Morning Briefing: It was easier to get a mortgage in February

by Steve Randall10 Mar 2017

It was easier to get a mortgage in February

Mortgage credit availability increased in February according to data from the Mortgage Bankers’ Association.

Its Mortgage Credit Availability Index was up 0.4 per cent to 177.8, with Government-backed loans seeing the largest increase (2.3 per cent) followed by conforming (0.1 per cent). However, availability of conventional and jumbo loans declined by 2.2 and 4.4 per cent respectively.

"The supply of credit increased as more investors offered affordable low down payment mortgages and streamlined documentation loans guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration and the Veterans Administration," said Lynn Fisher MBA's Vice President of Research and Economics.

"However, the impact of that increase on the overall index was partially offset by the first downturn in the availability of jumbo credit in a year due to the consolidation of some jumbo programs," added Fisher.


Homeowners’ $763 billion windfall

There was an increase in home equity during 2016 of $783 billion, a rise of 11.7 per cent from the previous year.

CoreLogic says that around 63 per cent of US homeowners with a mortgage saw a rise in equity and a million were lifted out of negative equity. That means that during last year, 93.8 per cent of mortgaged homes were in positive equity.

“Average home equity rose by $13,700 for U.S. homeowners during 2016,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “The equity build-up has been supported by home-price growth and paydown of principal. The CoreLogic Home Price Index for the U.S. rose 6.3 percent over the year ending December 2016. Further, about one-fourth of all outstanding mortgages have a term of 20 years or less, which amortize more quickly than 30-year loans and contribute to faster equity accumulation.”

The number of homes underwater in the fourth quarter declined by 2 per cent to 3.17 million, or 6.2 per cent of all homes with a mortgage.


Never say never for Neverland sale

Michael Jackson’s former home has been relisted at a massive discount as the company that bought his debts try again to capitalize on the iconic ranch.

Neverland has been fully restored to its former glory but has lost many of the late singer’s trademarks such as the theme park and its name; it is now back to its previous moniker Sycamore Valley Ranch.

Colony Capital has originally listed the estate at $100 million but the new asking price is the relatively modest $67 million.  For that, a new owner would get 2,700 acres and a 12,000 square foot main house with six bedrooms and attached staff quarters.

The estate is listed with Joyce Ray.


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