The FHFA announced This Week in Real Estate that the conforming loan limit in 2021 will be increased by 7.5% to $548,250. The increase marks the fifth consecutive year of increases while the increase in 2016 was the first in ten years. In addition, builder confidence remains at an all-time high as the annual rate of sales of new single-family homes in October is 41.5% above prior year. Below are a few newsworthy events from the fourth week of November that influence our business:
New Home Sales Show a Thriving Housing Market. The Census Bureau reports: “New Home Sales of new single-family houses in October 2020 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 999,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 0.3% below the revised September rate of 1,002,000, but is 41.5% above the October 2019 estimate of 706,000.” Again from the Census report: “The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of October was 278,000. This represents a supply of 3.3 months at the current sales rate.” Why is builder confidence at an all-time high? Anything below 4.3 months of supply indicates that builders will have the utmost confidence to build. Higher levels of inventory in the range of 4.4 to 6.4 months indicate slow and steady growth for housing starts, like what we saw from in the previous expansion.
Mortgage Applications Increase in Mid-November. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending November 20, 2020, U.S. Mortgage applications increased 3.9 percent from one week earlier. “The decline in rates ignited borrower interest, with applications for both home purchases and refinancing increasing on a weekly and annual basis,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Industry and Economic Forecasting. “Amidst strong competition for a limited supply of homes for sale, as well as rapidly increasing home prices, purchase applications increased for both conventional and government borrowers. Furthermore, purchase activity has surpassed year-ago levels for over six months,” added Kan. The unadjusted Purchase Index was 19 percent higher than the same week one year ago while the Refinance Index was 79 percent higher than the same week one year ago.
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Conforming Loan Limits Increase for 2021. The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced a new baseline conforming loan limit for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2021: $548,250. This is a 7.5% increase from 2020’s limit of $510,400 and marks the fifth consecutive year of increases from the FHFA. In 2016, the FHFA increased the Fannie and Freddie conforming loan limits for the first time in 10 years, and since then, the baseline loan limit has gone up by $131,250.