Homebuyer Credit Scores Hit Multi-Year High

Average homebuyer credit scores soared to their highest point since 2018 in March, according to Optimal Blue’s March 2024 Originations Market Report. The average score hit 737, an all-time high in Optimal Blue’s data, which dates back to January 2018. Scores for FHA borrowers also hit 6-year highs, clocking in at 677 in February and 676 in March. VA and conforming loan scores soared to highs not seen since 2021. “Driven by rising interest rates and home prices, we’re witnessing the highest average homebuyer credit scores in years,” said Brennan O’Connell, director of data solutions at Optimal Blue.  “This unprecedented level of creditworthiness among purchasers is largely a result of the affordability issues borrowers face in today’s housing market, with…

Real Estate Professionals React To NAR’s $418 Million Settlement

By NICOLE MURRAY People who make their living helping homebuyers and sellers have spent the last two weeks figuring out what the $418 million settlement deal announced by the National Association of Realtors means for them and their clients. If approved by a judge, under the settlement buyers will be expected to enter into written compensation agreements with their real estate agents starting in mid-July. Sellers may pay a buyer’s agent commission as part of the negotiation process. They can also opt to pay just their agent. This represents a departure from the current model, where sellers typically pay for their agent, as well as the buyer’s agent, through cooperative compensation. The Mortgage Note spoke with real estate industry professionals…

How Cities Can Help Increase Black American Homeownership

By ERIN FLYNN JAY Homeownership rates for Black Americans are lagging and leaders in some cities are taking action to turn that around. According to a report released by the National Association of Realtors last month, minority groups saw increased homeownership rates in 2022. While Asian and Hispanic homeownership rates registered all-time highs at 63.3% and 51.1%, the Black homeownership rate was 44.1%. The homeownership rate for white Americans was at 72.3% in 2022. Jessica Lautz, NAR deputy chief economist and vice president of research, said in a statement that the impacts of overall housing affordability affect minority buyers more than white buyers. Minority buyers often pay more of their monthly income in rent, making it harder to save for…

NAR Settlement Poses Challenge For VA Buyers

Huge changes to Realtors’ commission structures may disadvantage VA buyers, at least in the short term. A $418 million settlement announced by the National Association of Realtors last week is set to have sweeping implications for the housing industry in general. If approved by a federal judge, it would undo NAR’s commission structure, which is typically between 5.5% and 6% and split between buyer’s and seller’s agents. Under the terms of the settlement, moving forward sellers will be expected to negotiate with real estate professionals, and buyers will have to enter into agreements with, and pay for, their own realtors. For some buyers, this may translate into a cheaper overall experience, depending on what is negotiated for as part of…

National Association Of Realtors Reaches $418M Deal That Changes Compensation

The National Association of Realtors has agreed to pay $418 million to settle broker commission claims brought on behalf of home sellers. Under the terms of the agreement, NAR continues to deny any wrongdoing in connection with the Multiple Listing Service cooperative compensation model rule. They will pay the multi-million sum over the course of approximately four years, according to a press release. Although cooperative compensation remains a choice for consumers when buying or selling a home, NAR has agreed to put into place a new rule prohibiting offers of broker compensation on the MLS. Instead, sellers will be expected to negotiate with real estate professionals. MLS participants working with buyers will be required to enter into written agreements with…

Friends Are Buying Homes Together

By CHUCK GREEN They may not be your typical neighbors, but they could be moving next door soon: Friends who have carpooled their way into homeownership. According to a recent survey by JW Surety Bonds, nearly 15% of Americans have co-purchased a home with a person other than their romantic partner and another 48% would consider it. Just over a quarter (26%) of the individuals who co-purchased a home with a non-romantic partner said they bought it with a friend. Not surprisingly, young people are the most likely to consider this option. Gen Z would be the most willing to co-buy with a friend at 70%, with one in four Zoomers saying they believe co-buying a home can strengthen relationships.…

Will Profits Continue To Drop For Sellers?

By ERIN FLYNN JAY Gross profits and profit margins remained near record levels for sellers last year but they decreased for the first time since 2011 in what could be seen as a sign of a cooling housing market. ATTOM released its Year-End 2023 U.S. Home Sales Report on Jan. 24, which shows that home sellers made a $121,000 profit on the typical sale in 2023, generating a 56.5% return on investment. Compare that to 2022, when the gross profit on median-priced single-family homes was $122,600 and the profit margin was 59.8%. This drop in profits happened as the median nationwide home price rose at the smallest annual pace in more than a decade, according to ATTOM. So is this…

Affordability Hovered Near 10-YR Low In Q4

Rates at 20-year highs and other ongoing issues forced affordability to hover near a decade-low in Q4 2023, constraining the housing market. A new report from the National Association of Home Builders revealed that housing affordability stayed close to its lowest level in about a decade in the last quarter of 2023. Just 37.7% of new and existing homes sold in that period were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $96,300. This is basically identical to Q3 2023, which posted the lowest-ever reading of the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index. That index has been tracking affordability since 2012. The report attributes the data to rates hitting a 20-year high during Q4, along with the high cost of…

December Pending Home Sales Saw Biggest Increase Since 2020

Pending home sales soared in December, proving that price-sensitive buyers are jumping at the opportunity to lock in sub-7% rates. NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index rose by 8.3% month-over-month — their biggest increase since 2020 — to a reading of 77.3 in December. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001. Year-over-year, they are up 1.3%. “The housing market is off to a good start this year, as consumers benefit from falling mortgage rates and stable home prices,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Job additions and income growth will further help with housing affordability, but increased supply will be essential to satisfying all potential demand.” All four U.S. regions saw declines both month-over-month…

Blackmail Threat Leads To Resignation Of NAR President

By KIMBERLEY HAAS The president of the National Association of Realtors has stepped down after allegedly receiving a threat to disclose a past personal matter. Tracy Kasper reported the threat to law enforcement and informed NAR’s Leadership Team. The threat involved a non-financial matter, according to a press release. “As president and a long-time member of NAR, I always have put the interests of NAR first. As a result of the recent threat and given the significance of this moment for myself, my family, and the organization, it is again time for me to put the interests of NAR first. So, it is with a mix of gratitude and a heavy heart that I submit my resignation as your president…