower than usual for the time of year, and the many well-priced homes out there that are available (especially short sale and lender owned properties), buyers are in the driver’s seat as far as negotiations are concerned. There are some stubborn sellers out there, but if you encounter that situation you can always find another property that is ripe for negotiation.

7.  Learn from who is buying now. If you look closely, especially in the attached home market, you will see many investor buyers. As I have said before, this is a sign. It is a sign that now is the time to buy. I am personally working with multiple investor clients right now, and they are getting great deals on short sale and lender owned properties.

I get asked all the time what the market is like, how we are faring here in North San Diego. The market is doing much better than in some other areas of the country, but we are still struggling a bit. Prices have come down, and will likely continue to do so. If the new loan limit reductions pass it will create qualification problems for many buyers and for sellers as well. Right now you can still lock in a very low rate (today’s conforming rate on a 30 year fixed mortgage is  4.5% with no points). There is a decent amount of inventory out there.

So, here is my pledge to you: I will do my best to help you find the right property, at the right price – if you don’t there is no pressure at all. Use me as a tool to help you, because that is what I am here for. I will provide all the information you need about any home we find. You don’t need to sign any agreement, I won’t make any demands on you. I offer you honesty and professionalism, and all you have to do is call me. I will be around all weekend. 760-310-9466

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