CFPB: Student Loan Debt Holding Back Homeownership, Economy

student loan debt hurting economyThe burden of student loan debt is preventing potential home buyers from starting households, which in turn is hindering overall economic growth, according to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) director Richard Cordray in remarks made on September 23.

“I believe we are standing at a precipice when it comes to student loan debt in this country,” Cordray said. “That load has reached $1.2 trillion, second only to mortgages as a category of consumer finance. This burden is growing fast and the issues that flow from it are central to public policy in America.”

The rising cost of tuition is causing higher student loan debt, which is in turn causing more borrowers to default. Cordray said CFPB estimates that more than seven million Americans are in default on more than $100 billion in student loan balances. For those who default at a young age, the black mark on their credit report may prevent them from buying a home – and might even keep them from getting a job, Cordray said.

“The domino effect of student loan debt is real, and it is spreading,” Cordray said. “It is hard to erase this debt quickly – paying it back may take many long years and prevent people from achieving other financial milestones.”

Thought leaders in the industry have long believed that reform is necessary in order to reduce skyrocketing student loan debt and free up the finances of would-be homebuyers.

“If we are truly committed to promoting homeownership for generations to come, it is time to address the more than $1.2 trillion of federal student loan debt that is crippling the finances of future homebuyers and keeping them from experiencing the promise of homeownership,” Five Star Institute President and CEO Ed Delgado said last week in his remarks to industry leaders at the 2014 Five Star Conference and Expo. “If Washington wants to make a real difference for the future of our children – we must reform student education financing.”

Cordray stated that young people are not forming new households at the same rate as they used to, and the decrease in household formation is preventing economic growth. Increased student debt is causing millennials to live with their parents until a later age, or to share living arrangements with peers.

“The homeownership rate for young people peaked before the financial crisis and by the first quarter of this year was down more than 15 percent,” Cordray said. “This is very troubling because most first-time homeowners are young people who drive the market for home purchases.”

The effects of heavy student debt are not felt in just the housing sector, Cordray said.

“Student debt burdens can get in the way of young people buying a car, starting a small business, or saving for retirement,” Cordray said. “We are deeply concerned about how debt influences career choices by acting as a barrier to public service for a rising share of student loan borrowers.”

Tools are available now to assist consumers with managing their student loan debt, Cordray said. CFPB has partnered with the Department of Education to develop a set of online tools known as “Paying for College,” which helps better educate students and their families as to what their financing options are when deciding how to cover educational costs. CFPB also offers answers to common questions it is asked regarding consumer finances (including student loans) in a feature known as “Ask CFPB.” Notably, Cordray said, CFPB now handles individual consumer complaints regarding student loans. Also, many who work in public service positions are eligible for student loan forgiveness, which “can enhance the affordability of public service careers,” Cordray said.

Cordray announced that two organizations, AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps, are both signing the pledge to help consumers handle student debt. CFPB includes employees who are alumni of both organizations.

“They are pledging to talk to employees about their options for student loan forgiveness, verify that they work for a public service organization, and check in with them annually to make sure they stay on track,” Cordray said. “We have also created toolkits for employers and employees to help them understand how to take advantage of these benefits. We want everyone eligible to be signing up for the loan forgiveness that federal law provides, which they are earning by virtue of their public service work. These are great first steps toward that objective.”

Nearly 50,000 locals still underwater

Homes are lined up near Carmel Valley.
Homes are lined up near Carmel Valley. — K.C. Alfred

By Jonathan Horn

Tens of thousands of San Diego County homeowners continue to owe more on their properties than they are worth, despite the run-up in prices that has taken place over the last two years.

In the second quarter of this year, there were 46,585 county homeowners underwater on their homes, real-estate tracker Zillow reported this week. Those with negative equity make up about 10 percent of property owners in the county who have a mortgage, down from 21 percent in the second quarter of last year.

The homeowners were underwater despite an increase in the county’s median home price of more than $100,000 over the last two years.

“There were a lot of people that got caught at the top (of the housing bubble),” said Mark Goldman, a loan officer and real-estate lecturer at San Diego State University. “During the run-up, people were just out at a frenetic frenzy in 2006 and 2007. They didn’t care what price they paid for property.”

Negative equity in the county peaked at 35.6 percent of homeowners in the first quarter of 2012, but it appears those remaining underwater bought in areas with new construction completed just before the housing crash. Most of the negative equity in the county is in Chula Vista, Oceanside, San Marcos, Spring Valley and El Cajon.

As a whole, San Diegans who are underwater collectively owe $6.14 billion. That amount, however, should continue to decrease as San Diego home values rise, and people regain equity in their properties.

For example, in June, the median sale price in the county was $450,000, up 8 percent from June 2013, and 34 percent from the median in June 2012. Still, that’s a long way from the peak median of $517,500 in November 2005, according to CoreLogic DataQuick.

Zillow predicted that by the second quarter of next year, the percentage of homeowners underwater will decline to 7.6 percent in San Diego County.

“We knew it was going to take a long time to correct,” Goldman said. “There’s always going to be properties that are upside down. Is this more than normal? Yes, but we’re returning to a more stable market, and there will be people who just simply have paid too much for their property.”

Christopher Thornberg, founder of Beacon Economics of Los Angeles, said the move-up market will get a drastically needed boost as people regain equity in their homes.

“More of that equity means that people are going to have better access to capital, they’re going to have more money to put down on other properties,” he said. “The move-up buyer is the kind of buyer that drives new home construction.”

Nationwide, 17 percent of homeowners, or 8.7 million, were underwater in this year’s second quarter. Of the nation’s 35 largest metropolitan areas, San Jose had the lowest percentage of property owners underwater on their homes, with 4.6 percent, while Atlanta had the highest at 28.9 percent.

Mortgage applications rise 2.8% after weeks of low interest rates Refinance share continues to grow hitting 56%

stairs up

Mortgage applications increased 2.8% from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending August 22, 2014.  

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 2.8% on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.  On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 2% compared with the previous week. 

 “Buyers made a late summer push, in this season that never reached its full potential. More homeowners also refinance last week, taking advantage of these historically low rates that won’t be around forever,” said Quicken Loans vice president Bill Banfield. “Nearly a million more homeowners can still benefit of the HARP program, but their opportunity will be fleeting when rates start rising.”

The Refinance Index increased 3% from the previous week.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 3% from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 1% compared with the previous week and was 11%  lower than the same week one year ago.

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 56% of total applications, the highest level since March 2014, from 55% the previous week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity remained unchanged at 8.0% of total applications.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased to 4.28% from 4.29%, with points decreasing to 0.25 from 0.26 (including the origination fee) for 80%  loan-to-value ratio loans.  The effective rate remained unchanged from last week. 

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) increased to 4.22% from 4.18%, with points increasing to 0.28 from 0.23 (including the origination fee) for 80%  LTV loans.  The effective rate increased from last week. 

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased to 3.98%, the lowest since June 2013, from 3.99%, with points increasing to 0.13 from 0.03 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans.  The effective rate increased from last week. 

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 3.47% from 3.44%, with points increasing to 0.34 from 0.30 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans.  The effective rate increased from last week.

Realtor.com: July boasts the healthiest end to spring buying season in 3 years

Sunshine over sunflowers

Realtor.com is touting data from July showing that, by its metrics, July shows the best price appreciation and inventory increases hit during the peak spring buying season in three years.

It’s been a rough year for housing overall, but realtor.com’s national housing trend survey says that from April to July, price and inventory increases continued their upward trend untouched by external economic factors. 

“In July 2012 and 2013, we saw external economic factors overwhelm the healthy gains established in the housing market during the spring home buying season,” said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com. “This year, we’re ending the traditional season with high buyer and seller confidence demonstrated by price appreciation, increases in inventory and quick home sales.”

Click the graphic to enlarge.

Realtor.com’s July 2014 national housing data reveals homeowners are more optimistic about selling than in previous years.

This month, the number of homes on the market increased 2.3% compared with last year and increased 4.5% over June. One factor fueling this uptick in inventory is a strong 7.5% increase in median list prices year-over-year.

Despite higher prices and more homes on the market, buyers are snatching up properties faster than last year. Median age of inventory for July 2014 is 82 days, three days faster than 2013.  

“This is the first time, since the beginning of the recovery, that we expect to see positive momentum throughout the second half of the year,” Smoke projected.  “While seasonal patterns are emerging in July month-to-month comparisons, all other metrics point to fundamental market health and a build-up of momentum.”

While July growth may seem modest, it is in stark contrast to the housing indicators experienced over the last two years. In April 2013, mortgage interest rates began to increase significantly, making potential mortgage payments more expensive for homebuyers.

By July 2013, this slow but steady tightening of homebuyer budgets dampened demand. As a result, month-over-month increases in inventory lessened and properties spent more time on market.

In July 2012 concerns of broad debt defaults and economic weakness in Europe influenced big decreases in the stock market. Overall economic uncertainty contributed to weak consumer confidence, which influenced potential homebuyers to remain on the sidelines while low prices made owners reluctant to list.  

As a result, July 2012 median list prices remained flat both month-over-month and year-over-year. Inventory remained at very low levels and homes spent 102 days on the market.

Real estate market flattens in May

By Jonathan Horn9:49 A.M.JUNE 11, 2014

Homes are lined up near Carmel Valley.
Homes are lined up near Carmel Valley. — K.C. Alfred

Annual home price appreciation in San Diego County continues to decline in single digits after last year’s large gains.

Last month, the median price for a home sold in the county was $440,000, a post-Great Recession high that is up 8.2 percent from the $406,500 median in May 2013, real estate tracker DataQuick reported Tuesday. However, that appreciation rate pales in comparison to the 21.3 percent gains seen from May 2012 to May 2013. The county is now on the brink of hitting its lowest year-over-year appreciation in home prices since 7.9 percent in August 2012.

“The sort of price spikes we saw this time last year – annual gains of 20 percent or more – are less likely today given affordability constraints, higher inventory (compared to last year) and the drop-off in investor purchases,” DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage said in a statement.

The higher median values are also dampening sales. In May, 3,654 transactions closed, 10 fewer than in April. Typically, activity jumps into the spring and summer months, which are considered peak buying season. In May 2013, there were 4,236 transactions, 444 more than in April 2013.

San Diego home appreciation leads U.S.

Homes are lined up near Carmel Valley.

 

San Diego County’s housing market led the nation in price appreciation in February, as the region moved out of its annual holiday homebuying lull.

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed Tuesday that from January to February, prices on the index rose 1 percent, highest on the 20-city measure. Prices declined over the month in 13 of the cities included on the closely-watched index.

“There’s a fundamental housing shortage in San Diego County, it’s that simple,” said Mark Goldman, a loan officer and real-estate lecturer at San Diego State University. “We have a strong housing market in San Diego as a result of a shortage. We have demand and a robust economy compared to a lot of other communities.”

The index, which lags two months, measures repeat sales of single-family homes. From February 2013 to February 2014, San Diego home values are up 19.9 percent, trailing only San Francisco and Las Vegas in annual appreciation.

Still, Goldman said he sees the local market continuing to slow, perhaps down to its historical 3 to 3.5 percent annual appreciation level.

The slowing seems to have started. For instance, the index rose from 163.28 in January 2013 to 194.07 in October, hovering around that total the rest of the year. In February 2014, it reached 196.97, highest since it was 197.45 in January 2008, but on the decline in the Great Recession.

Goldman said now that values of recovered, the market is adjusting to a new normal.

“We’re starting to see shifts in different consumption habits of homebuyer,” he said. “We’re seeing a lower desire to jump into the housing market, we’re seeing slower household formation, people are living at home longer, people are pooling resources instead of running out and jumping into that house. People are much more careful about their home-buying decision.”

David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones, also said despite price gains in much of the country, the market is slowing. That’s exemplified by fewer sales, housing starts, and the fact that home prices haven’t made it back to their 2005 levels. Blitzer also notes that mortgage rates have remained steady since they jumped last May, hitting affordability amid concerns over consumer confidence and tighter qualification standards.

“Five years into the recovery from the recession, the economy will need to look to gains in consumer spending and business investment more than housing,” Blitzer said in a statement. “Long overdue activity in residential construction would be welcome, but is certainly not assured.”

The average rate for 30-year-fixed mortgage in February was 4.3 percent, up from 3.53 percent in February 2013, Freddie Mac reports.

DataQuick, another real estate tracker, reported in February that San Diego County’s median home sale price was $410,000. It rose to $427,000 in March.

Las Vegas had the highest year-over-year gain on the index, at 23.1 percent, while San Francisco was second with 22.7 percent appreciation. Both were about flat from January to February. In Cleveland, where prices declined 1.6 percent from January to February, annual appreciation was 3 percent, slowest on the 20-city index. 

 

Second-Home Mortgages on the Rise; Buyers Take Advantage of Prices

Author: Krista Franks Brock April 9, 2014 0 

Second-Home Mortgages on the Rise; Buyers Take Advantage of Prices
The second-home mortgage market makes up only a small percentage of total mortgages, but the share of second mortgages has been on the rise since 2009, according to a recent report from Fannie Mae.

Since 1998, second-home mortgages have averaged about 4.76 percent of the total purchase market, but the share is rising, according to Fannie Mae.

While the purchase market increased four-fold from 1998 through the bubble years, the second-home mortgage market multiplied by 15 over the same years.

The second-home mortgage market did decline significantly during the housing downturn, but today, it’s alive and well.

In fact, while some buyers may be put off by price volatility in some states, second-home buyers are ready to take advantage of bargain prices.

Florida, California, and Arizona—all hard-hit by the housing crisis—have made up 34 percent of second-home mortgages since 1998, according to Fannie Mae. While prices declined at least 40 percent in each of these states during the downturn, second-home buyers are not deterred.

The second-home buyer weathered the financial crisis and ongoing recovery differently than the average homebuyer. For starters, a typical second-home buyer is older and more affluent than the average primary-home buyer.

Second-home buyers are also more likely to pay in cash, and when they do take out a mortgage loan, they offer larger down payments. Sixty percent of primary-home buyers’ loans have loan-to-value ratios greater than 80 percent, while just 30 percent of second-home buyers fall into this category.

Additionally, while the housing market has been slowly recovering, financial assets have shown stronger growth, helping more affluent Americans strengthen their economic status even further.

Through 2060, Fannie Mae expects the population of adults ages 45 through 64 to grow at a slower pace than that of the overall adult population in the United States. However, “assuming that Americans continue to follow similar investment patterns as they age and that aspirations of second home ownership do not wane, second homes should still occupy a significant place in the residential real estate market,” according to Fannie Mae.

The GSEs are currently major players in the second home mortgage market, originating about 60 percent of second home mortgages in 2013. The GSEs stepped up their share of this segment of the market during the crisis years when private label securities stepped back, but the GSEs have been shedding market share over the past few years.

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