• U.S. Housing Starts Declined in May
    Scott Olson/Getty ImagesWASHINGTON—A gauge of U.S. home building declined in May, a fresh sign of weakness in the housing market. Housing starts fell 0.9% in May from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.269 million, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That was a steeper decline than the 0.4% decrease economists had expected. The report follows a drop in U.S. home-builder confidence in June, as builders reported concerns over rising… Read more »
  • Mortgage Rates Hold at Two-Year Lows, Giving Borrowers Another Shot at the Action
    David McNew/Getty ImagesRates for home loans mostly held steady, and even declined slightly, as investor jitters about a slowing economy and geopolitics continued to keep bonds attractive. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.82% in the June 13 week, unchanged during the week, Freddie Mac said Thursday. Nearly halfway through the year, the popular product has managed a weekly increase only six times. It now stands at about a two-year low. The… Read more »
  • Fix Mortgage Finance, Or We’ll Do It For You, Regulator Tells Congress
    T.J. Kirkpatrick for The Wall Street JournalWASHINGTON—Mark Calabria has a message for Congress: Help the Trump administration overhaul mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, or he will do what he can on his own. The two companies, critical to half the nation’s mortgages, have been under government control since the 2008 financial crisis. For over a decade, policy makers have tried and failed to return them to the private sector and scale back… Read more »
  • Mortgage Rates Slump to 2-Year Low—but Consumers May Not Bite
    YinYang/iStockRates for home loans slid as investors snatched up bonds in the wake of an intensifying global trade war. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.82% in the May 30 week, down from 3.99%, Freddie Mac said Thursday. It was the lowest level since September 2017 for the popular product, and its sixth-straight weekly decline. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.28%, down from 3.46%. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.52%,… Read more »
  • Home Prices Accelerate for the First Time in 12 Months
    Beka_C/iStockNational home prices notched a stronger annual gain in April than in March, marking the first time in over a year that prices have accelerated from one month to the next. That data comes from a report out Tuesday from CoreLogic, a national real estate information services provider. Prices were up 3.6% for the year and 1% for the month in March. Annual price gains in CoreLogic’s national index have been… Read more »
  • Buying a House? Here’s How to Ensure Your Confidential Financial Details Remain Secure
    Getty/iStockBuying a home is a complicated process that involves sharing sensitive information with multiple people. And the latest major data leak highlights the risk consumers take on when they share that information. Roughly 885 million mortgage-related files stretching back over a decade were exposed by First American Financial Corp., one of the country’s largest title insurance companies, thanks to a flaw in the design of a website that stored the files.… Read more »
  • Size Matters: Tracking the Economy Through New-Home Square Footage
    absolut_100/iStockThe U.S. housing market may not be synonymous with the business cycle, as a famous 2007 paper proclaimed, but the ups and downs in housing, which represents a big part of the economy, usually do offer hints about what’s going on more broadly. That’s why economists closely watch housing market indicators like sales volumes and home prices — as well as how Americans are accessing the market and managing their obligations to mortgages, rental costs, taxes, and so… Read more »
  • Pending Home Sales Fall, Marking the 16th Straight Month of Annual Declines
    Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesThe numbers: Pending home sales fell a seasonally adjusted 1.5% in April and were 2% lower than a year ago, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. The consensus Econoday forecast was for a 0.5% increase. What happened: NAR’s index, which tracks home-contract signings, has been volatile, but the trend is solidly downward. April marked the 16th-straight month of annual declines. Contract signings precede closings by about 45-60 days,… Read more »
  • Mortgage Rates Slide Below 4% as the Trade War Buffets Markets
    OlegAlbinsky/iStockThe 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.99% in the May 30 week, down from 4.06%, Freddie Mac said Thursday. That marked a 16-month low for the popular product, which has eked out a weekly rise only six times so far in 2019. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.46%, down from 3.51%. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.60%, down 8 basis points. Rates have tumbled for the past few weeks, in line… Read more »
  • Americans Are Driving Until They Qualify Again, and Builders Are Responding
    David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesHome builders are applying for permits to build houses in the “exurbs” more than any other area of the country, another sign of how the housing affordability crunch is driving consumer and industry decisions. Exurbs, which the National Association of Home Builders defines as outlying counties of large metro areas, were the only region of the country that had net year-over-year growth in single-family permits… Read more »
  • The Housing Slowdown Continues: Lowest Home Price Increases in 7 Years
    Bet_Noire/iStockHome prices throughout much of the country don’t look as if they’re coming down anytime soon—but they’re also not shooting up as much as they have in previous years. Nationally, prices notched up 3.7% in March, according to the latest CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index. That’s the lowest level of growth they’ve seen since September 2012, when the country was struggling to rebound from the Great Recession. It also… Read more »
  • You Won’t Believe What Trump Is Doing to Mortgage Assistance Programs
    designer491/iStockA federal crackdown on certain no-money-down home loan programs may hurt thousands of cash-strapped home buyers. Concerned about risky mortgages reminiscent of the housing bust, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently called for national groups to stop lending down payments to home buyers seeking Federal Housing Administration loans. Buyers who don’t pony up a down payment are more likely to default on their loans, and FHA loans… Read more »
  • This Is the Fastest-Growing City You’ve Never Heard Of
    Wikipedia CCForget New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. Most Americans have probably never heard of the nation’s fastest-growing city. The population of Buckeye, AZ, a friendly Phoenix suburb, shot up 8.5% from from July 1, 2017, through July 1, 2018, according to recently released U.S. Census Bureau report. Only cities with at least 50,000 residents were included. “Buckeye is one of the fastest-growing cities because it’s on the outskirts of Phoenix,” says Realtor® Danny… Read more »
  • U.S. New-Home Sales Fell in April
    Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesWASHINGTON—New-home sales in the U.S. declined in April, posting the largest monthly drop since the end of last year and signaling the housing market is on weaker footing during the key spring selling season. Purchases of newly built single-family homes—a relatively narrow slice of all U.S. home sales—declined 6.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 673,000 in April, the Commerce Department said Thursday. This was the largest… Read more »
  • Mortgage Rates Slide to Match the Lowest of 2019 as Trade War Heats Up
    andyKRAKOVSKI/iStockRates for home loans fell for the fourth straight week, and the benchmark mortgage product matched its low for 2019, as financial market turmoil offered a reprieve for house hunters. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.06% in the May 23 week, Freddie Mac said Thursday. That was down just 1 basis point, but brought the popular loan product to its lowest in two months. So far this year, the 30-year-fixed has… Read more »
  • U.S. Existing-Home Sales Continued to Falter in April
    Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesWASHINGTON—Sales of previously owned U.S. homes declined for the second month in a row in April, suggesting continued weakness in the housing market despite the strong labor market. Existing-home sales fell 0.4% in April from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.19 million, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal predicted sales increased 2.7% last month to an annual… Read more »
  • President Trump Addresses Realtors, Touts Plans Affecting Real Estate Industry
    Alex Wong/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump wants to make real estate great again. The former real estate developer touted his plans affecting the real estate industry before nearly 2,000 cheering agents on Friday at the National Association of Realtors® midyear meeting in Washington, DC. During his roughly hourlong address, Trump blasted environmental and other government regulations that impede building; praised his administration’s opportunity zones, which encourage investment in struggling communities; and championed… Read more »
  • Home Building in the U.S. Rose in April
    Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesWASHINGTON—A gauge of home building across the U.S. increased in April, driven by an uptick in single-family construction across much of the country. So-called housing starts rose 5.7% in April from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.235 million, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Residential building permits, which can signal how much construction is in the pipeline, climbed 0.6% from March to… Read more »
  • Rising Rents for Millennials Give Rise to a New Breed of Lender
    Morgan Lieberman for The Wall Street JournalJennifer Burnes says the paychecks from her work as a model and designer in Hollywood arrive sporadically, posing a challenge to paying monthly rent. “You know the check’s on the way, you just don’t know when, exactly,” the 22-year-old said. That is why she turned to StayTony. The property manager has teamed up with Uplift, one of several startups offering loans to recent college… Read more »
  • Major Flooding in the South Is a Cautionary Tale for All Homeowners
    Sean Rayford/Getty ImagesTorrential rains over the past week have pummeled a wide swathe of the South from eastern Texas to Mississippi — and residents in some areas will face the threat of flooding for weeks to come. More than a foot of rain has fallen in the South in recent days, thanks to a series of severe thunderstorms. Over Mother’s Day weekend, the downpours led to flash flooding everywhere from Houston and… Read more »
  • Fannie and Freddie Back More Mortgages of Those Deeply in Debt
    T.J. Kirkpatrick for The Wall Street JournalThe gatekeepers of the American mortgage market are increasingly backing loans to borrowers who have heavy debt loads, highlighting questions about mortgage risk as policy makers debate ways to change the system. Almost 30% of loans that mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac packaged into bonds last year went to home buyers whose total debt payments amounted to more than 43% of their incomes, according to an analysis by… Read more »
  • Small Mortgages Are Getting Harder to Come By
    Whitney Curtis for The Wall Street JournalSome low- and middle-income home buyers are having a hard time getting mortgages for an unexpected reason: The loans they’re applying for are too small. Lenders extended about 106,000 mortgages with balances between $10,000 and $70,000 in the U.S. last year, worth $5.1 billion. That is down 38% from almost 171,000 in 2009, according to figures compiled by Attom Data Solutions, a real-estate data… Read more »
  • Mortgage Rates Slump for the Third Straight Week as Big Questions Dog the Housing Market
    Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesRates for home loans fell along with the broader bond market even as the transformation of the real-estate industry quickened pace. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.10% in the May 9 week, Freddie Mac said Thursday. That was down 4 basis points during the week. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.57%, down from 3.60%. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.63%, down 5 basis points. The 30-year-fixed follows… Read more »
  • Homeowners Fault Government for Hurricane Harvey Damage
    Loren Elliott for The Wall Street JournalKATY, Texas—With lush parks, solid schools nearby and its proximity to Houston, the Cinco Ranch planned community seemed the perfect place for Elisio and Ana Soares to buy a house after moving to the U.S. from Brazil. But only after Hurricane Harvey swamped their dream home in August 2017 with 7 inches of water did the couple learn something they say they were never… Read more »
  • Ginnie Mae Moves to Crack Down on Repeated Refinancings
    istock/wichayada suwanachunGinnie Mae is taking steps to curb repeated mortgage refinancings that it says are hurting both borrowers and investors. The government-backed firm, which promotes homeownership by guaranteeing government mortgage bonds, is considering barring some loans backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs from inclusion in its flagship bonds. Its proposal, to be released on Friday, is aimed at stopping so-called “churning,” a practice in which lenders push borrowers to… Read more »
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