Existing Home Sales Recede in April


Existing home sales fell for the second straight month in April, after a big monthly drop in March, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Meanwhile, low resale inventory and strong demand continued to drive up existing home prices, marking the tenth consecutive month of year-over-year median sales price gains. Due to elevated interest rates, homeowners with lower mortgage rates stayed put and have not wanted to trade in for higher rates. This is driving home prices higher and resale inventory lower. Eventually, mortgage rates are expected to decrease gradually, leading to increased demand (and unlocking lock-in inventory) in the coming quarters. However, that decline is dependent on future inflation reports. Total existing home sales—including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops— declined 1.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.14 million in April. On a year-over-year basis, sales were 1.9% lower than a year ago. The first-time buyer share rose to 33% in April, up from 32% in March and 29% a year ago. Total housing inventory registered at the end of April was 1.21 million units, up 9% from last month and up 16.3% from a year ago. At the current sales rate, April’s unsold inventory sits at a 3.5-month supply, up from 3.2 months last month and 3.0 months a year ago. This inventory level remains very low compared to balanced market conditions (4.5 to 6 months’ supply) and illustrates the long-run need for more home construction. Homes stayed on the market for an average of 26 days in April, down from 33 days in March, but up from 22 days in April 2023. The April all-cash sales share was 28% of transactions, the same share as last month and a year ago. All-cash buyers are less affected by changes in interest rates. The April median sales price of all existing homes was $407,600, up 5.7% from last year. This marked the highest recorded prices for the month of April. Compared to a year ago, the median single-family prices rose 5.6% to $412,100, and the median condominium/co-op prices increased 5.4% to $365,300. Compared to last month, all four regions saw a decline in existing home sales in April. Sales in the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West decreased 4.0%, 1.0%, 1.6% and 2.6%, respectively. On a year-over-year basis, sales in the Northeast, Midwest, and South decreased 4.0%, 1.0%, and 3.1% in April, while sales in the West rose 1.3%. Discover more from Eye On Housing Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Existing Home Sales Recede in April2024-05-22T11:15:35-05:00

Credit for Builders Tightens Slightly, Remains Costly


During the first quarter of 2024, credit for residential Land Acquisition, Development & Construction (AD&C) tightened slightly and remained costly, according to NAHB’s survey on AD&C Financing. The net easing index derived from the survey posted a reading of -22.0 (the negative number indicating that credit availability tightened in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2023). A comparable net easing index based on the Federal Reserve’s survey of senior loan officers showed a similar result, with a reading of -24.6. Accordingly, borrowers and lenders were in close agreement about the tightening taking place in the first quarter. The net tightening reported by the NAHB and Fed indices in 2024 Q1 is not as poor as it was from mid-2022 through the third quarter of 2023 when both indices were consistently below -35.0. The NAHB index was as low as -49.3 in 2023 Q3, and the Fed index hit a trough of -73.8 in the first quarter of that year. However, both indices have been negative every quarter since 2022 Q1. After nine consecutive quarters of tightening, credit has now unquestionably become difficult for most builders and developers to obtain, irrespective of how much additional tightening lenders applied in 2024 Q1. According to the NAHB survey, the most common ways in which lenders tightened in the first quarter were by reducing the amount they are willing to lend, reported by 62% of builders and developers; and requiring personal guarantees/other collateral unrelated to the project and increasing interest rates, reported by 48% each. As these results suggest, when builders and developers were able to obtain credit in the first quarter of 2024, that credit remained costly. The average effective interest rate (taking both the contract rate and initial points into account) on land acquisition loans increased from 10.58% to 11.09% in 2024 Q1—as high as the rate on acquisition loans has been since NAHB began tracking it in 2018. Meanwhile, the effective rate on the other three categories of AD&C loans in the first quarter stood near 13%. The average effective rate increased on loans for land development (from 11.25% in 2023 Q4 to 13.10%) and speculative single-family construction (from 12.96% to 13.35%), while declining from 15.65% to 12.95% on loans for pre-sold single-family construction. Quarter-over-quarter changes in the effective rates were driven largely by initial points on the loans. On loans for pre-sold single-family construction, average initial points declined from an atypically high 1.08% in 2023 Q4 to 0.57%. On the other three categories of AD&C loans, the average initial points increased: from 0.71% to 0.88% on loans for land acquisition, from 0.60% to 0.85% on loans for land development, and from 0.73% to 0.76% on loans for speculative single-family construction. Quarter-over-quarter changes in the underlying contract interest rate on the loans were relatively modest. The average contract rate declined from 8.12% in 2023 Q4 to 8.07% on loans for land development, and from 8.41% to 8.24% on loans for speculative single-family construction. The average contract rate increased from 8.31% to 8.40% on loans for land acquisition, and from 8.38% to 8.40% on loans for pre-sold single-family construction. Recent increases in mortgage rates and their adverse effect on housing affordability have received considerable attention lately, and justifiably so. That is not the only way interest rates impact affordability, however.  Builders and developers will struggle to increase the supply of affordable housing unless they can access all the necessary inputs at a reasonable cost, including AD&C credit. More detail on credit conditions for builders and developers is available on NAHB’s AD&C Financing Survey web page. Discover more from Eye On Housing Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Credit for Builders Tightens Slightly, Remains Costly2024-05-10T15:15:43-05:00

At 2022 Rates, 10 Million More Households Could Afford a New Home


According to the latest press release from Freddie Mac, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has now risen to approximately 7.25%. As the data posted on NAHB’s priced-out web page shows, at this rate only about 27.5 million (out of a total of 134.7 million) U.S. households could afford to buy a median-priced new home, based on their incomes and standard underwriting criteria. For context, consider that the last time the average mortgage rate was under 6.25% was in mid-February of 2023. If that interest rate prevailed now, 4.5 million more households (for a total of 32.0 million) could afford the median new home. A year further back, prior to mid-February of 2022, the average mortgage rate was consistently under 5.00%. At a rate of 5.00%, 37.7 million households could afford the median new home. In short,10.2 million U.S. households are currently being priced out of the market by the average mortgage rate sitting 225 basis points higher than it was in February 2022. A recent post, How Rising Costs Affect Home Affordability,  showed how many households are priced out of the market by a $1,000 increase in the price of the median new home. The analysis is based on the standard underwriting criterion that the sum of mortgage payments (principal and interest), property taxes, homeowners and private mortgage insurance premiums (PITI) during the first year should be no more than 28 percent of the home buyer’s income. The advantage of this methodology is that it requires only a starting house price, household income distribution, and characteristics of the typical mortgage. A household income distribution is available for virtually any part of the country from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Typical mortgage characteristics and other details are discussed both in NAHB’s April 1 Special Study and on the priced-out web page. This same methodology can be used to determine the number of U.S. household priced out of the market by a change in interest rates, rather than house prices. Results of these calculations are reproduced from the special study and web page in the table below: Finding the impact of a change in the mortgage rate (in either direction) from this table is relatively straightforward. For example, the 7.25%-mortgage-rate row shows approximately 27.5 million households able to afford the median-priced new home. If the rate fell back to 6.25%, the table shows an additional 4.5 million (for a total of approximately 32.0 million) households would be priced into the market. This change is particularly relevant, as NAHB is currently projecting that the average mortgage rate will be near 6.25% by the end of 2024—although there is considerable uncertainty around this number, due largely to uncertainty about what monetary policy the Federal Reserve will find necessary to contain inflation. Readers can refer back to the above table to track the impact actual changes in mortgage rates are having on affordability of new homes over the rest of the year. As many analysts have noted, interest rates and house prices interact with each other to determine new home affordability. For example, if the costs of producing homes and the resulting prices to buyers were reduced (for instance, by adopting some of the measures in NAHB’s 10-point plan to lower shelter inflation), more than 4.5 million households would be priced into the market by reducing interest rates from 7.25% to 6.25%. Similarly, if interest rates were lower, a larger number of households would be priced into the market by a given reduction in house prices. This occurs because at lower prices or interest rates, the starting point is in a denser part of the U.S. income distribution, where there are more households to be priced into (or out of) the market. This point will be illustrated graphically in a forthcoming post on NAHB’s 2024 housing affordability pyramid.  Discover more from Eye On Housing Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

At 2022 Rates, 10 Million More Households Could Afford a New Home2024-05-08T10:18:23-05:00

How Interest Rates Affect Your Home Purchase


Your monthly house payment depends on many factors, including the interest rate on your mortgage. Here are some things to keep in mind about interest rates when you’re planning to buy a home. Rates Change Over Time The rate you can get on a loan today will likely vary slightly from yesterday’s or tomorrow’s rate. Over longer periods, rates can fluctuate dramatically. Interest on a 30-year mortgage topped 18% in 1981 and dipped below 3% in 2020. People will predict which direction rates are heading, but no one knows for sure. If you’re concerned rates will rise while you’re looking for a home, some lenders give you the option to lock in a rate for a period of time. Different Loans Charge Different Rates The interest on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is typically higher than the rate on a 15-year fixed-rate loan. Interest rates on adjustable-rate mortgages are usually even lower; however, as the name suggests, those rates can change over time. How Much Will a Loan Payment Change? The difference in a monthly payment depends not only on the loan’s interest rate but also the amount of money borrowed. A buyer who borrows $250,000 at 5% will pay $148 more per month than if the rate was 4%. On a $400,000 loan, though, the difference would be $237 each month. Interest rates are just one aspect of a mortgage, and a mortgage is one of dozens of considerations when you purchase a home. Working with a REALTOR® ensures that you have a professional at your side to guide you through the entire process.

How Interest Rates Affect Your Home Purchase2022-10-26T19:14:33-05:00

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