Monday, April 8, 2013

Prices are UP!! Let's Celebrate

This will be an interesting to watch!!!

Warm weather comes to Hampton Roads!!!  Entire week in the 70s will bring out more of all sorts of blossoms(which will be the bane of all the allergy impacted).  But blossoms won't be the only fresh the buyers come out of the wood work!

I am no doubt being tongue in check a bit as the buyers have been increasing in our entire market though the housing inventory remains barely over 9000 homes actually available.  Though we aren't seeing the 18% increase in values that Arizona is seeing, we did see over 3% last year and expecting about the same this year.

Thus, buyers are looking at a market that continues with low mortgage rates, improving loan availability and strengthen housing prices.   As a result, those needing to move should before the market takes a negative trend(higher rates/inventory shortge). 

Seller can rejoice!!  Buyers are out there seeking their home AND the value improvement may just mean they aren't a short sale!!!

Jim Belote's update below gets into a few a more details on the market.

Keeping you updated on the market! For the week of 
April 8, 2013

Too Much of a Good Thing? 
In the depths of the housing meltdown, we plumbed many media outlets for the contrary opinion. That is, the opinion that offered a glimpse of hope. Back then, the contrary opinion was difficult to come by.

How times have changed. Month after month, the data show continued home-price improvement. CoreLogic added to the string this past week. Its data show home prices rose for a 12th consecutive month in February. Year over year, CoreLogic reports prices rose 10.2% to post the largest annual gain in seven years.

The strong run in home prices has us wondering if they are getting ahead of themselves. At the national level it appears unlikely. Another data provider, Clear Capital, expects prices will rise 2.6% for all of 2013. Such a modest advance arouses little concern; it barely exceeds the annual rate of consumer-price inflation.

That said, real estate markets are local markets. When thinking locally, there might be cause for concern. For example, certain markets in Arizona, where home prices have appreciated 18.6% statewide over the past year, and in California, where prices have appreciated 15.3% statewide, are likely approaching a point where buyers should proceed if not with caution at least with eyes wide open.

There are few mitigating factors. Affordability is one. Lender Processing Services estimates that home prices could jump as much as 35% without damaging affordability.

Mortgage rates are an obvious variable in the affordability calculus. Rates remain low, and likely will continue to remain low over the next couple weeks. Last week, we mentioned how events in Cyprus had investors scrambling to U.S. Treasury securities. Now that the Cyprus is yesterday's news, it appears events in Italy and Spain (centered on debt and bank capitalization) will keep money flowing into these haven securities.

So mortgages will likely remain near the current level, thus helping to keep home affordability high.

That said, FHA loans have become a little less affordable. On April 1, mortgage insurance premiums increased for the third time in two years. The increase is expected to raise average premiums by $130 per month.

On June 3, more changes are in store for MIP, which will further raise the cost of FHA loans for many borrowers. The point we want to emphasis is that potential borrowers interested in these traditionally low-cost loans would be well-advised to act sooner rather than later.

Date and Time
Mortgage Applications
Wed., April 10,
7:00 am, ET
Important. Purchase applications have picked up pace and point to robust housing demand.
Federal Reserve FOMC Minutes
Wed., April 10,
2:00 pm, ET
Moderately Important. The debate on quantitative easing will likely become more heated.
Import Prices
Thurs., April 11
8:30 am, ET
Moderately Important. Import prices remain subdued and noninflationary.
Retail Sales
Fri., April 12,
8:30 am, ET
Important. Sales continue to post monthly gains due to improving job growth.

Be Careful What We Wish For
A mortgage-themed article in the Washington Post raised a few eyebrows this past week. The Post reports that the Obama administration is pushing to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit. Administration officials argue that making home loans available to less-qualified borrowers will help propel the housing industry (and the overall economy) forward.

We find it interesting that many Obama officials have forwarded some of the same arguments we've forwarded over the past year. In particular, officials want lenders to use more subjective judgment in determining lending standards. At the same time, they want the Justice Department to assure lenders that they will not face legal or financial recriminations if they make loans to riskier borrowers who meet government standards but later default.
We are all for less recriminations and more latitude in decision making, but it has to be implemented prudently. The financial meltdown that occurred in 2008 was largely attributable to a wide swath of mortgage loans that went south. Though more funded people would surely help housing and the economy at the moment, we have to ask, what's the risk?

Another default surge could easily bankrupt (permanently) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and sink the FHA. A housing bubble would also become a growing worry. The last thing the housing market needs at this stage are inflated home prices that prove to be unsustainable.

We would like nothing more than to have a more inclusive, less risk-averse mortgage market. But that market must be based on fundamentally sound lending principals.

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