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Tag Archives: Housing Affordability

Home Values Increase Near Wildlife Refuges: Study

In a study the first of its kinds, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported Wednesday in urban areas across three regions of the country owning a home near a national wildlife refuge increases home value and helps support the surrounding community's tax base. The survey, conducted by economic researches at the University of North Carolina, found three regions that showed a home value increase: 7 percent to 9 percent in the Southeast, 4 percent to 5 percent in the Northeast, and 3 percent to 6 percent in California and Nevada. Tourism to the refuges also plays a role in in the increase.

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Mortgage Rates Stay Low as Euro Debt Contagion Spreads

Investors helped keep interest rates for mortgage loans in record-low territory this week, as European Union leaders grappled with lurking debt crises in Spain and Italy. Real estate Web site Zillow recorded the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 3.6 percent, just above an all-time low of 3.59 percent set two weeks before. Rates for 15-year loans averaged 2.91 percent, while those for 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages hovered at 2.54 percent. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate loans largely fell in most states, climbing only in Illinois, New York, and Washington.

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Home Prices Plummet to Lowest Levels Since 2002

The Case Shiller Home Price Indexes fell for the seventh straight month in March. The drop in the broader 20-city index was barely noticeable ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô down to 134.10 from 134.14 in February ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô while the 10-city index fell to 146.61 from 146.74. Year-over-year, the 10-city index was down 2.8 percent and the 20-city index off 2.6 percent, improving from February. Economists had expected the 20-city index to show a 2.7 percent year-over-year decline. Separately, the national Case Shiller Index, reported quarterly, was down 2.0 percent in the first quarter.

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Senate Proposal to Revise HARP 2.0 Nets Industry Backing

The Responsible Homeowner Refinancing Act of 2012, introduced this month by Sens. Robert Menendez and Barbara Boxer, received backing from witnesses at a Senate Banking Committee hearing. The bill aims to address what the senators say are barriers impeding the success of the recently revised Home Affordable Refinance Program, commonly referred to as HARP 2.0. The bill aims to eliminate all upfront fees and appraisal costs for refinances, prohibit second-lien holders from unreasonably hindering refinances, and more.

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Refi Boom Set to Fuel $200B More Originations in 2012

A surge in refinance applications could propel mortgage originations by more than $200 billion in 2012, increasing to $1.28 trillion, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The trade group attributed estimates ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô upwardly revised from $1.26 trillion in 2011 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô to account for a refinance boom sparked by the crises in debt-saddled Europe. The MBA said that it expected refinance originations would amount to $870 billion this year, an amount nearly identical to forecasts from last year, when HARP led the way in estimates.

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Home Prices Tick Up Modestly in First Quarter: FHFA

Home prices ticked up modestly over the first quarter this year, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said Wednesday. The agency recorded a 0.6 percent increase on a seasonally adjusted basis for its home price index, with prices rising 0.5 percent year-over-year. The index registered a 1.3 percent decline over the last four quarters. Purchase-only house prices went up 0.5 percent year-over-year. Inflation-adjusted prices for homes fell some 2.6 percent over the last year. The home price index rose over the first quarter in 30 states.

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California’s Greatest Obstacle Is Shrinking Inventory

Things are looking up in California. Pending-home sales are continuing to rise on an annual basis; median prices are rising; and equity sales are starting to make up a larger portion of total sales, according to the California Association of Realtors. However, despite the year-over-year gains, April's pending home sales demonstrated a decline from March. Pending-home sales include contract signings but not closings. The index is based on 2008 contract signings with an index score of 100 equaling the average amount of contracts signed per month in 2008. The pending-home sales index for March was revised to 138.9.

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Refinance Applications Spike as Investors Leave Europe: MBA

Investors fleeing Europe once more helped drive mortgage refinance applications to 3.8 percent this week, up from the week before, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The MBA's Refinance Index climbed 5.6 percent from the week before, signaling a rise for the third consecutive week and helping reach highs not seen since February earlier this year. The four-week moving average ticked up by 4.83 for the index. The refinance share of mortgage activity leapt to 76.6 percent of total application volume.

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Warren Group: Massachusetts Prices May Have Hit Bottom

Continuing a four-month trend ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô one that has also prevailed in nine of the past 10 consecutive months ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô single-family home sales in Massachusetts rose year-over-year in April, according to The Warren Group, a New England real estate analytics firm. However, single-family home prices reversed a seven-month downward drift, rising 1.1 percent. The median sales price for single-family homes in Massachusetts now stands at $275,000. On the other hand, the year-to-date median price is $264,900, which is 1 percent lower than the year-to-date price in April of last year, according to The Warren Group.

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Mortgage Rates Remain Near Record Lows as Europe Wavers

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hovered at 3.63 percent this week, up from record lows last week, with debt crises in Europe continuing to scare investors and drag down prospects for a steady economic recovery. Real estate Web site Zillow found the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage down to 3.63 percent, up from 3.59 percent last week. The 15-year home loan averaged 2.93 percent, while rates for 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages reached 2.54 percent. Europe remains a sore spot for the economic recovery.

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