Top News Of The Week

Late April Bump in New Home Sales
FHFA: No Lump-Sum For Forbearance Loans
Case Shiller:Home Price Growth Strong in February
Homeownership Rate Up in Q1
Buyers, Sellers Adapt to ‘New Normal’ Conditions
Migration to the Suburbs? Maybe, Maybe Not
Mortgage Rates Remain Tantalizingly Low
Fido or Fluffy May Help You Decide Which Home to Buy
How a Disaster Recovery Team is Helping Sell Homes
Technology Helps Boost Home Showings
Immigration Halt Has Exceptions — Good for Builders
Wide Variation in Protections for Struggling Renters
Many Changes Here to Stay
Drive-Up Closings in Iowa
Fewer Americans Looking to Buy a Home
Sellers Standing Firm

Late April Bump in New Home Sales

Big-city renters are driving a recent uptick in sales of newly-built homes.

That’s one finding of research by John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

The company’s manager of research, Devyn Bachman, told CNBC.

New home sales are still well below typical spring levels, but Bachman says, quote, “more positive news is coming out.”

FHFA: No Lump-Sum For Forbearance Loans

Many homeowners who’ve gotten mortgage forbearance are getting another break from the government.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency says borrowers whose loans are backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac will not be required to make up missed payments in a lump sum, or balloon payment at the end of their forbearance period.

Jay Farner, the CEO of Quicken Loans, told Cheddar that his company is working with borrowers in forbearance to figure out their options:

Over three and a half million homeowners have request mortgage forbearance.

Case Shiller:Home Price Growth Strong in February

America’s home prices were on a strong upswing, just before the coronavirus pandemic arrived.

The latest S&P CoreLogic Case Shiller Home Price Index shows that in February, home prices rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6-percent, the highest rate in the past two years.

All 20 major metro areas in the index had positive price growth.

But S&P Dow Jones Indices says growth will “certainly decline in the coming months.”

Homeownership Rate Up in Q1

America’s homeownership rate improved in the first quarter of 2020.

The government says the rate reached 65-point-3 percent, up from 64-point-2 in the first quarter last year.

However the first-quarter number was not statistically different from the 2019 fourth quarter rate of 65-point-1 percent.

The Census Bureau says the homeownership rates among all age groups increased in the first quarter.

Buyers, Sellers Adapt to ‘New Normal’ Conditions

While the pandemic has really shaken up how real estate deals get done, the point is, they are still getting done, says Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com.

In a company-produced video, Hale said buyers and sellers alike are quickly adapting to the rapid changes in the marketplace.

Hale points out that in recent weeks, there has been some modest improvement in the number of homes coming on the market.  She cautions, though, that it’s still too soon to say we’ve passed the worst in the housing market.

Migration to the Suburbs?  Maybe, Maybe Not

Is the coronavirus motivating city dwellers to head for the suburbs, or rural areas?

There are anecdotal reports that that’s happening.

But Florida Realtor Sam DeBianchi told Fox Business she has her doubts:

HousingWire reports that demographers and Realtors say this may be a “tipping point” for people who were already inclined to make a move to the suburbs.

Mortgage Rates Remain Tantalizingly Low

Buying a home is certainly more challenging this spring than we would have predicted it would be.

But mortgage rates remain the bright spot.  They are still hovering around all-time lows.

Mortgage Bankers Association spokesman Rob van Raaphorst said in an MBA video that refinancing activity is still far outpacing purchases:

Purchase applications are also being impacted by new, stricter lending guidelines put in place by many lenders.

Fido or Fluffy May Help You Decide Which Home to Buy

You look at two homes — your final decision on which one to buy may depend on one member of your family.

Your dog or cat.

According to the latest Pet Survey from the National Association of Realtors suggest that pets can be the deciding factor for many buyers.

And if that’s you, your Realtor can help. The NAR survey found that four out of five Realtors consider themselves animal lovers.

How a Disaster Recovery Team is Helping Sell Homes

Real estate professionals have really become creative in these unprecedented times.

In Redding, California, Vista Real Estate has partnered with a disaster-cleanup company to make in-person home tours as safe as possible.

Realtor Amanda Nardo told KRCR NewsChannel 7 TV.

During a home tour, Vista gives the buyer a mask and gloves, and a cleaning technician follows them around, cleaning and disinfecting after them.

Technology Helps Boost Home Showings

Virtual home tours have taken off, in recent weeks, because of the widespread shutdowns.

And that may be why home showings are increasing.

According to the national showing service ShowingTime, there was a 39-percent increase in showings in the second half of April.

They say the uptick is likely thanks to virtual showings rather than in-person tours.

Immigration Halt Has Exceptions — Good for Builders

The Trump administration’s 60-day immigration shutdown includes an exception that could help home builders.

The order does not affect the entry of those on temporary or non-immigrant visas, including H-2B guest workers.

The housing industry has struggled for a decade to find enough skilled workers, and industry leaders have pressed the government to make it easier to hire foreign workers.

Wide Variation in Protections for Struggling Renters

America’s 44-million or so renters have taken a much harder economic hit this spring than homeowners have, according to a new survey by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland.

A majority of renters have lost at least some of their income, the survey found.

Many states have imposed a temporary moratorium on evictions,

But the Post reports that renter protection varies widely by state and region. It’s the strongest in the Northeast, Northwest and Midwest, and weaker in the South, Northern Plains and Mountain States.

Many Changes Here to Stay

We keep hearing about the “new normal” we’ll be living in, post-pandemic.

And that may be very true in real estate.

Washington, DC-area Realtor Sarah Reynolds told WMAL Radio.

Across the country, virtual home tours and online documentation are rapidly winning acceptance.

Drive-Up Closings in Iowa

In Des Moines, Iowa some homebuyers and sellers are now going to closing without ever getting out of their cars.

Midland Title & Escrow is now offering drive-up closings.

Closing Manager Deb Partee told WHO-TV.

Partee says the entire process is completed without the buyer or seller ever having to come into the building.

Fewer Americans Looking to Buy a Home

A lot of Americans are nervous about buying a home right now.

The latest quarterly Housing Trends Report from the National Association of Home Builders finds that only 10-percent of those surveyed say they’re considering buying a home in the next 12 months.

That’s down from 13-percent in the first quarter last year, and 17-percent in the first three months of 2018.

The NAHB says it’s also the sixth consecutive year-over-year drop in the share of Americans planning to buy a home in the year ahead.

Sellers Standing Firm

With the ongoing shortage of homes on the market, buyers are running into many sellers who won’t budge on their asking price.

A survey of Realtors found that almost three out of four said their sellers have not lowered their listing prices to attract buyers.

NAR says the findings suggest that sellers are resisting “panic selling” during the pandemic.

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