Mortgage giant Freddie Mac has released its Economic and Housing Outlook for April, and the news looks reasonably good. This is in spite of the rut that the first quarter home-buying season has apparently fallen into; for the third consecutive year, the first quarter started off with strong expectations that were quickly struck down in the fact of harsh winter weather and economic troubles.
According to chief economist Len Kiefer, the disappointments of the first quarter should not keep us from expecting good things out of the rest of 2015. He is anticipating the housing market getting a boost from strong job gains and economic growth, going as far as to forecast the best year for home sales since 2007.
Indeed, it may not be too optimistic to accept Freddie Mac’s predictions. The housing market is already accelerating after a disappointing March. Meanwhile, it is estimated that the Fed will be delaying rising rates, resulting in a slow drift upward for the next few months.
One of the big problems in the real estate market remains the lack of inventory in both homes and rental properties. With a decline in homeownership, even the robust pace of rental construction and the conversion of many single-family homes to rental properties has failed to keep up with demand. Rental vacancy rates are currently at their lowest levels since as far back as 1994.
Joblessness proved to be somewhat higher than expected last week, with the number of new claims for unemployment benefits taking a small upturn. In total, initial claims for state benefits rose by about 25,000 in the week ended February 7th, according to the Labor Department.
However, the underlying trends continue to be indicative of rising strength in the labor market. Over the past three months, over a million jobs have been created, an achievement that hasn’t been reached since 1997. The four-week moving average of unemployment claims actually fell by 3,250 last week, and this statistic is largely considered a better measure of trends in the labor market.
What this adds up to is a strong jobs report, which lends itself to a rise in mortgage rates. According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is up. This is still considerably lower than what was observed a year ago.
Going forward Mortgage Insurance will no longer be able to be a line item deduction after 12/31/2011. As a Mortgage Insurance Company has reminded us: United Guaranty MI company. “MI tax deductibility is scheduled to lapse at midnight, December 31, 2011, now’s the time to expedite them to retain this benefit for your borrowers who qualify! MI tax deductibility will also lapse for FHA and VA loans, which were extended under the same law as private MI.”
As we found out last week, g-fees for new agency loans will be going up to pay for the two-month payroll tax cut.Under the “unintended consequences” banner analysts were quick to point out that, given the increase is scheduled for ten years, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not going away any time soon unless the government comes up with the money elsewhere. F&F will not absorb this increase, nor will lenders; it will, of course, be passed on to borrowers. (The bill also will raise the annual insurance premium borrowers pay on FHA loans by one-tenth of a percent.) The increased g-fee, which makes it difficult for Congress to work on efforts to shut down Fannie and Freddie, based on current rates and a $200,000 loan, will cost the agency borrower about $11 per month. “These institutions, which have been so costly to Americans and are so necessary to the housing recovery, should not be the piggy bank for future arbitrary tax policy,” Dave Stevens (MBA) said. Due to their government ownership, investors still view their (and FHA/VA) MBS’s as safer investments than those offered by private firms. The law allows FHFA to phase in the fee over two years.
So, if you were lucky enough to close your home loan before 12/30/2011 Congratulations!
*As always seek a qualified CPA who can further assist you.* This is not to be construed as tax advice, informational purposes only!
We are hoping that the House of Representatives will continue to extend this tax credit to home buyers, as this is a benefit when you purchase a home and have less than 20% down payment. Make sure you contact your local Representative, Congressman, Senator, or local delgate. We need to extend this tax credit / deduction! As this will only help our real estate markets
Should you have any questions please contact me.