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As Mortgage Rates Continue to Fall, will Housing Sales Increase?

The housing market has made big strides forward over the past decade since the financial crisis, recovering from its historic declines in the mid-2000s and seeing big gains in average home prices in many popular markets across the nation.

Yet the rise in prices combined with rapidly increasing mortgage rates over the past couple of years made housing far less affordable, especially in pricier areas of the country.

However, all that might be changing. Interest rates on 30-year mortgages fell to 3.82% on June 7, continuing a trend that has seen rates plunge by more than a full percentage point since last November.

The current figure is the lowest level for the 30-year mortgage since September 2017, and the weekly move was a sharp drop from 3.99% the week before.

The movements in interest rates reflected the big changes in market sentiment with respect to the expected future course of monetary policy from the Federal Reserve.

Line graph of 30-year mortgage rates for one year.
Line graph of 30-year mortgage rates for one year.

The Fed doesn’t directly control mortgage rates for the most part, as its most important lever for influencing the bond market is through its control of short-term interest rates. Yet the bond market pays close attention to the central bank’s decisions, and with an abrupt shift in strategy that’s appeared in the past several months, bond investors have had to adjust accordingly.

In particular, whereas most bond investors previously expected the rate increases that the Fed has implemented over the past two years to continue throughout 2019, they now see a greater likelihood of interest rate cuts in the near future in response to weakening economic activity.

Falling mortgage rates make it cheaper for would-be homebuyers to finance their purchases. For instance, a $300,000 30-year mortgage at the current rate of 3.82% would have a monthly payment of around $1,400, compared to the $1,600 monthly payment for a similar mortgage at the 4.94% rate that was available in November.

Put another way, someone who can afford a $1,600 monthly payment could borrow about $42,000 more now than they could seven months ago. That could spur more home purchases and help give the economy an extra boost heading into the key summer season.

The SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB) was unchanged in after-hours trading Monday. Year-to-date, XHB has declined -7.50%, versus a 8.72% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

Source: etfdailynews

NAB to Remediate 5,000 Mortgage Customers

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has released an update concerning NAB’s remediation of mortgage customers that were overcharged after the bank failed to properly link offset accounts to broker-originated home loans from between April 2010 and August 2017.

NAB has identified an additional 4,930 customers requiring remediation, taking the total to 6,522, with refunds payable totaling over $8 million.

In a statement to My Business’s sister publication Mortgage Business, a NAB spokesperson said: “We’re taking action to earn back the trust of our customers and remediating affected customers as quickly as possible and fixing the issues that caused our failures so they don’t happen again.”

The bank said that it has not been able to reach 567 customers for total refunds payable of $593,546.

NAB has noted that where the refund is less than $500, it will pay such amounts to the NAB Foundation, while it will hold on to refunds over $500 for a period of seven years before handing it over to ASIC as part of unclaimed money.

In the event that a customer contacts NAB about this refund, the bank said it would honour all refunds or direct the customer to unclaimed money.

Source: mybusiness

Pretty Cheap Money: Canadian Mortgage Rates Falling to their Lowest Level in 2 Years

House prices may be as high as ever in many parts of the country, but Canadian homebuyers are being offered some of the lowest mortgage rates seen in years as lenders battle to drum up new business.

Rates on a standard five-year fixed-rate mortgage have fallen to their lowest level in two years, according to rate comparison website, Ratehub.ca.

Borrowers just about everywhere across the country can take their pick of offerings well below three per cent at the moment, says James Laird, the site’s co-founder and president of mortgage brokerage, CanWise Financial.

That’s partly for seasonal reasons, he says, in that the spring months are typically the best ones for home buying, as families try to get moved and settled before summer vacations and then the new school year sets in.

“Promotions are April, May and June … when all mortgage companies try to make sure they are on track to hit their annual targets,” Laird said in an interview. “Anyone who’s behind at this point would be aggressive with the margins they’re willing to fund mortgages at right now.”

At the moment, Laird says he’s seeing five-year fixed rates as low as 2.64 per cent for certain buyers, and even higher-risk borrowers can easily find a loan for 2.89 per cent. That’s the lowest range since the summer of 2017, he says, and a big reason why is the bond market.

Unlike variable rate loans which take their cues from the Bank of Canada’s benchmark rate, lenders finance fixed-rate loans based on the rates they can get in the bond market. Essentially, they’ll borrow money themselves at one rate, loan it out to a borrower at a higher rate and make money on that spread.

So current rock-bottom interest rates on fixed loans are no coincidence, considering the yield on a five-year Government of Canada bond dipped below 1.3 per cent this month. If a lender can borrow funds for as little as 1.3 per cent then turn around and make money by loaning it out for twice that rate, they have every incentive to keep offering those deals.

“The hard cost of funding these loans is going down,” Laird said. “And at the same time we are at the tail end of the most competitive market, when lenders fight for [business], so that’s when they are willing to thin out their margins a bit to attract volume.”

  • Buying a home? CMHC could soon kick in 10% of the cost

Less popular loans

Variable rate loans are also sliding lower, too.

Most borrowers prefer the peace of mind of fixed rate loans, but lenders can tempt borrowers to variable rate loans with even better rates — even if they’re only temporary.

Laird says typically it takes a spread of about a full percentage point to entice most people to make the leap. Which is why those loans are even less popular than usual because that premium has almost completely vanished.

  • Canadian home sales rebound from 7 year low in May, but prices still flat

He says the best variable rate loans are about 2.65 per cent at the moment, which is barely better than the fixed rate, for a lot more risk.

Anyone signing up for that loan today is “assuming the Bank of Canada is going to be forced to drop their rate once or twice. That would be the only way to justify taking it,” he said. The bank’s benchmark rate is 1.75 per cent.

Trading in investments known as overnight index swaps suggests investors think there’s about a 50 per cent chance of a rate cut by the central bank this year — but two would be very unlikely, and never mind any more beyond that.

Lower rates could be good news for those who’ve already bought, too.

1 in 6 mortgages up for renewal

A recent report by National Bank found that a little more than one out of every six mortgages in Canada is up for renewal this year, and as recently as January the bank was calculating that most of them could expect to be paying between 70 and 90 more basis points on their next loan than they were on their current one. (A basis point is 1/100th of a percentage point, so a jump of 70 basis points would be a loan that went from 3 to 3.7 per cent, for example.)

But thanks to the steep slide in mortgage rates since the start of the year, most people with loans up for renewal now have no need to fear a big jump in their rate when the time comes.

“With the recent drop in mortgage rates, those households will be renewing at rates barely above their previous ones,” National Bank economist Matthieu Arseneau said.

  • ANALYSIS | Reining in the housing market may be wise, but it remains unpopular

Laird doesn’t see anything on the immediate horizon that could derail the era of lower rates, but he does think the federal election in October is worth paying attention to for how it relates to housing.

Housing policy is bound to come up on the campaign trail, and he expects to hear a lot of talk about changing stress test rules and extending amortization periods in the coming months.

But until that happens, Laird’s expectations for the mortgage market can be summed up succinctly: “Pretty cheap money.”

Source: Cbc

Pressure on Banks to Cut Mortgage Rates as ECB Kicks Hike into Long Grass

Banks have been urged to reduce all their mortgage rates after the European Central Bank (ECB) said it now expects to keep rates on hold at record lows until the middle of next year.

The move to further hold off on a rates rise is a massive boost to hundreds of thousands of mortgage holders, as well as small businesses.

Households and firms are already facing the threat of a hard Brexit hitting economic growth in this country this year.

The ECB said it now expects to keep interest rates on hold “at least through the first half of 2020”.

It is highly unusual for the ECB to be so specific about its rate-raising plans.

It had previously been expected that rates would start to rise from this September. Now it could be two years before they go up.

Mortgage expert Karl Deeter said money markets were now predicting that wholesale rates would not rise for 12 years.

This means those with trackers would not see higher costs for years.

“All banks should now reduce all their mortgage rates as wholesale rates are set to stay at record lows for a long while,” he said.

The ECB also said it would continue paying banks to lend to households and businesses as the outlook for global growth darkens further.

In a statement, the ECB said: “The Governing Council now expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present levels at least through the first half of 2020, and in any case for as long as necessary.”

The move is set to boost the 300,000 people who have tracker mortgages that can change only when the ECB rates move.

It will also mean banks will be reluctant to push up variable rates, while those locked into fixed rates who are due to come to the end of the term will not now have to pay hugely elevated rates on exit.

There has been a huge upsurge in mortgage holders opting for fixed rates over fears of imminent ECB rate rises.

People are also opting to fix because mortgage holders here continue to pay the highest variable rates in the eurozone.

The average interest rate on all new mortgages agreed in Ireland stood at 3pc in March, down 21 basis points on the same month last year, but still considerably higher than the eurozone average of 1.74pc.

Only Greece had higher interest rates in March.

Banks have been enticing homeowners to fix by offering fixed rates that are lower than typical variable rates. Some fixed rates are as low as 2.3pc compared with variable rates of up to 4.5pc.

In April, AIB, the largest mortgage lender in the State, shocked the market with cuts to its fixed rates.

Bank of Ireland had pushed up some of its fixed rates at the start of the year, a decision it may now reverse.

Source: Independent

Housing Construction Rates Fall to Lowest Level in Six Years as Mortgage Lending Stalls

Australian housing remains in the doldrums, with construction activity continuing to contract and mortgage lending still well down on a year ago, as the sector pins its hopes on a flow-on benefit from the RBA rate cut.

Construction rates across Australia had their sharpest falls in six years in May as the building of houses and apartments slowed and jobs in the sector continued to trail off, according to a survey of businesses in the industry.

The Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association Performance of Construction Index (PCI) report released on Friday said overall activity slipped 2.2 points on the previous month to 40.4 – an accelerated decline below the 50-point mark separating expansion and contraction.

The PCI recorded a 14th month of shrinking apartment building activity and house building activity contracted for the 10th month in a row.

The pace of houses being built was at its weakest level since September 2012 and the report suggested there was no recovery in sight, given that new orders in May fell at their steepest rates in six and a half years.

“This indicates a continuation of broad weakness in demand and points to ongoing subdued house building activity in coming months,” the PCI report said.

The report noted dwindling demand for residential building construction was affecting job prospects in the sector, with employment shrinking for the 10th consecutive month.

“It indicates that construction businesses are responding to the ongoing weakness of overall demand conditions by exerting greater caution in terms of their labour recruitment,” it said.

Analysts from AiG and the HIA said the construction industry may yet benefit from the federal election and Tuesday’s interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia, but there was no positive news in the data so far.

“The industry and businesses in its supply chains will be hoping that lower official interest rates will flow through to borrowers and help turn around the recent negative trends,” Ai Group head of policy, Peter Burn, said.

“With major banks set to pass on most of the RBA’s rate cut to borrowers, it will be interesting to note whether any post-election glee translates to a lift in new orders in June,” HIA economist Tom Devitt said.

Respondents to the PCI survey in the residential building sector pointed to a drop in demand, tight lending conditions and falling property prices.

Meanwhile, figures released on Friday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show fewer owner-occupier mortgages were issued than expected in April but the total value of new home loans lifted slightly during the month.

The value of total mortgage lending – excluding refinancing – rose by 0.2% in April to $17 billion, according to seasonally adjusted figures.

The number of new loans granted to owner-occupiers for April fell by 1.1%, missing predictions of a flat result, but the value of owner-occupier loans outstripped expectations with a 1.0% jump to $12.6 bn.

The value of new investor loans underwhelmed with a 2.2% drop to $4.4 bn, missing consensus expectations of a 1% value rise.

The value of both owner occupier and investor loans remains well down on a year ago.

Nonetheless, total lending to households and businesses was up by 6.1% for the month to $67 bn, still 2.7% down on a year ago.

Business lending in April surged by 11.3% to $36 bn and lending for personal finance lifted 4.3% to $4.8 bn.

The value of loans for refinancing dropped by 0.8% to $8.9 bn.

Source: Theguardian

Lowest Mortgage Rates in a Year and a Half don’t Impress Homebuyers

Mortgage rates are falling fast but not enough to offset high home prices. Buyers are still pulling back.

Total mortgage application volume increased 1.5% last week from the previous week and 12% from a year earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index. The gains were driven by refinances.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($484,350 or less) decreased to 4.23% from 4.33% by the end of last week, with points decreasing to 0.33 from 0.42 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment.

“Mortgage rates dropped to their lowest level since the first week of 2018, driven by increasing concerns regarding the ongoing trade tensions with China and Mexico,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA senior vice president and chief economist.

“Some borrowers, particularly those with larger loans, jumped on the opportunity to refinance, bringing the index and average refinance loan size to their highest levels since early April. Additionally, refinances for FHA and VA loans jumped by 11%.”

Total refinance volume rose 6% from the previous week and was nearly 33% higher than a year ago, when interest rates were 52 basis points higher. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 42.2% of total applications from 39.7% the previous week.

Refinances are highly rate-sensitive, and the drop in rates added about 2 million more borrowers to the pool of those who could benefit from a refinance, according to Black Knight, a mortgage software and analytics company.

Mortgage applications to purchase a home, however, fell 2% for the week and were barely 0.5% higher than a year ago. High prices continue to sideline buyers, especially first-time buyers, who are a growing segment of the market.

Millennials are aging into their prime homebuying years, but they are saddled with debts, are likely paying high rents and are facing one of the least-affordable markets in decades.

“Coming out of the Memorial Day holiday, and likely impacted by the financial market volatility caused by the trade tensions, purchase application volume declined for the week. Potential homebuyers may be more cautious given the heightened economic uncertainty,” Fratantoni said.

Mortgage rates continued to fall sharply this week to the lowest level since August 2017. More economic data in the coming days, including the all-important monthly employment report Friday, could cause another strong move in either direction.

Source: cnbc

CFPB finds Freedom Mortgage intentionally reported inaccurate HMDA data

Loan officers at Freedom Mortgage intentionally reported inaccurate Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data over a several-year period, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Wednesday.

The CFPB announced it is fining Freedom Mortgage, one of the country’s largest lenders, for submitting HMDA data to the bureau that contained “errors” from 2014 through 2017.

According to the bureau, an investigation found that Freedom reported “inaccurate race, ethnicity, and sex information” and that “much of Freedom’s loan officers’ recording of this incorrect information was intentional” during that time.

The bureau stated that “certain loan officers” at Freedom were told by their managers or other loan officers to select “non-Hispanic white” for the ethnicity of loan applicants who elected not to provide information about their race or ethnicity, regardless of whether they were actually white or not.

HMDA regulations require covered lenders to collect, record, and report each loan applicant’s and co-applicant’s race, ethnicity, and sex.

At issue was Freedom’s proprietary electronic system-of-record, which the CFPB identifies as “Lakewood.”

As part of the loan process, loan officers would enter applicants’ information into Lakewood, but if certain information was missing, the system would generate a “hard stop” that would prevent the loan file from moving forward in the process.

According to the CFPB, if loan applicants did not provide their race or ethnicity over the phone, loan officers were instructed to enter the borrowers’ information in a way that created a “hard stop.”

But, some loan officers had a method to “get around” the hard stop, according to the CFPB.

“To get around this hard stop, certain loan officers were told by managers or other loan officers that, when applicants did not provide their race or ethnicity, they should select non-Hispanic white (regardless of whether that was accurate),” the CFPB said in its consent order.

According to the bureau, the system programming that created this hard stop was in place from 2014 through October 2017, and the practice of entering non-Hispanic white into the system whether it was true or not was not limited to a “specific location, loan officer, or time period,” the CFPB said.

During the time period in question, Freedom employed more than 700 loan officers at a time in six to eight call centers and generated most of its HMDA-reportable loan applications through these call centers.

Freedom also ranked among the top 10 lenders in the country during that period, as defined by their HMDA reporting data.

According to the bureau, this misreporting of HMDA data was found when the bureau reviewed audio recordings of loan applications being taken over the phone.

The CFPB’s consent order states that out of approximately 430 applicants from 2014 through part of 2017 reviewed by the CFPB, at least 125 applicants did not provide the requested race and/or ethnicity, but Freedom reported these applicants as non-Hispanic white.

Freedom also misreported borrower data in an additional way in approximately 300 cases.

According to the CFPB, Freedom incorrectly reported mortgage applicants as non-Hispanic white even though the applicants had stated that they were not white. As a result, Freedom overstated its number of non-Hispanic white applicants.

“Much of [Freedom’s] loan officers’ reporting of incorrect race, ethnicity, and sex information was intentional,” the CFPB concluded.

The bureau noted that Freedom “in the interest of compliance and resolution of the matter, and without admitting or denying any wrongdoing,” consented to the settlement.

Under the terms of the settlement, Freedom must pay a civil money penalty of $1.75 million and “take steps to improve its compliance management to prevent future violations.”

In a statement, Freedom noted that no customers were harmed by the reporting issues.

“Freedom Mortgage values and respects its relationship with all its customers and all consumers considering home financing. As one of the nation’s 10 largest mortgage lenders, Freedom Mortgage has experienced tremendous growth over the past five years by constantly improving business processes to create great lending experiences for customers,” Freedom Mortgage said in a statement.

“While the issue raised by the CFPB has resulted in no harm to our customers, Freedom Mortgages takes reporting consumer information very seriously and is fully cooperating with the CFPB on this matter,” the company continued. “The company is and has always been committed to ensuring compliance with data collection, recording and reporting requirements as well as delivering a high quality customer experience.”

Source: Property Wire

Benchmark Mortgage Rate Increases for Wednesday

Mortgage rates moved in different directions today, but one key rate rose. The average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage saw an increase, but the average rate on a 15-year fixed trended down. The average rate on 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, the most popular type of variable rate mortgage, trended down.

Mortgage rates are in a constant state of flux, but they have remained in a historically low range for quite some time. If you’re in the market for a mortgage, it may make sense to lock if you see a rate you like. Just don’t do so without shopping around first.

Compare mortgage rates in your area now.

30-year fixed mortgages

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage is 4.04 percent, up 3 basis points over the last week. A month ago, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was unchanged, at 4.04 percent.

At the current average rate, you’ll pay principal and interest of $479.72 for every $100,000 you borrow. Compared to last week, that’s $1.73 higher.

You can use Bankrate’s mortgage calculator to figure out your monthly payments and see the effect of adding extra payments. It will also help you calculate how much interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan.

15-year fixed mortgages

The average 15-year fixed-mortgage rate is 3.28 percent, down 9 basis points from a week ago.

Monthly payments on a 15-year fixed mortgage at that rate will cost around $704 per $100,000 borrowed. The bigger payment may be a little harder to find room for in your monthly budget than a 30-year mortgage payment would, but it comes with some big advantages: You’ll save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan in total interest paid and build equity much faster.

5/1 ARMs

The average rate on a 5/1 ARM is 3.81 percent, ticking down 6 basis points over the last 7 days.

These types of loans are best for those who expect to sell or refinance before the first or second adjustment. Rates could be substantially higher when the loan first adjusts, and thereafter.

Monthly payments on a 5/1 ARM at 3.81 percent would cost about $467 for each $100,000 borrowed over the initial five years, but could increase by hundreds of dollars afterward, depending on the loan’s terms.

Where rates are headed

To see where Bankrate’s panel of experts expect rates to go from here, check out our Rate Trend Index.

Methodology: The rates you see above are Bankrate.com Site Averages. These calculations are run after the close of the previous business day and include rates and/or yields we have collected that day for a specific banking product. Bankrate.com site averages tend to be volatile — they help consumers see the movement of rates day to day. The institutions included in the “Bankrate.com Site Average” tables will be different from one day to the next, depending on which institutions’ rates we gather on a particular day for presentation on the site.

To learn more about the different rate averages Bankrate publishes, see “Understanding Bankrate’s Rate Averages.”

Source: Bankrate

Housing crisis: Majority of renters will never own a home

Nearly three quarters of renters want to own their home but the majority think they will never be able to afford to get onto the housing ladder, new research has found.

A YouGov survey of more than 2,000 adults in the UK has uncovered evidence many tenants were having to put up with cold, damp living conditions, landlords not completing essential repairs and anti-social neighbours.

More than a third of those quizzed said they lived in poor quality properties and a similar number felt they had a limited choice of rental property. Around a fifth had concerns over safety or fire standards.

But the lack of housing and high prices meant six in ten renters feared they would never afford their own home. And many were not convinced by Government schemes such as Help to Buy Equity Loan or shared ownership, to get them onto the housing ladder.

Pipe dream

Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, one of the firms which commissioned the research, said: “We have a crisis on our hands. A majority living in rented accommodation desperately want to buy a home of their own – yet most think it’s a pipe dream.

“This shouldn’t be the case in the fifth strongest economy in the world.”

The Home Owners Survey, which was conducted ahead of this month’s ban on tenant fees, highlights the dire circumstances in which many UK renters are trapped.

Help to Buy

It also provided an insight into how renters, many who were would-be first-time buyers, felt about Government schemes to help them onto the property ladder.

It revealed two thirds of adults and 64% of renters thought the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme, in which the Government provides a loan for the deposit on a new build property, was a good idea because it addressed the major hurdle of saving a deposit.

But one in six of those questioned thought it was a bad idea, raising concerns it supported an over-inflated property market, encouraged people to take on debt and boosted profits of developers.

Shared ownership

What’s more, the shared ownership scheme, which allows people to buy a proportion of a property and rent the rest, was endorsed by fewer than half of the adults quizzed in the survey.

Concerns around the fact people were still responsible for upkeep costs, yet also had to pay rent, were raised. It was criticised for burdening people with three bills – a mortgage, rent and lease. “The real solution,” said one of the adults surveyed, “lies in building enough homes to meet needs.”

Kim Vernau, chief executive of BLP Insurance, which also commissioned the study, said as there was no quick fix to the problems plaguing the housing market and a ‘pragmatic’ approach which tackled issues from multiple directions was necessary.

What’s more, progress was needed, she said, to help potential first-time buyers gain homeownership.

She added: “At the same time, freeing up housing stock for young families by incentivising elderly people to downsize from larger family homes remains a persistent challenge.

“The clear solution is to improve the quantity and quality of purposely built housing available to last-time buyers, which can also cater more appropriately to their needs later in life.

Source: Whatmortgage

Government makes it easier to begin housing development

The government has introduced new rules for housing developers which aim to make it quicker and easier to begin building properties.

The changes specify that the way developers generate money for infrastructure, such as roads and green areas, is more transparent, enabling residents to see “every step taken” to make an area ready for building on.

Housing Minister Kit Malthouse MP says that the previous rules are confusing and “unnecessarily over-complicated”.

Councils will now be required to detail how they intend to partner with developers in creating new housing.

Developers were charged £6bn in contributions between 2016 and 2017. However, councils previously did not have to report on the total funding it had received or how it was spent, according to the government.

Further changes include restrictions being eased in order to allow councils to fund single, larger infrastructure projects.

Malthouse continues: “Communities deserve to know whether their council is fighting their corner with developers – getting more cash to local services so they can cope with the new homes built.

“The reforms not only ensure developers and councils do not shirk their responsibilities, allowing residents to hold them to account – but also free up councillors to fund bigger and more complicated projects over the line.

“The certainty and less needless complexity will lead to quicker decisions, – just another way we are succeeding in meeting our ambition of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.”

Source: Mortgage Strategy

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