Top News Of The Week

- Housing Reform Unlikely in U.S. House Before 2018
- Carson Says Deregulation is Key To Home Construction Logjam
- Affordability Improves in April, By One Measure
- Homebuilding in Phoenix at Highest Level in Ten Years
- More Renters Are Becoming Homeowners — Finally
- Gay Men Still Face Housing Discrimination
- Escrow Accounts Cover Taxes, Insurance For 80% of Borrowers
- Millions of Credit Scores About to Get Better
- Construction Spending Flat in May, Government Says
- CoreLogic Reports Strong Home Price Gains in May
- NAR Urges FHFA to Allow GSEs to Build Capital Reserves
- Come On Upstairs to Canada
- First Timers Help Boost Purchase Mortgage Market
- Is the 20% Down Payment An Endangered Species?
- Columbus Is On Fire


Housing Reform Unlikely in U.S. House Before 2018
A key Congressional lawmaker says a House committee could take up housing-finance reform after the August recess.

But Missouri Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer told a recent meeting of the Financial Services Roundtable that he doesn’t expect any real action on housing reform until next year….

The Senate Banking Committee may be slightly further along.

Carson Says Deregulation is Key To Home Construction Logjam
There is no question that America needs more new home construction.

And the nation’s Housing Secretary says the Trump administration is working on getting more homes built. Ben Carson says the idea is to get government out of the way.

Carson appeared in a recent Q-and-A session streamed on Facebook.

Housing Demand is Booming
Americans want to buy homes. They really want to.

In its May “Housing Demand Index,” Redfin reports that demand has hit an all-time high.

The index jumped 11.3% in May, reaching the highest level of homebuyer demand since Redfin started tracking it four and a half years ago.

Redfin determines the level of demand by tracking its customers’ requests for home tours and making written offers.

Affordability Improves in April, By One Measure
Affordability is one of the big headwinds facing the housing market. But the newest figures from one industry source indicate that homes became a little MORE affordable in April, for the first time in months.

According to the “Real House Price Index” from First American Financial, what they call “real home prices” fell 1-point-6 percent from March to April, even though they are still up 11-percent from this time last year.

The company says its index measures affordability by comparing single-family home prices to income and interest rate changes.

And by that yardstick, First American says “real” home prices are 33% below their housing boom peak.

Homebuilding in Phoenix at Highest Level in Ten Years
There’s a building boom in Phoenix.

There are more homes under construction in the Phoenix area right now than at any time in the last ten years, reports KPNX 12 News.

And that sure looks good to Jim Belfiore, who owns Belfiore Real Estate Consulting.

Belfiore says sales of new homes increased 22-percent from April to May.

More Renters Are Becoming Homeowners — Finally
The national housing market is finally returning to normal, according to a new report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

As the economy continues to improve, the study says, many renters will finally get the chance to become homeowners — if they can qualify for a mortgage.

Over the last 12 years, the Joint Center says, the number of renter households has grown by nearly 10-million, their ranks swelled by many households that traditionally prefer home ownership.

But the report says an increase in the number of homeowners in 2016 was the largest since 2006, and indications are that 2017 will also be a very strong year.

Gay Men Still Face Housing Discrimination
If you’re a gay man in America, you may not be getting the full story about available housing.

That’s one finding of a new study by the Urban Institute. They say gay men not only are less likely to be told about all available housing, but when they are told, they’re quoted a higher price than straight men are.

The Urban Institute study found no such difference in treatment between lesbian women and straight women.

HUD says that while the Fair Housing Act does not explicitly protect sexual orientation and gender identity, discrimination against LGBT individuals may be covered by the law if it’s based on “nonconformity with gender stereotypes.”

Escrow Accounts Cover Taxes, Insurance For 80% of Borrowers
How do you make sure your property taxes and homeowners insurance get paid on time?

A new analysis by CoreLogic finds that nearly eight out of ten American homeowners with a mortgage pay their taxes and insurance through an escrow account.

Mortgage lenders encourage the use of escrow accounts, as a way of ensuring that homeowners have enough reserves to cover the cost of principal, interest, taxes and insurance.

CoreLogic says many lenders now actually charge a premium of up to 25 basis points for customers with non-escrow accounts.

Millions of Credit Scores About to Get Better
Millions of Americans will have better credit scores soon.

Thanks to recent change by credit reporting agencies, some 12-million people will have tax lien and civil judgment records removed from their credit reports. That will likely see an average 20-point bump in their scores.

Charlie Dawson is Managing Director of Legislative Policy with THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

The credit-report changes take effect this month.

Construction Spending Flat in May, Government Says
Homebuilding activity fell in May, as overall U.S. construction spending remained flat, compared to April.

The Commerce Department reports there was no increase in construction spending in May.

Private residential construction fell 6-tenths of one percent in May — it’s the first such decline in over a year and the largest in three years.

Jennifer Lee, an economist with BMO Capital Markets, tells the Associated Press, quote, “Construction activity, unfortunately, continues to disappoint.”

And she warns that, “If June is flat again, that would mean a negative quarter for construction.”

CoreLogic Reports Strong Home Price Gains in May
More new figures on rising home prices. CoreLogic reports that prices climbed 1-point-2 percent from April to May — 6.6% year-over-year.

The latest CoreLogic Home Price Index also forecasts that home prices will rise 5.3% by May of next year.

And while CoreLogic says the price gains are good for home equity, they continue to be a headwind for renters and prospective buyers.

NAR Urges FHFA to Allow GSEs to Build Capital Reserves
THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® doesn’t think it’s a good idea for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to have no money put away in reserves.

The NAR has sent a formal request to the Federal Housing Finance Agency asking FHFA to allow Fannie and Freddie to build up capital once again, through a “mortgage market liquidity fund.

Nearly next year, the capital “buffer” for each company will drop to zero. Right now, each has some $600 million in capital reserves.

The concern is, if either Fannie or Freddie posts a loss, without reserves they would have to tap into a line of credit with the U.S. Treasury — and that could be very politically unpopular in Washington.

Come On Upstairs to Canada
There’s an unusual home for sale in Vermont.

Well, actually, it’s unusual because it’s in Vermont — AND in Canada. Brian DeMoulin owns it now. He showed it to CBS News…..

REALTOR® Rosemary Lalime with RE/MAX All Seasons Realty in Newport, Vermont is the listing agent…

The historic home was built in the early 1800s. It’s listed at $109,000.

First Timers Help Boost Purchase Mortgage Market
First-time homebuyers are having an impact on the purchase-mortgage market.

According to an analysis by “Inside Mortgage Trends,” through the first five months of this year, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae had collectively securitized $268 billion of single-family purchase mortgages. That is up 10.5% from the same period in 2016.

Inside Mortgage Finance reports that purchase-mortgage volume has been building steadily since it bottomed out in February.

The biggest increase has been in the conventional mortgage sector.

Is the 20% Down Payment An Endangered Species?
One of the biggest hurdles a first-time homebuyer has typically had to overcome is the traditional 20% down payment.

But times have changed.

Certified Financial Planner Hal Bundrick writes in NerdWallet that the 20% down payment is “all but dead, and has been for quite some time.”

Bundrick says these days, most buyers know that there are loans and programs that require less than 20% down.

According to THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® data, the typical down payment for six out of ten first-time home buyers is 6-percent or less.

Columbus Is On Fire
The housing market has never been hotter in Columbus, Ohio, reports the Columbus Dispatch.

The newspaper says job growth, population growth, and other factors have combined to create extraordinary demand for homes in the Columbus area.

Brenda Bradford with Keller Williams Excel Realty told the paper, quote, “I’ve been an agent 24 years and I’ve never seen a market like this.”

According to REALTOR®.com, Columbus was the nation’s fifth-hottest housing market in June.

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