Homeowners and appraisers are seeing more eye-to-eye when it comes to home values. Appraised values in February were, on average, just 0.53 percent below homeowner estimates—the fifth consecutive month where the gap between the two groups has been less than 1 percent, according to the National Quicken Loans Home Price Perception Index.

Still, more than three-quarters of metro areas had appraised values that were higher than owner estimates. Dallas owners may be the most upbeat; appraisals there were, on average, 2.72 percent higher than what owners expected. “The Home Price Perception Index is a perfect example of how localized housing is across the country,” says Bill Banfield, executive vice president of Quicken Loans Capital Markets. “The fact that appraisals are showing home values nearly 3 percent higher than expected in Dallas, but the average appraisal is lower than the owner estimates by almost 2 percent in Philadelphia, illustrates this to a tee. Dallas is an incredibly hot housing market right now, and appraisers are seeing just how fast home values are climbing. When shopping for a home—or even refinancing a current mortgage—consumers should always keep the changes in their local market in mind before estimating a home’s value.”

Source: Quicken Loans

home loan

The National Association of REALTORS® has expressed support for the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, S. 2155, a banking reform bill the Senate plans to take up this week. The bill could open up more lending to households aspiring to become homeowners, NAR says.

The bill balances consumer protections with changes that could make home lending more readily available to people who need it, including renters struggling to acquire a mortgage because they haven’t yet amassed a conventional credit history. The bill includes a requirement that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the country’s largest source of home mortgage funds, accept rent and utility payment history as part of loan applicants’ credit scores.

The bill also reduces some regulatory burdens on credit unions and smaller community banks, which are often the main source of home mortgage financing in rural areas.

“We believe this bill balances financial regulation with consumer protections,” NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall said in a statement Tuesday. “It contains some favorable provisions for the housing industry, including expanding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s use of alternative credit scoring models and easing credit through reduced regulatory burdens on smaller community banks and credit unions.”

The bill would also hold Property Assessed Clean Energy—or PACE—loans more accountable and improve access to manufactured housing. Homeowners use PACE loans to make their property energy-efficient, including by installing a solar panel system. But the loans are considered problematic because they typically are put in a first-lien position, which can make them incompatible with mortgage loans.

The House has already passed its version of banking reform, known as The Financial Choice Act. Should the Senate pass its version, the bills will have to be reconciled.

“REALTORS® believe that balanced financial regulation and appropriate consumer protection will result in a more vibrant housing market and overall economy,” Mendenhall said. “NAR urges Congress and the [Trump] administration to enact S. 2155 into law.”

—Robert Freedman, REALTOR® Magazine

Mortgage rates are inching higher, and most home buyers seem unfazed by it. Only 6 percent of prospective home buyers recently surveyed said they would stop their home search if mortgage rates rose above 5 percent, according to a new survey released by the real estate brokerage Redfin of more than 4,000 consumers.

Mortgage rates hovered below 4 percent at the end of 2017, but in January the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage surpassed 4 percent. For the last five consecutive weeks, rates have been on the rise, with the 30-year mortgage rate averaging 4.32 percent in Freddie Mac’s most recent survey.

However, 27 percent of consumers who plan to buy a home in the coming year did say that a 5 percent mortgage rate would cause them to slow their plans to buy. A quarter of buyers said that an increase would have zero impact on their plans.

Higher rates may cause some buyers to rush their timelines. Twenty-one percent of potential buyers surveyed said that a rate bump to 5 percent would cause them to increase their urgency to buy. Another 21 percent said that such an increase would instead make them want to look in more affordable areas or to buy a smaller home.


Source: “Redfin Survey: Just 6% of Homebuyers Would Cancel Plans to Buy if Mortgage Rates Surpassed 5%,” Redfin (Feb. 12, 2018)


Homeowners may be surprised at how some extra costs really add up. A new survey by Bankrate.com shows that the average homeowner spends an average of $2,000 per year on maintenance services.

Sixty-three percent of more than 2,200 respondents recently surveyed say they use at least one recurring maintenance provider. Thirty-five percent say they use two or more.

The most common services and their average monthly costs for homeowners are:

  • Housekeeping: $285
  • Homeowners’ association dues: $210
  • Landscaping: $144
  • Home security system: $130
  • Pool care: $123
  • Snow removal: $84
  • Septic service: $67
  • Private trash/recycling collection: $55

Further, researchers found that usage of such home maintenance services tends to increase with age and income.

“These figures illustrate the hidden costs of homeownership, and it’s important to note they don’t include repairs such as a broken refrigerator, washing machine, or air conditioner,” says Taylor Tepper, a Bankrate.com analyst. “These are just ongoing, routine tasks like keeping your house and yard clean. Make sure to factor these costs into your new budget when you buy a house. Or do them yourself to save thousands of dollars each year.”

Source: Bankrate.com

home loan

Many home buyers find the mortgage process “stressful” or “complicated,” recent surveys show. As such, they may go through it and make some mistakes they later regret. Realtor.com® recently highlighted some of consumers’ most common pitfalls when getting a mortgage, including:

Failing to shop around.

About half of home buyers say they meet with only one mortgage lender before signing up for a mortgage, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Lenders’ interest rates and offers can vary. Failing to talk with more than one mortgage lender may mean buyers miss out on some savings. Rates among lenders can vary by more than a half percentage, according to the CFPB. For example, getting a 4 percent rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage compared to a 4.5 percent rate on a $200,000 loan could mean a savings of about $60 per month or $3,500 over the first five years. Housing experts recommend meeting with at least three mortgage lenders before selecting one.

Waiting for a 20 percent down payment.

A 20 percent down payment can help home buyers avoid having to pay the extra fees of private mortgage insurance. But mortgage rates are currently still at historical lows and waiting for a 20 percent down payment could mean buyers miss a chance to lock in a lower mortgage rate.

Getting prequalified instead of preapproved.

Prequalification is a basic overview a lender does of a borrower’s ability to get a loan. Buyers receive a general estimate of the size of loan they can afford. But it’s not a guarantee they can actually get approved for a home loan. That’s what makes a mortgage preapproval more ideal for home shoppers. It’s a more critical analysis by a lender of a buyer’s credit and assets. Lenders will then issue a letter of preapproval, which is a written commitment for financing up to a certain loan amount.

Shuffling money around accounts.

Buyers can run into delays when they start moving their money around from account to account. Lenders will check to see if finances have remained the same. Shuffling money around can be a huge red flag, says Casey Fleming, mortgage adviser and author of The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage. Buyers who are under contract for a home need to make sure their money stays put.

View more mistakes buyers most often make in the mortgage process at realtor.com®.

Source: “6 Ways Home Buyers Mess up Getting a Mortgage,” realtor.com® (Feb. 19, 2018)


The recent tax bill could cause the Federal Reserve’s rate increases to come faster mortgage rates are expected to go up three or four times in 2018. This could push 30-year mortgage rates up past 4 percent in the new year.

Mortgage rates typically follow the Treasury yield. The federal funds rate sets the stage for the path mortgages will take. The Mortgage Bankers Association forecasts that mortgage rates will go up, but will stay below 5 percent.

The Federal Reserve has begun reducing its holdings of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities, and this will put additional, modest upward pressure on mortgage rates, said the MBA’s Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni. We expect that the 10-year Treasury rate will stay below 3 percent through the end of 2018, and 30-year mortgage rates will stay below 5 percent.

According to the MBA’s predictions, rates will increase to 4.6 percent in 2018, 5 percent in 2019, and 5.3 percent in 2020. The National Association of REALTORS® predicts rates to end the year at 4.5 percent, while realtor.com expects mortgage rates to average 4.6 percent throughout the year and hit 5 percent by the year’s end.

Source: Mortgage rates to increase past 4.5% in 2018, HousingWire (January 3, 2018)

Millennials faces high student debt, soaring rents, and increasing property prices. But a new study shows they aren’t the generation who is dealing with the greatest hardships when it comes to breaking into the housing market.

Instead, Generation X—those born between the mid-1960s and early 1980s—is the age segment that is having the toughest time saving up to buy a new home, a report from the National Association of REALTORS® shows of about 4,000 responses from non-homeowners.

Generation Xers “are at an age where they may have children, car loans, credit card debt,” says Jessica Lautz, NAR’s managing director of survey research. “They’re also less likely to be able to move back home [with their parents] to pay down debt.”

About 47 percent of Gen X survey respondents reported having difficulty saving for a down payment compared to 23 percent of millennials.

Generation X may have felt the brunt of the financial crisis. “They were very likely to have purchased a home in the housing boom and then be hit by the housing bust,” Lautz says. “Generation Xers were most likely to have a home that was underwater.”

Without enough home equity, Gen Xers have struggled to trade up to larger homes as their families have grown.

Millennials, however, still comprise the largest overall share of non-owners, according to the NAR survey.

Eighty-two percent of non-owners, across age groups, say they aspire to own a home in the future. But the reality is that many still can’t afford it.

“They believe that homeownership is part of their American dream,” says Lautz. “[But they’re] feeling priced out of the homebuying market.”

Source: “Which Generation Is Struggling the Most to Buy a Home? (It’s Not Millennials),” realtor.com® (Feb. 7, 2018)

A Manhattan real estate broker with Douglas Elliman has sued representatives of pop superstar Taylor Swift, alleging the singer refused to pay commission after the purchase of a townhouse.

The suit claims a written promise to the unnamed broker for exclusive representation of Swift in the purchase of the townhome. The broker claims to have shown two properties to Swift, including the townhouse she purchased, along with other work on the star’s behalf, including providing blueprints, measuring the townhouse with a laser device, and introducing the former owner of the townhouse to representatives for Swift. Swift had already owned the property next to the townhome she purchased last year for $18 million.

The lawsuit states that another broker took the commission for the transaction. Douglas Elliman is seeking $1.1 million in damages, or about 6 percent of the property’s purchase price.

The lawsuit does not specifically name Swift, but the companies she has used in previous real estate transactions—Firefly Entertainment, 13 Management, and Euro Tribeca, The Real Deal reports. Representatives for Swift have declined to publicly comment on the lawsuit.

Source: “Taylor Swift Sued by Real Estate Broker Over $1M Commission,” PageSix.com (Jan. 25, 2018) and “Bad Blood: Elliman Accuses Taylor Swift Entity of Stiffing Broker on Commission,” The Real Deal (Jan. 25, 2018)



Despite rising prices, buying a home makes more sense than paying increasingly high rents in more than half of the U.S. Buying a median-priced home is more affordable than renting a three-bedroom property in 240 of 447 or 54 percent of U.S. counties analyzed, according to a new report released by ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data firm.

Renting a three-bedroom property requires an average of nearly 39 percent of weekly wages across the 447 counties analyzed for the report. The least affordable markets for renting are: Marin County, Calif. (where it takes 79.5% of average wages to rent); Spotsylvania County, Va. (75.5%); Honolulu County, Hawaii (71.9%); Sonoma County, Calif. (67.6%); and Kings County, N.Y. (67.4%).

But a rentals are still often a better deal in highly populated areas. Although buying is still more affordable than renting in the majority of U.S. housing markets, that majority is shrinking as home price appreciation continues to outpace rental growth in most areas, says Daren Blomquist, vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. Renting has clearly become the lesser of two housing affordability evils in many major population centers, with renting more than affordable than buying in 76 percent of counties that have a population of 1 million or more.

Source: ATTOM Data Solutions


The majority of buyers who obtained a mortgage last year made a down payment of less than 20 percent, according to the National Association of REALTORS 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. The median down payment in 2017 was 10 percent, according to the report.

The bulk of buyers down payments came from their personal savings, but a fraction also came from the sales proceeds of a previous residence or assistance from family or friends. Among first-time buyers, 61 percent made an average down payment of zero percent to 6 percent, according to the November 2017 REALTORS Confidence Index Survey.

Source: 61 Percent of First-Time Buyers Made a Low Down payment in November 2017, National Association of REALTORS Economists Outlook blog (Jan. 2, 2018)