Maryland’s real estate picture usually differs little from that of the nation as a whole. The latest rumblings from the mass media and web continue to bolster a picture of rising values and quickening activity – a sweet story with hardly a whisper of a sour note. In fact the unanimity of voices from almost every corner of the country is a story in itself. There was just one exception from the positive vibes from the news of the last week when talking about home values…
Here are some of the stories Maryland readers would have found in the past week’s real estate news and opinion:
• From the Associated Press, we learned that “prices are soaring” in some cities, and that they rose in all 20 cities polled, (WOW… ALL 20)! The pace of existing home sales rose to the “fastest pace since February 2007.” – roughly what might be expected in a healthy housing market. The AP attributed at least some of the reason for the real estate price rises to widespread predictions that the Federal Reserve may start raising short-term interests rates sooner rather than later.
• From Dan Green’s Mortgage Reports, the home value increase was illustrated in a multi-colored chart, which showed sample cities’ rises at anywhere from 1%-11% – with most clumped between the 4%-6% lines. Freddie Mac was quoted as pegging the average 30-year mortgage rate at below 4%, with VA and FHA mortgage rates even lower. Their opinion was straightforward: “It’s an inexpensive time to finance a home.” Since historically “mortgage rates average nearer to 8.25%,” that opinion is hardly a stretch!
• Headlines from CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index Report were “Home Prices Rose by 6.5% A Year Over in June 2015” and “HPI Forecast Projects 4.5%” rise for the coming 12 months. CoreLogic’s nationwide real estate numbers are among the most reliable – whereas some of the government numbers sometimes have to admit regular later revisions, it’s not usually the case for them.
• Surprisingly, the only source of limited negativity came from a very unlikely source, town observers would have had to go to the National Association of Realtors® site to find what at first sounded like the only sour note to be heard – but yet it, too, had a sweet finish. “Pending Home Sales Dip in June” headed the last week’s news release. You had to read the fine print to learn that the pending sales were 8.2% higher than a year before, and that although they dipped slightly from May’s number, they were still the third highest reading in 2015…and marked the tenth consecutive monthly year-over-year increase!