The Mortgage Bankers Association issued a new forecast This Week in Real Estate that predicts the rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage will average 3.7% in the third and fourth quarters of 2019. Below are a few highlights from the third week of August that influence our business:
Existing-Home Sales Climb 2.5% in July. Existing-home sales strengthened in July, a positive reversal after total sales were down slightly in the previous month, according to the National Association of Realtors. Although Northeast transactions declined, the other three major U.S. regions recorded sales increases, including vast growth in the West last month. Total existing-home sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, rose 2.5% from June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.42 million in July. Single-family home sales sat at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.84 million in July, up from 4.71 million in June and up 1.0% from a year ago. Overall sales are up 0.6% from a year ago (5.39 million in July 2018). Properties typically remained on the market for 29 days in July, up from 27 days in June and up from 27 days in July of 2018. Fifty-one percent of homes sold in July were on the market for less than a month. Existing-home sales in the West shot up 8.3% to an annual rate of 1.18 million in July, just 0.8% below a year ago. The median price in the West was $408,000, up 3.7% from July 2018.
Appraisals May Soon Not Be Required on Certain Home Sales of $400,000 and Under. Certain home sales of $400,000 and under may soon not need an appraisal, as federal regulators are close to approving a proposal to increase the threshold at which residential home sales require an appraisal for the first time since 1994. In November, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve released a proposal that would increase the appraisal requirement from $250,000 to $400,000, meaning that certain home sales of $400,000 and below would no longer require an appraisal. The proposal has been approved by both the FDIC and OCC, but without Fed approval, the rule cannot move forward. But considering that the FDIC and OCC have approved the rule, and gotten sign-off on the matter from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it’s likely only a matter of time before the Fed approves the rule, it’s entered into the Federal Register, and enacted as the law of the land. Now, it’s important to note that the new rules do not apply to loans wholly or partially insured or guaranteed by, or eligible for sale to, a government agency or government-sponsored agency. That means that loans sold to or guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac would still require an appraisal, per each agency’s rules. But despite that fact, the change would have a sizable impact on the real estate market, as according to the OCC, the new rules would apply to approximately 40% of home sales.
MBA Lowers Rate Forecast and Boosts Lending Outlook. Mortgage Bankers Association issued a new forecast that predicts the U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage will average 3.7% in the third and fourth quarters of 2019, down from the 3.9% the group predicted for the same periods a month ago. Lower mortgage rates will boost loan originations 15% compared to last year, according to the forecast issued on Friday. Mortgage originations probably will total $1.86 trillion in 2019, MBA said. Last month, it called for $1.79 trillion. In 2018, mortgage volume was $1.64 trillion.