At long last, it seems the five year freefall in home values have reached a bottom and the housing recovery has finally gotten on track. Some economists continue to exercise caution before jumping completely on the bandwagon. They cite tight credit underwriting criteria that are still too tight and a mortgage refinancing backlog caused lenders by reluctance to hire more staff to process mortgage refinance applications.
Record low interest rates have also helped to fuel demand for mortgage refinances. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) also express that the housing market has a long ways to go to reach the “optimum level” needed to help grow the economy. To ensure interest rates stay low, and possibly push rates lower, the FOMC has indicated that it will buy more bonds when the current maturity extension program called Operation Twist, which began in late 2011, expires in 2013.
In addition, in mid-September 2012, the Feds initiated a third round of Quantitative Easing (QE3) to buy $40 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities each month.
Related: Federal Reserve Launches QE3 To Lower Mortgage Refinance Rates
The data outline below support the contention that the housing market is on the rebound. Homebuyers and homeowners looking for a mortgage refinance should make their move to lock in mortgage commitments at the low rates before home loan interest rates start to increase.
New Housing Data
The U.S. Census Department reports that residential construction permits declined on a month-over-month basis --September to October 2012. However, permits continue its encouraging progress, with data showing a year-over-year up trend for the last 18 months. In October, the year-over-year rate increased 29.8% compared to October 2011.
The consensus prediction for residential permits was 870,000 to 900,000 units. Ten months into the year the industry has reported 894,000 permit applications. The strong growth in residential housing permits for the first 10 months of 2012 provides a strong sign of the housing sector’s expansion. In October, housing completions rose 14.5% above September and 33.6 % over October 2011.
Strong Existing Home Sales
Existing-home sales for October increased 2.1% in October over the previous month. Compared to October 2011, sales rose 10.9%. Demand for homes have placed upward pressure on housing price in many parts of the country, states the NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. The median existing-home price for single-family homes, townhouses, and condominiums was $178,600 – a 11.1 % over 2011 prices. According, NAR data, homes prices have eight straight months of year-over-year increases.
Yun says home prices increases have resulted in $760 billion in home equity gains in the last 12 months. Mr. Yun expects $1trillion worth of equity growth in the next year.
Signs Point to Buy or Refinance Mortgage
Mortgage experts continually remind potential homebuyers and homeowners looking to refinance their mortgages about the potential risks of trying to predict when interest rates will bottom and turn up. When people think interest rates have reached a bottom, rates fall even lower.
With home prices appreciating and demand for homes rising, it makes sense to buy a home or refinance a mortgage now. With home prices on the increase, the money buyers might save from a mortgage interest rate a percentage point or two lower, if rates happen to drop lower, will likely negate any savings because of higher home prices.
In addition, despite the Fed’s intervention to keep interest rates low, many economists predict rates will start to increase now that the presidential election is over. Another factor to consider, traditionally, when the economy heats up, more economic activity tends to put upward pressure on business and mortgage interest rates.
Interest rates have always risen faster than they have fallen. Rising mortgage interest rates usually surprise potential homebuyers who are sitting on the fence. Homeowners who fail to complete mortgage refinances end up paying a higher monthly mortgage payment and more interest over the life of the new loan.
Homeowners who have adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) should take the opportunity to lock in a low interest fixed-rate mortgage. This eliminates the anxiety of the possibility of rate adjustments and provides the peace of mind of a fixed monthly mortgage payment for the term of the loan.