The government confirms what the private-sector Case-Shiller Index reported yesterday. Nationwide, average home values slipped in October.
The Federal Home Finance Agency’s Home Price Index shows home values down 0.2% on a monthly, seasonally-adjusted basis. October marks just the second time since April that home values fell month-over-month.
The Case-Shiller Index 20-City Composite showed values down 0.7 percent from September to October.
As a home buyer in Mason , it’s easy to look at these numbers and think housing markets are down. Ultimately, that may prove true. However, before we take the FHFA’s October Home Price Index at face value, we have to consider the report’s flaws.
There are three of them — and they’re glaring. As we address them, it becomes clear that the Home Price Index — like the Case-Shiller Index — is of little use to everyday buyers and sellers in places like Oakley.
First, the FHFA Home Price Index only tracks home values for homes backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgages. This means that homes backed by the FHA, for example, are specifically not computed in the monthly Home Price Index.
In 2007, this was not as big of an issue as it is today. in 2007, the FHA insured just 4 percent of the housing market. Today, the FHA is estimated to have more than one-third of the overall housing market.
This means that one-third of all home sales are excluded from the HPI — a huge exclusion.
Second, the FHFA Home Price Index excludes new home sales and cash purchases, accounting for home resales backed by mortgages only. New home sales is a growing part of the market, and cash sales topped 29 percent in October 2011.
Third, the Home Price Index is on a 60-day delay. The above report is for homes that closed in October. It’s nearly January now. Market momentum is different now. Existing Home Sales and New Home Sales have been rising; homebuilder confidence is up; Housing Starts are showing strength. In addition, the Pending Home Sales Index points to a strong year-end.
The Home Price Index doesn’t capture this news. It’s reporting on expired market conditions instead.
For local, up-to-the-minute housing market data, skip past the national data. You’ll get better, more relevant facts from a local real estate agent.
Since peaking in April 2007, the FHFA’s Home Price Index is off 18.3 percent.
Tuesday, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unveiled lender instructions for the government’s revamped HARP program, kick-starting a potential refinance frenzy across Ohio and nationwide.
HARP stands for Home Affordable Refinance Program. The updated program is meant to give “underwater homeowners” an opportunity to refinance at today’s low mortgage rates.
In the two-plus years since its launch, HARP’s first iteration helped fewer than 900,000 homeowners. HARP II, by contrast, is expected to reach millions.
Lenders begin taking HARP II loan applications December 1, 2011.
To apply for HARP, applicants must first meet 4 basic criteria :
- The existing mortgage must be guaranteed by Fannie Mae or by Freddie Mac
- The existing mortgage must have been securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009
- The mortgage payment history must be perfect going back 6 months
- The mortgage payment history may not include more than one 30-day late payment going back 12 months
If the above criteria are met, HARP applicants will like what they see.
For HARP applicants, loan-level pricing adjustments are waived in full for loans with terms of 20 years or fewer; and maxed at 0.75 for loans with terms in excess of 20 years.
This will result in dramatically lower mortgages rates for HARP applicants — especially those with credit scores below 740. Some applicants will find HARP mortgage rates lower than for a “traditional” conventional mortgage.
In addition, HARP applicants are exempted from the standard waiting period following a bankruptcy or foreclosure, which is 4 years and 7 years, respectively.
These two items are inclusionary and should help HARP reach a broader U.S. audience.
HARP contains exclusionary policies, too.
- The “unlimited LTV” feature only applies to fixed rate loans or 30 years or fewer. ARMs are capped at 105% loan-to-value.
- Applicants must be “requalified” if the proposed mortgage payment exceeds the current payment by 20%.
- Applicants must benefit from either a lower payment, or a “more stable” product to qualify
And, of course, HARP can only be used once.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will adopt slight variations of the same HARP guidelines so make sure to check with your loan officer for the complete list of HARP eligibility requirements.