A lot of new rules and changes have hit the real estate and mortgage industries in the last few years. Here’s a little background and an update and then we’ll get to what you really need to know.
The intent of a lot of these new regulations – and all the acronyms that go along with them like CFPB and TRID – is to educate and protect consumers. The Dodd Frank Act is responsible for a lot of changes in the way business is done going forward and there are many folks opposed to all or part of the sweeping bill. A congressman from Texas has now introduced what he calls “the Republican plan to replace Dodd-Frank and promote economic growth.” Its name is Financial CHOICE Act— complete with its own acronym that stands for “Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs.” It’s not clear if it will get anywhere – there’s no companion bill in the Senate yet or official reaction from the rest of Washington.
It’s almost impossible to keep track of everything politicians are up to with regard to real estate and mortgage regulation. For now, know this: You need to surround yourself with great professionals who are up to date on the rules, timelines and how to make the transaction go as smooth as possible for everyone involved. At GCS Title, we have an amazing team dedicated to doing just that. Meet our great people here: https://www.gcstitle.com/meet-the-team/
Whether you’re a Realtor, a loan officer, a homeowner or potential buyer, we want you to know “we get it” and we’re here to help. Call us any time! ~Charlie
It can be hard – and actually kind of boring – to keep up with everything lawmakers are passing that affects the real estate and mortgage industries in the interest of “protecting consumers.” The latest development out of Washington D.C. is passage of the SAFE Transitional Licensing Act that basically gives mortgage loan officers a temporary license when making a change. Those changes could be between companies or across state lines. Why should anyone who isn’t a lender in transition care? The government has spent a lot of time examining the real estate process – lending practices, settlement procedures, licensing, disclosures and marketing rules after the “real estate bubble burst” and the “mortgage meltdown.” All the new rules and scrutiny came after the waves of foreclosures and underwater properties that did in fact cause a great deal of suffering for individuals and the economy. Politicians will always be busy making laws – it’s what they do. We at GCS and the Realtors and lenders we work with also understand that consumers must be protected and empowered. Whether you’re a renter or homeowner, there are many times when real estate and mortgage professionals can be helpful – even outside the times when you’re buying, selling or refinancing. The housing and finance crises of years past have made Realtors and loan officers necessary members of your “household finance team” and they can help you stay on top of your home’s value, your credit, your ability to make a move and your options at any given time. Take advantage of their knowledge and commitment to neighborhoods, communities and your ability to build worth and wealth through homeownership! ~Charlie
On the House
Charlie Lawson – GCS Title
Recent figures from the government might be a bummer for home builders, but they’re keeping a stiff upper lip. There are so many numbers about what’s going on month-over-month and year-over-year, but there’s a couple of quotes from big brains in the industry that I think explain the fact that builder confidence hasn’t wavered much even though reports indicate their progress has hiccupped a little:
“We still expect strong housing demand and low inventory in the market for previously owned homes to lift single-family housing starts, later in the year.” – Genworth Mortgage Insurance Chief Economist Tian Liu
We mentioned tight inventory in some market areas and price ranges in last week’s blog, so Mr. Liu’s assessment seems right on and a good reason for home buyers to check out new construction. The next quote also touches on something we mentioned in last week’s blog – the fact that rates dropped to a three-year low:
“Solid job creation and low mortgage interest rates will sustain continued gains in the single-family housing market in the months ahead.” – National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist Robert Dietz
Whether you’re looking for a brand new home – or just a home that’s brand new to you – the same things are important: Planning and professional help. Anyone thinking of buying a home needs to get a personal consultation regardless of what your timeframe is. Competition for existing homes can be tough, so pre-approval for a mortgage and great representation will help you make the most of what’s available. We work with many experienced professionals and would be glad to refer you to someone who can help. We also have many builder partners, so let us know if we can help! ~Charlie
On the House
Charlie Lawson – GCS Title
Different aspects of the housing market are going in different directions. But the latest “ups and downs” are pretty favorable. RE/Max is out with its latest National Housing Report and it shows we’ve got a healthy market that’s really picking up:
- The U.S. housing market has gone 50 months without a drop in the median sales price
- Home sales jumped 33.4% from February to March – that’s also a 3.6% year-over-year increase
- Forty-four of the 53 metro areas included in the report experienced home price increases
More homes have sold, prices are holding steady and rising in most areas; we’re also finding that the time it takes a home to sell is decreasing:
- March marked the 36th consecutive month where time on market was fewer than 80 days
- The average days on market in March was 71 – down four days from February and seven days year-over-year
As we’re seeing a jump in market activity, we’re simultaneously seeing a crash in mortgage interest rates. We’ve got the lowest interest rates since May 2013 according to the Primary Mortgage Market Survey from guarantor Freddie Mac. This “crash” is a good thing for a lot of people! Lower rates will make it possible for more people to qualify for mortgages and can stimulate buying activity, allowing more homeowners to be able to move up, downsize or move on. One thing to be concerned about is low housing inventory in some housing areas and price ranges; however, your professional real estate and lending professionals can help you be prepared to compete for the home of your dreams in a fast-paced marketplace. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage (and talking to a lender even if you’re not quite ready to buy) and discussing your goals and preferences with a Realtor will help you navigate the market conditions and take advantage of interest rates that won’t last forever. ~Charlie
On the House
Charlie Lawson – GCS Title
Bank of America released its inaugural Homebuyer Insights Report and there was a stat that really jumped out at me: 35% of the people 18 or older surveyed who want to buy a home in the future say they plan to retire wherever they buy. Some of our parents – and probably a lot of our grandparents – lived in one home for most of their adult lives, but the last few decades have seen people buying, selling and moving every 3-7 years. Here are some of the other responses to the survey questions along with some important talking points that we as real estate professionals need to be sure consumers hear and understand:
32% of Millennials said they will wait to pay down debt before buying a home
We need to stress that paying off debt isn’t the only aspect of qualifying for a mortgage and how important it is to make an overall plan for debt, credit and payment-preparedness. “Waiting to pay down debt” doesn’t mean you’re qualified – there are more pieces to the puzzle.
66% of Millennials said they would likely need assistance from their parents to buy their first home
It’s important to include rules and parameters for gift money as well as highlight and publicize the various down payment assistance programs available in our state, cities and counties.
75% of first-time homebuyers said they would skip bypass a starter home in favor of something more desirable
Going from renter to homeowner is a big step for anyone, so making a larger leap from the starting block will require more strategic planning. Again, talking to a lender far in advance of when a consumer *thinks* they’ll be ready to buy is the best way to learn about and maximize opportunity.
My team and I are here to help our Realtor and Loan Officer partners communicate the current conditions and issues in our market as well as help spread the word about the incredible benefits of homeownership. Let’s talk!
You’ve probably heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that affects people’s moods and happiness levels in the winter months when there’s less sunshine. That in mind, some researchers wanted to know if sunshine or clouds affected mortgage loan approvals (not making this up). Folks at the University of Washington compared loan approvals on unexpectedly sunny days to those on unexpectedly cloudy days and found some interesting things: 1) The number of approvals on the sunny days was higher and 2) The “sunny day approvals” also proved more likely to go into default. Anyone who has ever gone through the process of getting a mortgage might (and probably should) freak out to hear this and wonder, “After all the paperwork, scrutiny, explanations and proof of everything, it comes down to SUNSHINE?” It’s not quite that simple, but UW felt their data was strong enough to publicize. UW Associate Finance Professor Ran Duchin says, “The cool thing about this data is that for all the applications that are approved, we could actually trace the performance of those loans being originated, after they’re approved.” Duchin says this data should motivate lenders to investigate “to what extent should we automate some of the decision-making processes … to avoid this sort of human factor, these mistakes.”
I know from years of doing business and working with the finest loan officers and lending institutions that this research makes for an interesting news item, but it’s not even close to the whole story. Things like the weather shouldn’t affect your loan approval or experience as a borrower. One way to make sure you’re not harmed by a “fair weather lender” is to deal with experienced professionals. Get recommendations and research loan officers and companies before making a decision and don’t make an “impulse application” online without due diligence. Anyone who’s ever gotten a mortgage understands how helpful “live humans” are when the process gets stressful and complicated (and that’s practically the definition of “mortgage process”). Ask us! We can connect you with the best of the best.
Regular news can be slow this time of year, but making predictions for what will happen in the new year provides a ton of material. I find that pretty much the only thing that’s predictable about predictions is that we shouldn’t put too much stock in them. A lot of us in the real estate, mortgage and related industries shake our heads when we hear or read news stories that are misleading or just plain wrong because the reporter doesn’t understand the material and incorrect information can prevent the public from exploring homeownership or making another move that could personally benefit them.
Here’s a great nugget for all of us to have on hand to combat misinformation: A study of 6,500 predictions made by financial, real estate and other experts in various media forms from the internet to print to TV between 1998 and 2012 found that the “forecasts” had an accuracy rate of just 47-percent! The takeaway from this study by Virginia-based CXO Advisory Group is a good one: The pundits have worse odds with their predictions than you would in flipping a coin. So just because you saw, heard or read it on air or online doesn’t make it accurate.
Real estate and mortgage have become staples in the news due to bursting bubbles and that big meltdown. It would be truly unfortunate for anyone to miss an opportunity to buy, sell, move up, downsize or move on because they didn’t have the real scoop of what their actual, specific options are. As industry professionals, we need to make sure we reach out and keep the public informed of what the real story is in our area. Let’s work on that together!
Happy New Year!