For the third week in a row, mortgage rates stay at 2.73%

For the third week in a row, the average mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed loan remained unchanged at 2.73%, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

Even though rates remained at their record low levels, mortgage applications dipped, with some economists pointing to overheated home prices and lack of supply for applications seesawing.

“The residential real estate market remains solid given healthy purchase demand while implied real-time home price growth is high, due to the inventory shortage that is plaguing the housing market,” Sam Khater, chief economist at Freddie Mac, said.

According to Joel Kan, Mortgage Bankers Association‘s vice president of economic and industry forecasting, despite some weekly volatility, Treasury rates have been driven higher by expectations of faster economic growth as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues.

“New COVID-19 cases are receding, which is encouraging and that has led to a rise in Treasury rates. But, the run-up in Treasury rates has not impacted mortgage rates yet, which have held firm,” Khater said.

A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.47%, and the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage has also maintained a substantial low compared to last year, dropping to 2.19% last week.

With rates settling below 3% for six months now, homeowners are taking advantage of lowering mortgage rates – the MBA estimates refinances are still making up over 70% of mortgage activity. However, as economists warn that rates will make their way up, loan teams will need to buckle down for a drop in refi activity.

“It’s a tale of two economies. The services economy remains in the doldrums, but the production side of the economy remains strong,” Khater said.

Unemployment numbers for January painted a similar picture, as another month of rising COVID-19 cases left the U.S. unemployment situation virtually unchanged for the third month in a row.

Source: housingwire.com

Buying a House in Atlanta During Covid-19 – Redfin

The US housing market has been continuously analyzed amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, with many Americans questioning the impact Coronavirus may have on buying a home in their local market. While conditions can change rapidly, Atlanta’s housing market hasn’t seen a drastic negative impact from the virus. 

Many people are still looking to buy a house in Atlanta but less are choosing to sell, creating an inventory shortage. The pandemic has forced everyone involved to be a little more creative in order to tour homes and close deals, so we turned to our Atlanta-based real estate agents to share their experiences and knowledge about the condition of the market and answer some questions below. 

buying a house in Atlanta

buying a house in Atlanta

How are potential homebuyers touring homes right now?

In the age of Coronavirus virtual home touring has been at an all-time high, but does that mean homebuyers are no longer touring homes in person? The city is seeing a fair mix of virtual and in-person tours from those who are looking to buy a house in Atlanta. 

“I’m receiving more virtual tour requests than usual, but I’m actually getting less virtual tours than I thought. I’m seeing about 50/50 split between video and virtual tours and in-person tours” says Redfin agent Shoy Cooper. 

The majority of buyers in Atlanta, GA will tour homes in person before making an offer. When doing in-person tours, agents are very cautious and pay careful attention to the safety of their clients and the homeowners. When touring homes, it is highly recommended that only 2 people tour the home at a time and wear protective gear, including masks and gloves. 

According to Redfin agent Stephanie Beckwith “one thing we see a lot at the entrance of homes is homeowners have hand sanitizer, gloves, and other protective gear. Homeowners often keep all lights on and ask us to not really touch anything.” Even during COVID-19, agents, homeowners, and homebuyers are still able to make the home buying and selling process happen, it’s just a little different now. 

Has competition declined? How competitive are the offers on current homes listed for sale?

The competitiveness of the Atlanta housing market is largely based on the original price point. In the current market, those who are looking to buy a house in Atlanta under the $400,000 range are facing a lot of competition. Homes priced in this range, and in desirable neighborhoods are selling quickly and receiving multiple offers. 

According to Redfin agent Heather Plaisance, “the sellers that are still active in the market definitely are pricing to sell, or they just have a hot commodity and are continuing to go under contract. What I  feel like we’re struggling with is new homes coming available.” 

Because the inventory of new homes for sale is low, homes that are fairly priced, and areas with good school districts and amenities are receiving offers and going under contract very quickly. “There are just not a lot of homes and that’s the problem, there aren’t enough homes in the market for the number of buyers we still have” says Stephanie. 

As for homes in the higher price range, they are not seeing as much competition. These homes tend to stay on the market longer and receive fewer offers. Overall, the current landscape of the Atlanta housing market is still very competitive as the inventory of new homes listed for sale remains low.  

Is there a larger number of offers falling through? 

Some agents aren’t seeing listing cancellations and contract withdrawals, while others have reported cancellations due to lending restrictions on those trying to buy a house in Atlanta. Lenders becoming more strict with their guidelines has caused a few offers to fall through. 

According to Shoy, “prior to COVID-19 multiple lenders were interested in lending to potential homebuyers. These buyers were in a pretty good spot in regards to their credit scores and finances, but because lenders have become stricter with their parameters, certain amounts that they were comfortable lending allowances for before ended up falling through.” 

Other than the complications that come with stricter lending restrictions, agents have not seen many offers fall through due to other circumstances. 

Were closings being postponed due to stay-at-home orders? Can you close remotely? 

Although many things have changed and evolved during this pandemic, many deals are still being finalized on time, or even early. Due to the competitive nature of the market, closings are rarely being pushed back. In addition, closing attorneys have been getting creative and finding new ways to make closings happen safely and on time. Most eClosings have been done by buyers who are moving to Atlanta from another state. 

Shoy says, “curbside closings and eClosings have been the most common. I just had a closing that was a curbside closing. We were able to e-sign most of the documents before we arrived. But for all contracts that had to be signed in person, the closing attorney came out to the car and handed the documents to the buyer to sign as I stood nearby acting as a witness.” 

Closings during the  COVID-19 pandemic are definitely different but the new process isn’t stopping anyone from purchasing their dream home. “It’s a matter of just changing how you do things and adapting,” says Heather. 

Are homes receiving fewer offers? 

As Atlanta continues to have fewer homes listed for sale and more competition, homes are seeing more offers. Popular homes are seeing multiple offers, and some of these homes are going under contract within the same day they are listed. Stephanie found that “for homes in the desired price point, and with the low-interest rates, people are still very interested in touring homes and making offers to try to get a home under contract. We are getting into a lot of multiple offers more so right now then in the past.”

Is the current market in favor of buyers or sellers?  

There’s a general consensus that the current market in Atlanta is in favor of sellers. We are seeing fewer homes on the market, meaning these homes will most likely sell quickly, and sell close to the asking price. “Sellers are in a good position because there’s just not enough on the market, and they’re pretty much selling at the offer price or over the list price, and maybe a little bit more” says Stephanie. 

Although we are seeing a high demand for homes for sale in certain price ranges, we see less competitiveness on homes listed with a higher sell price. According to Shoy, “it’s one of those things where price point makes a difference. The higher you go, the greater your chances are that a seller will be much more flexible to negotiate with you in order to get the home sold.” So for the most part, Atlanta is currently a seller’s market. “Seller’s dictate the market, as long as they have a well priced or reasonably priced home that is marginally appealing it’s going to sell” says Heather. 

Source: redfin.com

First-Time Home Buyers Find a Tough Market—Here’s What’s Different This Year

Starry-eyed first-time home buyers are getting a rude awakening to the realities of today’s high-stakes home-buying market.

The coronavirus pandemic supercharged the housing market, as buyers urgently seeking more space flooded the market, lured by low mortgage rates. That’s on top of the usual dynamics of household expansion: Many millennials hit 30 and wanted homes that could accommodate a growing family. Amid a historic shortage of properties for sale, the result has been bidding wars and record-high prices. It’s enough to make a first-time buyer’s head spin.

Just under half of first-time buyers and more than a third of prospective buyers were either outbid on their dream home or discovered they couldn’t afford it, according to a recent realtor.com® survey. Roughly a fifth of these buyers made five or more offers on different properties before having one accepted.

Realtor.com surveyed 1,000 recent and first-time home buyers Jan. 7–11.

“The market has been extremely competitive,” realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu. “There is a critical shortage of homes for sale, which has caused multiple bids to become the norm across the country.

“For first-time buyers, especially, this environment means having your financing and budgeting together is paramount,” he adds.

But it’s not all bad news. About 47% of first-time buyers were thrilled to find their budgets were larger than they had thought, according to the survey. That’s largely due to mortgage rates, which averaged just 2.73% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan in the week ending Jan. 28, according to Freddie Mac. However, 21% learned their money wouldn’t stretch as far as they had hoped.

Even those in a better financial position still had to compromise on what they wanted in a home—and where it’s located. About a fifth were forced to look in cheaper neighborhoods. Another fifth had to spend more than they had originally planned, and nearly the same number had to forgo some of the home features on their wish lists. These included things like a garage, a big backyard, a finished basement, and a pool.

To save up for a down payment, many also had to make sacrifices. Half of recent first-time homeowners saved up in less than three years by setting aside a portion of their paycheck each month, cutting out discretionary spending on the fun stuff, and depositing windfalls like tax refunds and bonuses in the bank.

Just over half, 52%, also turned to their family and friends for help.

“First-time buyers tend to be younger. This generation has higher student debt than any prior generation,” says Ratiu. “Not surprisingly, family help with providing down payment assistance plays a big role in today’s market.”

Source: realtor.com