Low mortgage rates continue to make homeownership more attainable for entry-level homebuyers, as reports indicate both current and future improvements in the housing market.
According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, mortgage rates continue to hover near historic lows previously set at the beginning of October.
“Mortgage rates were at or near all-time record lows this week amid a rough environment for housing,” said Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist Frank Nothaft. “Over the first nine months of 2011, households lost almost $400 billion in property values which contributed to a $1.4 trillion reduction in overall net worth.”
Meanwhile, the survey showed that the rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.94 percent, slightly lower than the previous week when the rate was 3.99 percent. Last year at this time the rate averaged 4.83 percent.
Additionally, according to the mortgage giant, the average rate of a 15-year FRM was 3.21 percent this week, down from las week when the rate averaged 3.27 percent. Last year at this time the rate for the FRM averaged 4.17 percent.
However, as mortgage rates continue to sit near historic lows, a recent economic and housing market outlook from Freddie Mac predicts that rates will continue to offer increased home loan and refinancing options until the middle of 2012.
“While the headwinds remain strong going into 2012, there are indications the economy and the housing market are gaining ground, albeit slowly,” said Nothaft. “Sustained and increased job growth beyond the average monthly payroll gains of 130,000 so far this year ending in November are essential.”
In addition, the report predicts that activity in the housing market will improve during the new year, but at conservative rates. One specific change Freddie anticipates is a decline in single-family originations that will be offset by an increase in multifamily lending in 2012.
As the overall economy is a driving factor behind the success of the housing industry, the report also forecasts a strengthening of economic growth by roughly 2.5 percent throughout the year.
Additionally, the unemployment rate is expected to decline, but remain close to 8 percent. A drop in the unemployment rate could cut down on mortgage delinquencies and continue the downward trend of foreclosure filings recorded in 2011.
Continuing a year-long trend, according to RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings decreased by 3 percent in November from the previous month and by 14 percent on a year-over-year basis. A recent report from the foreclosure data firm showed that there were 224,394 foreclosure filings last month across the country. However, despite the sizable year-over-year decrease, it was the smallest annual decline during the past 12 months.
“Despite a seasonal slowdown similar to what we’ve seen in each of the past four years, November’s numbers suggest a new set of incoming foreclosure waves, many of which may roll into the market as REOs or short sales sometime early next year,” said RealtyTrac co-founder James Saccacio.
Meanwhile, the report showed that Nevada continued to lead the country in foreclosure filings for the 59th consecutive month, while Las Vegas ranked sixth among the metro-area foreclosure rates. California also reported a high level of foreclosures with 63,689 filings last month, while cities within the state accounted for nine out of the top ten cities with the highest foreclosure rates.
Other states with high foreclosure rates were Arizona, Florida and Michigan.
The continuous downward trend of foreclosures is positive news for the nation’s housing market and as affordable mortgage rates are paired anticipated housing improvements, investing in a home during the new year could prove to be a healthy investment.