Stacie Hartman

The Mortgage Blog of Stacie Hartman

Sales of Existing Homes Surge in December

Existing-home sales rose 12.3 percent in December, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. The increase was the fifth in six months and put sales at their highest level since the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said the pattern over the past six months shows sales are on an uptrend and the market is reaching an adequate, sustainable level. Total housing inventory fell 4.2 percent at the end of December, which represents an 8.1-month supply at the current sales pace. More here and here.

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Loan Demand Up 5.0 Percent, Rates Down

According to The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, total loan application volume rose 5.0 percent last week, due to a 7.7 percent increase in the Refinance Index. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index fell 1.9 percent from a week earlier. Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, said, with mortgage rates moving somewhat lower since the beginning of the year, refinance applications have picked up. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 4.77 percent from 4.78 percent the week before. More here and here.

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Builder Sentiment Unchanged For 3rd Consecutive Month

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index shows builder confidence in the market for new, single-family homes held steady at 16 for the third-straight month in January. The index gauges builders’ perception of the housing market. A number below 50 indicates more builders view conditions as poor than good. The components gauging current sales conditions and expectations for the next six months were both unchanged from the previous month, while the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers rose one point. More here and here.

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Bernanke Says Economic Recovery Will Be Stronger in 2011

In remarks before the Senate Budget Committee, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the rate of economic recovery will be moderately stronger in 2011 than it was in 2010. Bernanke said there is evidence that a self-sustaining recovery in consumer and business spending is taking hold and, though the pace of recovery hasn’t been enough to significantly improve conditions in the labor market, job openings and hiring plans have looked stronger in recent months. Bernanke also addressed weakness in the housing sector, saying that the overhang of vacant houses has weighed heavily on home prices and construction. More here and here.

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Consumers Believe The Time Is Right To Buy

A housing report from John Burns Real Estate, a California-based consulting firm, shows 88 percent of 10,000 potential homeowners surveyed felt now was a good time to buy a home. Especially among prospective first-time buyers, high affordability factors and low mortgage rates combined with recent improvements to the general economy have boosted consumers’ confidence in the housing market. Still, Burns feels the overall economy is reaching its long-term average outlook, while housing will likely lag the recovery rather than lead it. More here.

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Housing Starts, Sales To Rebound In 2011

Speaking at a National Association of Home Builders annual meeting, David Crowe, the NAHB’s chief economist, said he expects housing starts to rise 21 percent from last year’s level and sales to improve 26 percent from 2010. Crowe pointed to trends indicating growing consumer confidence, such as better-than-expected holiday sales numbers and improvements in sales of cars and furniture, as evidence that, with better job creation numbers this year, buyers will be ready to move forward. Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft is also forecasting a sales rebound in 2011. Nothaft predicts home sales will increase 10 percent this year due to more robust growth of jobs and incomes. More here, here, and here.

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Mortgage Loan Demand Rises as Rates Fall

According to The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, total loan application volume rose 2.2 percent last week due to a 4.9 percent increase in the Refinance Index. The Purchase Index fell 3.7 percent. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped to 4.78 percent from 4.82 percent the week before. More here and here.

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Reports Show Prices, Inventory Down At End Of Year

Reports from CoreLogic and Altos Research show both home prices and inventory fell at the end of the year. Altos Research’s Real-Time Housing Market Update for December 2010 shows a 1.63 percent drop in prices and a 5.89 percent decrease in inventory at the end of December. Altos says the monthly data is in keeping with seasonal declines and they expect a likely increase once the spring-selling season begins. CoreLogic’s Home Price Index had home values down 1.6 percent in November from October and 5.0 percent lower than the year before. More here, here and here.

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The Mortgage Market Forecast For 2011

Though mortgage rates are expected to rise this year, the increases will be gradual and are expected to keep rates near five percent, which is still historically low. According to Holden Lewis of Bankrate, economists had predicted a rise in rates by the third quarter of 2010, but at the end of the year rates were still hovering in the four percent range. The Mortgage Bankers Association expects total mortgage applications to fall this year, though they also expect purchase applications to increase and become a greater share of the mortgage market. Overall, financial experts and market observers suggest homeowners and prospective buyers apply for a mortgage based on their individual needs rather than trying to time the market. More here.

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Federal Housing Policy and The Price Floor

Mark Zandi, Moody’s Analytics’ chief economist, says federal housing policy may not have worked exactly as planned but did a reasonably good job of keeping price declines from being more substantial than they were.

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About Me:

Stacie Hartman is a wholesale mortgage Account Executive working with loan officers in Oregon and SW Washington. She has 18 years in the mortgage industry, an extensive knowledge of financing options, and a commitment to open communication and client service that make her stand out in her field. Her goals begin with uncompromising service and end with excellent results and repeat business.

Contact:

Stacie Hartman
360 Mortgage Group
Account Executive
Oregon and SW Washington
Phone: 503.757.9565
Email: shartman@360mortgagegroup.com
website: www.360mortgagegroup.com

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