Home buyers are reportedly returning to the market after nearly a year, as mortgage rates mostly stabilize and federal regulators offer up rules that promise to make it easier to get a loan, Reuters reports.
Homebuilding giants D.R. Horton Inc. and Toll Brothers Inc. reported this week a sharp rise in new orders that hasn’t been matched since last year. Builders are welcoming the rise, after a reportedly disappointing spring selling season.
In October, mortgage rates plummeted to the lowest levels since June 2013 – below 4 percent – and near record lows. The dip was welcome news to buyers after a steady rise in rates for the past year. What’s more, government regulators have recently proposed new rules to allow buyers to purchase homes with down payments as low as 3 percent, more welcome news for many buyers who have been sidelined by strict underwriting in recent years.
“We’re definitely seeing a lot more purchase business than we have in the past,” Matt Hackett, underwriting manager at Equity Now, a New York–based mortgage lender, told Reuters.
Still, for the recovery to take full root, one important buyer segment needs to reemerge: first-time buyers. The National Association of REALTORS®’ research released earlier this month showed the number of first-time buyers this year dropped 5 percentage points from a year prior to 33 percent — the lowest share since 1987, in which it was 30 percent.
“First-time home buyers are the ones missing from the marketplace (and) part of the reason we’ve had a relatively slow recovery in housing,” says David Crowe, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders. “Some relaxation in the overly restrictive lending standards will bring the first-time home buyer back.”
Source: “Easier Mortgage Rules, Stable Rates Bring Back U.S. Home Buyers,” Reuters (Nov. 11, 2014)