Numbers Count: Weekly mortgage data highlights

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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: Home price growth is holding steady

woman in foreground, looking off-camera, as two men behind her lift a rolled rug for moving as they navigate behind several storage boxes.Home prices were up 5.5% in November from a year ago, according to CoreLogic’s monthly Home Price Index. In the Jan. 6 report, CoreLogic projects home prices will rise 4.6% from November 2014 to November 2015. CoreLogic’s data found that after slowing for most of 2014, home price growth has now been holding steady for the past four months at 5-6%.

What counts: Prospective buyers should welcome steady, moderate home-price appreciation. We may be in a more normalized housing market in which families looking to buy a home face less competition from investors and speculators seeking quick profits. Buyers may feel less pressure to bid up properties and may be able to take more time shopping for that dream home.

One step that may strengthen a buyer’s hand in any market is to get a preapproval letter from a lender. If you are truly in the market for a home and prepared to make an offer if you find the right place, then carefully consider getting an preapproval letter. Making an offer with a preapproval letter may strengthen that offer by assuring a seller that you have funds for the down payment — and that you have a lender willing to provide the mortgage you need to buy a home.

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