Monthly Archives: March 2016

ALERT: New scam robbing home buyers of closing funds

HomeNews

by Ryan Smith22 Mar 2016

 

The Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors have issued a warning originators might want to pass on to their buyers.

According to the FTC and the NAR, there’s a mortgage-closing phishing scam going around that could leave buyers without a down payment. The scam involved hackers breaking into the email accounts of real estate professionals and consumers to access information about home buyers’ closing dates.

Once the hacker has the closing date, he’ll send an email to the buyer posing as the real estate professional or title company, according to the NAR. The scammer will say there’s been a “last-minute change” to the wiring instruction for closing funds and instruct the buyer to send the funds to a different account. That account, of course, really belongs to the hacker.

According to the FTC, buyers who fall prey to this scam could find their bank account cleaned out in “a matter of minutes” – and it’s unlikely they’ll ever see that money again.

“If you’re buying a home and get an email with money-wiring instructions, STOP,” the FTC stated in a bulletin on the scam. “Email is not a secure way to send financial information, and your real estate professional or title company should know that.”

“Buyers should be wary of sending financial information over email, downloading attachments, or responding to email requests to wire money in a real estate transaction,” said NAR President Tom Salamone.

The FTC’s top tips to avoid phishing scams

Here’s what the FTC has to say about avoiding falling prey to scams like this one:

  • Don’t email financial information. It’s not secure.
  • If you’re giving your financial information on the web, make sure the site is secure. Look for a URL that begins with https (the “s” stands for secure). And instead of clicking a link in an email to go to an organization’s site, look up the real URL and type in the web address yourself.
  • Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails, regardless of who sends them. These files can contain malware that can weaken your computer’s security.
  • Keep your operating system, browser, and security software up to date.

Housing Starts Hits Nine Year High

Source: RISMedia

The U.S. housing market continues to rebound, with single-family housing starts inching up 7.2 percent, their highest level since November, 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In February, builders started production on 1,178,000 homes, a 5.2 percent increase over January and a 30.9 percent increase from February 2015. Single-family home completions also increased, rising 6.1 percent to a
736,000 anuualized rate, the highest peak since November 2008.

“A rise in housing starts this month shows signs of an early spring bloom
for home-building”, says Quicken Loans Vice President Bill Banfield. “It is
encouraging to see this month’s report was being driven by starts for single-
family homes – rising to their highest levels in more than eight years.
While we’ve experienced month-to-month volatility in these reports, it’s
more important to focus on the positive trend relfected in the year-over-year
data.”

“The overall takeaways from this report are that month-to-month we are seeing
the expected growth in new construction, but we also appear to be at an
inflection point with regard to single-family construction now growing faster
than multi-family,” says Jonathan Smoke, Realtor.com’s chief economist.
“It is somewhat concerning that the pace of starts is now greater than the
pace of permits. This could be a one-month anomaly given the tendency of
the starts data to be revised, but if the pattern holds, it would signal
slower growth ahead in construction activity. That is not what the market
needs to address the undersupply of both for-sale and for-rent units on the
market.”

One Million Borrowers Regain Equity in 2015

Source: RISMedia

One million borrowers regained equity in 2015, bringing the total number of mortgaged residential properties with equity at the end of Q4 2015 to approximately 46.3 million, or 91.5 percent of all mortgaged properties, according to the new CoreLogic® analysis. Nationwide, borrower equity increased year over year by $682 billion in Q4 2015. The CoreLogic analysis also indicates approximately 120,000 properties lost equity in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to the third quarter of 2015.

The total number of mortgaged residential properties with negative equity stood at 4.3 million, or 8.5 percent, in Q4 2105.
This is an increase of 2.9 percent quarter-over-quarter from 4.2 million homes, or 8.3 percent, in Q3
2015 and a decrease of 19.1 percent year-over-year from 5.3 million homes, or 10.7 percent, compared with Q4 2014.

Negative equity, often referred to as “underwater” or “upside down”, applies to borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Negative equity can occur because of a decline in home value, an increase in
mortgage debt or a combination of both.

Record-Low Mortgage Rates Are Coming

Mortgage rates in the U.S. are incredibly low… and there’s a great chance they’ll go lower…

Last week, U.S. 30-year mortgage rates finished the week around 3.6%.

They haven’t been this low – basically ever. (The exception is late 2012, when they nearly touched 3.3%.)

As an American, it sounds outrageous to even consider that they could go lower. But when you take the rest of the world into account, it’s not as outrageous as it seems.

I will show you why today. But first, let’s back up for a minute…

Where do mortgage rates come from? Who decides what they will be?

Typically, the U.S. 30-year mortgage rate is (somewhat) based off of the U.S. 30-year Treasury bond interest rate…

Take the 30-year government rate (which is thought of as the “risk-free” rate)… add a bit of interest due to the risk of the borrower… and boom, there you have it. (It’s a rough approximation of reality, at least.)

You can see this idea in the chart below… The lower line is the 30-year Treasury rate. The upper line is the 30-year mortgage rate…

It has to do with what’s going on in the rest of the world…

Interest rates are crashing globally. And 30-year government bond rates outside the U.S. are “crazy low.” Take a look:

 

 

Country Rate
United States 2.68%
Germany 1.01%
Japan 0.71%
Switzerland 0.27%

 

Look closely at this list… One of these four is not like the others. Which one is it?
Source: Dr. Steven Sjuggerud

 

It doesn’t take long to realize that U.S. interest rates are dramatically higher than the rest of the developed world.

Keep this in mind: Money flows where it’s treated best.

The difference between U.S. rates and the rest of the world is simply too great for investors to ignore… Money is about to flow into the U.S.

Investors who have their money in low-paying bonds in Germany, Japan, and Switzerland will move some of that money into higher-paying U.S. bonds.

That will put downward pressure on long-term U.S. interest rates.

And the chart above shows, if U.S. interest rates on 30-year government bonds go down, U.S. mortgage rates will likely follow them lower.

Mortgage rates are incredibly low in the U.S. based on history. And as I showed today, there’s a strong chance they could go even lower…

The Comeback Continues: U.S. Housing Market on the Rise

Source: RISMedia

The U.S. housing market continues to improve as Florida and Arizona enter
their outer range of stable housing activity, according to a recently released
Freddie Mac Multi-Indicator Market Index® (MiMi®). The MiMi purchase applications
indicator improved by nine percent in 2015, its best showing since September 2013.

The national MiMi value stands at 82.7, indicating a housing market that is on
its outer range of stable housing activity, while showing an improvement of
+.51 percent from November to December and a three-month improvement of +1.70
percent. On a year-over-year basis, the national MiMi value has improved +7.65
percent. Since its all-time low in October 2010, the national MiMi has rebounded
40 percent, but remains significantly off its high of 121.7

The most improving states month-over-month were Oregon (+1.66 percent),
New Jersey (+1.62), Arizona (+1.39 percent), Florida (+1.39 percent) and
Missouri (+1.25 percent). On a year-over-year basis, the most improving states
were Florida (+16.59 percent), Oregon (+15.64 percent), Colorado (+14.09 percent),
Washington (+12.58 percent) and Nevada (+12.54 percent).