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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee: Is the housing market finally slowing down?

California fires continue to rage

Monday Morning Cup of Coffee takes a look at news coming across HousingWire’s weekend desk, with more coverage to come on larger issues.

As we head into the hottest month of the year, is home price growth finally starting to cool down? It looks like it might.

For the first time in almost four years, home prices posted three straight months of declines in annual appreciation, according to the latest Mortgage Monitor from Black Knight.

Now keep in mind, home prices are still very much increasing. Just maybe not quite as fast as they were before.

Black Knight’s report shows 32 states all saw home price growth slow from March to May. Nationally, May, usually one of the strongest months of the year for home price growth, saw its lowest appreciation for the month in the last four years at just 0.93%. But home prices increased 6.3% annually in May, 2.5 percentage points higher than its 25-year average.

The current principal and interest payment on a mortgage currently stands at $1,213 after buyers put 20% down, according to the report. While this may be a post-recession high, it is still down about 13% from its peak in 2006.

This slowdown has taken a significant burden off homebuyers. From January to May, the average principal and interest payment increased $138. However, in June and July, that average increased by just $4.

Even some of the hottest U.S. markets, *cough* California *cough*, have begun to see a slowdown. Home prices went from climbing 10.2% annually back in February to 8.8% in May in California.

Seattle, the fastest appreciating market, slowed by 2.3 percentage points; Riverside, California, slowed by 2.1 percentage points; San Diego and Los Angeles both by 1.8 percentage points, Sacramento by 1.4 percentage points and San Francisco, where even this rock can sell for $1 million, slowed by 0.6 percentage points.

Some markets are seeing new reasons for a slowdown in growth, such as Seattle, where the housing market is beginning to slow due to the Chinese buying market drying up.

Seattle’s housing market has been one of the hottest housing market over the last few years, in part due to Chinese investors and families hoping to send their children to American universities, according to an article by Diana Olick for CNBC.

However, now, as the Chinese yuan continues to fall against the dollar, Chinese investors are unable to keep up with the area’s rising home prices. Home prices have risen 45% from August 2016, an increase of 54% on a currency-adjusted basis for Chinese buyers.

But now, as less Chinese buyers are investing in the area, experts predict the area could begin to see a cool down in the rate of increase, the article states.

From the article:

Stephen Saunders is a managing broker with Coldwell Banker Seattle and works with Chinese investors in the Seattle market. “It's drying up,” he said. “I just don't see the same kind of volume. The downtown Seattle condo market has come to a grinding halt, and that's where Chinese buyers were.”

Meanwhile in California, things are still heating up as wildfires continue to spread, claiming more victims over the weekend.

Another person was claimed by the fires Saturday as the fires expanded more than 25% overnight, bringing the death toll to seven, according to an article by Rich McKay for Reuters.

Sunday morning, President Donald Trump declared the areas affected by the fire a major disaster area, enabling them to receive federal funds, food aid and other programs.

Currently, more than 14,000 firefighters are battling 17 major fires across the state. At the time of the disaster declaration, 131,000 acres had been destroyed, along with 1,000 homes. About 9,000 residents remained evacuated from their homes, according to an article by Susannah Cullinane and Sara Weisfeldt for CNN.

From the article:

At the peak of the fires more than 55,000 people were evacuated from their homes, Brown wrote.

“The areas within the impacted counties are tight-knit, small-town communities. These fires were, and will continue to be, extremely traumatic,” he said. “Overall, the impacted counties have exceptionally vulnerable communities and will inevitably face a challenging recover from this disaster.”

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, recently introduced legislation that would drastically change how banks pull in their income.

The proposed legislation, the Stop Overdraft Profiteering Act of 2018, would prohibit banks from charging overdraft fees on debit card transactions and ATM withdrawls.

“For millions of hardworking Americans, every day is a struggle – they find themselves one late check or unexpected expense away from financial free fall,” Booker said. “These fees generate enormous amounts of revenue for the banks while most customers don’t even know they’ve opted into such charges. Worse yet, overdraft fees fall on those least likely to be able to afford them – individuals for whom a $35 overdraft charge could push them over the brink into financial ruin.”

A study from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau showed the majority of frequent overdrafters also have lower credit scores and daily balances, with almost seven in 10 making less than $50,000 per year.

But as Booker pointed out, this legislation would greatly reduce bank’s income at a time when many are already struggling with revenue levels amid rising origination costs and increased competition. This year, while major banks posted increases in their revenues, they also struggled with mortgage banking income in the second quarter.

Finally, HousingWire Editor Jessica Guerin and Reporter Alcynna Lloyd are descending on San Francisco to watch celebs on the course at the Ellie Mae Classic golf tournament – keep an eye out for coverage of their antics today.

Have a great week!

3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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