Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are in the midst of launching an initiative to increase liquidity of mortgage investments according to Down Payment Resource, a company that finds homebuyers, Realtors, and lenders programs to help get people into homes. In their July 2017 Down Payment Report, they explain that the initiative will also help distribute mortgage investment capital to very low, low, and moderate-income families. The programs plan to help finance manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural housing—all of which are currently underserved.
According to the report, which continues on to explain the state of down payments in first-time homebuyers, the percentage of buyers putting in low down payments dropped drastically in May. In fact, down from 63 percent in April, 60 percent of non-cash first-time homebuyers made only a 0 to 6 percent down payment in May. This is 13 points below the peak in September 2009 when it was at 73 percent, according to the most recent Realtor Confidence Index from NAR. Of those that obtained a mortgage and closed in March through May, 71 percent of buyers put less than 20 percent down compared to 79 percent of those who closed in February through April. This is in line with the overall buyer percentage, which fell to 54 percent in May to 64 percent in April.
In the current housing climate, which has pushed affordability of homes to new post-recession lows, has affected all buyers, but particularly first-time homebuyers. Median buyers on starter homes are having to devote 39.1 percent of their monthly income to buy a starter home. This is 3.1 percent above last year. Though still struggling, trade-up and premium homes are still relatively affordable, according to the report. Currently, they would need to spend 26 percent and 14.3 percent of their income to buy a home, respectively. These are still up from 21.5 percent and 11.7 percent five years ago.
“Affordability isn’t the only thing falling as a result of the inventory crunch: the share of homes still on the market after two months is at its lowest since we started keeping track in 2012,” said Trulia’s Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin. “When homes are in short supply, homebuyers respond not only by bidding up the price of homes but also by closing on homes faster to gain a competitive edge over their competition. Over the past five years, that’s exactly what we’ve seen: 57 percent of homes were still on the market after two months back in 2012, while today that number has fallen to 47 percent.”