Mortgage Rates Fall to 3-Month Low – According to Freddie Mac, mortgage rates have moved back down across the board recently offering some temporary relief to home buyers. Rates posted a rapid increase throughout most of the spring but have recently reversed course, declining in five of the past six weeks. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is now at its lowest average since April. “The run-up in mortgage rates earlier this year represented not just a rise in risk-free borrowing costs, but for investors, the mortgage spread also rose back to more normal levels by about 20 basis points,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “What that means for buyers is good news. Mortgage rates may have a little more room to decline over the very short term.”
June’s Hottest Housing Markets Offer Some Surprises – Based on a new report from realtor.com®, higher home prices may be prompting more home buyers to look elsewhere. Overall, home prices continued to escalate in June, with the median listing price nationwide at $299,000, a 9 percent year-over-year increase. The higher home prices are prompting more buyers to face affordability issues, says Javier Vivas, director of economic research at realtor.com®. “We’re seeing interest and money shift away from the overheated markets into less expensive secondary markets,” he says.
Single Women Over 55 Double Their Buying Force – According to U.S. Census Bureau data, single women over the age of 55 have been the fastest-growing demographic of home buyers when compared with other categories of buyers since 1981. Married couples are the largest group of buyers, and single women the next largest group. In 2017, single older women comprised 8.2 percent of all home buyers, double the percentage of 20 years ago, according to researcher Ralph McLaughlin, founder and chief economist at Veritas Urbis Economics. Women also buy homes at nearly twice the rate as their male counterparts. “Many women in this place of their lives want to own a home of their own,” Jessica Lautz, director of demographics and behavioral insight at the National Association of REALTORS®. Lautz notes that longer average lifespans as well as people working until later in life are giving older buyers the confidence to take on a 15 or 30-year mortgage after age 55. Further, “multigenerational homes” or places where aging parents, adult children, and children under the age of 18 can co-habitate are in high demand among “buyers in their early 50s,” says Lautz.
Urban Population Growth Rivals That of Suburbia – Based on a joint report by the Urban Land Institute and RCLCO Real Estate Advisors, for the first time in decades, the population growth of urban cities is keeping pace with the suburbs. More than 29 million Americans now live in urban neighborhoods. Between 2000 and 2015, the population of urban downtowns rose by 1 percent, well below the suburbs’ 13 percent growth. However, urban and suburban areas grew at about the same rate between 2010 and 2015, according to the report. “During this time, denser urban locations grew significantly faster than more residential neighborhoods, suggesting that new urban residents are demonstrating a preference for mixed-use environments,” the report notes. One explanation is that more jobs have been created in urban areas in recent years. In the 50 largest cities in the U.S., urban cores accounted for 30 percent of existing jobs and 36 percent of new job growth between 2005 and 2015, according to the report. The suburbs are experiencing job growth, too, but at a slower rate than downtown hubs.