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Housing is Recovering, but Economic Outlook Uncertain: Freddie Mac

According to Freddie Mac’s Quarterly Forecast, housing markets have been affected by the pandemic with both home sales and house price growth declining.

“While the housing market undoubtedly has felt the effects of COVID-19, we are encouraged by recent homebuyer demand as well as mortgage rates that should remain at record lows for the foreseeable future.” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “However, beyond the initial rebound in the housing market, the economic and housing outlook will be heavily impacted by the prospects for a vaccine, fiscal policy and the underlying organic recovery of the economy which, in combination, make the outlook highly uncertain.”

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Consumer Confidence in Housing Market Up: Fannie Mae

The Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTCQB) Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) increased 4.5 points in May to 67.5, building slightly after nearing its all-time survey low in April. Four of the six HPSI components increased month over month, with consumers reporting a somewhat more optimistic view of homebuying conditions and, to a lesser extent, home-selling conditions. Moreover, fewer consumers reported expectations that mortgage rates will go up over the next 12 months. Year over year, the HPSI is down 24.5 points.

“Although the HPSI’s precipitous declines of March and April did not continue in May, Americans’ financial, economic, and housing market concerns remain substantially elevated compared to survey history,” said Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “Low mortgage rates have helped cushion some of the impact of the pandemic on consumer sentiment regarding whether it’s a good time to buy a home, which picked back up this month to late-2018 levels. Although weakened income perceptions and continuing job loss concerns, particularly among renters, are likely weighing on many would-be buyers, purchase mortgage applications have returned to mid-March levels when pandemic response measures began ramping up. Home-selling sentiment remains severely dampened due primarily to economic concerns, though increased purchase activity may improve the confidence of some potential sellers. As lockdown restrictions begin to ease across the country, we expect economic recovery to be largely shaped by consumers’ decisions regarding when and how to reengage in the economy. We believe this month's HPSI results and Friday's unexpectedly favorable labor market report to be encouraging signs for the months ahead.”

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FHFA Extends Appraisal Loan Processing Flexibilities

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is extending several loan origination flexibilities currently offered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) designed to help borrowers during the COVID-19 national emergency. Flexibilities extended until at least July 31st include:

  • Alternative appraisals on purchase and rate term refinance loans;
  • Alternative methods for verifying employment before loan closing;
  • Expanding the use of power of attorney and remote online notarizations to assist with loan closings; and
  • Authority to purchase mortgages in forbearance. 
View release.

FHFA Final Rule to Provide Increased Mortgage Financing for Underserved Borrowers

To help underserved borrowers, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) sent to the Federal Register for publication a final rule on the Federal Home Loan Banks’ (FHLBanks) Housing Goals. The new goals take effect in 2021 and enforcement of the rule will be phased in over three years. 

“By creating housing goal targets that are achievable for the Federal Home Loan Banks, the final rule helps ensure they make meaningful contributions to affordable homeownership,” said Director Mark Calabria. “This rule will expand responsible homeownership opportunities for underserved communities across the country.”

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Mortgage Rates Up as Homebuyers Re-enter Market; Selection Still Limited: Freddie Mac

Mortgage rates moved up slightly during the past week as prospective homebuyers re-entered the market, Freddie Mac reported June 4 in its Primary Mortgage Market Survey. While the economy slowly rebounds, signs indicate that home sales are picking up nicely even as the supply of available homes remains limited.

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Mortgage Rates Increase Slightly, but Remain Historically Low, Freddie Mac Reports

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.26 percent.

“Mortgage rates stayed at or near record lows for the fifth straight week and homeowners are taking advantage with refinance activity remaining high,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “Although purchase demand declined thirty-five percent year-over-year in mid-April, demand has improved modestly over the last three weeks.”

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.26 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending May 7, 2020, up from last week when it averaged 3.23 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.10 percent.  
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.73 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.77 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.57 percent.  
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.17 percent with an average 0.3 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.14 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.63 percent.
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Potential Home Sellers Gearing Up to List as Soon as Stay-at-home Orders Lift: NAR

More than 3 in 4 potential sellers – 77% – are preparing to sell their homes following the end of stay-at-home orders, with half completing do-it-yourself home improvement projects, according to a new survey from the National Association of Realtors®.

“After a pause, home sellers are gearing up to list their properties with the reopening of the economy,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Plenty of buyers also appear ready to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates and the stability that comes with these locked-in monthly payments into future years.”

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Fannie Allows Collateral Underwriter Instead of Field Reviews

By Phil Hall

Fannie Mae has issued a Lender Letter to its single-family sellers that updated the temporary policies enacted on March 31 in response to the COVID-19 crisis while reaffirming a key tenet regarding borrower income requirements.

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ECOA Valuations Rule Updated to Address Coronavirus

Creditors have flexibility regarding when they must provide appraisals to mortgage applicants, according to an updated Q&A on the Equal Credit Opportunity Act Valuations Rule released April 29 by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Under ordinary circumstance, creditors are required to provide appraisals promptly upon completion or three business days prior to consummation of a transaction.

Read the Rule Here

Credit Unions Allow Appraisals to be Delayed 4 Months

Federal banking regulators last week moved to allow banks to delay getting an appraisal on a property for as many as 120 days after a mortgage closes, and now, credit unions can do the same thing.

In order to “allow credit unions to expeditiously extend liquidity to creditworthy households and businesses in light of recent strains on the U.S. economy as a result of the National Emergency declared in connection with coronavirus disease,” the National Credit Union Administration will allow credit unions to postpone obtaining an appraisal until four months after a mortgage closes.

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Federal Banking Agencies Defer Some Appraisals, Evaluations

The federal banking agencies on April 14 issued an interim final rule to temporarily defer appraisals and evaluations under the agencies' interagency appraisal regulations. Certain appraisals and evaluations for residential and commercial properties are deferred for up to 120 days after closing a loan transaction. The interim rule excludes transactions involving acquisition, development, and construction of real estate.

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CFPB Wants to Cut Debt-to-income Requirement from QM Rule

By Ben Lane

Over the last several months, a number of the nation’s largest lenders and housing trade groups have called on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to make changes to the Ability to Repay/Qualified Mortgage rule.

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FHFA Issues Request for Input on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac UMBS Pooling Practices

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) today issued a Request for Input (RFI) about Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s (the Enterprises’) pooling practices for the formation of “To-Be-Announced” (TBA)-eligible Uniform Mortgage-Backed Securities (UMBS).  FHFA is also seeking public input about other policies and practices that might affect UMBS fungibility, including the Enterprises’ oversight of UMBS prepayment speeds and alignment.

This RFI follows on the successful launch of UMBS and seeks to ensure that UMBS remain a source of stable, affordable liquidity for the U.S. housing finance system.  The requested input will help FHFA determine whether further action or alignment is necessary to ensure reasonably consistent security cash flows and continued fungibility of the Enterprises’ UMBS.

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Wide Range of Big-Box Values Raises Concerns: The Appraisal Journal

Courts, market participants and valuation professionals have expressed widespread concern about the broad range in real estate values presented by opposing litigation experts regarding single-tenant, big-box properties, according to an article published this week in The Appraisal Journal.

The Appraisal Journal is the quarterly technical and academic publication of the Appraisal Institute, the nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers. The materials presented in the publication represent the opinions and views of the authors and not necessarily those of the Appraisal Institute.

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Residential Real Estate Prices Up; Homeownership Tenure Reaches New Peak: Data

 ATTOM Data Solutions, curator of the nation’s premier property database and first property data provider of Data-as-a-Service (DaaS), today released its Q2 2019 U.S. Home Sales Report, which shows that U.S. single family homes and condos sold for a median price of $266,000 in the second quarter, up 10.8 percent from the previous quarter and up 6.4 percent from a year ago — reaching a new median home price peak.

Meanwhile, the report also shows that homeowners who sold in the second quarter had owned an average of 8.09 years, reaching a new peak, up 3 percent from last quarter and up 4 percent from Q2 2018. Homeownership tenure averaged 4.21 years nationwide between Q1 2000 and Q3 2007, prior to the Great Recession.

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HUD Indefinitely Suspends Rule Change to FHA Down Payment Assistance Guidelines

By Jessica Guerin

The Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a notice to lenders announcing the formal suspension of its rule change to down payment assistance guidelines.

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'iBuyer' Service Alters Selling Process, Cuts Some Requirements

By Alina Ptaszynski

Opendoor and Redfin, two of the nation’s largest technology-powered real estate companies, today announced home sellers in Phoenix and Atlanta can now request an Opendoor offer through Redfin’s site and mobile apps. By coming together, we are giving homeowners more options for selling their home in a simple and convenient way. Redfin will also continue to expand RedfinNow, its own instant offer service.

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Multifamily Buildings Getting Bigger, Middle of the Market is Missing: Census Bureau

Last year, developers in the U.S. completed 211,000 new housing units in buildings of 50 units or more, the biggest number on record. The total number of new apartments constructed didn’t come close to setting any records, though.

These numbers are from Characteristics of New Housing, an annual Census Bureau data release that is so chock-full of interesting information (for example: 88% of apartments completed in 2018 had in-unit laundry facilities) that I briefly contemplated interrupting my vacation to write about it when it came out two weeks ago. I resisted then, but now I’m back at my desk and the new numbers don’t seem to have gotten much attention. They should!

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'iBuyer' Service Alters Selling Process, Cuts Some Requirements

By Andrea Riquier

Discount real-estate brokerage Redfin will partner with Opendoor, one of the leading home-buying services, allowing homeowners to get an instant offer when they want to sell with Redfin RDFN, -0.75%  , the firms announced Thursday.

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Jacksonville, North Carolina, Named Most Affordable Market for Beach Homes: Report

For many Americans, the ultimate summertime fantasy has less to do with washboard abs and a killer tan than owning their own piece of beachfront real estate — aka bliss. From Memorial Day through Labor Day (and beyond), beach lovers across the U.S. find themselves dreaming of escaping the hellish deadlines, soul-sucking commutes, and humdrum daily grind — and trading it all in for salty ocean breezes, caipirinhas on the sand, and fresh lobster rolls from a seafood joint around the corner.

Now just imagine doing it from your very own place.

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