With home loan rates falling for four straight weeks early this year, prospective homebuyers had an easier time purchasing new homes. Low rates also prompted a spike in refinance applications from many Americans pursuing lower monthly payments, which will help free up extra cash to spend or save.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), purchase applications are 3 percent higher than a year ago, with most of the gains coming from Federal Housing Administration (FHA) financing. Government-insured FHA loans provide low down payment and rate options and are typically sought after by first-time buyers.
A strong January Jobs Report also showed Non-farm Payrolls growing, and that many Americans have returned to the job search pool.
Builders Optimistic for Spring
Construction on new homes continues to grow; even though January’s numbers slipped slightly from December, they were up nineteen percent from a year ago. Builders began construction on 1.01 million new houses and apartments in 2014, the most in nine years and 8.8 percent more than in 2013, according to a January CoreLogic report.
At the end of December, builders had 218,000 homes listed for sale that were either under construction or completed, 17.2 percent up from a year earlier, according to Commerce Department data released in early January. The data indicated that builders are optimistic about the upcoming spring housing season, which can be seen from their commitment to building speculative, or “spec” homes. Spec homes are newly constructed homes built in the anticipation of buyers to sign purchase contracts.
According to a realtor.com report, last year’s total at 435,000 for new-home sales was an increase of only 1.4 percent from the 2013 total, and stands at roughly 58 percent of the annual average since 2000. The spring selling season typically starts after the Super Bowl and hits its stride around March and April.
The Bottom Line
Low rates, new homes and demand for first-time home loans make this an exciting time for home loan activity. If you have any questions regarding housing or know of friends, family or colleagues who wish to discuss buying or refinancing a home, please get in touch.
This article was taken from my March 2015 issue of YOU Magazine. Click here to view the full newsletter.