Mortgage Rates Plummet to the High 3’s
According to a report from CoreLogic This Week in Real Estate, as the pace of home price appreciation has decelerated so too has the percentage of homes selling at or above asking price. At the end of Q1 this year the percentage of homes selling at or above list price was 31.1% compared to 40% in Q2 2018. Below are a few highlights from the last week of May that influence our business:
Share of Homes Selling at or Above List Price Returning to Normal Levels. Ten years after the financial crisis, the national CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI®) has exceeded its pre-crisis peak and continues to grow but at a slower pace. With home prices reaching many homebuyers’ budget limits, the share of homes selling at or above list price has returned to normal levels. The share of homes selling at or above list price has returned to early 2000 levels. In Q2 2018 that share peaked at more than 40% of total sales – almost triple the level during the trough in January 2008. As annual home price growth started to slow in Q3 2018, the share of home buyers able to negotiate a better price began to rise. As of March 2019, the share of homes that were sold at or above list price has fallen to 31.1% – about the same level as in 2000 and 2001.
Mortgage Rates Drop Well Into the High 3’s. Mortgage rates were decisively lower today, following a massive market movement on news of new tariffs to be imposed on Mexico. In general, trade wars are economically negative. They hurt stocks and help bonds. When bonds are improving, it means bond prices are rising and yields (another word for “rates”) are falling. Long story short, investors are pricing in a new reality where trade tensions do measurable damage to the global economy. This not only forces money out of stocks and into bonds, but it also implies lower inflation and increased odds of Fed rate cuts. The specific implication for mortgage rates was quite good today. Mortgages have been lagging the moves seen in Treasury yields, for the most part. That was NOT the case today – at least for the lower portion of the rate spectrum. The average lender improved by the biggest amount of the past several weeks with top tier scenarios now easily seeing quotes of 3.875%. That said, different lenders have responded to the market movement at drastically different paces. Volatility tends to have that effect. If the bond market stabilizes at the beginning of next week, we’ll see some more cohesive pricing between lenders.
Nearly Half of Prospective Buyers are Actively House Hunting. Many people start thinking about a home purchase well in advance of actually engaging in the process of finding a home. In a national poll in the first quarter of 2019, 13% of adults reported planning a home purchase within the next year. Of those prospective buyers, 46% are already actively involved in trying to find a home to buy. The latter finding is not different from a year earlier, when 17% of poll participants were planning a home purchase and 46% of them were actively engaged in the search process. Are actively engaged buyers spending a lot of time house hunting? In the first quarter of 2019, 53% of those searching have been at it for three months or longer, while 46% have looked for less than three months. A year earlier, 50% of active buyers reported looking for a home for less than three months. Future polls will determine if there is a trend for more people spending upwards of three months searching for a home.