Home Sales Post Strong Rebound – According to a recent National Association of REALTORS® report, existing-home sales surged last month, posting their largest month-over-month gain since December 2015. The sales jumped 11.8 percent in February compared with the previous month, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.51 million. Three of the four major regions of the U.S. posted gains, while the Northeast remained unchanged. “A powerful combination of lower mortgage rates, more inventory, rising income, and higher consumer confidence is driving the sales rebound,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.
Getting a Mortgage Becomes Easier for the Self-Employed – Based on recent announcements, new changes from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae could help more self-employed individuals qualify for a mortgage. For the self-employed, the mortgage process can be time-consuming and cumbersome. Lenders often require extra paperwork, such as full documentation of tax returns from the last couple of years (not just the electronic copy submitted to the IRS). Additionally, the person may still lack an income steady enough to qualify or face extra fees once they are approved. The new technology automates underwriting for loan applicants who are self-employed or have side income. There were about 15 million self-employed individuals in 2015, which equates to about one of every 10 people in the workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It also could help with meeting contingency-clause financing deadlines in contracts.
Mortgage Rates Have Dropped Dramatically Since the Start of the Year – Based on Freddie Mac reports, mortgage rates edged lower to kick off the start of the spring homebuying season. Borrowing costs are now lower than what they were a year ago. “Mortgage rates have dipped quite dramatically since the start of the year and house prices continue to moderate, which should help on the home buyer affordability front,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The combination of improving affordability and more inventory than the last few spring selling seasons should lead to improved home sales.”
Consumers Bullish on Buying as Spring Kicks Off – According to the NAR’s Housing Opportunities and Market Experience Survey, a growing number of Americans believe now is a good time to purchase a home as the real estate market heads into what is traditionally its busiest season of the year. In the first quarter of 2019, 37 percent of consumers said they strongly believe that now is a good time to buy, up from 34 percent in the last quarter of 2018. Why are Americans more upbeat? Lower mortgage rates and greater inventory may be driving more home shoppers this spring. “Inventory has been rising, so those buyers interested in making a purchase will not be limited in choices,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Additionally, more stable home price tends are leading to more foot traffic at various open house gatherings.”