Even though the housing market was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is rebounding at record speeds. According to the latest National Association of Realtors (NAR) Existing Home Sales Report, June marked a record-setting rebound in home sales. NAR reported a 20.7% jump in home sales from May to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million in June.

“Existing-home sales rebounded at a record pace in June, showing strong signs of a market turnaround after three straight months of sales declines caused by the ongoing pandemic…Each of the four major regions achieved month-over-month growth,” reports the National Association of Realtors.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR says this is a major boost for the housing market and the U.S. economy as a whole. He goes on to explain the sales recovery is strong because buyers are back in the market purchasing the properties they have been eyeing during the country’s shut-down.

The low mortgage rates and increase job gains will keep this revitalization going for many months ahead. Mortgage rates are at an all-time low at under 3% for the first time. Everyone wants to take advantage of the rates while they are so low. Low inventory and a massive amount of buyers have increased home prices because of bidding wars. In June the median existing-home price for all types of housing was $295,300 which was up 3.5% from this time last year. This marks the 100 straight months of year-over-year gains.

The housing industry is leading the economy to recovery. This is the right time to purchase a home and a Realtor can take you step by step through the home buying process.

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The housing industry and the residential construction industry is still the catalyst for a rebounding economy. Single-family permits and starts gained ground in July. Low-interest rates and the importance of homes due to COVID-19 have fueled the buyer’s market.

According to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), single-family permits rose 17% in July. So far in 2020, the total permits for single-family homes on year-to-date bases are up around 6% higher than the first seven months of 2019.

The HMI is based on data collected from the NAHB’s monthly survey which the National Association of Home Builders has been conducting for 30 years. It measures builder’s perceptions of the current single-family home sales and expectations of sales for the next six months. Builders will rate their perception as good, fair or poor.

There are signs that more gains for single-family starts are on the horizon. This can be determined by the fast pace of permits and the renewal of builder confidence. The graph shows that single-family construction has been on the rise since it hit a low in April from the pandemic. April had a 679,000 annual pace while July saw a 940,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate.

Per region single-family starts are up and down depending on the region. In the Northeast single-family starts are down on a year-to-date basis 1%, in the South, they are up 0.7%, in the Midwest they are up 3.4% and in the West, they are also in the positive at 0.5%.

So far the housing market has remained strong during these unprecedented times. The count of single-family homes in various stages of construction is still on the rise. Now is a good time to sell or purchase a home.

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NAHB’s latest Housing Trends Report found in the second quarter of this year 11% of Americans were considering buying a home within the next 12 months. In fact, almost half (49%) of those surveyed, reported that they are currently in the process of purchasing a home. This figure is a lot higher than reported this time last year.

The Housing Trends Report is put out by the National Home Builders Association’s Economics team. The team researches and measures prospective home buyers’ perceptions about the availability and affordability of homes for sale in their markets.”

As seen in the chart displayed, Millennials were the most likely to purchase a home in the next 12 months at 19% which was a little higher than a year ago at 17%. Gen Z reported 14%, Gen X came in at 12%, and Boomers were the least at 5%. Among regions across the country 13% planned to purchase a home in the next 12 months, 12% in the South, 10% in the Northeast and Midwest came in at only 9%.

Even with the COVID-19 crises home buying is still a must on many American’s to-do lists. Record low mortgage rates at 3.13% coupled with a recovery in the labor market with 4.8 million jobs and a low unemployment rate has boosted the housing market.

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According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the total mortgage application volume rose 4.1% the week of July 13th from the week before. Homebuyer demand is hotter than ever, especially with the record low mortgage rates.

“Mortgage applications increased last week despite mixed results from the various rates tracked in MBA’s survey,” said Joel Kan, an economist for the trade group. “The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose slightly to 3.20%, but some creditworthy borrowers are being offered rates even below 3%.”

There was a small increase to 3.20% in the average contract interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a conforming loan balance of $510,400 or less. For loans with a 20% down payment points (including the origination fee) went up from 0.33 to 0.35. The average on the 30-year fixed mortgage was 88 basis points higher than it was at the end of June.

This small jump encouraged homebuyers to act which increased the refinance application volume up 5% for the week and 122% from the same week a year ago. According to the seasonally adjusted index data “the refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 64.8% of total applications from 64.2% the previous week.”

Mortgage applications to purchase a home rose 2% the week of July 13th and were reported at 19% higher than this time last year. That marked the ninth straight week of annual gains. According to Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan, close to 60% of all outstanding loan balances have around a half-percentage point incentive to refinance.

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Freddie Mac reported the first week in July,  a 3.03% decline in the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. This was a dip from 3.07% the week prior and 3.13% just two weeks before.  In fact, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged around 3.75% this time last year. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage reported at 2.51% at the beginning of July, down from 2.56% the week ending June and 3.75% this time last year.

Since the inception of Freddie Mac’s reporting in 1971, the beginning of July 2020 ranked the lowest levels they have seen to date making this the third consecutive week of record lows. The Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported the U.S. Weekly averages as of July 16, 2020, were 2.98% for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, 2.48% for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage and 3.06% for a 5/1-year ARM. Freddi Mac reports that “these low rates have been capitalized into asset prices in support of the financial markets.”

Lower rates are making homes for sale more affordable. Homebuyers are ready to buy as the shut-in orders are lifted. The National Association of Realtors released data showing a jump of 44.3 percent in May of pending home sales. In June home purchases rose 20.7% from the decrease from the pandemic. According to the NAR’s existing homes rose last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million.

“The summer is heating up as record-low mortgage rates continue to spur homebuyer demand,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist.

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Even though we saw a slight decrease in April, home purchases are still going strong. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Application Survey shows that purchase activity rose 5.3% with an even higher year-over-year the week of May 29.

The ongoing economic and virus challenges didn’t stop housing demand which boasted a rise in home-buying activity compared to last year. A big part of the increase is the record low in mortgage rates. The Primary Mortgage Market Survey’s 30-year fixed-rate mortgage shows a decrease by 5 basis points which keeps the ongoing record low.

The survey shows that home purchase applications have been increasing for five consecutive weeks. In fact, the National Home Builders Association (NAHB) predicts that the housing industry will be a leading sector when it comes to the country’s economic recovery. Fannie Mae reports, “the refinance volume of applications is poised to reach a 17-year high as it forecasts mortgage rates to tumble further.”

The HMI, which indicates builders’ confidence, showed a sturdy gain in May. According to the current National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) when it comes to newly-built single-family homes builder confidence rose seven points to 37 last month. The HMI index also showed an increase in sales conditions to 42, a 46 for the component measuring sales expectations in the next six months and 21 for the measure charting traffic of prospective buyers.

Across the regions the HMI scores’ monthly average increased 7 points in the Midwest to 32, in the South, it rose eight points to 42 and in the West a 12 point increase to 44. The only region which saw a decrease was the Northeast which fell 2 points to 17.

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If all goes well youth sports will be allowed to begin the spring season on June 13. A full season will be played with end-of-season tournaments in August.

The decision to reopen will depend on Gov. John Bel Edward’s announcement regarding phase 2 according to St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper. Cooper also said the decision to reopen youth sports this summer will also be discussed among recreation districts, parks, coaches and parents.

“We want to see the kids on the fields in the next few weeks,” St. Tammany Recreation District No. 1 board member Rick Danielson said.

Although non-contact youth sports were allowed in Phase 1, St. Tammany did not allow any sports. The parish’s decision was based on the concerns there were not enough staffing to enforce the recommended safety guidelines.

“We don’t know all the effects on children,” Cooper said “Even young children are getting COVID-19 or other associated illnesses.”

The districts have now had time to come up with safety procedures and policies to follow while holding a season during COVID-19. The procedures will include removing bleachers, staggering schedules to reduce crowds during events, disinfecting dugouts between games, and reforming lines at the concession stands.

Among the St. Tammany districts to reopen will include Slidell Bantam Baseball Association, and St. Tammany Recreation District No. 1, which oversees the sprawling Pelican Park complex near Mandeville. Slidell Bantam Baseball Association usually has around 1,000 players ages 4 to 15 playing during the spring season and Pelican Park already had 504 boys and 206 girls signed up for the 2020 Spring season.

Not all St. Tammany districts agree. Tammany Parish Recreation District 7, which covers Pearl River, and St. Tammany Parish Recreation District No. 4, which covers Lacombe have canceled their spring season altogether.

Most parents are on board with the decision to play. Slidell Bantam Baseball Association’s board president Brad Smith says there has been a positive response to reopening.

“Parents want their kids to get out and do normal things and be back at the ballpark,” Smith said.

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As the pandemic stay-at-home orders are now being lifted around the United States, more and more people are looking to purchase a home. The mortgage rates have now dropped even more since the pandemic hit at the beginning of 2020.

The 10-year Treasury yield has consistently lead the mortgage rates but this has not been the case since the coronavirus has produced an economic downturn. The unpredictable economy has fueled unpredictable mortgage rates. On a good note, the parallel between mortgage rates and bond yields is improving.

“Financial volatility has notably decreased in recent weeks, resulting in steady improvements in the stock market, and more predictable — albeit modest — movements in bond markets,” Zillow ZG, 1.50% economist Matthew Speakman said. “The eased strains in financial markets have also resulted in mortgage rates remaining fairly flat in the last couple of weeks and are generally calmer following the turmoil experienced in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak.”

The end of May has shown “the lowest level since Freddie Mac began tracking this data starting in 1971.” Freddie Mac reported the week ending May 28 the average 30-year fixed-rate was 3.15%, a drop of nine basis points from the week before. This will make the third report in a row that has shown historical low-interest rates. The 15-year fixed-rate also dropped to 2.62% which was a drop in eight basis points.

Homebuyers are ready to buy and are looking to purchase a home in the next several months. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the amount of mortgage applications has been on the rise making the volume of purchase loans up 54% from early spring. This is a great time to purchase a home and sales should see a rebound from the pandemic.

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The Federal Reserve has stepped up to ensure the rates stay near historical lows. During the policy meeting held on April 29th, the central bank said they would keep buying mortgage-backed securities to allow credit to keep flowing.

Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve’s chairman, says the Fed will keep purchasing the mortgage-backed securities for “the next year or so” with the unknown economic consequences from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fed said in its most recent announcement that it foresees “considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term.”

The Fed has brought a lot of money to the table when it comes to mortgage-backed securities. In a comment, the Federal Reserve relayed this was necessary “to support smooth market functioning.” Before the Fed stepped in, mortgage rates fell during late February but took a turn up in March because of the market turmoil. The Federal Reserve has purchased more than half a trillion dollars’ worth of mortgage-backed securities since the middle of March. According to the Fed purchasing these mortgage-backed securities has given lenders the confidence that there will be enough money to keep funding mortgages to consumers. The mortgage rates will stay stable because the Federal Reserve is standing in as a reliable buyer.

Luckily there strategy is working. Currently, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 3.389%, a 15-year fixed-rate is at an average of 2.923% and the average for the 5/1 ARM is down to 3.117%. During Nerdwallet’s survey of mortgage rates, they found that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 88 basis points lower than this time last year.

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The economy might be in questionable times right now, but home buyers across the country are having a positive outlook on their home search. According to the recent Housing Trends Report (HTR), ” the share of prospective home buyers expecting their house search to get easier in the months ahead rose to 25% in the first quarter of 2020, up from 16% and 22%, respectively, in the first quarters of 2018 and 2019.”  This has been the third consecutive year-over-year increase in the share of buyers that anticipate more housing inventory.

The Housing Trends Report (HTR) is created by the NAHB Economics team. Their goal is to measure prospective home buyers’ impressions regarding the availability and affordability of homes for sale in the current market. The report is done quarterly and asses the changes in a buyer’s perception over time.

The HTR breaks down its findings by generation. They found that Gen X buyers were among the highest that felt the housing availability will improve while the Boomers were the lowest. The breakdown by generation of buyers expecting their house search to get easier was Gen X at 27%, Millennials at 26%, Gen Z at 22% and Boomers on the bottom at 20%.

Across the country’s regions, the report finds that 20% to 27% feel that their home search will become easier during the following months. The West came in with the highest percentage at 27%, followed by the Northeast and South at 25% and the Midwest came in last at 20%.

Not only do share buyers believe that the numbers will improve but they are reporting that they actually see more houses out there that they like and can afford. The first quarter of 2020 reported 31% compared to the first quarter of 2019 at 30%.

The report shows the breakdown by generations and regions. The highest generation found was Millennials and the highest region was the West. The breakdown for generations came in at 34% Millennials, 32% Gen Z, 29% Gen X and 24% Boomers. For regions, the West was 33%, the South came in at 32%, the Northeast at 30% and the Midwest last at 25%.

This is good news for the moral of the current housing market. Now is a great time to purchase a new home.

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