Morning Minute: Mortgage rates head lower this week

Image: Bigstock

Mortgage interest rates dropped this week with a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage averaging 4.23 percent and a 15-year, fixed rate mortgage averaging 3.44 percent, Freddie Mac reports today. The decline came after two consecutive weeks of rate increases and could signal some consumer uncertainty, according to Freddie Mac.

But the lower rates could be appealing to prospective home buyers who are starting to think about the spring housing market.

In other headlines:

Market a Home When the Garden Is Fullest – National Association of REALTORS®

New home sales surge, beat expectations in February – HousingWire

Illinois home prices increase in February; sales lower amid tight inventory

Median home prices in Illinois rose 6.3 percent in February over previous-year levels while statewide home sales decreased 2.8 percent for the same period, according to Illinois REALTORS®.

Statewide home sales (including single-family homes and condominiums) in February 2017 totaled 8,461 homes sold, down 2.8 percent from 8,704 in February 2016.

The statewide median price in February was $170,000, up 6.3 percent from February 2016, when the median price was $160,000. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

“Inventories plummeted in February, no doubt frustrating some potential buyers but creating opportunities for the sellers who did have properties on the market,” said Illinois REALTORS® President Doug Carpenter, ABR, AHWD, GRI, SFR of Mokena, managing broker of Coldwell Banker Honig-Bell in Orland Hills. “As we move into the spring, more properties should come on the market, but it will take some time for supply and demand to find equilibrium.”

The time it took to sell a home in February averaged 74 days, down from 81 days a year ago. Available housing inventory totaled 51,227 homes for sale, a 14.9 percent decline from February 2016 when there were 60,168 homes on the market.

The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.17 percent in February 2017, an increase from 4.15 percent the previous month, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. In February 2016 it averaged 3.66 percent.

In the nine-county Chicago Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA), home sales (single-family and condominiums) in February 2017 totaled 5,891 homes sold, down 5.2 percent from February 2016 sales of 6,214 homes. The median price in February 2017 was $210,000 in the Chicago PMSA, an increase of 12.0 percent from $187,500 in February 2016.

“Prices continue to move in a positive direction,” said Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois. “While consumer confidence reflects optimism about the economy, the housing inventory continues to shrink suggesting that while more optimistic, many homeowners are not yet tempted enough to consider moving to a larger or more expensive home.”

According to the data, forty-six (46) Illinois counties reported sales gains for February 2017 over previous-year numbers, including Rock Island County, up 74.3 percent with 122 units sold; Peoria County, up 13.0 percent with 148 units sold; and Kane County, up 0.3 percent with 385 units sold. Fifty (50) counties showed year-over-year median price increases including Lake County, up 28.0 percent to $215,000; Cook County, up 10.5 percent to $210,000; and McLean County, up 6.0 percent to $158,000.

The city of Chicago saw a 4.0 percent year-over-year home sales decrease in February 2017 with 1,505 sales, down from 1,567 in February 2016. The median price of a home in the city of Chicago in February 2017 was $246,000, up 4.2 percent compared to February 2016 when it was $236,000.

“We’re in an active home sales environment,” said Matt Silver, president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® and partner at Urban Real Estate. “We are seeing listings offered in advance of the spring market, with condos, in particular, benefiting from increased consumer confidence. The recent announcement of a rate hike, plus the hot stock market and higher wages, heralds an increase in home prices and a rapid decline in market time in the months to come.”

Sales and price information are generated by Multiple Listing Service closed sales reported by 28 participating Illinois REALTOR® local boards and associations including Midwest Real Estate Data LLC data as of March 13, 2017 for the period Feb. 1 through Feb. 28, 2017. The Chicago PMSA, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, includes the counties of Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will.

(Note: Due to technical difficulties the housing reports were compiled on March 13 instead of March 7).

Illinois REALTORS® is a voluntary trade association whose more than 44,000 members are engaged in all facets of the real estate industry. In addition to serving the professional needs of its members, Illinois REALTORS® works to protect the rights of private property owners in the state by recommending and promoting legislation to safeguard and advance the interest of real property ownership.

Find Illinois housing stats, data and the University of Illinois REAL forecast at www.illinoisrealtors.org/marketstats.

More REALTORS® need to speak out against rent control bill through Call for Action

Bigstock image

More Illinois REALTORS® need to voice their displeasure with House Bill 2430 so the proposal is stopped in committee or defeated by a vote.

Since March 6, more than 5,200 Illinois REALTORS® have said “no” to HB 2430 through the association’s Call for Action. The bill will repeal the Rent Control Preemption Act of 1997. Although its intent is to create rent control in Chicago, repealing the act would, by default, make rent control an option for all home rule units in Illinois, not just Chicago. To join your colleagues and tell House members HB 2430 is a threat to private property rights, click here.

Rent control is widely discredited by many – if not most – economists and many housing advocates. Rent control is counterproductive, is very complicated to administer and would have many unintended consequences. For a summary of reasons why REALTORS® object to HB 2430, go here.

 

Morning Minute: Welcome Spring! Before you start your home search, fine-tune your list of must-haves

Image: Bigstock

It’s officially spring and that means longer days, sunnier weather and the start of the busy home buying and selling season. If you are planning to buy a home this spring, go into the search prepared by knowing what you really want in your new home.

The HouseLogic article, “Must vs. Lust: What Do You Really Need in Your New Home?” can help you figure out the features that you really want and the ones you can live without. Start your list and happy house hunting!

In other headlines:

Top 10 Cities Where Downtown Is Making a Comeback (Hint: Chicago makes the list) – Realtor.com

NAR HOME Survey: Economic, Financial Optimism Surges; Renters Lukewarm About Buying – National Association of REALTORS®

The One Thing Everyone Should Do (but Never Does) Before Buying a House – Realtor.com

Key to Millennial homeownership: Education – HousingWire

Morning Minute: Housing starts build momentum in February

Image:BigStock.com

New home construction increased 3 percent compared to last month and is up 6.2 percent from the same time last year, according to the latest housing starts data. With low housing inventory, the uptick in home building could signal a positive trend for the spring and summer housing market.

Read coverage of today’s housing starts news with “Housing Starts in U.S. Climbed to Four-Month High in February,” from Bloomberg; “Housing starts increase driven by single family residential,” from HousingWire; and “U.S. housing starts jump; weekly jobless claims fall” from Reuters.

In other headlines:

Foreclosures here shrink to pre-crisis levels – Crain’s Chicago Business

Real Estate Survey Finds ‘Trump Bump’ In The Midwest And Rural Areas – Forbes