Real Estate

First-time buyers catch a break, NAR’s Yun says

Low mortgage rates are making up for lagging income growth

The cheapest financing in more than three years is making it easier for first-time buyers to afford a home. A tiny bit easier.

Instead of having just enough income needed to buy a median-priced starter home at current mortgage rates, they now have a small buffer, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors.

In 2019’s second quarter, first-timers had 100% of the median household income to buy a home, as measured by NAR’s First-Time Homebuyer Affordability Index that crunches income, financing rates and home prices. By the third quarter, the index showed they had 105% of the income they needed.

“The low mortgage rates are clearly helping the market conditions,” Yun said in an interview with HousingWire. “Home prices consistently rising at a faster pace than people’s income growth has hurt, but because of the historically low rates, it’s providing marginal opportunities for first-time buyers.”

Lower mortgage rates compensate for higher home prices and lagging income growth because the cheaper financing lowers a buyer’s monthly payments.

The average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.94% in 2019, according to Freddie Mac. That’s the lowest annual average since 2016 when it was 3.65%. The average for 2020 and 2021 probably will be 3.8%, the mortgage financier said in a forecast last month.

Home prices grew 3.2% in 2019, according to the forecast. That’s a slower pace than in 2018 when the growth rate was 5.1%.

However, income growth has been lethargic. The median household income was $66,043 in November, a gain of 1.9% higher than a year ago, adjusted for inflation, according to Sentier Research.

Most Popular Articles

Is the coronavirus about to wipe out FHA lending?

It looks like borrowers who don’t fit neatly into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s lending criteria could soon be running out of options if they want to buy a house. Over the last week, many (if not all) of the biggest lenders specializing in lending to borrowers outside the QM lending box paused their activities due to uncertainty in the market. And now it appears that FHA lending as we know it is disappearing from the market too.

Mar 27, 2020 By

Latest Articles

Ginnie Mae prepares to offer relief in servicing liquidity nightmare

The challenge with mortgage forbearance is that someone has to pay the bill. In an effort to address the growing concerns and liquidity challenges faced by issuers, Ginnie Mae issued a statement on Friday on how it plans to help

Mar 29, 2020 By
3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

Log In

Forgot Password?

Don't have an account? Please