Mortgage application volume increases

    The residential housing market is making strides, which could be good news for individuals looking to buy a house in Charlotte.

    Overall mortgage application volume experienced a slight jump of 0.9 percent during the week ending May 16, compared to one week earlier, according to the Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association. This figure also improved 0.4 percent when unadjusted. The Purchase Index experienced a decline of 3 percent week-over-week on adjusted and unadjusted rates.

    The Refinance Index had a 4 percent gain from a week earlier, the report showed. There also was a gain in the refinance share of mortgage activity, with the level rising to 52 percent of the total figure, improved from a week earlier when it was 50 percent. No change occurred in the adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity week-over-week, with it remaining at 8 percent.

    "Renewed concerns about the state of the global economy, particularly in Europe, led to a flight to quality to US Treasury securities, thereby pushing interest rates down in the US," said Mike Fratantoni, chief economist at MBA. "Rates on conforming loans hit 6 month lows and jumbo rates hit 12 month lows.  Refinance volume picked up somewhat as a result, but it still remains more than 65 percent below last year's pace.  Purchase volume continues to run more than 10 percent below last year's pace."

    Home prices experience quarterly spike
    With more individuals taking advantage of home purchases, many may be looking harder to find an affordable price. According to a report from CoreLogic Case-Shiller, overall home prices rose by 11.3 percent during the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of last year in the 380 markets examined.

    Housing market improvement continued during the first quarter, as the latest figure brought the level to 20 percent higher than the low point recorded during the final three months of 2011. There still is work to do in the market, as home prices are still 21 percent lower than the highest point during the cycle, which occurred during the first quarter of 2006.

    "Limited construction of new homes and low inventories of existing homes for sale contributed to the jump in prices," said Dr. David Stiff, principal economist for CoreLogic Case-Shiller. "Developers remain cautious about building too many new houses until they see stronger demand in their markets."

    For the remainder of the year, home prices should continue to rise, as the rate should reach 5.3 percent, the report showed. This would be higher than the annual average of 4.5 percent from 1975 on.

    "For the remainder of 2014, investor demand and sales of foreclosed properties should drop off quickly," said Stiff. "Traditional buyers are returning slowly to the market, but cannot replace demand from investors who led the market in recent years."

    Continued home price gains may help encourage more individuals to take advantage of a home purchase, though they may want to work more closely with real estate agents to achieve an option that fits their budget.

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