The Mortgage Corner
U.S. home buyers signed more contracts to buy existing homes in July, rebounding from a drop in June. This is in line with declining delinquency and foreclosure rates that portend a healthy real estate market for the rest of this year, and maybe into next year, if interest rates hold at their current lows. Today’s 30-year fixed conforming rate has fallen to 3.75 percent for 1 origination point in California.
The National Association of Realtors' monthly Pending Home Sales index rose 3.3 percent in July over June but is still 2.1 percent below its level in July 2013. It’s rising again because both consumer confidence measures have been rising of late, buoyed by rising incomes and low inflation.
"Interest rates are lower than they were a year ago, price growth continues to moderate and total housing inventory is at its highest level since August 2012," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "The increase in the number of new and existing homes for sale is creating less competition and is giving prospective buyers more time to review their options before submitting an offer."
Graph: Calculated Risk
And consumer sentiment is up in the final August reading, to 82.5 vs 79.2 at mid-month, along with the Conference Board’s Confidence index, the second reading of consumer optimism that is rising this week. The gain is centered in current conditions as it was in Tuesday's consumer confidence report, and underscores the improvement this month in unemployment claims, which once again fell below 300,000 for the second consecutive week. The current conditions component in this report is at 99.8 vs 99.6 at mid-month and 97.4 in final July. A rise in current conditions points to general month-to-month strength for consumer activity.
Lastly, home prices continue to rise and delinquencies to fall. A total of 3,785,000 loans were delinquent or in foreclosure in July. This is down from 4,599,000 in July 2013. Calculated Risk reports Black Knight Financial Services (BKFS) released their Mortgage Monitor report for July today. According to BKFS, 5.64 percent of mortgages were delinquent in July, down from 5.70 percent in June. More importantly BKFS reports that 1.85 percent of mortgages were in the foreclosure process, down from 2.82 percent in July 2013.
Both delinquencies and foreclosures are finally approaching historical levels, which means that housing sales—including new-home sales will do the same. The rate of monthly new problem loans has now fallen to 2005-06 levels, reports BKFS. Many foreclosure sales were held up by lengthy court proceedings in many of the eastern and Midwestern state that did judicial sales, rather than the western states with Trust Deed liens that could be auctioned off on courthouse steps.
Harlan Green © 2014
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