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Author Archives: Steve Cook

Rates Scrape Bottom on the way out


  On the second to last week of the year, mortgage rates closed at their lowest levels since May 2013, proving once again the fallacy of expert predictions that rates would end the year at 5t percent or above.  A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.80 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending December 18, 2014, down from ... Read More »

Big Banks Chill: Underwriting Standards Continue to Ease


A major survey by the federal government’s leading bank regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, reports that lending standards for mortgage as well as commercial products hae eased for the third straight year.  The mortgage data confirms closing data from Ellie Mae and other sources over the past year. “This year’s survey showed a continued easing in ... Read More »

Apartment Rents Soar Even HIgher


Annualized effective rent growth rose to 4.7 percent in November, the biggest increase of the year and the highest since August 2011 when the rate measured 5.0 percent. According to research from Axiometrics, November’s rent-growth rate was a 38-basis-point increase from the 4.3 percent recorded in October and the largest growth margin since the 39-bps increase from February-March 2011 (4.6 percent ... Read More »

Move Up Buyers are Back: Bigger Homes Now Outsell Smaller Ones


  Just a few months ago, one and two bedroom starter homes topped the price per square foot ratings as investors and first-time home buyer scrambled to buy them, bidding up prices in the process.  Prices rose quickly, especially in markets where no new starter homes had been built in years. Virtually overnight the picture has changed.  Now larger homes ... Read More »

Rents Rise, Ownership Costs Fall, Part Deux


The squeeze renters will feel over the next twelve months will not be pleasant, especially for lower income renters.  But those who can afford to buy in 2015 have multiple incentives to do so, beginning with their monthly rental bill. In a new piece of research on the dynamics of renting vs. buying, Zillow’s economists have update the numbers on ... Read More »

Are You Ready for the Next Boom?


According to a new study from the New York Federal Reserve the best way to stimulate demand is to reduce down payments, a strategy that’s more effective than lowering interest rates–whicb is probably obvious to most street Realtors.  Now it can be proved scientifically. The Fed economists queried prospective buyers to determine their willingness to buy a home under different ... Read More »

Home Buyers Toss Away Thousands

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Why do homebuyers, especially first-time buyers who have to scrape and save every penny for down payments, throwing away free down payment assistance money that could get them into a home faster and cheaper? Not only is down payment assistance money going begging in more than 2,100 homeownership programs financed by state and local housing authorities, buyers who are having ... Read More »

Rents Will Rise Faster than Home Values

Real Rent Reform

Zillow predicts a big year for home buyers in 2015, with more millennials entering the market amid rising rents. Zillow’s annual housing predictions also identify the five best housing markets for first-time homebuyers this coming year. 2015 Predictions U.S. rents will outpace home values by the end of the year Builders will begin constructing more, less expensive homes Millennials will ... Read More »

Can Traditional Buyers Save the Recovery?


  The recovery is at a tipping point because traditional buyers are not making up for the decline in sales to investors, who cannot find enough houses to buy profitably.  Cash buyers competing for distressed and low-tier inventory who helped to jump start the overall recovery now are fading from the market.  They have fallen to just 16.8% of all sales, suggesting ... Read More »

Housing Costs Plunge for Owners, Soar for Renters


  A much higher proportion of renters than homeowners are cost burdened by their housing expenses and the number is growing quickly due to rising rents and affordable home prices. Last year, 39.6 million households spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing, down from 40.9 million in 2012 and a peak of 42.7 million in 2010.  Still, ... Read More »