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Housing Starts Finish 2020 Strong, but Trouble Could be on the Horizon: NAHB

While housing starts ended the year on a strong note, rising lumber prices and increasing regulatory cost concerns could affect future production. Led by a solid, double-digit gain in single-family starts, overall housing starts increased 5.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.67 million units, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The December reading of 1.67 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if development kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts increased 12.0 percent to a 1.34 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, decreased 13.6 percent to a 331,000 pace.

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FHA to Allow DACA Status Recipients to Apply for Administration-insured Mortgages

The Federal Housing Administration announced Jan. 20 that it will allow individuals classified under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program who are legally permitted to work in the U.S. to apply for mortgages backed by the FHA. Borrowers must satisfy the same requirements as U.S. citizens to be eligible.

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FHFA Extends Moratorium on Single-family Foreclosures

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) will extend the moratoriums on single-family foreclosures and real estate owned (REO) evictions until February 28, 2021.  The foreclosure moratorium applies to Enterprise-backed, single-family mortgages only. The REO eviction moratorium applies to properties that have been acquired by an Enterprise through foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure transactions. The current moratoriums were set to expire on January 31, 2021.

“To keep our communities safe, and families in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, FHFA is extending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's foreclosure and eviction moratorium," said Director Mark Calabria. 

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Moratorium on Foreclosure Activity Results in Record Low Filings in 2020, Data Shows

Foreclosures were 57% lower in 2020 than in 2019, reaching a record low of 214,323 filings on residential properties — 0.16% of all housing units — due to the government moratorium, analytics firm ATTOM Data Solutions reported Jan. 14. The highest foreclosure rates were reported in Delaware, Illinois and New Jersey.

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Residential Activity Strong, CRE Struggles: Fed Beige Book

Residential real estate activity remained strong in many fed districts even as home prices increased due to inventory shortages, but commercial activity still struggled amid weak conditions, according to the latest Beige Book released Jan. 13 by the Federal Reserve.

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GSEs Extend Flexibilities for Appraisals, Employment Verification

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced Jan. 14 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will extend their flexibilities pertaining to both property appraisals and employment verification through Feb 28. The flexibilities were initially put in place in March 2020 and extended throughout last year in an effort to facilitate liquidity in the mortgage marketplace during the coronavirus outbreak.

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Mortgage Rates Stay at Record Lows Even as Treasury Yields Increase: Freddie Mac

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS), showing that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 2.71 percent.

“Mortgage rates remain at record lows, resisting their typical correlation to Treasury yields, which have recently been moving higher,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “Mortgage spreads – the difference between mortgage rates and the 10-year Treasury rate – are declining from their elevated levels earlier this year. Although today’s mortgage spread is about 1.8 percentage points and still has some room to move down if the 10-year Treasury continues to rise, it’s encouraging to see that the spread is almost back to normal levels.”

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Homebuying Sentiment Declines After 3 Months of Growth, Fannie Mae Reports

The Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTCQB) Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) fell 1.7 points in November to 80.0, the first decline after three consecutive months of increases. Three of the six HPSI components decreased month over month, with consumers reporting a more pessimistic view of homebuying conditions, including mortgage rate expectations, but a more optimistic view of home-selling conditions and home prices. Moreover, consumers also reported mixed results regarding job loss concerns and household income changes. Year over year, the HPSI is down 11.5 points.

"The HPSI appears to have peaked for now as consumers continue to consider how COVID-19 impacts their ability to buy or sell a home," said Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. "This follows the HPSI's recovery of slightly more than half of the loss experienced during the first few months of the pandemic."

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Foreclosures Fall 14% in November, Down 80% from 2019, Data Shows

ATTOM Data Solutions, licensor of the nation’s most comprehensive foreclosure data and parent company to RealtyTrac (www.realtytrac.com), a foreclosure listings portal, released its November 2020 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which shows there were a total of 10,042 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions — in November 2020, down 14 percent from a month ago and down 80 percent from a year ago.

“It’s not unusual to see foreclosure activity slow down beginning in November and through the holiday season,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president at RealtyTrac, an ATTOM Data Solutions company. “Both foreclosure starts and repossessions were down about 80% on a year-over-year basis, but it might be worth noting that a few cities that may be vulnerable to the pandemic-driven flight from urban areas to the suburbs – like New York City, Chicago, and Miami – were among the markets with the highest levels of foreclosure actions.”

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US Housing Market Will Withstand Foreclosure Wave When Forbearance Ends: Redfin

The U.S. housing market will likely withstand a wave of foreclosures as investors and first-time homebuyers purchase these homes, according to a new report from Redfin (redfin.com), the technology-powered real estate brokerage. This analysis was conducted by Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather.

More than 3.3. million of U.S. homeowners will be on the hook for delinquent payments when mortgage forbearance ends. While some of those homeowners who are overleveraged or unaware of their options will contribute to a wave of foreclosures, most will be able to work with their lenders to either refinance their mortgage or sell to cash in on rising home values.

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‘Appraisal Issues’ Cited as a Problem in October: NAR

The appraisal can be a stressful process and may threaten to derail transactions. Twenty-one percent of REALTORS® say “appraisal issues” delayed their sales contracts in October, according to the most recent REALTORS® Confidence Index. Appraisal issues led to 13% of contracts being terminated. The appraiser evaluates the home’s lot size, condition (both inside and out), foundation, neighborhood, and any other amenities that add or decrease value.

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FHA Increases 2021 Loan Limits for Both High-cost Areas and Reverse Mortgages

The Federal Housing Administration on Dec. 2 announced that for 2021 its loan limit for high-cost areas and for Home Equity Conversion Mortgages for reverse mortgages will increase from $765,600 to $822,375, and the floor from $331,760 to $356,362. Current FHA regulations don’t allow HECM loans to vary by metropolitan statistical area or county.

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COVID-19 Vaccine Could Increase Mortgage Rates and Housing Inventory: Economists

By Jacob Passy

When the coronavirus pandemic first reached U.S. shores earlier this year, worries abounded about how it would affect the country’s housing market.

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Home Prices in Opportunity Zones Rise at Slower Pace than National Average: Data

 ATTOM Data Solutions, curator of the nation’s premier property database and first property data provider of Data-as-a-Service (DaaS), today released its third-quarter 2020 special report analyzing qualified Opportunity Zones established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs act of 2017 (see full methodology below). In this report, ATTOM looked at 1,737 zones with sufficient sales data to analyze, meaning they had at least five home sales in the third quarter of 2020.

The report found that median home prices increased from the third quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2020 in 74 percent of the zones and rose by more than 10 percent in slightly more than half the zones.

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Single-family Home Prices Up in All Metros During Q3: NAR

Every metro area tracked by the National Association of Realtors® during the third quarter of 2020 saw home prices increase from a year ago, according to NAR’s latest quarterly report, released today.

Due in large part to record-low mortgage rates and depleted nationwide housing inventory, median single-family home prices grew year-over-year in all 181 metropolitan statistical areas1 tracked by NAR, as every measured market showed sales price gains.

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Mortgage Rates Drop to All-time Low for 12th Time This Year: Freddie Mac Survey

 Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 2.78 percent, the lowest rate in our survey’s history which dates back to 1971.

“Mortgage rates hit another record low, the twelfth time this year, due to economic and political ambiguity,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “Despite the uncertainty that we’ve all experienced this year, the housing market, buoyed by low rates, continues to be a bright spot.”

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CMBS Delinquencies Improve Overall; Lodging and Retail Sectors Still Struggling: Trepp

The Trepp CMBS delinquency rate continued to trend notably lower in October. After two huge jumps in May and June, the rate has now declined for four consecutive months.

The CMBS Delinquency Rate in October is 8.28%, a decline of 64 basis points from the September number. About 1.00% of that number represents loans in the 30 days delinquent bucket – down 40 basis points for the month.

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Real Estate Economists See Short Recession, Strong Recovery

By Michael Tucker

The Urban Land Institute, Washington, D.C., said a consensus of real estate economists surveyed expect a short-lived recession and above-average GDP growth in 2021 and 2022.

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Fannie Mae Housing Confidence Survey Shows Mixed Feelings on Residential Sector

The Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTCQB) Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) increased 3.5 points in September to 81.0, rising for the second consecutive month and continuing the rebound from late spring. Three of the six HPSI components increased month over month, with consumers reporting a substantially more optimistic view of home-selling conditions, expected home price growth, and the labor market, but a more pessimistic view of homebuying conditions and mortgage rate expectations. Year over year, the HPSI is down 10.5 points.

“The HPSI has recovered more than half of the early pandemic-period decline, mirroring the strong home purchase activity of the past few months,” said Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “Consumers’ home price expectations were up strongly this month, with high home prices playing an increasingly – though unsurprisingly – important role in driving both the increase in ‘good time to sell’ sentiment and the decline in ‘good time to buy’ sentiment. Going forward, we believe the wild card to be whether enough sellers enter the market to continue to meet the strong homebuying demand. The home purchase market requires the proper mix of home price growth and continued economic recovery to achieve sustainable levels of housing activity.”

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Fed Beige Book Shows Increase in Home Sales, Decrease in Commercial Activity

Home sales increased moderately across most Fed districts, but commercial activity remained at a low level, with reports of mixed or deteriorating conditions — although most tenants reportedly paid rent in June, according to the Federal Reserve's latest Beige Book released July 15. Investment activity was slow to nonexistent across the board.

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