With the national real estate market showing increased sales and affordability, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, expects the improving sales pattern to continue. “Existing-home sales have risen in six of the past eight months, so we’re clearly on a recovery path,” he said. “With rising jobs and excellent affordability conditions, we project moderate improvements into 2012, but not every month will show a gain—primarily because some buyers are finding it too difficult to obtain a mortgage. For those fortunate enough to qualify for financing, monthly mortgage payments as a percent of income have been at record lows.”
NAR’s housing affordability index shows the typical monthly mortgage principal and interest payment for the purchase of a median-priced existing home is only 13% of gross household income, the lowest since records began in 1970.
According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.84% in March, down from 4.95% in February; the rate was 4.97% in March 2010.
Data from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae show requirements to obtain conventional mortgages have been tightened, with the average credit score rising to about 760 in the current market from nearly 720 in 2007; for FHA loans the average credit score is around 700, up from just over 630 in 2007.
“Although home sales are coming back without a federal stimulus, sales would be notably stronger if mortgage lending would return to the normal, safe standards that were in place a decade ago—before the loose lending practices that created the unprecedented boom and bust cycle,” Yun explained.
As supported by current pending sales figures it’s natural that in more affluent markets where all cash sales are more prevalent, such as Santa Barbara, recovery is inclined to happen at a faster pace.