The recent plunge in mortgage rates may help the market for home loans surge to a 14-year high, according to recent housing forecasts. In the past month, mortgage rates have posted their biggest drop in a decade, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 4.08 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage market survey.
The rate decline has enticed more home buyers to enter the market, prompting mortgage demand to reach its highest level since the fall of 2016. Mortgage applications jumped 18.6 percent last week as borrowers rushed to lock in lower financing costs. Mark Watson, director of forecasting for mortgage advisory firm iEmergent, predicts $1.2 trillion in home lending this year, which would be the best year since 2005. “We think the lower mortgage rates will create a huge push, partly from millennial buyers,” Watson told HousingWire. “That is going to support strong growth in home sales over the next several years.”
iEmergent projects a 3.9 percent increase in total home loan volume this year. That’s more optimistic than other forecasters, such as Freddie Mac, which is predicting a 1.5 percent increase in total mortgage lending for 2019, and the Mortgage Bankers Association, which predicts a 1 percent gain.
But the threat of higher mortgage rates is diminishing. The Federal Reserve announced at its January meeting that due to a slowing economy, it does not plan to raise its short-term key interest rates again this year. Therefore, mortgage rates will likely stay low for a while, which will bode well for the housing market, Watson says. “The benefits of the decline in mortgage rates that we’ve seen this year will continue to unfold over the next few months due to the lag from changes in mortgage rates to market sentiment and ultimately home sales,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.
The Regional Housing Study and Needs Assessment is the first step in the strategic planning process for the Regional Housing Partnership of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. The analysis distinguishes between the urban area, which includes the City of Charlottesville and the Development Areas of Albemarle County designated for growth, and the rural area, which includes the rest of Albemarle County an all of Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson counties. This regional housing analysis will inform the second phase of the process, which is to recommend housing strategies for each county and for the region that will address key issues impacting housing affordability.
Seventy-nine percent of consumers say that a lawn is an important feature when renting or buying home. Many consumers are even ranking a nicely sized yard as the second most important home feature, only behind a renovated kitchen, according to a new survey released by the National Association of Landscape Professionals.
Sizable lawns trumped other popular features like updated bathrooms, storage, and hardwood floors, according to the survey.
Younger generations are placing more value on lawns than older generations, too. A nice lawn size was the top priority among surveyed millennials, nudging out even an updated kitchen, according to the survey. Eighty-two percent of millennials say that having a lawn is important when renting or buying a home, compared to 81 percent of Generation X and 77 percent of baby boomers.
“While some may assume that trends toward urbanization or the increased use of electronics and technology have resulted in a decreased interest in lawns among younger Americans, the results of our research found just the opposite,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the association.
Homeowners want a nice lawn for entertainment, the survey found. Forty-seven percent of Americans say they entertain in their yards at least once a month, and 57 percent use their yards for recreation at least monthly. The majority of Americans (77 percent) also say they relax in their yards at least once a month, and 32 percent garden in their yards.
To boost a property’s outdoor appeal for interested buyers, pass along the following maintenance tips from the NALP to your selling clients:
5 Steps to a Healthy Lawn
1. Grass cycling. This means leaving grass clippings on the lawn after mowing to help return nitrogen and nutrients to the soil.
2. Don’t overwater. Provide your lawn a deep watering every few days, not daily. Watering your lawn too frequently can lead to shallow root growth.
3. Control weeds. The NALP says April is the ideal time to apply preemergent weed control. Weeds can quickly overtake lawns, so have preventive measures in place.
4. Maintain mowers. It is important to keep your mower blades sharp. When left dull, blades are ineffective and can damage your lawn.
5. Fertilize. Adequate fertilizer provides proper nutrients that are key for maintaining healthy lawns.
By Kaya Laterman, New York Times
Charlottesville’s taxable property values rose more than $500 million last year as nearly all residential properties in the city increased in value under the latest annual reassessment.
The city announced Tuesday that Charlottesville’s 15,053 taxable properties saw an average increase of 7.9 percent in 2018.
City Assessor Jeff Davis said the city’s total taxable value is $7.67 billion, up from $7.1 billion in 2017.
Residential properties increased by an average of 8.1 percent and commercial properties increased by an average of 3.8 percent.
About 90 percent of residential properties increased in value while about 4 percent declined and about 6 percent didn’t change.
No single part of the city stood out in the reassessment, Davis said.
“I think it was pretty much widespread,” he said. “The great majority of properties increased in the last year. … The market was just strong all over.”
The owner of a $300,000 home would see their real estate tax payment increase $230.85 to $3,080.85. The levy is billed over two payments a year and the rate is 95 cents per $100 of assessed value.
Unless the City Council decreases the property tax rate, it will result in an effective tax increase, which requires a public hearing and council vote. Earlier this month, city staff told the council that Charlottesville is expecting a roughly $5 million increase in property tax revenue. Davis wasn’t sure what the rate would need to be for tax bills to remain the same. According to the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors, home sales increased 7 percent in 2018 over the prior year. The median sales price rose 11 percent and the median days on the market dropped five days. Residential properties have increased in value through reassessments each year since 2014, with the largest increases occurring in 2017 and 2018. The owner of a home valued at $300,000 in 2013 has seen their property value rise by more than $70,000 with the yearly reassessment, contributing to a $667 increase in real estate tax payments. The tax rate has remained the same through that time period.Nolan StoutCity hall reporterNolan Stout is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7274, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @nstoutDP on Twitter.
Davis wasn’t sure what the rate would need to be for tax bills to remain the same.
According to the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors, home sales increased 7 percent in 2018 over the prior year. The median sales price rose 11 percent and the median days on the market dropped five days.
Residential properties have increased in value through reassessments each year since 2014, with the largest increases occurring in 2017 and 2018.
City hall reporter
Nolan Stout is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7274, email@example.com, or @nstoutDP on Twitter.
The cost for the installation to the middle class families is little to $0 down. The homeowner gets solar panels on their roof and a new reduced electric rate. If interested you can sign up below. Power Home Solar predicts that it could save individual families up to $2,400 a year, which they hope could then be spent on other essential bills.
Power Home Solar is excited to be promoting one of the first dedicated solar repayment systems for middle class families allowing them to get a low solar bill and an even lower electric bill. The goal is to install solar arrays to over 32,000 homes by the end of next year. By using training programs, various federal and state incentives, money from companies and private investors, they aim to keep the costs to those who provide and install the panels as low as possible. Home Energy Guide has teamed up with Power Home Solar to install the panels in Virginia.
Through covering 30% of the costs with available Government Rebates & Incentives, along with funding from private investors to eliminate upfront costs, Power Home aims to kill two birds with one stone – saving Middle-Class families money, while also making big fossil fuel polluting companies help to cut energy emissions in the state even further.
Home Energy Guide invites everyone to find out if they qualify by signing up for a free visit from Power Home Solar. To increase the ease of setting up an appointment to find out if you’re in the middle-class and qualified, they specifically created the form below. They hope that the funding put towards this new system will be well spent, if they can get interested homeowners reaching out to them, they estimate that they’ll be able hit their goal of 32,000 homes by the end of the year 2019.
We’ve been notified that panels are still available for homes, you can sign up for a visit to see if you qualify by filling out the form below.Find Out If You Qualify For Solar Funding!Monthly Electric Bill$100 - $149$75 - $99$150 - $199$200 - $249$250 - $299$300 - $349$350 - $399$450 - $499$500+ We protect your information.By clicking above, you authorize Power Home Solar to call you and send you pre-recorded messages and text messages at the number you entered above, using an autodialer, with offers about their products or services, even if your phone number is on any national or state "Do Not Call" list. Message and data rates may apply. Your consent here is not based on a condition of purchase.
Real estate indicators are starting to shift in favor of home buyers as the housing market sets its sights on spring. Mortgages are getting cheaper, housing inventories are growing, and home prices are rising at a slower pace.
© Busà Photography/Getty Images
Mortgage rates have been holding steady for the last few weeks. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.45 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac. Late last year, mortgage rates were nearing the 5 percent threshold, but several weeks of decreases have offered some relief to home shoppers. The five-year adjustable-rate mortgage has been averaging under 4 percent, landing at 3.90 percent last week, Freddie Mac reports.
Home buyers are responding to the lower rates. New mortgage applications of home buyers across the country surged to the highest level since 2010 during the week ending Jan. 11, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Applications were 9 percent higher than they were the week before.
Housing inventories have grown significantly in many markets too, offering buyers a lot more choices. That is helping to put a tighter lid on home price growth as sellers face greater competition. Homebuilders are reportedly lowering their prices in many areas too. A quarter of newly built homes saw a price cut during the last quarter of last year.
The decrease in mortgage rates is likely to boost home sales this year, compensating for the decline in sales recorded last year while pushing prices up modestly, says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “With the return of homebuyers, home prices look to rise again in 2019, but with one big difference. For the first time in years, income gains of a projected 3.5 percent will outpace home price growth of around 2 percent. That is healthy and a turn toward better housing affordability,” Yun writes in a Jan. 24 opinion piece in the newspaper The Hill.
Certainly, for home sellers, lower prices may not sound ideal. But housing analysts say sellers need to set a realistic price up front to find a buyer as the market shifts.
“The good news here for sellers is that—with interest rates down and slowing prices—more prospective buyers should be encouraged to get off the sidelines, shop around, and consider making offers,” writes Kenneth Harney, a syndicated real estate columnist for The Washington Post.
About 40% of U.S. adults make New Year’s resolutions and a popular one is to spend less and save more. These simple energy resolutions can help make a dent in your energy bill and best of all these actions are largely one time actions. With about half of New Year’s resolutions abandoned by June, these quick fixes keep on reaping savings and environmental benefits all year long. Capitalize on your New Year’s resolve and start saving today!
Resolve to use the most efficient light bulbs
This one really is as easy as changing a light bulb. Incandescent bulbs are being phased out in the U.S. but there’s no reason to wait for your incandescents to burn out unless you want to continue to waste energy and money. LED bulbs use up to 80% less energy than incandescents and last an average of twenty times longer. Additionally, the cost of LEDs has come down and the quality has gone up, with ‘warm white’ and ‘soft white’ varieties, in the last few years.Resolve to program your thermostat
Programmable digital thermostats have become the norm, replacing old fashioned and highly inefficient manual thermostats. But you have to program it!
They have pre-programmed settings to regulate your home’s temperature in both summer and winter when you are home, asleep, or away. If you need to adjust the pre-programmed settings to fit your schedule, try the Department of Energy’s recommendation of 68° when home and 56° when away or asleep in the winter. In the summer, set your air conditioning to 78° when home and 85° when away.
Smart thermostats, like the Nest or EcoBee, allow remote control and learn your behavior over time and adjust temperatures accordingly. Studies show that smart thermostats can increase energy savings by 10-20% over more traditional programmable ones.
Resolve to manage energy vampires
Energy vampires are are plugged-in devices and appliances that draw electricity even when they are not in use. Computers, smart TVs, game consoles, CD and DVD players, and appliances with clocks can all be vampires.
Unplugging vampires when not in use and plugging them back in when you need them can get tiresome quickly. Try smart plugs that can be accessed from your smartphone to turn off the device. For entertainment centers or computer stations, consider a smart powerstrip. These powerstrips have outlets that always have power and other controlling outlets that will automatically cut power to the neighboring outlets when the electrical device (e.g., TV) goes in standby mode or is turned off.
Resolve to cut your water use
The EPA estimates 3 to 4 percent of national electricity consumption, equivalent to approximately 56 billion kilowatts (kW), or $4 billion, is used in providing drinking water and wastewater services each year. Saving water, saves energy and money.
Taking shorter showers and turning off the faucet after getting your toothbrush wet are the classic advice and great behavioral changes to make. Installing faucet aerators and low flow showerheads and eliminating leaky toilets and faucets can save thousands more gallons a year. Aerators and low flow showerheads are simple DIY installs and many municipalities offer free water conservation kits. Again, these are one time actions that continue to save on daily basis.
Resolve to reduce fireplace energy loss
As cozy as they are, fireplaces typically remove more heat from a house than they contribute, sending up to eight percent of heat pump or furnace-warmed air up and out the chimney. To minimize this energy loss, make sure your damper is in good working order. Even when a fireplace damper is in good repair and closed, the sealing is not complete. Installing glass doors to the front of the fireplace or adding magnetic fireplace blankets will further cut leaks.
If you are not ready to replace a damaged damper, a chimney balloon is a less expensive option. It is an inflatable plastic balloon that seals your chimney like a throat damper. It can be used in almost any fireplace and is inflated and deflated by mouth or with a low pressure pump.
Resolve to be energy aware
This one is more a state of mind than a single action, but can go a long way in keeping you in tune with how your house uses energy and how much. If you don’t know where your home’s energy vulnerabilities and excesses are, it’s hard to take action to mitigate them. Take stock of your home’s energy use with a DIY energy assessment like this one from Virginia Energy Sense. Or you may choose to get a professional assessment like LEAP’s $45 Home Energy Check-Upavailable in Charlottesville and Albemarle.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy, more energy efficient 2019!
© REALTOR® Magazine
Mortgage rates posted more drops this week, lowering the borrowing costs of potential home shoppers and refinancers. Rates are now at a nine-month low, which helped boost mortgage applications more than 20 percent this week.
“Lower mortgage rates combined with continued income growth and lower energy prices are all positive indicators for consumers that should lead to a firming of home sales,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.
Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Jan. 10:
Homeownership Made Affordable
Looking for the VHDA loan that’s right for you? VHDA offers a variety of affordable home mortgages. All are 30-year fixed rate loans. Some don’t require any downpayment; some allow for lower credit scores; and some offer an MCC to help reduce federal taxes. VHDA makes homeownership affordable through our "VHDA Loan Combo," a down payment grant, plus an MCC (a federal tax credit for homebuyers), plus our free homebuyers class. All loans have maximum income and sales price limits and/or loan limits, which vary according to where the home is located.
Download our Home Loan Options eBook for a quick overview of all our mortgages, grants and programs for homebuyers! Just click any tab on the side to get started.
Get the eBook or read below:
Closing Cost Assistance (CCA) Grant
Mortgage Credit Certificate
*Assumes that the property remains a principal residence, the VHDA loan is still outstanding, and there is an actual federal tax liability