Archive for March, 2011

FHA : Monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums To Rise April 18, 2011

David Kosmecki | March 4, 2011 in FHA Mortgages | Comments (0)

Tags:

FHA Mortgage Insurance Increase April 18 2011For the third time in 12 months, the FHA is changing its mortgage insurance costs. 

Effective for all FHA case numbers assigned on, or after, April 18, 2011, annual mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) will increase 25 basis points.

The change will add $250 to an FHA-insured homeowner’s annual loan costs per $100,000 borrowed, and applies to all borrower’s equally. Current FHA borrowers are unaffected.

To understand the FHA is to understand why premiums are rising.

As an institution, the Federal Housing Administration plays a much larger role in the U.S. housing market today than it did just 5 years ago. According to its own records, the FHA’s percentage of purchase money business in Minnesota and nationwide expanded from 4 percent in FY 2006 to 19 percent in FY 2010.

Rapid growth like this has strained the FHA’s capital and, indeed, in its official statement, the FHA alludes to this, stating that the MIP increase will “significantly strengthen” its reserves. By law, the FHA must maintain a certain minimum level of reserves.

FHA mortgage insurance varies by loan term, and by loan-to-value and, beginning April 18, 2011, the new insurance premiums are as follows:

  • 15-year loan term, loan-to-value > 90% : 0.50% per year
  • 15-year loan term, loan-to-value <= 90% : 0.25% per year
  • 30-year loan term, loan-to-value > 95% : 1.15% per year
  • 30-year loan term, loan-to-value <= 95% : 1.10% per year

To calculate your monthly mortgage insurance premium, multiply your starting loan size by your insurance premium, and divide by 12. 

There is no change planned to the 1 percent upfront mortgage insurance premium charged by the FHA.


Make A Mortgage Rate Plan BEFORE Friday’s Jobs Report

David Kosmecki | March 3, 2011 in Jobs | Comments (0)

Tags:

Unemployment Rate 2008-2011Mortgage rates could move higher beginning tomorrow morning. The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its February jobs report at 8:30 AM ET.

Home buyers and rate shoppers in Minneapolis would be wise to take note. The jobs report is almost always a market-mover.

Consider last month.

Although net job creation fell well-short of expectations in January — just 36,000 jobs were added — the national Unemployment Rate dropped to 9.0%, its lowest level in 2 years. The marked improvement surprised economists and sparked inflationary concerns within the investor community.

This, in turn, caused mortgage rates to rise.

In the days immediately following the jobs report’s release, conforming rates across Wisconsin jumped 0.375 percent. That’s equivalent to a mortgage payment increase of $22 per month per $100,000 borrowed.

A similar spike could occur tomorrow.

Wall Street scrutinizes job growth because with more working Americans, there’s more consumer spending, and consumer spending accounts for 70% of the U.S. economy. A blow-out number tomorrow would change expectations for the future, and lead rates higher again.

The economy shed 7 million jobs between 2008 and 2009 and has barely made 1 million of them back. Tomorrow, analysts expect to see 183,000 jobs created. If the actual reading is lower-than-expected, mortgage rates should fall and home affordability will improve.

Anything else and mortgage rates should rise. Likely by a lot.

Therefore, if you’re shopping for a mortgage right now, consider your risk tolerance. Once markets open tomorrow, you can’t get today’s rates.


Ignore The Case-Shiller Index; Focus On The Future Instead

David Kosmecki | March 2, 2011 in Case-Shiller Index | Comments (0)

Tags:

Case-Shiller December 2010

Last week, Standard & Poor’s released its Case-Shiller Index for December 2010. The index is a home valuation tracker, meant to meausure the change in home prices from one period to the next.

December’s Case-Shiller Index showed major devaluations nationwide. As compared to December 2009, on a year-over-year basis, home values fell in 18 of the Case Shiller Index’s 20 tracked markets, and the U.S. National Index dropped 4 percent overall. 

The retreat puts December’s home values at similar levels as compared to early-2003.

That said, buyers and sellers would be wise to take the findings lightly. The Case-Shiller Index is inherently flawed. As such, its results are neither practical — nor relevant — to everyday Americans.

There are 3 Case-Shiller flaws, in fact.

The first flaw is the index’s limited sample set. Wikipedia lists 3,100+ municipalities nationwide and we can be certain that real estate is bought and sold in all of them. The Case-Shiller Index, however, measures just 20 of them. That’s less than 1% of all U.S. cities. And then, within those tracked cities, Case-Shiller reports an average, lumping disparate neighborhoods and streets into one big number.

The “national figures” aren’t really national, and the “city data” doesn’t apply to your home, specifically.

The second Case-Shiller Index flaw is how it measures home value changes. The index only consider at “repeat sales” of the same home, so long as that home is a single-family, detached property. Condominiums, multi-family homes, and new construction are ignored in the Case-Shiller Index.

Because distressed properties account for such a high percentage of resales lately — 36% in December –foreclosures and short sales skew Case-Shiller Index worse.

And, lastly, the Case-Shiller Index is flawed by “age”. Because it reports closed sales a 60-day delay, December’s Case-Shiller Index is measuring the values of home sales contracts from September and October. The Case-Shiller Index, therefore, is a snapshot of the not-so-recent past, and does little to tell us about the next 60 days.

Overall, the Case-Shiller Index is helpful tool for economists and policy-makers, but it doesn’t do much good for individual homeowners across the city of Plymouth or anywhere else. For accurate, real-time housing data in your local market, talk to a real estate professional instead.


Pending Home Sales Drop For Second Straight Month

David Kosmecki | March 1, 2011 in Pending Home Sales | Comments (0)

Tags:

Pending Home Sales July 2009 - January 2011After a strong run to close out 2010, the market for home resales softened a bit in January.

On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the Pending Home Sales Index dropped 3 percent last month, and December’s figures were revised downward for a loss, too, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

A “pending home sale” is defined as a home under contract to sell, but not yet closed. 

The forward-looking index is now at a 3-month low on a national level, but still well ahead of its rolling 6-month average.

Unfortunately, national data isn’t overly helpful for buyers and sellers of real estate. The National Association of REALTORS® knows this, of course, and makes an effort to get more granular, supplementing the Pending Home Sales Index report with a region-by-region breakdown

Between December and January, only the South Region increased in sales volume. The Midwest led the losers:

  • Northeast Region: -2.4%
  • Midwest Region : -7.3%
  • South Region : +1.4%
  • West Region : -5.2%

Even still, however, regional data remains too broad to be practical. The South Region, for example, is comprised of multiple states with thousands of cities and town. The housing market dynamics of a specific neighborhood in a specific regional city will differ from that of another neighborhood in another regional city.

Real estate data must be local to be relevant.

Overall, then, what may be most telling from January’s Pending Home Sales Index is how weather can influence results.

Most of the country faced drastic weather conditions in January, ranging from raging snowstorms to bitter cold. Events like that tend to put a damper on home sales, a contributing factor in why the number of new contracts fell.

Another reason is rising mortgage rates. Conforming and FHA rates rose week-by-week in January, robbing home buyers of 10% of their purchasing power. This, too, can slow down purchase activity as buyers adjust their expectations.

Looking forward, we should expect the Pending Home Sales Index to resume rising. Inclement weather doesn’t kill demand; it just delays it. And mortgage rates have settled somewhat. These two factors should help release pent-up demand just as the Spring Homebuying Season gets underway.

As more buyers enter the market, negotiation leverage will shift to home sellers, pressuring Minneapolis home prices higher. The lowest prices of the year — and the cheapest financing — could be what you see today.