Low Interest Rates, Low Inventory, and a Slow Market? Huh?

Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562]

Low interest rates, low housing inventory, and a slow housing market? In what kind of crazy world do these three conditions exist simultaneously?

At last week’s 2014 Finance Summit, hosted by Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR), Joseph Minarik, research director for the Office of Management and Budget, explained how we got where we are.

According to Minarik, interest rates have been so very low for so very long most people who were going to refinance have done so. Additionally, some buyers moved up their home purchase to take advantage of historically low rates. So in effect, very low rates caused the market to borrow homebuyers from the future. Now rates have edged up slightly, and homeowners are loath to purchase a new home and forfeit their low rate. This not only impacts the sale of previously owned homes, but since fewer people are willing to move, it also impacts new home starts.

And how has this impacted the housing market? Basically since the middle of 2013, the pace of home purchases has been stalled. This includes new home starts.

But there was good news out this week: for the first time all year, April’s home sales were up.

Several factors have come together to create a better housing market, according to Steve Farbstein, Chairman of the Mortgage Executives Committee of Virginia Bankers Association. One such factor is the loosening of lending standards by some lenders. Additionally, certain loan products that had been unavailable have started to reappear, giving borrowers with unusual circumstances a better chance of qualifying.

Though a loosening of lending standards may help homebuyers who are in their working years, many senior homebuyers still cannot qualify for a traditional loan. Often this is not because they have adverse credit issues. Rather, it can be next to impossible to get a loan if the applicant is not actively employed.

But here’s the thing: it’s not that seniors are unemployed. They’re retired. But either way, in many cases they’re still not getting that loan – and as a reverse mortgage specialist, it’s the retired, or those who are planning to retire soon, I’m concerned about.

There actually is a purchase loan just for seniors. It’s called the HECM for Purchase loan, and it was designed specifically with seniors’ needs in mind. With the FHA HECM for Purchase there is a down payment, but there is never a monthly mortgage payment due. And, though guidelines will soon tighten, as of right now qualifying for a HECM for Purchase loan is based upon the borrower’s age and the purchase price of the home. Also, in many cases it’s ok if there is still an “exit” home that has not yet sold. This gives seniors time to make any necessary repairs or upgrades to the “exit” property after they have moved into their new home.

The housing market is starting to budge, and there is no reason seniors should be left behind. Now while rates are low it’s a great time for seniors to get into a home configured to suit their needs in retirement.

Give me a call and let’s talk. I always love hearing from you.


Laurie MacNaughton[NMLS# 506562] is a freelance writer and a Reverse Mortgage Consultant at Middleburg Mortgage. She can be reached at: 703-477-1183 Direct, or Laurie@MiddleburgReverse.com




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