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December Home Prices Increased Sharply

U.S. home-sale prices increased nearly 7 percent year-over-year in December to a median of $312,500, according to a report from Redfin.

The company said home prices in December also were up 1.1 percent month-over-month on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the largest increase since February 2018.

“Low mortgage rates and a strong economy fueled homebuyer demand in December, which boosted both home sales and prices,” Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather said in a release. “Prices heated up in West Coast metros like Seattle and Los Angeles, which indicates the slowdown of 2019 has officially ended in these markets.”

According to the report, year-over-year price increases in December were the largest in Memphis (median price $190,000, up 15.9 percent); Camden, N.J. ($195,000, +14.7 percent); and Cincinnati ($187,000, +14.4 percent)

In the metro areas Redfin tracks, New York (down 2.4 percent) and San Francisco (down 1.7 percent) were the only places with year-over-year price decreases in December.

Nationwide, home sales increased 6.8 percent year-over-year in December, and were up 1 percent from November on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The report identified the markets with the biggest yearly increases in home sales in December as Anaheim, Calif. (37.7 percent); North Port, Fla. (35.8 percent); and New Haven, Conn. (23 percent).

Redfin said the supply of homes for sale in December fell 14.9 percent year-over-year, the biggest decline since March 2013.

“Many homeowners have refinanced their mortgages to take advantage of low-interest rates and therefore feel committed to staying put,” Fairweather said. “The lack of homes for sale is going to fuel competition and price growth in 2020.”

Article courtesy of The Title Report

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Title Survey: Consumers Prefer In-person Closing but Want More Digital Experience

While there’s a push to digitize the home-closing process, eight in 10 consumers still prefer to complete their transactions in person.

According to a recent national survey by Solidifi US Inc., 81 percent of consumers would prefer to close in person. The survey reached 1,000 consumers who bought or refinanced their home in the past two years, asking them about their mortgage borrowing and transaction closing experience, according to Solidifi. The survey also found that 70 percent of consumers would like a more digital process at the closing table.

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Warning: Cash-out Mortgage Refis New Target for Wire Transfer Fraud

Historically low-interest rates have resulted in a surge of mortgage refinance activity in recent weeks. According to recent data, as many as 10 million borrowers may be able to save at least 0.75 percentage points by refinancing at current rates. As homeowners flock to take advantage of this opportunity, wire fraud prevention solution provider CertifID issued an alert warning that fraudsters are implementing new strategies to divert wire transfers away from borrowers in connection with a cash-out mortgage refinance transaction. This latest fraud trend stacks on the already active fraud scam of diverting mortgage payoffs in real estate closings.

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