At least all declines aren’t bad. This week we cover declines in loan delinquency, interest rates, loan applications and pending home sales; enjoy.
Serious Delinquency Rates Decline
Following short term delinquency declines, both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae reported declines of seriously delinquent loans. Let’s start with Fannie. Fannie Mae reported that loans seriously delinquent (greater than 90-days) declined from 4.5% in November to 4.48% in December. This decline is more prevalent year-over-year. The year-over-year decline was from 5.38% to 4.48%, or 90bps. Freddie Mac saw a slighter decline with rates dropping 3.84% in December 3.82% in January, and year-over-year down from 4.15% or 31bps.
Delinquency declining shows the fundamentals are improving in the housing market. As the rates decline, the number of foreclosures will start leveling off. Though 2011 will be a near record year for foreclosures, we should be fully entrenched at the bottom of most markets.
Mortgage Rates Drop
Freddie Mac reported this week that mortgage rates eased for the 3rd straight week. The 30-year fixed rate dropped 0.8% from 4.95% to 4.87%. The 15-year fixed rate dropped 0.7% from 4.22% to 4.15%. Overall interest rates are up significantly from the cyclical low hit in November of 4.17%. The recent easing comes as relief for many of those who held out too long to refinance or those who are looking to lock in a rate for a purchase.
Interest rates may have temporarily improved but are trending higher. Historically they are still low and will likely be so for the remainder of the year. Don’t be surprised though if around mid year core prices are shown to be rising faster than expected causing the Fed to raise rates sooner than expected.
Mortgage Applications Rest
Going the opposite direction of interest rates, applications on new loan originations were down 6.5% from the prior week. Neither refinances nor purchases escaped the slowdown as they dropped 6.5% and 6.1% respectively. The 4-week moving average for the Market Composite Index is down 2.5%.
Mortgage activity is still starting the year off softer than I had expected. I believe the harsh weather in January in the West, Midwest, and Northeast is largely responsible both for softer pending home sales and weaker loan application activity. Spring should see 4-week moving averages back in the black.
Pending Home Sales Decline
After months of consistent gains, the National Association of Realtors reported that pending home sales declined 2.8% in January over December. Year-over-year pending home sales are down 1.5%.
I saw weather impacting this number more than anything in January. Year-over-year the number is down though the home buyer tax credit was in place last year. While the decline may be disappointing, I expect to see it climb when February is reported.
As we enter March, 2 more months of the housing crisis are in the rear view mirror. While the healing process may still take longer, there are many good opportunities now. Some markets are seeing REOs bid well over list price and many offers on short sales. Investing is getting competitive and will likely put upward pressure on prices in the near future. There are many deals to be had in your backyard; one just has to look.