Monday, April 21, 2014

Americans Sold on Real Estate as Best Long-Term Investment

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans today are more likely to think real estate is the best option for long-term investments than in the past, ranking it ahead of gold and stocks.


























These results are from Gallup's April 3-6 Economy and Personal Finances poll that asked Americans to choose the best option for long-term investments: real estate, stocks and mutual funds, gold, savings accounts and CDs, or bonds. Prior to 2011, Gallup asked the same question, but did not include gold as an option.

Gold was the most popular long-term investment among Americans in 2011 -- a time when gold was at its highest market price and real estate and stock values were lower than they are today. Gold prices dropped significantly after that and it lost favor with Americans. The 24% of Americans who currently name gold as the best long-term investment ties with the 24% who choose stocks.

Bonds have been Americans' least favored investment option for as long as Gallup has been asking the question. Savings accounts and CDs, on the other hand, have been more popular in the past. In September 2008, before gold was an option and at a time when the real estate and stock markets were tanking, savings accounts were the most popular long-term investment among Americans.

This year, the housing market has been improving across the U.S., and home prices have recently been rising after a steep drop in 2007 during the subprime mortgage crisis. This current improvement in prices may be why more Americans now consider real estate the best option for long-term investments. In 2002, during the real estate boom that preceded the mortgage crisis and before gold was offered as an option in the question, half of Americans said real estate was the best investment choice. Read More

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Third of Home Owners in Foreclosure Have Equity



 More home owners in the foreclosure process are finding that their home may no longer be underwater, according to a new report by RealtyTrac.

 “Because of rising home prices, many of the home owners in the foreclosure process — more than a third — actually have positive equity,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. “That will enable some of them to avoid foreclosure,” allowing the home owners to either sell or refinance. 

 However, “many distressed home owners with equity may not realize they have it and, in some cases, have vacated the property already, assuming that their foreclosure is inevitable,” Blomquist says. Read full article here

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Buying a home JUST got easier! Mortgages loosening credit standards...



Access to mortgage credit is at its highest level in at least three years, and credit standards are expected to loosen even more this year, according to a newly-released index by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

MBA’s index, which tracks mortgage credit availability, shows that in March the gauge rose to 114 – the highest reading in the gauge’s three-year history.

“I don’t think there’s any question that mortgage underwriting has gotten easier or is looser than it was two or three years ago, but it’s nowhere near where it was in 2005, 2006,” Guy Cecala, publisher Inside Mortgage Finance, told The Wall Street Journal. “We are talking about easing from extremely tight underwriting standards.” Read More...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sunnier Days Ahead in Housing, Freddie Says



The housing market is stronger today than at any point since the Great Recession and has made progress in several key areas after hitting bottom in 2009, Freddie Mac reports in a blog post looking at the state of the housing market heading into spring.

Home sales are up 13 percent since their low point, Freddie Mac reports. Frank Notaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, predicts that home sales will rise about 3 percent in 2014.
Also, the agency reports that housing starts are up 50 percent since hitting bottom. Freddie Mac is predicting a nearly 20 percent increase in new-housing starts in 2014, “which will begin to help ease tight inventories in many markets.”

Housing prices have also been on the upswing, about 16 percent higher than their bottom in 2009, Freddie Mac reports. They expect home values to continue to rise this year, but at a more moderate 5 percent pace. Also, researchers say many markets are still posting housing values that are below their 2006 peaks.

Freddie Mac is forecasting mortgage rates to remain near their historic lows this year, but rates are expected to rise about a half-percentage point during the year to around a 5 percent average by the end of the year.

Friday, April 4, 2014

More Banks Lower FICO Score Requirements



More banks are lowering minimum FICO score requirements in an attempt to shore up lending for underserved borrowers.

Carrington Mortgage Services is the latest company to announce that it has lowered its minimum FICO score to 550. It also has expanded guidelines on several FHA, VA, and USDA loan programs to aid those with FICO scores below 640.

Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, said in February that it was lowering its minimum FICO score requirements on FHA-backed mortgages from 640 to…   (read full article here)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

North Dakota Named Most Stable Housing Market



North Dakota; Washington, D.C.; and Wyoming rank as the most stable U.S. housing markets, according to a new Freddie Mac gauge that weighs criteria including mortgage applications, income ratios and employment.

Freddie Mac's Multi-Indicator Market Index released on Wednesday measures the stability of states and the U.S. capital, as well as the top 50 metropolitan areas. Nationally, the measure shows an improving housing market that's still outside its healthy range, the McLean, Va.-based company said in a statement.


"We're making progress, we're recovering but we're not all the way there yet," Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac, said in a phone interview. "Some places are much closer and others have farther to go."


The U.S. housing market has been healing for two years as the job market improves and competition for tight inventories fuels home-price gains. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities increased 13.2 percent in...   Read More Here...