Buying Real Estate

New FHA Rule Will Ease Condo Approval Process

The long-waited Federal Housing Administration (FHA) rule regulating condominium lending was finalized Wednesday afternoon.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the parent agency of FHA, published the final regulation and the policy implementation guidance establishing a new condominium approval process.

As a way of background, under existing rules, to obtain an FHA mortgage a borrower must not only satisfy the lender and the FHA that he or she is a qualified buyer but must purchase a unit that is itself qualified for financing. 

According to the National Association of Realtors®, FHA has put its stamp of approval on many complexes, but given the universe, not nearly enough. Of the more than 150,000 condominium projects in the U.S., only 6.5 percent are approved to participate in FHA's mortgage insurance programs.   

To be approved under existing rules, condo communities must submit a pile of paperwork, be vetted by the administration, make any improvements specified by FHA, and then submit to a reexamination. Specified requirements cover the percentage of owner-occupied units, budgetary reserves, insurance coverage, and HOA dues collections. There are also location requirements related to transportation access.  FHA said its requirements were intended to "make sure that the property remains in good standing and will be desirable."

These requirements often left buyers selecting a condo only to find they could not obtain an FHA mortgage for which they were otherwise qualified. This has had implications for homeownership, especially for low-income borrowers, those with less than perfect credit scores, or with downpayments below the minimum level to obtain other financing.  This has become increasingly problematic as prices for single-family homes have escalated, making condo purchases more important as an option for entry-level buyers.

The new rule, which becomes effective on October 15, will allow a homebuyer to obtain an FHA mortgage for an individual condo unit in an unapproved condominium project if that project is completed and meets the following criteria:

  • In a development with fewer than 10 units, no more than two can be insured by FHA.

  • In a development that exceeds 10 units, a maximum of 10 percent can be insured by the FHA.

  • A minimum of 50 percent of project units must be owner-occupied.

The rule change also extends the certification period from two to three years and expands the eligibility criteria for mixed-use units.

HUD estimates the new rules will make an additional 20,000 to 60,000 condo units eligible for FHA insured loans each year.

HUD Acting Deputy Secretary and FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery said, "Today we are making certain FHA responds to what the market is telling us. This new rule allows FHA to meet its core mission to support eligible borrowers who are ready for homeownership and are most likely to enter the market with the purchase of a condominium."

BY: JANN SWANSON

Rising Affordability in Purchasing Real Estate

BY: JANN SWANSON

Black Knight has good news for potential homebuyers, especially those in the market for their first home. The new edition of the company's Mortgage Monitor says the recent decline in mortgage interest rates has made home affordability the best it has been in 18 months.

With the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hovering around 3.75 percent, it now takes 21.3 percent of the nation's median monthly income to make a mortgage payment on the median priced home. This is down from 23.3 percent in November of last year and more affordable than the long-term ratio of around 25 percent that was in-play during a time when the market was generally considered to be "normal," 1995 to 2003. It is also much lower than the 34.5 percent ratio at the height of the housing boom.

The rising payment-to-income ratio, as it hit its recent peak last November, appeared to trigger a strong reaction in both sales and home prices.  Given its relatively modest historical position, Black Knight suggests there may be heightened sensitivity to affordability concerns in today's market. Both existing and new home sales have been ragged since then and, although home prices continued to rise, that rate at which they did so slowed considerably.

The average home price has gone up by more than $12 thousand since interest rates peaked last November, but the monthly payment has declined by $108 for an average home purchased with a 20 percent down payment.  Black Knight says this is the equivalent of a 15 percent increase in buying power and means a homebuyer could pay $45,000 more for a home without seeing an increase in the monthly payment.

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Of course, with lower rates and higher affordability, demand is growing again.  The company notes that, the 15-month pattern of price deceleration it had been tracking seems to have leveled off. The annual home price appreciation rate held steady in June at 3.78 percent.

Black Knight cautions that it takes time for impacts for interest rate changes to show up in housing market numbers; even after homebuyers react, there is a time lag due to contract, offer, closing, and recording times.  Therefore, the flat appreciation rate from May to June could be just the beginning and the 3.75 interest rate that hit at the end of June may not show up in home sale and price changes until August or September.

There is a large spread of payment to income ratios across the states, but affordability is improving.  Where nine states were less affordable than their long-term norms back in November, only California and Hawaii remained so as of July.

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Housing is least affordable along the western U.S. and parts of the northeast, while the Midwest and parts of the South are home to some of the lowest payment-to-income ratios.  Not only is housing in the Midwest the most affordable, but it is also the furthest below its own long-term average, as income growth there has been more in line with home price growth than in other areas.

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Even in California, however, affordability has improved.  The state went from having one of the top five home price growth rates of any state (8.6 percent) one year ago to second-to-last as of June 2019, with home price growth slowing to just 1.3 percent year-over-year.  The payment ratio in the state is now 34 percent, down 4 percentage point from November. That is, however, 2.5 points above its long-term ratio.  Growth declines in several of the West Coast's largest markets has been significant up; prices in the last 12 months have increased by 1.1 percent or less in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle. 

Price growth among condominiums have been experiencing greater slowing over the last 12 months than have prices of single-family homes. Up until then the two sets of prices had been rising in lockstep, but now condos are appreciating at 2.2 percent compared to single-family homes at 3.9 percent.  That is a 40 percent differential.  The company points out that condo prices are historically more volatile, they had a faster appreciation rate in the late 1990s and early 2000s, experienced a sharper downturn during the financial crisis and then recovered faster in 2012 to 2014.  Now the tide may be turning again.  The company said this could be due to a number of factors and it worth keeping an eye on.

Black Knight also provided an update on the prepayment rate which had been seeing some dramatic increases as rates declined. That, however, ended in June as activity fell by 7.5 percent.  It was the first monthly decline since January and the company calls it surprising "given that refinance incentive continues to rise, and home sale driven prepayments typically increase from May to June."


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 The declines were evident across servicing portfolios, investor classes, interest type and vintages but the strongest reductions were among portfolio held loans, high credit score mortgages and loans originated last year.  Those were the cohorts that had seen the largest increase in prepayments previous to June.  Black Knight says the pullback may be due to sluggish refi-driven prepayments in June rather than (or potentially in combination with) lackluster home sale driven prepays

Millionaire to Millennials: The Costly Mistake of Not Buying Now

On his personal website, self-made millionaire David Bach makes a striking statement:

 “Not prioritizing homeownership is the single biggest mistake millennials are making.” 

He further stated, “Buying a home is an escalator to wealth.”

Bach explains:

“Young adults in particular aren’t hopping on this escalator, and it’s a costly mistake…If millennials don’t buy a home, their chances of actually having any wealth in this country are little to none.”

He then elaborates on the game of homeownership:

“Start by crunching the numbers…actually do the math...This way, you’re really clear on your goals and you won’t just say to yourself, ‘I’ll never afford this!'

A good rule of thumb is to make sure your total monthly housing payment doesn’t consume more than 30 percent of your take-home pay.”

Bach concludes by saying,

“Oftentimes, buying your first home means you’re not buying your dream home…You’re just getting into the market.”

Bottom Line

Whenever a well-respected millionaire gives investment advice, listeners usually clamor to hear it. This millionaire shares some simple and straightforward insights: “The fact is, you aren’t really in the game of building wealth until you own some real estate.”

Who is David Bach?

Bach is a self-made millionaire who has written nine consecutive New York Times bestsellers. His book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” spent 31 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. He is one of the only business authors in history to have four books simultaneously on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and USA Today bestseller lists.

He has been a contributor to NBC’s Today Show, appearing more than 100 times, as well as a regular on ABC, CBS, Fox, CNBC, CNN, Yahoo, The View, and PBS. He has also been profiled in many major publications, including the New York Times, BusinessWeek, USA Today, People, Reader’s Digest, Time, Financial Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Working Woman, Glamour, Family Circle, Redbook, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Investors’ Business Daily, and Forbes.

Housing Affordability in California: The Breakdown

Ability to purchase a median-priced home: According to the State Legislature in Q1 of 2019 only 28% of the population in Napa County can afford to purchase a median-priced home compared to Lassen county with 63% (the highest affordable county). A couple of others: San Francisco and Santa Cruz - 20%, Santa Clara - 23%, San Diego - 26% and LA and Mendocino - 27%. For any other counties of interest please contact me.

1 out of 4 homeless people live in California. The states with the largest increases from 2016-2017 are:

California - 16,136 (13.7%)

New York - 3,151 (3.6%)

Oregon - 715 (5.4%)

Nevada - 435 (5.9%)

Texas - 426 (1.8%)

The Minimum Annual Income Required During Affordability Peak (Q4 2012) vs. Current.

Region 2012 Q1 2019 Q1 %CHG

CA Single Family Housing $ 56,320 $ 114,860 103.9%

CA Condo/Townhomes $ 44,440 $ 94,690 113.1%

Los Angeles Metro Area $ 53,780 $ 107,110 99.2%

Inland Empire $ 35,170 $ 76,810 118.4%

S.F. Bay Area $ 90,370 $ 186,230 106.1%

US $ 32,000 $ 53,620 67.6%




















Now's the Time To Move-Up and Upgrade Your Current Home

Homes priced at the top 25% of the price range for a particular area of the country are considered "premium homes." In today’s real estate market, there are deals to be had at the higher end! This is great news for homeowners wanting to upgrade from their current house.

Much of the demand for housing over the past couple of years has come from first-time buyers looking for their starter home. Many of the more expensive homes listed for sale have not seen as much interest.

According to ILHM’s Luxury Reportthis mismatch in demand and inventory of luxury and premium homes has created a Buyer’s Market. For the purpose of the report, a luxury home was defined as one that costs $1 million or more.

“A Buyer’s Market indicates that buyers have greater control over the price point. This market type is demonstrated by a substantial number of homes on the market and few sales, suggesting demand for residential properties is slow for that market and/or price point.”

The authors of the report were quick to point out that current conditions at the higher end of the market are no cause for concern.

“While luxury homes may take longer to sell than in previous years, the slower pace, increased inventory levels and larger differences between list and sold prices, represent a normalization of the market, not a downturn.”

Luxury can mean different things to different people. To one person, luxury is a secluded home with plenty of property and privacy. To another, it could be a penthouse at the center of a bustling city. Knowing what characteristics mean luxury to you will help your agent find you the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line

If you are debating upgrading your current house to a premium or luxury home, now is the time!

Home Prices Up 5.05% Across the Country

Some Highlights:

  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently released their latest Quarterly Home Price Index report.

  • In the report, home prices are compared both regionally and by state.

  • Based on the latest numbers, if you plan on relocating to another state, waiting to move may end up costing you more!

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Mid-Year Housing Market Update: Three Things to Know Today

Shifting trends and industry-leading research are pointing toward some valuable projections about the status of the housing market for the rest of the year.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, or if you just want to know what experts are saying is on the horizon, here are the top three things to put on your radar as we head into the coming months:

  1. Home prices are appreciating at a more normal rate: Home prices have been appreciating for about ten years now. Experts at the Home Price Expectation Survey, Mortgage Bankers Association, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae are forecasting continued growth throughout the next year, although it should be leveling-off to normal appreciation (3.6%), as we move into 2020.

  2. Interest rates are low: Over the past 30 years, the average mortgage rate in the United States has been 8.27%, and rates even peaked as high as 18% in the 1980s. Today, at 3.81%, the rate is considerably lower than the historical 30-year average. Although experts predict it may climb into the low 4% range in the near future, that’s still remarkably lower than our running average, suggesting a great time to get more for your money over the life of your loan.

  3. An impending recession does not mean there will be a housing crash: Although expert research studies such as those found in the Duke Survey of American CFOs and the National Association of Business Economics, are pointing toward a recession beginning within the next 18 months, a potential recession isn’t expected to be driven by the housing industry. That means we likely won’t experience a devastating housing crash like the country felt in 2008. Expert financial analyst Morgan Housel tweeted:

“An interesting thing is the widespread assumption that the next recession will be as bad as 2008. Natural to think that way, but, statistically, highly unlikely. Could be over before you realized it began.”

In fact, during 3 of the 5 last U.S. recessions, housing prices actually appreciated:

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Bottom Line

With prices appreciating and low interest rates available, it’s a perfect time to buy or sell a home. Reach out to a local real estate professional to see how you can take the next step in the exciting journey of homeownership.

Article from Keeping Current Matters

The Cost of Waiting: Interest Rates Edition

Some Highlights:

  • Interest rates are projected to increase steadily heading into 2020.

  • The higher your interest rate, the more money you will end up paying for your home and the higher your monthly payment will be.

  • Rates are still low right now – don’t wait until they hit 5% to start searching for your dream home!

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What a Difference a Year Makes for Sellers

Over the last few years, many sellers have been hesitant to put their houses on the market because they feared not being able to find another home to buy.

We’ve reported on inventory shortages in the past, and it’s been a constant concern for potential buyers throughout recent years. New research shows the inventory concern is starting to decrease among potential buyers.

According to First American, the two leading obstacles to homeownership that buyers feel today are Affordability and Limited Inventory. This means the feeling that homes are less affordable has risen, while the fear of limited inventory has decreased, delivering a wealth of good news for sellers.

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At the same time, over the past 12 months, we’ve seen a steady month-over-month increase in the number of homes coming to market for purchase. In the past, the lack of listings and available inventory slowed down the real estate market. This recent increase in current inventory has many buyers and sellers now thinking it is time to make their move – and rightfully so! For the last two months, we’ve seen over 4 months of inventory become available for sale, a promising number that’s been slowly increasing this year and creating more buying opportunities.

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To further support the idea of an improving real estate market, Sam Khater, the Chief Economist at Freddie Mac says,

“…In the near-term, we expect the housing market to continue to improve from both a sales and price perspective.” 

Many experts, like Sam, believe the second half of 2019 will drive a stronger market than we saw at the beginning of the year. This is great news for homeowners who have put off getting their houses on the market and are now ready to make a move.

Bottom Line

What a difference we’ve seen over the course of this year! If you’re thinking of selling, now is the time as inventory is on the rise.