Many seniors have taken advantage of reverse mortgages in recent years. These unique mortgages allow seniors who are existing homeowners to tap into their home equity without taking on a mortgage payment. This can be a true benefit to seniors who are on a tight budget or who want to take advantage of their home equity without giving up ownership of their home.
However, with new rules and requirements in place regarding reverse mortgages, the fact is that some of the benefits associated with reverse mortgages may be limited. In addition, some who may have qualified in the past may no longer qualify for a reverse mortgage.
Merging Two Reverse Mortgage Programs
One of the major changes related to reverse mortgage programs is tied to merging the Saver and Standard programs together. This change is already in effect, and the result essentially means that borrowers may qualify for as much as 15 percent less in loan proceeds than with the Standard program than they previously would have qualified for.
Additionally, this merger has resulted in some borrowers being charged higher fees. One reason for this change related to a drop in housing prices in recent years. Because borrowers are guaranteed to never be upside down in their reverse mortgage, some changes were necessary to compensate for declining home values.
The Amount of Loan Proceeds Available
Another important change in reverse mortgages relates to how much money the borrowers can draw on their loan initially. At one time, borrowers were able to pull up to 100 percent of the loan proceeds out on the loan as soon as the loan closed. However, some borrowers were not using their proceeds wisely and wound up in a more dire financial situation after spending most or all of their loan proceeds very quickly.
To prevent this from happening, a new regulation is now in place that limits the amount of funds that can be drawn from the loan to 60 percent within the first year after the loan closes. This is designed to prevent the borrower from going into default by not keeping up with property taxes and premiums on homeowners insurance.
While there are some changes that have been implemented recently regarding reverse mortgages, it is important to note that many homeowners will still benefit from tapping into their home equity in this way. You can learn more about some of the different requirements in place for home equity loans and begin the loan application process when you contact your trusted mortgage professional.
San Francisco, California where home prices rose 10.30 percent year over year in March, and Denver, Colorado with an even 10 percent gain in year-over-year home prices led the Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index for March. Rounding out the top-five cities for year-over-year home price growth were Dallas Texas at 9.30 percent, Miami, Florida at 8.70 percent and Tampa, Florida with a year-over-year average gain in home prices at 8.10 percent. San Francisco’s reading for March was the first double-digit increase in home prices since last July.
The five lowest year-over-year price gains occurred in Washington, D.C. and Cleveland, Ohio tied at gains of 1.0 percent, New York City with a year-over-year gain of 2.70 percent, Minneapolis, Minnesota with a gain of 3.00 percent and Phoenix, Arizona with a year-over-year increase of 3.10 percent.
Overall, the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index rose by 5.0 percent year-over-year and by 0.90 percent in March. Analysts said that while home prices remain 16 percent below their pre-recession peaks, home prices are 31 higher than the lows recorded in March 2012.
When asked if house prices are in a bubble, David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Index Committee said that “The only way to tell if housing prices were in a bubble is looking back after it’s over.” Mr. Blitzer said that adjusted for inflation, home prices have increased on average by one percent per month since 1975, and that the current 4.10 percent monthly growth of home prices could suggest a bubble. Mr. Blitzer cautioned that home price increases are outpacing increases in personal income and national wage growth, a circumstance which reduces the pool of potential home buyers due to affordability issues.
FHFA House Price Index Posts 5.2 Percent Gain Year-Over-Year
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that as of March, prices for homes connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages rose by 5.20 percent year-over-year. The agency also said that average home prices increased by 1.30 percent in the first quarter of 2015.
Home prices were 5.0 percent higher in the first quarter of 2015 than for the first quarter of 2014. This data is consistent with the unrelated Case-Shiller home price data for March. FHFA reported that home prices rose in 48 states between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015. The states with the top rates of year-over-year home price growth were:
Colorado 11.20 percent
Nevada 10.10 percent
Florida 8.70 percent
Washington 7.60 percent
California 7.50 percent
The Mountain Division led the nine Census Bureau Divisions in home price growth with a growth rate of 2.60 percent in the first quarter and a year-over-year growth rate of 6.80 percent.
Last week’s economic reports included several readings related to housing The Wells Fargo/National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, the Commerce Department’s releases on Housing Starts and Building Permits, and the National Association of Realtors® report on Existing Home Sales supplied mixed news on recent developments in housing. Freddie Mac and the Labor Department released their usual reports on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims. The details:
NAHB: Builder Confidence Slips, But Remains Positive
The Wells Fargo/ National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released its Housing Market Index report for April. Although April’s reading was two points lower at 54, any reading over 50 indicates that more builders consider housing market conditions positive than not. April’s reading on builder confidence was the 11th consecutive index reading over 50.
According to NAHB, builder confidence in present housing market conditions dropped by two points to a reading of 59, while builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months rose one point to 64. Builder expectations for buyer foot traffic dropped by one point to 39. The lower readings for buyer traffic could be related to more home shoppers starting their home search online.
Building Permits, Housing Starts Show Improvement
The Commerce Department reported that building permits for April were higher at 1.14 million as compared to the March reading of 944,000 permits issued in March. Analysts expected a reading of 1.03 million permits issued, This was the highest reading for building permits since mid-2008.
Housing starts rose by a noteworthy 20 percent to a reading of 1.14 million in April, but analysts cautioned that this reading was inconsistent with the more moderate pace of improvement in overall housing markets. The Commerce Department reported that starts of single family homes rose by 17.60 percent to a reading of 666,000 starts. This was the highest rate of single-family starts since early 2008, but analysts noted that April’s high reading for housing starts could reflect delayed starts that were impacted by winter weather.
Existing Home Sales Fall Due to Rising Home Prices
The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of previously owned homes dropped as home prices increased. A tight supply of available homes and higher home prices slowed the sales pace of existing home sales. April sales of existing homes fell from the March level of 5.21 million sales to 5.04 million sales; analysts had forecasted a higher sales volume of 5.24 million existing homes sold.
Rising home prices pose challenges to first-time and moderate income home buyers, and strict mortgage standards can make it tough for those with less than stellar credit scores to qualify for mortgages. Rising home prices are good news for homeowners as bidding wars have been reported in high-demand areas.
Mortgage Rates Lower, Jobless Claims Up
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates were slightly lower. Mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by one basis point to 3.84 percent. Discount points rose from 0.60 to 0.70 percent. Mortgage rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.05 percent with average discount points of 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 2.88 percent; discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent.
Weekly jobless claims rose to 274,000 new claims filed. This reading exceeded expectations of 269,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 264,000 new claims. Analysts said that although this was a four-week high for new unemployment claims, layoff s remain low. Year-over-year, new jobless claims were 16 percent lower. New jobless claims remain close to a 15-year low and layoffs hit their lowest level on record. This news could build prospective home buyer confidence as job security plays a major rrole in most decisions to buy a home.
This week’s housing related reports include the S&P Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Home Price Indexes and the FHFA Home Price Index. New and Pending Home Sales reports and the usual mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims reports are also scheduled.