May 2016 - Rise and Fall

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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56 | TH E M R EP O RT O R I G I NAT I O N S E R V I C I N G A NA LY T I C S S E C O N DA R Y M A R K E T ANALYTICS THE LATEST Information Age Drives DIY Approach Survey shows most homeowners begin their search online before contacting a pro. A s technology continues to evolve, homebuyers are also changing the way that they purchase homes. A new online survey from Chase Mortgage titled "Insights from the Mind of the Modern Homebuyer" found that homeowners are fearful of missing out on opportunities and are beginning to search for homes on digital platforms. The survey studied 1,014 adults (18 years old and older) in the following areas: Dallas; Miami; San Diego, San Francisco, and Sacramento, California; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix; Tampa, Florida; and Seattle. According to the survey, 72 percent of homeowners don't expect to stay in their homes for the long term. This suggests that the endless information available on the web is leading homeowners to continually look for the next best thing—despite their current living arrangement. In addition, Chase found that 68 percent of consumers are starting the process on their own, with more than 50 percent turning to a mobile device or online for help. The survey showed that 45 percent of consumers are using a computer or laptop as the first step and 13 percent use their mobile device. Meanwhile, only 11 percent of Americans first check their local listings in a newspaper or magazine. According to Chase, digital outlets are changing the way that Americans search for homes and "more people [are] taking a do-it- yourself approach." Additionally, Americans are much more independent during the initial steps of the home search, but the survey showed that homebuyers still rely on the pros. Nearly 75 percent of Americans indicated that they want to meet with a mortgage professional as they consider financing options and also feel that a realtor is essential. "With endless options and information at the consumer's fingertips, it's changing the way people look at major purchases decisions," said Sean Grzebin, head of retail mortgage banking for Chase. "While homebuyers are using technology to find their next home, more than 70 percent still rely heavily on a mortgage professional." The survey also determined that Americans are optimistic about the value of their home, with 66 percent of homeowners expecting their home's value to increase over the next five years. Additionally, 38 percent of homeowners have used or are considering using a Home Equity Line of Credit in the next five years, with the majority (58 percent) putting it toward home improvements. Analysis Digs Deeper into Declining Homeownership Rate Fluctuating prices, tighter lending standards may play a role. W hile many housing fundamentals have been nearing their pre-recession levels for months or even years in some cases, the nationwide homeownership rate sank to a 48-year low of 63.4 percent in the second quarter of 2015. By the end of the year in 2015, the homeownership rate had clawed its way back up to 63.8 percent, but the full year of 2015 still represented the 11th consecu - tive year of decline since hitting an all-time peak of 69 percent in 2004. Why does the homeownership remain low while other housing fundamentals continue to improve? An analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis titled "If Housing Markets Are Recovering, Why is the Homeownership Rate Still Falling?" provides some of the answers. According to one explanation, the sharp increase in homeownership during the 10-year period prior to 2004 played a role. "Perhaps this period represent - ed an unsustainable shift of many financially weaker families out of rental housing into homeowner- ship, which subsequently reversed with the bursting of the housing bubble and the onset of the Great Recession," said Bill Emmons, AVP and Economist with the St. Louis Fed. From 1968 until the late 1990s, the homeownership rate fluctuated between 63 and 66 percent over the three decades, which is likely the range to expect in the future, according to Emmons. "Evidence supporting the return- to-normal hypothesis includes greater-than-average declines since 2004 in the homeownership rates of younger, less-educated and nonwhite families—precisely the financially weaker groups that moved into homeownership most rapidly during the housing boom," Emmons said. Still another explanation is that homeownership today is not as attractive as it has been in past decades because of fluctuations in home values, the tightened standards for obtaining a mort - gage loan, and the fact that many Millennials consider the prospect of being "tied down" to a house and the obligations that come with it less attractive than previous generations. While it is possible the home - ownership rate could decline further and even dip below 60 percent, it is still too early to deter- mine if the homeownership rate is on the path to "normalization" or if is in the midst of retreating. But according to Emmons one thing is certain: that the homeownership rate is not likely to approach its peak of 69 percent any time in the near future.

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