Stacie Hartman

The Mortgage Blog of Stacie Hartman

Inventory, Interest Rates, And Opportunities In The Market

Barry Habib, chairman of Mortgage Success Source, says the rush to take advantage of the tax credit has inflated recent housing data but believes low rates provide ongoing opportunities in real estate for buyers looking to stay in a home long-term.


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New Home Sales Hit 2-Year High

According to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, sales of new single-family homes surged in April. Boosted by the expiring tax credits, sales soared 47.8 percent above last year’s level and 14.8 percent above March. April’s numbers exceeded economists’ expectations and marked the second straight month of gains. Also, the median price for a new home dropped 9.7 percent from March to $198,400, the lowest since December 2003. More here and here.

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Interest Rates Lowest Since November

According to The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 4.80 percent last week, sparking a 17 percent increase in refinance application volume. Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, said though low rates and refinance activity pushed total mortgage application volume up, purchase applications fell 3.3 percent to their lowest level in 13 years. More here and here.

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Home Prices Drop In 1st Quarter

According to Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, housing prices are showing renewed weakness despite rebounding slightly from last year’s numbers. Home prices fell 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2010, but were up 2 percent year-over-year. David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor’s, said it was especially disappointing that recent gains in sales and starts didn’t carry over to home prices. More here and here.

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Tax Credit Sends Existing Home Sales Soaring

Existing home sales surged to a five-month high in April, according to The National Association of Realtors. Sales of previously owned homes were up 22.8 percent over last year’s pace and 7.6 percent above the month before. Though the gains were expected, Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said there are other factors supporting the market such as stabilizing prices, an improving economy, and low interest rates. Total housing inventory also rose, climbing 11.5 percent to an 8.4-month supply at the current sales pace, up from an 8.1-month supply in March. More here, here, and here.

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Fannie, Freddie, and The Housing Forecast

With 25 percent of mortgages underwater and high levels of delinquencies, James Lockhart, former director of The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, says the housing market will need another year or more before it shows signs of recovery.

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Homeowner Confidence Up In First Quarter

65 percent of U.S. homes declined in value last year, but according to’s first quarter Homeowner Confidence Survey, only 50 percent of homeowners believe their own home’s value has dropped in the last 12 months. And with 7 percent of homeowners saying they’d be very likely to put their home on the market in the next year if there are signs that the housing market is improving, that overconfidence could represent as many as 5.3 million homes put up for sale in a market already threatened by shadow inventory. Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, said we are in for a saw-toothed bottom, where inventory decreases, causing values to stabilize and some of the sidelined sellers to put their homes on the market, causing inventory to grow and values to decline again. More here.

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Rates Fall To Lowest Level Since Last November

According to The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 4.83 percent last week. But despite rates dropping to their lowest level since November 2009, requests for home purchase loans plummeted 27.1 percent. Michael Frantantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, said purchase applications have declined nearly 20 percent over the past month, adding that the expiration of the tax credit may have pulled sales into April, cutting short the spring buying season. Refinance activity, on the other hand, was at its highest level in nine weeks after a 14.5 percent jump. More here, here, and here.

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Housing Starts Up 41% Over Last Year

According to The Department of Commerce’s April report on new residential construction, housing starts jumped 40.9 percent from last year and 5.8 percent above the month before. Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said increased demand from the home buyer tax credit lifted construction but its expiration has homebuilders wary, noting the 11.5 percent drop in building permits. Despite the drop in permits, which suggests starts will also fall off this summer, a recent report from the National Association of Home Builders showed builder confidence at a 2-1/2 year high. More here, here, here, and here.

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Shadow Inventory and The Housing Recovery

The housing market’s current mix of ups and downs has experts and industry insiders forecasting a variety of possible outcomes over the next few months and beyond. The shadow inventory looms large among many factors influencing whether the recent stretch of stability continues or the market takes a downturn. Estimates of the number of homes that are ready to sell but haven’t been put on the market vary. A recent report from Barclays Capital says the shadow inventory will peak this summer and begin falling as the market stabilizes. But with an estimated 4.5 million homes potentially hitting the market over the next few years, an orderly pace is required to prevent flooding the market and driving prices down again. More here, here and here.

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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.


Stacie Hartman
360 Mortgage Group
Account Executive
Oregon and SW Washington
Phone: 503.757.9565

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