Numbers Count: Weekly mortgage data highlights
Numbers count. They matter to bankers and to prospective homebuyers, sellers, and real estate professionals. Here’s my take on the key numbers on the housing market this week.The numbers: Housing recovery gaining steam
The improving economy combined with attractive affordability, a steady easing of credit standards, and other factors, should support an upturn for U.S. housing in the second half of this year, according to a report released July 22 by Fitch Ratings. Fitch expects new home sales to rise 8% this year, and existing home sales to decline 5%, due largely to fewer distressed sales this year.What counts: As the overall economy and the housing sector gain momentum, we will likely experience a better balance between supply and demand, but we will probably also start to see rates on mortgages rise. For homeowners thinking about refinancing, I recommend talking to a lender now about possibly refinancing while rates are relatively low (the average rate last week on a 30-year-fixed mortgage was 4.33%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association).
Similarly, if you are looking to purchase, you’ll want to watch rates closely to lock in a rate sooner rather than later if it looks like rates are starting to climb. As supply and demand come into balance, we could see slower home price appreciation in many markets, which may encourage some potential sellers to put their homes on the market rather than hold out in hopes of double-digit price gains in the future.The numbers: Existing home sales jump in June
Existing-home sales increased 2.6% in June and reached the highest annual pace since October of last year, and inventories rose, pushing the housing supply toward a more balanced market, according to a report released July 22 from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).What counts: Here’s more evidence that the housing market is recovering from the slowdown of late winter and spring. The inventory of unsold homes is up 6.5% from a year ago and at the highest level in more than a year, according to the NAR report. More homes for sale should be welcome news for buyers, meaning more selection and potentially less pressure to make quick offers above the asking price.
In this type of environment, I strongly recommend potential buyers get a pre-approval from a reputable lender so that any offer they make on a home includes a letter from a lender that supports their ability to get a mortgage.