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Numbers Count: Weekly mortgage data highlights

Wendy Cutrufelli
Mortgage Banking

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: Foreclosures bounce in May

Slide and jungle-gym combo, with white apartment complex in the background.Reversing the steady decline of recent months, foreclosure starts jumped 9.5% in May, according to Black Knight Financial Services’ Mortgage Monitor Report released July 3. More than half of the foreclosure starts in May are repeats — meaning they were in foreclosure and became current (through a loan modification, for example) — and fell back into foreclosure. Otherwise, overall foreclosure starts are down 32% from a year ago and at their lowest level since 2007.

What counts: This report is a reminder to borrowers that if you are struggling to make mortgage payments, you should contact your lender early to seek assistance. Sometimes borrowers avoid alerting their lender to financial difficulties and fall far behind on their loan payments. This can make it more difficult to find a solution that works for all parties. Lenders really don’t want to own foreclosed property, and they usually have a range of options to help borrowers avoid foreclosure depending on the circumstances.

The numbers: Location, location, amenities

Forty-four percent of homebuyers are willing to give up proximity to public transportation in exchange for their desired amenities in their next home, according to the PulteGroup Home Index Survey (PGHI) released July 8. Buyers in the survey said the most important areas in evaluating a new home were the kitchen, the master bedroom, and the living room.

What counts: When the inventory of homes for sale is tight, I remind people you can’t always get what you want. So prioritize. House hunting can be fun and exciting, and it can be exhausting and stressful. To help make the search more pleasurable, create a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves in your home.

For families, location is frequently a top priority for schools, for commuters access to public transit is usually a big factor in home selection. Balance location with amenities (How many bedrooms do you need? If you love cooking, is a large kitchen a must-have?). PulteGroup’s survey found 35% of buyers would trade a better school district for desired in-home amenities.

To keep clear what’s important to you, try using a scale of importance from 1-10, with must-haves getting a “1” and nice-to-haves lower on the scale. Having clear in your mind what’s most important and what trade-offs you’re willing to accept can make the home shopping experience less stressful and can help ensure you are prepared to make an offer faster on a desirable home when you find it.

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