Morning Briefing: Housing markets returning to normal says Freddie

by Steve Randall31 Mar 2016
Housing markets returning to normal says Freddie
Freddie Mac’s Multi-Indicator Market Index suggests that most US housing markets are returning to normal conditions as the spring buying season begins. However, the Great Lakes and much of the South are still areas of concern.

Nationally, the index has risen more than 7 per cent in 12 months and 34 of the 50 states plus DC are within their benchmark averages, a year ago just 22 areas were. The District of Columbia (101.8), North Dakota (96), Hawaii (95.6), Montana (95.1) and Utah (94.5) rank in the top five.
"Despite a stronger jobs market and declining unemployment, wage gains have not kept pace with house prices putting a pinch on homebuyer affordability. In the top 100 metro areas MiMi tracks, Los Angeles and Honolulu have elevated payment-to-income indicators and Miami, FL, is very close to elevated,” said deputy chief economist Len Kiefer.

"These payment-to-income indicators are high despite the fact that mortgage interest rates remain low. Mortgage rates fell at the start of the year, helping to bolster affordability heading into the spring season. But a lack of available inventory of for-sale homes has constrained many markets,” he said.
Mortgage apps down as refi’s continue decline
A further drop in refinancing loans has outweighed an increase in purchase loans in the latest weekly survey by the Mortgage Bankers’ Association. The overall Market Composite Index fell 1 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis in the week ending March 25 compared to a week earlier. On an unadjusted basis the index also fell 1 per cent.

The Refinance Index decreased 3 per cent from the previous week; the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 2 per cent while the unadjusted Purchase Index increased 3 per cent compared with the previous week and was 21 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 52.4 per cent of total applications from 53.9 per cent; ARM share of activity remained unchanged at 4.9 per cent; FHA share of total applications decreased to 11.5 per cent from 11.8 per cent; VA share increased to 12.9 per cent from 12.6 per cent;  USDA share remained unchanged at 0.9 per cent.
Zillow reviews of mortgage, real estate pros hits 2 million
Zillow says that there are now more than 2 million reviews of mortgage and real estate professionals on its site. The review capability was launched in 2010 but the rate of reviews has increased sharply in the last 12 months to exceed 2 million as March comes to an end.

"For agents and lenders, reviews have become a vital part of their marketing efforts. Every day we hear from real estate professionals who tell us how important reviews have been in growing their business," said Zillow’s CMO Jeremy Wacksman.


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