If you've been thinking about refinancing or buying a home, now may be the time to move on it. Rising home prices are being offset by home loan rates that remain near historic lows.
Home Prices on the Up and Up
Home prices, including distressed sales, rose by 6.8 percent from February 2015 to February 2016, according to housing data analytics firm CoreLogic. Month-over-month prices also were up 1.1 percent from January to February. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic, said this trend will continue, noting the "economic forces" of lower home loan rates and strong job creation will support the 5.2 percent home price increase CoreLogic projected for 2016.
Loan Rates Hovered Near Historic Lows in April
While home prices continue to rise throughout much of the country, homebuyers are benefitting from attractive home loan rates. In fact, monthly payments have been tempered by home loan rates hovering near historic lows.
Home loan rates can improve when there is mixed or weak economic data, as well as uncertainty overseas like the recent global economic slowdown. That's because these factors typically cause investors to move their money into "safer" investments like Bonds, and home loan rates are tied to Mortgage Bonds. When Mortgage Bonds improve, so do home loan rates.
However, strong job growth in the first part of this year signals continued improvement in our economy. If other economic indicators gain traction and also show improvement, investors could move their money from Bonds and into Stocks, to take advantage of gains. Though many factors impact the markets, strong economic news could cause home loan rates to increase.
Finding the Home of Your Dreams
As the spring buying season continues to heat up, more families may be rushing to cash in on historically low home loan rates. That means finding the right property—and landing it—may be a mad dash for limited inventory. March Existing Home Sales were up 1.5 percent from a year ago, and March Existing Home Sales jumped 5.1 percent from February's sharp decline to an annual rate of 5.33 million units. While sales are good, the National Association of REALTORS® reported that March's existing housing inventory showed 4.5 months' worth of supply; a six-month supply is viewed as normal.
Housing Starts, which measures the number of residential units on which construction has begun, also were up in March over a year ago by 14.2 percent. Building Permits, which are a sign of future construction, declined 7.7 percent from February to March 2016, hitting a 12-month low of 1.09 million units.
If you are in the market for a home, or if you're considering a refinance, home loan rates remain in historically low territory.