The Real Estate News Brief: Self-Employed Home Loans, Jumbo Loan Surge, Higher Closing Costs


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In this Real Estate News Brief for the week ending October 16th, 2021… more home loans for the self-employed borrowers, a surge in jumbo loans, and a rise in closing costs.

Hi, I'm Kathy Fettke and this is Real Estate News for Investors. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a review.

Economic News

We begin with economic news from this past week. Inflation ticked higher again. The government reports a .4% increase for September, mostly due to higher prices for food, gas, and rent. That raises the yearly rate of inflation from 5.3% to 5.4% which is more than double what the Federal Reserve considers “ideal.” But the Fed pays more attention to the PCE or Personal Consumption Expenditures index which is lower but still more than double the Fed’s target. Economists, along with the Fed, say that means prices will probably remain high into next year. (1)

Well-known stock investor Cathie Woods has her own theory on inflation. She’s the owner of Ark Invest and a collection of stock funds that lean toward more innovative tech companies and start-ups. She told CNBC that the current migration from expensive cities will help keep inflation in check. She says: “The exodus, or the great migration, is from very high-rent areas of the world to much lower rents.” She is moving her own company from New York to St. Petersburg, Florida, to take advantage of a lower cost of living. (2)

Consumers don’t seem to be that concerned about high prices. U.S. retail sales rose .7% last month. That’s after a big gain in August. Economists say Americans have plenty of money to spend from their pandemic savings, and a job market that is paying higher wages. One thing holding them back is a short supply of goods like cars and consumer electronics because of supply chain issues. (3)

Initial jobless claims dipped below 300,000 for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. The government reports just 293,000 new state claims. Ongoing claims also dropped to a pandemic low of 2.59 million. The total number of people collecting benefits from eight state and federal programs is 3.65 million. That’s after more than 11 million people dropped off the list last month due to the expiration of an emergency federal program. (4)

The “quit rate” jumped higher in August, to the highest it’s ever been since the government started tracking the number of people leaving their jobs in 2000. This so-called quit rate was up almost 3% to 4.27 million private-sector employees. That’s about double what it was during the early part of the pandemic. This recent spike coincides with a spike in coronavirus cases tied to the delta variant. (5)

Mortgage Rates

Let’s check on mortgage rates. According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 6 basis points to 3.05%. The 15-year was up 7 points to 2.3%. (6)

In other news making headlines...

Credit More Available for Self-Employed

The credit market is opening up a bit, making it easier to get a home loan. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Credit Availability Index rose 1.5% in September, with most of the growth going to self-employed borrowers. That’s great for real estate professionals who are often self-employed. (7)

The index benchmark is 100, and the current reading is 125.6. It’s the highest it’s been since May. The MBA’s Joel Kan says: “But, even with increases in seven out of nine months thus far in 2021, total credit availability is still around 30% less than it was in February 2020” which is right before the pandemic struck.

Jumbo Loans Surge Due to High Home Prices

Lenders are also handing out more jumbo loans because of high home prices. Researchers at Bank of America said in a weekly report that loan originations for jumbo loans are rising to levels we haven’t seen since before the 2008 financial crisis. (8)

The current limit for a conforming loan is about $548,000. Anything above that is a jumbo loan, although high-priced areas like New York City and San Francisco have higher limits. Several lenders have already announced higher conforming loan limits up to $625,000 for next year.

Buyers Paying Higher Closing Costs

High home prices are also driving closing costs higher. Residential real estate data firm ClosingCorp said the national average for single-family properties was $6,837 during the first half of this year. That includes taxes, and represents a 12.3% year-over-year increase. Without taxes, the national average is up 10.5% to $3,836. For refinancing loans, closing costs are up about 5% to around $2,400. (8)

ClosingCorp’s CEO, Bob Jennings, says that even though closing costs are higher, they are not going up as fast as home prices, because lenders are holding those costs down. He says: “Although the average home price increased by nearly $45,000, the closing cost, excluding taxes, on property only increased by $400.”

That’s it for today. Check the show notes for links. And please remember to hit the subscribe button, and leave a review!

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Thanks for listening. I'm Kathy Fettke.


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1197 episode