Is the 30 year fixed rate mortgage an endangered species?

Discussion about mortgage rates normally focuses on the 30 year fixed rate mortgage (FRM). As the table below shows, the US is unique in developed countries in having FRMs as the dominant product:

Mortgage_type_Country

Only Denmark and France have significant FRM markets and their products differ from the US in certain ways. (more…)

Swampscott 2013 Housing Review and 2014 Outlook

I will start with the Single Family Home (SFH) market and comment on the condo market at the end of this post.

2013 was a strong year for the Swampscott SFH market in terms of both sales and median price increase.

Sales jumped 38% to a level exceeded only once  – in 2004, and then by only 7 units – this millennium.

The median price increased for the second year in a row, by 11% to $442,000, although it is still below the 201o level and 15% below the peak level of 2005 which increasingly looks like an anomaly. (more…)

Marblehead Housing Review 2013 and Outlook

I concluded my 2012 review with these words: “clearly 2012 was the year when the market nationally turned up. More importantly, perhaps, it also marked the turn in sentiment, with the view becoming widespread that the market has bottomed and is improving, in some cases sharply.”

There is no doubt that 2013 was a year when the headlines about the housing market were dominated by stories of rising prices and bidding wars, with many, many properties throughout the country – and in Marblehead at the lower levels – selling above list prices.

The median price for a Single Family Home (SFH) in 2013 was $535,000,up from $510,000 in 2012 and from $524,950 in 2011. Sales, at 227 were unchanged from 2012, largely because the shortage of available properties for sale, a factor all year, really took hold in Q4.

Let’s look at the numbers. (more…)

Marblehead Condo Market 2013 Review and Outlook

After several years of high inventory the condo market in Marblehead turned around sharply in the second half of 2013.

At mid-year there were 24 condos available for sale after just 12 sold in the first half of the year.

In the second half of the year, however, there were 34 sales, the highest number in any six month period since 2005, and as of today there are just 9 condos for sale in Marblehead, and 3 of those are priced at $625,000 or higher.

The law of supply and demand suggests that 2014 will be a good year for condo prices in Marblehead.

Reasons for the turnaround include:

1. Condos are often bought by first time, younger buyers, who may be feeling more confident about their job prospects.
2. At the higher end, condos are bought by people down-sizing or wanting a summer property.
3. As mortgage rates moved up during 2013, Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs), which are often used by condo buyers, became more attractive as the benchmark interest rate used to price ARMs did not move up as much as that used in pricing 30 year mortgages.
4. The days of converting 2/3 unit apartment buildings and calling them condos are gone. Today’s condo buyer wants a purpose-built or professionally converted condo, and there is a limited supply of these in Marblehead. (more…)

Year end reviews

I shall be publishing year-end reviews over the course of this weekend. The best way to know when they are published is to sign up on www.OliverReports.com to receive email alerts of new articles. Here’s a screenshot showing where you can sign up on the home page.

Sign-up

 

If you are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 781.631.1223 or andrew@HarborsideRealty.com.

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Realty in Marblehead

Foreclosures and Short Sales plummet in 2013

Foreclosures (FC) and Short Sales (SS) in Essex County accounted for 8% of Single Family Home (SFH) sales in 2013, down from 14% in 2012. In condos FCSS were 10% of the market, down from 21% in 2012.

While Lynn still had the highest percentage of FCSS sales in 2013, the numbers there dropped from 30% to 12% for SFHs and from 49% to 25% for condos.

Here are the numbers by city and town for the North Shore, and for Essex County and Massachusetts overall. First SFHs:

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

and for condos:

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

If you are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 781.631.1223 or andrew@HarborsideRealty.com.

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Realty in Marblehead

 

 

Sharp jump in home sales in 2013

As the housing market improved in 2013  we heard less about the impact of foreclosures (FC) and short sales (SS) on the market. Because of the well documented pricing difference between FCSS, collectively known as distressed sales, I have excluded FCSS from my analyses of median prices since I first started reporting housing statistics in 2008. I do, however, include FCSS sales in total sales figures.

Overall sales, including FCSS, in Essex County increased 11% for Single Family Homes (SFHs) in 2013 and by 12% for condos. But excluding FCSS sales, non-distressed sales jumped 18% for SFHs and 27% for condos.

Here are the numbers:

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

FCSS are often bought by professional investors. Traditional buyers, who want to occupy the home, normally buy non-distressed properties. Thus, despite the inventory shortages, buying by owner occupiers showed a very sharp increase in 2013.

If you are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 781.631.1223 or andrew@HarborsideRealty.com.

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Realty in Marblehead

 

 

Seasonal slump in housing inventory

Much like the temperature, housing inventory is extremely low at the start of the New Year in Essex County. Overall, the number of available Single Family Homes (SFHs) is down 3% from a year ago, but down a whopping 34% since the beginning of October.

Needless to say, as in everything else in New England, the weather is a major factor in the seasonal slump. How many people went house-hunting after the storm? But with inventory so low, a period of mild weather in the next couple of months could trigger a buying rush much as we saw last winter.

If you are thinking of selling in the spring, it may be a good idea to start getting ready now.

Here are the inventory numbers for each quarter over the last year, earliest to latest. The last two columns show the percentage change year over year (YOY) and since October (Q4). Note that Marblehead’s inventory is down 29% YOY and 41% Q4:

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

While condo inventory for Essex County is down 7% YOY (and 28% Q4), on the North Shore it has dropped 20% YOY and 30% Q4. Ipswich and Marblehead have both seen drops of 50% or more YOY.  Going the other way is Swampscott, which saw a number of new developments come to market in 2013.

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

These numbers confirm last week’s post about the tightness of the condo market in Marblehead, where sales in the second half of 2013 were the highest in any six months since 2005.

In a general article such as this I do not have room to post a more detailed break-down by price or location, so if you have any questions please contact me.

If you are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 781.631.1223 or andrew@HarborsideRealty.com.

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Realty in Marblehead.

 

 

A Year End Perspective

One of the recurring themes of 2013 has been the shortage of supply of homes for sale, accompanied by wondering when sellers would re-enter the market in larger numbers. The latter question often comes with a reference to the fact that prices have risen, say 10%, in the last year.

Well here’s another thought, one which may not be encouraging for those waiting for supply to pick up before they buy. For most of us, our home is our largest asset. When we believe that its value is increasing we feel good about spending generally and borrowing money to do so.Conversely, during the period when prices were falling, we felt poorer and were less willing to spend.

While home prices are now recovering, they are still below levels of 2006/7, whereas the stock market is at an all- time high.

Many people are feeling a little more secure in their jobs and in their personal finances, but believe their homes are still not worth what they once were – and they are not selling unless they need to move or are trading up or down.

In Marblehead, the median price for 2013 is likely to be the highest since 2007, but still 8-9% below the peak level of 2005/06. 8-9% may sound like a small number but it translates into $50,000 – and that’s real money. And when you read forecasts that prices may rise by “only 5%” in 2014, that’s still $25,000 or more.

The law of supply and demand applies to the housing market. As we approach 2014 it seems that demand is likely to remain strong, while there is no sign that supply is about to increase.Currently there are just 55 homes for sale in Marblehead with only half of those under $1 million.

And that means that prices are likely to rise again.

If you are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 781.631.1223 or andrew@HarborsideRealty.com.

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Realty in Marblehead.

New FHFA Head moves to delay fee increases

According to the Wall Street Journal’s Nick Timiraos, Rep. Mel Watt (D., N.C.), the incoming director of the regulatory agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, said on Friday night he would delay an increase in mortgage fees charged by the housing-finance giants, which was announced earlier this month by that agency.

Upon being sworn in, “I intend to announce that the FHFA will delay implementation of the loan-fee increases until such time as I have had the opportunity to evaluate fully the rationale for the plan,” said Mr. Watt in a statement.
(more…)

A great time to sell a Marblehead condo

Over the last several years the condo market in Marblehead, limited as it is, has tended to see over supply. At many times there have been 30-60 condos for sale. But not now. There are just 10 available, low even for this time of year.

Here’s a table for 2013 data:

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

It is possible 1 or 2 of the pending sales will close by year end. What is significant is that after a very quiet first half (12 sales) activity really picked up with 32 sales already in the second half of the year.

Here’s another thing. Condo buyers often take out an Adjustable Rate Mortgage, most commonly a 5/1 where the rate is fixed for the first 5 years, often encompassing the time a young person or couple will live in the condo. And despite higher mortgage rates generally since the summer, the rate on a 5/1 is still about 1% cheaper than the 30 year.

Here are  reasons to think about selling now:

1. Supply and demand – very little supply, good demand
2. With the Federal Reserve finally starting to cut back on its bond purchases, and with new rules increasing the fees on mortgages in 2014, rates are almost certainly going up in 2014. ( I know that’s been said for a couple of years, but it happened in 2013 and forecasts are for a further increase in 2014).

If you are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 781.631.1223 or andrew@HarborsideRealty.com.

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Realty in Marblehead.

 

 

Flood insurance (4): vote to delay Act set for early January

According to multiple media reports, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is planning to fast track legislation for a January vote that would require 60 votes and there are reported to be enough support to pass it. The proposed legislation would delay the implementation of the new flood rates for up to 4 years. (more…)

Flood Insurance (3): are the new maps accurate?

As Congress continues to bicker over reforming the Biggert-Waters Act (this week one Republican Senator blocked the unanimous consent required to move forward one Bill delaying the implementation of the new rates) a concern has been raised about the accuracy of the new maps for Massachusetts.

Independent coastal experts say the federal government used outdated wave methodology better fit for the Pacific coast when they drafted the new flood maps. As a result, they say, the government over-predicted flooding that would occur during a 100-year storm for much of the state.

According to this Patriot Ledger article Experts say FEMA cut corners on flood map methodology, the engineering experts claim that FEMA “used a mapping method fit for the Pacific coast, where the wave periods are much longer and the beaches are straighter, instead of developing a correct approach for New England.” (more…)