There was a while there where covering mortgage rates got (depending on your perspective) highly entertaining or highly nerve-wracking, as the news flip-flopped every day. Well, mortgage rates and the housing market all seem reasonably stable at the moment, but one of the big factors driving home prices has been foreign investment. Now it’s time for that to flip-flop. Depending on who you believe, either we’re awash in Chinese money, or the Chinese are fleeing the market.
OK. The article is a paid op-ed by PIMCO, so they have a vested interest in the position. But that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. The four points Mark makes — strong job growth and consumer confidence; low inventories and rising pent-up demand; a willingness to lend and expanding demand for credit; and relative affordability — are all true. For those reasons, the housing market looks to be a good, stable investment option for the near-term future, regardless of what the Fed does.
We reported earlier this year when Google added a mortgage calculator to organic search results. This week, they’ve taken another step forward. Google Compare now provides “[a] real-time, apples-to-apples comparison of rate quotes”. Of course, there’s a lot more to a mortgage than just the rate quote, and talking to a broker is still key, but this tool should put smaller brokerages on more equal footing with the big boys. At the moment, it’s only available in California, but it’s coming to the rest of the U.S., soon.
As we enter the holiday season, many Americans will be traveling quite a bit. For some, that’s just a drive to see local relatives; but for many, it can mean much longer trips, from elderly “snowbirds” heading to warm islands, to expats returning home to see family members. The U.S. State Department regularly issues travel warnings surrounding specific countries; however, global warnings are quite rare. Yesterday, they issued just such a global warning which extends through next February. There’s no need for immediate alarm. However, if you or your loved ones are traveling internationally this holiday season, you should read the alert and exercise appropriate caution. Safe travels, everyone.
Of course, everyone knows that property has different value in different markets. And everyone knows that the cost of labor is different in different markets, so the cost of building houses can vary. But it turns out that, far more important than the cost of labor, local zoning can have a huge impact on housing prices. This article on Vox approaches the issue from a national level, but zoning is very, very local. What are your thoughts? Are you happy with the zoning decisions where you live?
If you didn’t catch the brief coverage on CNN (here’s the original article , and you’re not particularly active on social media, then you may have missed a particularly heartwarming example of Americans doing the charitable thing. In the wake of the Paris attack last week, even though airports remained open, there were many cancelled flights. It turns out that from coast to coast, the hashtag #strandedinUS was used by caring Americans to open their homes to stranded French families. It’s always nice to see that we can still open our hearts to strangers, once in a while.
The third quarter turned in some more positive results on the housing industry as a whole, and mortgage borrowing in particular. The Globe and Mail reported on two key milestones yesterday. First, as of September 30th, the mortgage delinquency rate was 4.99%. Second, for that same date, the percentage of mortgages in foreclosure was 1.88%. Those were firsts since 2007 that those rates were below 5% and 2%, respectively. They went on to forecast higher earnings for American homeowners.
We spend a lot of time blogging about everything surrounding the places we live — homes, markets, interest rates, maintenance, etc…. But of course, even more important are what goes inside our homes: us. America has always been a melting pot, but just how diverse we are may surprise you. Each year, the Census Bureau releases data on the languages spoken in American homes. Quartz has a great write-up on the over 300 languages spoken in U.S. houses.
This blog has covered a few times the impact that foreign affairs can have on the U.S. housing market, but sometimes it can be useful to look not just at direct impact, but at global comparisons. Jonathan Lansner over at The OC Register did us the favor of compiling a bunch of global data into a spreadsheet and summarizing the results. The net results is that the U.S. recovery is good by global standards (8th largest home price increase since 2011), but that there’s room for concern.