Top News Of The Week

– Shutdown Disrupts Some Real Estate Transactions
– Fewer Are Refinancing, as Rates Rise
– Mortgage Applications Tumble To End 2018
– Many Buyers Thinking Smaller (Cities)
– New York Market Cooling Fast
– Vegas Continues to Be Popular Destination
– Hard For Self-Employed Buyers to Get a Mortgage
– Bay State Goes After Airbnb Rentals
– November Prices Up, But Still Slowing
– Buying Opportunities in Cooling San Diego
– 2019 IPOs Could Make Bay Area’s Housing Crunch Worse
– Single-Family Rentals Gaining Market Share
– Watch These Seven Markets in 2019
– Net-Zero Growth Set to Soar
– Interest-Only Lending Falls
– New Yorkers Play Cat-and-Mouse

Shutdown Disrupts Some Real Estate Transactions
The federal government shutdown has had an impact on real estate transactions.

Some buyers with FHA loans faced possible delays in closing, because the reduced staffing at the agency caused a backlog of paperwork to process. VA loans are not affected.

According to Bankrate, the Department of Agriculture issued no new USDA Direct Loans or Guaranteed Loans. And scheduled closings of Direct Loans were canceled.

And for mortgage applicants. the shutdown led to delays in IRS transcript and Social Security reporting.

The National Flood Insurance Program was not affected, since Congress and the President signed legislation before the shutdown began, extending NFIP’s authority through May.

Fewer Are Refinancing, as Rates Rise
2019 could be an historically weak year for mortgage refinancing.

The latest CoreLogic Economic Outlook report finds that a smaller and smaller share of the mortgages Americans are taking out are for a refinance, largely because so many homeowners have already refinanced into interest rates that are now below the going rate.

In a company-produced video, CoreLogic chief economist Frank Nothaft says the closing months of 2018 are a sign of what’s ahead.

Nothaft says there are still many homeowners who have a financial incentive to refinance, but not necessarily to get a lower interest rate.

Mortgage Applications Tumble To End 2018
Mortgage applications plunged nearly 10% in the last two weeks of 2018, according to figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association. Their numbers were adjusted to account for the Christmas holiday.

Total mortgage application volume ended the year 21% lower than in 2017, to its lowest level in 18 years.

Joel Kan, MBA Associate Vice President, says investors prefer the “safer U.S. Treasuries” right now, thanks to uncertainty over the economy and the effects of the government shutdown..

Many Buyers Thinking Smaller (Cities)
As home prices continue to rise in America’s biggest markets, a major shift seems to be taking place.

REALTOR®.com CEO Ryan O’Hara told CNBC that we used to see people from small cities looking to move to bigger cities….

O’Hara says the market in those smaller cities is being driven by low unemployment and strong wage growth, which attracting many homebuyers.

New York Market Cooling Fast
New York City real estate is at its slowest since the housing crisis.

New figures from Douglas Elliman show the fourth quarter average sale price was down 4%, total sales were down 14% — the fifth straight quarter of falling sales.

But high-end housing is still strong, says REALTOR® Noble Black with Douglas Elliman.

Black spoke on CNBC.

Vegas Continues to Be Popular Destination
The housing market in Las Vegas was sizzling in 2018, but has now slowed a bit, thanks in large part to rising mortgage interest rates, according to local real estate brokers.

But Vegas remains a very popular place to buy a home, says REALTOR® Bob Hamrick. He tells Fox 5 TV in Las Vegas that most buyers are coming from California.

Agents tell the TV station that the best time to buy a home in Las Vegas will be in the first quarter of the year, as sales always pick up soon after the Super Bowl.

Hard For Self-Employed Buyers to Get a Mortgage
The mortgage market is not adequately meeting the lending needs of self-employed households. So says a recent report from the Urban Institute.

Researchers found that self-employed people, who account for nearly 10% of U.S. households, were hit harder by the housing crisis and have been slower to recover.

The Urban Institute report says, “factors beyond income, such as tougher mortgage availability or requirements of appendix Q, are likely at play.”

In the mortgage application process, Appendix Q is used to determine monthly debt and income.

Bay State Goes After Airbnb Rentals
Massachusetts is making it tougher for homeowners to rent out their properties on a short-term basis, through services such as Airbnb.

A new law recently signed by Governor Charlie Baker will require rental hosts to register with the state and carry insurance. And short-term rentals may now be subject to the same tax hotels pay.

People who rent their homes for 14 or fewer nights a year will be exempt from the new Massachusetts law.

November Prices Up, But Still Slowing
Nationwide home prices continued to rise in November, but at a slower pace, according to the latest numbers from CoreLogic’s Home Price Index.

Prices grew by an estimated 0.4% in November. That’s a 5.1% year over year increase. At this time a year ago, prices were still rising at an annual rate of 7%, CoreLogic says.

Buying Opportunities in Cooling San Diego
Last spring home prices in metro San Diego were growing at an annual pace of 8-percent. But the market has cooled considerably since then.

Loan officer Mark Goldman with C-2 Financial tells San Diego’s 10-News TV that buyers now have significantly more leverage.

Goldman says for buyers, quote, “It’s a good time to get in there.”

2019 IPOs Could Make Bay Area’s Housing Crunch Worse
When big tech companies go public, their employees can suddenly become very rich. and in San Francisco, such initial public offerings, or IPOs, have contributed to the region’s housing crunch.

NBC News reports that a number of IPOs in 2019, including Uber, Lyft, Slack, and Airbnb.

The network reports that “the country’s most expensive housing market may suddenly become even more exclusive.”

Single-Family Rentals Gaining Market Share
When you think “rental properties,” apartment buildings may come to mind first, but a new report reveals that the single-family rental market is now the largest source of rental housing in the U.S.

A white paper from Freddie Mac concludes that about half of all rental homes in the U.S. are now single-family units.

Freddie Mac says it’s the single largest segment of the rental market by valuation and households served.

Watch These Seven Markets in 2019
Lakeland, Florida, Grand Rapids and El Paso are among the markets that REALTOR®.com has identified as those expected to see big growth in 2019.

Taking into account the number of home sales and their prices, REALTOR®.com‘s economic team says seven markets are poised for a great 2019.

Besides Lakeland, Grand Rapids and El Paso, the list includes Chattanooga, Phoenix, Bridgeport, Connecticut and Las Vegas.

Net-Zero Growth Set to Soar
Your next newly-built home may use only the energy it generates itself.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the growing number of “net-zero” homes being built in the U.S. Net-zero homes make the energy they use.

According to the Net-Zero Energy Coalition, there were 85-hundred net-zero units in 2017 — more than four times that many were under construction.

And in 2020, a new California law will require all new homes to be net-zero.

Interest-Only Lending Falls
America’s home buyers seem to be losing interest in interest-only mortgages.

Originations of interest-only mortgages fell six-and-a-half percent in the third quarter, according to figures from Inside Nonconforming Markets.

In the first nine months of 2018, a survey of lenders found a nearly-9-percent drop in interest-only originations.

New Yorkers Play Cat-and-Mouse
New Yorkers may have invented a better mousetrap. It’s called a “cat.”

The New York Times reports a boom in so-called “working cats,” that is, feral cats that have been spayed or neutered, but aren’t a good candidate to be a house pet.

The Times reports that animal rescue groups have created “working-cat” programs so homeowners who agree to care for a cat like any other pet can get an added line of defense against vermin.

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