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Overall housing production declined in January after an unusually robust reading in the multifamily sector in December, but economists were unfazed. “As we move forward in 2017, we can expect the multifamily sector to continue to stabilize and single-family production to move forward at a gradual but consistent pace,” says Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders.

Housing starts dropped 2.6 percent on a month-over-month basis in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.246 million units, primarily due to a 10.2 percent plunge in the multifamily sector, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Single-family starts, on the other hand, rose 1.9 percent month-over-month to 823,000 units.

“A settling of housing production is in line with what we are hearing from builders, that they are largely optimistic about current market conditions but still face supply-side headwinds and regulatory hurdles,” says Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

Combined single- and multifamily housing production was on the rise in the Northeast and South in January. In the Northeast, housing production surged 55.4 percent last month and by 20 percent in the South. On the other hand, starts dropped by 41.3 percent in the West and by 17.9 percent in the Midwest, the Commerce Department reported.

Housing production is likely to pick up in the coming months. Issuance of construction permits—a gauge of future construction activity—increased 4.6 percent in January to 1.285 million units. But the bulk of that increase was due to a nearly 20 percent increase in multifamily permits to 477,000 units, the Commerce Department reported. Single-family permits, meanwhile, dropped 2.7 percent in January to 808,000 units.

The Northeast likely will continue to see some of the biggest increases in housing production. Regionally, housing permits increased by the highest amount in the Northeast, rising 29.6 percent in January, followed by a 9.9 percent gain in the South, and a 5.3 percent increase in the Midwest. The West was the only major region to see a decline, dropping 13.2 percent in January.

Source: National Association of Home Builders

See article http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2017/02/17/housing-starts-cool-in-january

Mortgage rates moved solidly higher last week, but lenders saw no letup in loan demand.

Mortgage application volume rose 4 percent from the previous week. The Mortgage Bankers Association included an adjustment for the Martin Luther King Day holiday. Volume continues to lag last year, however, by 18 percent, mostly due to the falloff in loan refinances since rates shot up after the presidential election.

 

Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Real estate agent shows a house

Refinance volume did move slightly higher again last week, up 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted. It had jumped sharply the previous week, after outgoing HUD Secretary Julian Castro announced a quarter-point drop in the FHA’s annual mortgage insurance premium. By last week, there was already considerable speculation that incoming HUD Secretary Ben Carson would reverse the move, and, in fact, that was one of the first acts of the Trump administration immediately following the inauguration on Friday.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 13.6 percent from 13.1 percent the previous week, but that is likely to fall back next week. Mortgage rates also moved higher, but that didn’t cut into refinance demand.

“While this was the first rate increase in January, rates remain about 10 basis points lower than four weeks ago,” said Lynn Fisher, MBA vice president of research and economics.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($424,000 or less) increased to 4.35 percent from 4.27 percent, with points decreasing to 0.30 from 0.39 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans.

Mortgage applications to purchase a home, which were less sensitive to the FHA announcement, rose 6 percent last week compared from the previous week but are just 0.1 percent higher than one year ago. Homebuyers are facing a pitiful supply of homes for sale. Listings dropped again in December, hitting an 18-year low, according to the National Association of Realtors. While more homes will come on the market for the usually busy spring season, demand is far stronger than supply, and well-priced homes are moving quickly.

“Although it is still early in the homebuying season, purchase activity remains on par with a year ago, suggesting that recent wage growth of nearly 3 percent is helping to offset the increase in interest rates. This trend is also consistent with other reports of homebuying activity,” said Fisher.

Mortgage rates have been exceptionally volatile in the last week, taking big jumps up and then back down again on daily news. Home prices, however, are not reversing course. They continue to rise far faster than incomes and inflation. If rates do settle into an upward climb, the combination of the two will inevitably put pressure on home sales.

 

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Mortgage credit continues to tighten

The U.S. economy may be on the upswing, but your chances of securing a mortgage are not.

That’s according to data released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which showed that the total volume of new mortgages actually declined in the second quarter of 2016 from a year earlier, by $39 billion.

Worse, the median credit score for a new mortgage remained quite high at 756. That’s well above the average credit score of 695, and means that the typical American, nearly eight years after the credit crunch and financial crisis, would still struggle to secure a mortgage.

This continued dynamic of tight credit is one likely reason that the American housing market remains hobbled even after prices in many markets have recovered to their pre-financial crisis peaks. With credit unavailable to all but the most qualified Americans, builders are wary of constructing homes aimed at lower income Americans…

 

Visit http://fortune.com/2016/08/10/americans-cant-get-mortgage/  for the FULL story

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After drifting higher for nearly a month, mortgage rates retreated this week but remain within a tight band.

As the markets calmed, home loan rates stabilized. With several key economic reports coming up, volatility could return. An unexpected global event would also cause a jolt to rates. But it seems more likely that they will continue to hover about where they are.

Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found that more than half of the experts it surveyed believe rates will remain unchanged in the coming week.

According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average sank to 3.43 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.48 percent a week ago and 3.91 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed rate hasn’t been above 3.5 percent since late June.

The 15-year fixed-rate average dropped to 2.74 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.78 percent a week ago and 3.13 percent a year ago.

The five-year adjustable-rate average tumbled to 2.73 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.78 percent a week ago and 2.94 percent a year ago.

“Treasury yields fell last week following both the FOMC’s meeting and a disappointing advance estimate for second quarter GDP. Mortgage rates, which had moved up 7 basis points over the past three weeks, responded by erasing most of those gains,” Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, mortgage applications decreased again this week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).

The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — fell 3.5 percent from the previous week. The refinance index dropped 4 percent, while the purchase index declined 2 percent.

The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 60.7 percent of all applications.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/where-we-live/wp/2016/08/04/mortgage-rates-fall-back-and-applications-decline-as-credit-increases/

 

 

U.S. homeownership rate drops to lowest Since 1965

By Prashant Gopal, Bloomberg News

 

The U.S. homeownership rate fell to the lowest in more than 50 years as rising prices put buying out of reach for many renters.

The share of Americans who own their homes was 62.9% in the second quarter, the lowest since 1965, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report Thursday. It was the second straight quarterly decrease, down from 63.5% in the previous three months.

The drop extends a years-long decline from the last housing boom, in part because of tight credit and a shift toward renting in the aftermath of the crash. First-time buyers have been struggling to find affordable properties as low mortgage rates and an improving job market spur competition for a tight supply of listings. Home prices rose 5.2% in May from a year earlier, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index of values in 20 cities released this week.

“One of the biggest hurdles now is affordability,” Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, N.C., said before the Census Bureau report was released. “Home prices are rising so much faster than incomes, so it’s hard for buyers to save for a down payment.”

The homeownership rate reached a peak of 69.2% in June 2004.

The decline may be the result of young people leaving parents’ homes and entering the rental market, which dilutes the number of owner-occupant households, said Ralph McLaughlin, chiefeconomist for data provider Trulia. He said the change from a year earlier, when the rate was 63.4%, isn’t statistically significant because of the margin of error of0.5 percentage points.

“The drop in the homeownership rate this quarter to historical lows isn’t necessarily a bad sign,” McLaughlin said in an e-mail. “This is because renter households are growing at a much faster rate than owner households, reflecting growing confidence of those who were most likely impacted by the foreclosure crisis. Still, low inventory and affordability plagues those who do want to buy a home.”

The homeownership rate for Americans ages 18-34 fell to 34.1% in the second quarter from 34.8% a year earlier, the Census Bureau said. The decline is within the margin of error for that age group of 0.8 percentage points.

 

 

FULL ARTICLE: http://www.jsonline.com/business/us-homeownership-rate-drops-to-lowest-since-1965-b99769812z1-388589161.html

 

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The median price for homes sold in Kitsap County reached $285,000 last month, as sales activity ramped up and inventory remained low.

The median price for May was 7.6 percent higher than in May of 2015, according to report from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. 

The year-to-date (January-May) median home price for the county was $266,914, up about 11.5 percent from the same period of last year.

Prices have increased most dramatically in West Bremerton, where homes are selling for 40 percent more so far this year than in 2015.

Despite the price jump, West Bremerton remains the county’s least expensive submarket.

Home sales also ticked up in May. Pending sales were up 9.4 percent from May 2015, while closed sales jumped 12.5 percent.

The number of homes available for sale inched up to 734, with 608 listings added. Inventory remained 23 percent lower than a year ago.

The months supply of homes — the number of months it would take to sell off all homes on the market if no new listings were added — rested at 1.85. A market is considered balanced when it has a four- to six-month supply.

“Inventory is being squeezed from all directions,” Frank Wilson of John L. Scott in Poulsbo, said in a statement released by NWMLS. “With less than two months of inventory, every new listing seems to draw multiple offers.”

Wilson doesn’t see the inventory crunch easing “for some time to come.” Even if the Fed raises interest rates, he believes shortages will persist because of the backlog of buyers.

VIEW THE FULL STORY HERE:   http://pugetsoundblogs.com/minding-your-business/2016/06/09/kitsaps-median-home-price-hits-285000/

 

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CLICK HERE FOR A MAP SHOWING YEAR-OVER-YEAR PRICE CHANGE BY SUBMARKET

 

Buyers circle new listings like hungry wolves, plucking choice morsels from a skeletal inventory.

“For every house that comes on the market you have four or five buyers waiting for it,” said Frank Wilson, with John L. Scott in Poulsbo. “As fast as they come on, they’re sucked right back off.”

Rabid demand and too-few listings were the trends driving Kitsap’s real estate market in 2015. Home prices, which wallowed through the economic recession, were on the rise across much of the county. Sales were fast-paced, pushing unprepared buyers to the sidelines.

“Increasing demand and decreasing supply made it a very competitive marketplace,” Kitsap Association of Realtors CEO Mike Eliason said.

First-time homebuyer Lindsay Baker waded into the fray in the summer, as she and her husband began searching for a house in East Bremerton. Realizing homes were flying off the market, Baker started checking for listings twice a day. The couple walked through two houses, but other buyers gobbled them up before the Bakers could make a decision.

“By the third one, we made an offer the same day,” Baker said…

READ THE FULL STORY HERE

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Over the next three weeks we will probably be subjected to more housing forecasts for 2016 than ads for Chia Pets.  Here is the version provided by Frank Nothaft, senior vice president and chief economist at CoreLogic.

Nothaft presumes, like most in the field, that the Federal Reserve will raise short term rates and predicts that increase will be about one percentage point, achieved gradually, by the end of next year.  Homeowners with adjustable rate mortgages or home equity loans can expect to see their payments rise as will people who take on new fixed rate mortgages.  The latter will probably rise by about a half-point which will put the 30-year fixed rate mortgage around 4.5 percent by the end of 2016.

 

Read the full article HERE

 

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SOURCE: Mortgage News Dailt & CoreLogic

 

 

Home prices dipped across Western Washington in July, according to numbers released this week Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Not so in Kitsap County, where prices continued to climb in July.

The median price for a home in Kitsap (including condominiums) was $275,000 last month, up from $265,000 in May and June of this year, and $255,000 in July 2014.

Prices in Kitsap have risen 22 percent since January, compared with 13 percent in King County.

 

Click the link below to see the full story

http://pugetsoundblogs.com/minding-your-business/2015/08/07/home-prices-still-climbing-in-kitsap/

 

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STORIES:

– Fed Can Hike Even Without Inflation
– Mortgage Rates Battle Back
– Conventional, Jumbo Loan Availability Accelerating
– Smallest Share of Distressed Sales since 2007

 

Read the stories here…

http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/reports/newsletter/2015/8/6/1743