Hispanics Buyers Are Gaining Ground as Housing Customers – According to new Census Bureau data, Hispanics are posting the largest homeownership gains of any ethnic group. The wave of growth is a far cry from four years ago when the Hispanic homeownership rate reached a 50-year low. Since then, ownership among this segment has risen 3.3 percentage points, Census Bureau data shows. The Hispanic homeownership rate is at 47.4%, which still remains well-below the 73% rate for non-Hispanic whites in the first quarter. But it’s the growth in ownership rates among Hispanics that housing analysts are predicting could have a significant impact on the housing market over the next decade. “The housing market would look very different today if it weren’t for a tidal wave of Latino home buyers,” Gary Acosta, co-founder and chief executive of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, told The Wall Street Journal. Hispanics comprise 18% of the U.S. population, yet they accounted for nearly 63% of new U.S. homeownership gains over the past decade, according to NAHREP.
Mortgage Rates Inch Up, But Buyers Are Still Getting Deals – Based on Freddie Mac reports, after three weeks of mostly staying steady, average mortgage rates have risen recently. However, rates still remain at multiyear lows, keeping borrowing costs low for those shopping for homes this summer. “The rise in rates was driven by continued improvement in consumer spending and partly due to optimism around a forthcoming cut in short-term interest rates, which should provide support for business and investor sentiment,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Despite this slight increase in rates, home buyers are taking advantage of the multiyear low rates in droves, which is evident in the consistently higher refinance and purchase application volumes. The improvement in housing demand should provide sufficient momentum for the housing market and economy during the rest of the year.”
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Housing Could Turn Around Weakening Economy – According to Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®, in his latest column at Forbes.com, the longest economic expansion in the nation’s history may be nearing an end. The housing market could help turn around some sluggish economic numbers, such as business and consumer spending. Consumer spending is slowing, despite a record number of jobs, rising wages, and plentiful wealth accumulation by homeowners and stock market investors, Yun notes. “Real estate is the key area for future growth and a savior in the continuing economic expansion,” writes Yun. But while demand remains high, “there is a housing shortage, and hence a critical need to build more homes, especially at moderately priced points where the demand is strongest.” Yun says that rising home sales and increased housing starts have long been associated with economic expansion. “More home sales also mean increased numbers of Americans who can participate in wealth gains,” he notes. “Consequently, consumer spending, including vehicle sales, can then turn higher.” Still, while overall economic expansion may be slowing, Yun brushes off recession fears. He believes the economy will continue to expand from the housing market. “If the housing market turns measurably higher, the economy looks to do just fine for the remainder of the year and even better next year,” he notes.
More Millennials Are Paying Mortgages Themselves – Based on a new survey conducted by Redfin, millennials have become less likely to need to ask their parents for financial help, get a roommate, or work a second job in order to pay for a mortgage to buy their first home. Comparing the survey’s results to those of a year ago, millennial home buyers feel more confident of their financial situation and that they will be able to afford a mortgage themselves without having to take other measures. “Over the last couple years, millennial household incomes have been rising, and America’s youngest professionals now earn more than previous generations did at this age,” says Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist. “As a result, they’re needing less and less help from family members to buy a home.” Fairweather notes that the bulk of the increase in millennial household earnings has been driven by millennial women, who are working more and earning more than women of previous generations. “Millennials may have postponed getting married, having children, and buying a home while they got their careers on track, but now that they are more established in their careers and earning more, I expect to see more millennials buying homes and checking off those major life milestones,” she says.