Housing recovery for the high end?

From the NY Times:

Mortgage Amounts Rising More Quickly Than Home Prices

Mortgage amounts are rising more quickly than home prices, an unusual phenomenon that seems to confirm continued weakness at the lower end of the housing market, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The trade association reports that the average size of purchase loans began to outpace the recovery in home prices in September 2011. By December 2014, according to the group’s weekly mortgage application survey, the average purchase loan amount had risen by nearly 32 percent. The average for the week ending March 6 was $294,900, a record high. In other words, the average purchase loan now exceeds levels reached before the recession when home prices soared to unsustainable heights.

By comparison, the association noted, a Federal Housing Finance Agency index that measures home purchase prices shows a considerably more gradual rise of 18.5 percent since 2011. Why this unusual parting of the two trend lines? Lynn M. Fisher, the association’s vice president for research and economics, said one possible explanation is that home prices are rising more quickly for larger homes, skewing the loan average upward. But more likely, she said, is that the bulk of the properties being sold are at the high end of the price range. “The mix of people buying is changing,” Dr. Fisher said. “More of the bigger stuff is transacting.”

That opinion jibes with the business trend at Mortgage Master of Walpole, Mass., which merged with loanDepot in January to become one of the country’s largest nonbank lenders, funding $2.1 billion in February.

“What our mortgage applications reflect is that we see a lot more activity at the higher end in general,” said Paul Anastos, the president of Mortgage Master. He noted that jumbo loans (which exceed conventional conforming loan limits) account for about 25 percent of the combined companies’ business. The brisker activity among jumbo borrowers — those who take out loans greater than $417,000 — is partly because, while there has lately been some loosening of credit for borrowers at the lower end, “for the most part, the easing of guidelines has been a bit more on the jumbo end,” Mr. Anastos said.

Buyers on the lower end — looking for homes priced at $250,000 and below — “are generally of moderate credit and are having trouble or being intimidated from applying for mortgages,” said Lawrence Yun, the chief economist and senior vice president for research at the National Association of Realtors. “While on the upper end,” he continued, “given the stock market bull run of the past six years, they have done very well financially. The stock market expansion has given a comfort level at the top tier of families to go ahead and apply.”

This entry was posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, Housing Recovery, National Real Estate. Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Housing recovery for the high end?

  1. grim says:

    From DS News:

    Foreclosure Starts Retreat After Spiking in January

    The number of foreclosure starts nationwide did an about-face in February after jumping to their highest level in 13 months in January, according to Black Knight Financial Services’ February 2015 First Look at Mortgage Data released Monday.

    Foreclosure starts dropped by 15 percent month-over-month in February, down to 79,700, the lowest level since November 2014 and their third lowest total for any month in at least seven years, according to Black Knight. This decline in foreclosure starts came just one month after the number swelled to 94,300 in January, the highest level since December 2013. Analysts concluded at that time that the spike in foreclosure starts for January was likely due to seasonality and not a forming trend.
    In addition to the decline foreclosure starts experienced in February, a couple of other foreclosure statistics dropped to pre-recession levels for the month.

    Foreclosure inventory fell below 800,000 (a nearly 30 percent decline) for the first time since December 2007. The nationwide foreclosure inventory was more than 1.1 million just one year earlier in February 2014.

    Another number that experienced a large decline was the delinquency rate, which fell by 10.2 percent year-over-year down to 5.36 percent (about 2.7 million properties) – the lowest level since summer 2007. The number of mortgage loans 30 days or more past due or in foreclosure, or the non-current inventory, totaled 3.51 million in February – a year-over-year decline of nearly 600,000.

    Mississippi was the state with the highest percentage of non-current mortgage loans in February at 13.49 percent, followed by New Jersey, Louisiana, New York, and Rhode Island, according to Black Knight. The state with the lowest non-current loan percentage for the month was North Dakota with 2.41 percent, followed by Colorado, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana.

  2. Toxic Crayons says:


    MONTCLAIR — For Iryna Carey, the memory of March 21, 1995 remains nearly as vivid as the day it occurred.

    The Glen Ridge resident was a new mother at the time, and had left her four-month-old daughter with her parents for the day while she commuted to work in New York City. By the afternoon, she began to hear reports that there had been a shooting at a post office in neighboring Montclair — an unusual occurrence in the typically tranquil suburb.

    It wasn’t until later that evening, when she turned on a local news broadcast, that she noticed a car belonging to her father, George Lamoga, was still parked outside the small office on Fairfield Street.

    The affable 59-year-old, who talked with a distinctive Irish brogue, had popped in to mail his tax return when a former employee pulled out a gun and demanded money. He eventually shot Lamoga and four others, only one of whom survived.

    “He was just out running some errands, and he never came home,” she said.

    Two decades later, the incident has largely faded from the minds of most residents in this affluent town of about 37,000. A small stone bearing the names of the victims sits on a small green outside the row of shops along Watchung Plaza, sometimes with a bouquet of flowers resting alongside.

    But officials say it remains a reminder of how fragile the sense of suburban safety many of them often take for granted can be.

    “It shattered the notion that we’re immune from or we’re isolated to this type of violence,” said Robert Russo, a longtime town councilman and current deputy mayor.

    Dr. Naomi Grobstein ran a family medical practice that shared an entrance with the post office at the time, and knew many of the victims, including postal workers Ernie Spruill and Scott Walensky.

    The other victims — Lamoga, Robert Leslie and David Grossman, who was shot in the head but survived — were all customers.

    Grobstein recalled the panic that set in as police cruisers and even a helicopter arrived at the scene.

    “Policemen came and said get away from the windows,” she said. “It was just the most bizarre thing I had ever seen.”

    The shooter, Christopher Green of East Orange, was arrested after a four-day manhunt that put residents even further on edge. He confessed to shooting all five victims, including two former co-workers, and making off with around $5,000.

    Prosecutors said he was driven to commit the acts primarily by financial distress, including a “mountain of debt.” He is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison.

  3. Essex says:

    De-cluttering has been a blast. Soon to put the manse on the market. Note expecting to rake it in, but hey, that’s life in the fast lane. In other news. Saw some ‘wacky’ places this weekend….

  4. JJ says:

    March 20, 2015 — Right before Christmas last year, Freddie Mac announced a new loan program called Home Possible Advantage, which would let potential condo buyers borrow up to 97 percent of an apartment’s value — a 3 percent down payment. Fannie Mae also has a similar program that allows qualified buyers to pony up a 3 percent down payment. But it looks like bad news for anyone trying to take advantage of these deals in New York. According to the Daily News, the average down payment in New York City is — hold onto your hats — nearly $350K. “This was supposed to be the year of millennials and first-time homebuyers,” writes the Daily News, but “low down payment loans accounted for just 7% of all home purchases in the top 25 U.S. housing markets by price, including New York, in 2014, according to a new report [compiled by RealtyTrac]. The average down payment for homes in those markets was $138,547, or 24% of the total purchase price.” That’s just the way it is in high-priced markets. A first-time buyer’s best bet for a low down payment: Nashville, Philadelphia, Des Moines, Little Rock and Columbus, or Ohio, according to RealtyTrac’s report. That’s one hell of a commute.

  5. Comrade Nom Deplume, The anon-tidote says:

    [4] JJ

    I used to commute from Philadelphia. Not only was it about the same amount of time as some LI commuters, it likely wasn’t that much more expensive.

  6. Comrade Nom Deplume, Loan Snark says:

    [3]. Sx

    Channeling your inner Eddie?

  7. Anon E. Moose says:

    Nomad [7];

    Interesting insight into human psychology in that article. The parents went from “We can’t afford it” to the closing table. Putting aside for a moment the $14 MM asking price, obviously they could afford it, since they bought it. (Yeah, I know, liar loans, creative financing, etc… even if they got the place for $10MM we’re obviously not talking about a person making $150k, considering they moved from CPW — they were already in the ball park even though they said ‘we can’t afford it.’)

  8. FKA 2010 Buyer says:

    Monmouth residents riled by new assessment program

    The roughly $42,000 increase in Matt Fraley’s Hazlet home tax assessment left him shocked and dumbfounded.

    It wasn’t just the number — almost 17 percent increase over last year’s assessment — but the basis for it.

    “There hasn’t been any improvements in the area,” said Fraley, who has owned his home for 26 years, now valued at $294,000. ” How do you justify an increase?”

    Across Monmouth County, a new way of assessing property values, the Assessment Demonstration Program or ADP, is leaving property owners either outraged over hefty assessment increases — or quietly celebrating a lower valuation.

    The pocketbook pain for many taxpayers could go substantially beyond the much-touted 2 percent property tax cap.


  9. Libturd in Union says:

    I just worked on a proxy statement at work that stated that this company spent more on federal lobbying than they did on federal taxes for the past three years. And this is no small company and is one of 30 companies that managed this feat. Baa.

  10. JJ says:

    WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Sales of existing homes rose 1.2% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday. The gain was below expectations. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected the sales rate to increase to 4.94 million in February from 4.82 million in January. Existing home sales remain soft, having been stuck below 5 million unit rate for two-and-a-half years. The median sales price of used homes hit $202,600 in February, up 7.5% from the year-earlier period. This is the biggest gain in a year. February’s inventory was 1.89 million existing homes for sale, a 4.6-month supply at the current sales pace. The number of homes available for sale was down 0.5% from the year-earlier period.

  11. FKA 2010 Buyer says:

    This is obviously not including the Tri State area, highest payment @ 1100.

    Here’s the Average American’s Mortgage Payment, by Age and Income — How Do You Compare?

    There are, again, two key takeaways here. First, the bulk of first-time homebuyers are between the ages of 25 and 44. Once we eclipse the 44-year-old barrier, we starting seeing a reduction in mortgage payments.

    That is due to a number of factors. First, some homeowners select a 15-year mortgage instead of a fixed, 30-year. Second, many who start with a 30-year fixed mortgage refinance to a 15-year mortgage once their salaries go up. And third, 30-year fixed mortgages allow for principal to be paid back early without a penalty.

    More importantly, however, is what we see in the percent of income being devoted to mortgage payments. Although this percentage falls significantly from 25-year-olds all the way to 64-year-olds, it picks up again once folks enter their golden years.

    This may go against conventional wisdom, as many have paid off their mortgages once they retire. But we often forget that property taxes and insurance still have to be paid indefinitely. Additionally, many of the fixes you may have made yourself in your younger years are now being contracted out to younger hands — and often at a premium.


  12. Libturd in Union says:

    “an unusual occurrence in the typically tranquil suburb.”

    I guess they forgot about the father of a toddler taking a swim lesson in the Little YMCA just blocks from that post office who blew away his child’s mother in front of pool filled with other toddlers and parents . Or the regular shootings that occur less than a tenth of a mile from that post office location. My multi isn’t far from there either. Luckily, it’s on the right side of the tracks in a town that is incredibly proud of its diversity so much as it stays in the southeast corner of town. Unless of course, you have money.

  13. JJ says:

    Yes the Philly commute is the same as a lot of long island commutes and can be cheaper and a nicer train ride.

    I work with a guy who does it.

    Issue is he is always running out the door. Off peak trains are infrequent and local and on weekends or at night it is difficult.

    I can drive to city on weekends, or quickly catch is Knicks or Nets game on a sat or sunday or go to a Broadway show. Some folks never do that. So Philly is fine.

    I do go to holiday parties, dinners after work, drinks once in a while and go to museums etc. If I lived that far out I would never do it. I was shocked when I went to Stony Brook I met a few locals out there who were 18-19 who had never been to Manhattan. Then again it is a five hour round trip on LIRR, or a three hour round trip car ride with 20 bucks in Gas, tolls and parking. You get disconnected.

  14. Anon E. Moose says:

    Lib [10];

    Go back and see how much Microsoft spent on lobbying before the IE anti-trust lawsuit, and how much they spent after. The whole thing was a shakedown, pure and simple. Personnel on K street have a revolving door to staff positions on Capitol Hill, its the same people benefiting from the shakedown are the people turning the vice.

    One reason why I favor limited scope of government power. Nobody would spend money on lobbying if taxes were 5% of GDP.

  15. joyce says:

    I personally know 3 people in Ocean County whose assessments increased 100% from last year (none of them new construction). Two of them were built pre-Sandy and relatively well (meaning elevated off the ground and therefore suffered minimal damage). But most houses around them are brand new and MUCH larger.

    FKA 2010 Buyer says:
    March 23, 2015 at 10:02 am
    Monmouth residents riled by new assessment program

    The roughly $42,000 increase in Matt Fraley’s Hazlet home

  16. FKA 2010 Buyer says:

    When I retire, I do not want to have a mortgage payment. Having said that, I imagine people buying in the 55+ Communities have some money from the sale of their house, are they taking out a mortgage?

    Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage Before You Retire?

    Should you pay off your mortgage early? It’s a question I get a lot, especially from people who are getting close to retirement. I’m not surprised: Who doesn’t dream of the day when they own their house free and clear?

    While retiring debt free used to be the goal for many American homeowners, times have changed. Today, the number of people who are carrying a mortgage into their golden years is on the rise. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily.

    The first reason not to pay off your mortgage early is if it enables you to maximize your retirement plan contributions and take full advantage of any available company match.

    The second reason to hold onto your mortgage is that there may be better uses for your money, at least for now.

    The third reason to keep your mortgage is if it provides a tax advantage. You can usually deduct the interest you pay on a mortgage for your main home if you itemize deductions on your tax return.

    And the fourth reason not to pay off your mortgage? You may want the liquidity to meet other needs, including emergencies, general expenses and discretionary spending.


  17. FKA 2010 Buyer says:

    [16] Joyce

    So the new construction around them is raising their assessment? That sucks big time. Are they looking to sell or asking for Vaseline?

  18. Ragnar says:

    Lots of bubble-ish signs in global and US financial markets. Negative interest rates in many places, minimal fixed income yield. Private equity valuations high. Pre-ipo valuations quite high. Silicon Valley types snorting their own farts. Broader market equity valuations moving toward high levels, though not quite ridiculous, particularly given the minimal alternatives. Markets getting pretty correlated, on valuation, suggesting positive contagion.
    Hard to imagine so much central bank price manipulation won’t eventually end in tears. But people hold on hoping to jump out at an even more silly price spike.
    Plenty of people will do worse than buying a house.

  19. grim says:

    My neighbor sold his house for $500k to buy a $600k Toll Brothers townhouse.

    I’m sure, either way, he had no mortgage. But that’s hardly “downsizing in retirement”.

  20. grim says:

    Yun’s comments this morning made me fall off my chair

  21. joyce says:

    Without going into too much detail, these people are in “Ocean Beach” and Ortley Beach. Meaning, they are really in Toms River. These two barrier island sections are nowhere near Toms River yet are actually part of it (same with Brick and a small section by Mantoloking). Why I bring this up is because it’s not like the entire town’s assessments are rising, just a small portion… so the tax rate won’t fall (enough, if at all) to compensate. So yes BOHICA.

    FKA 2010 Buyer says:
    March 23, 2015 at 10:39 am
    [16] Joyce

    So the new construction around them is raising their assessment? That sucks big time. Are they looking to sell or asking for Vaseline?

  22. Xolepa says:

    Toll Brothers built a large community in Greenwich, NJ. That’s the one near Phillipsburg. When they were constructing, I decided to stop by. Noticed that the exterior walls were so shabby, I could put my fist thru the vinyl siding into the house, punching the sheetrock out. Man, that company builds crappy stuff.

  23. Statler Waldorf says:

    Sure, why live without debt when you can funnel more money into the ca sino.

    “While retiring debt free used to be the goal for many American homeowners, times have changed.”

  24. FKA 2010 Buyer says:

    So Ted Cruz is the first to but his name in the hat. Wonder if the birthers are going to go after him or figure out that it’s a stupid argument.

  25. Hugesrep says:


    He’s a sharp one. Check out tedcruz.com.

  26. NJGator says:

    Lib 13 – That shooting was at the Watchung Plaza Post Office, not the one on Glenridge Ave which is closer to the hood.

    You should see the Watercooler Facebook discussions surrounding the redevelopment of Lackawanna Plaza and whether or not the Pathmark there should be forced to improve.

  27. Libturd in Union says:

    Wish I had the time.

  28. FKA 2010 Buyer says:

    If this is true, it’s going to be one he77 of a commute.
    All kidding aside, why won’t Christie push for a new tunnel to Manhattan? | Editorial

    The urgency is clear. Salt left behind by Hurricane Sandy has eaten away at the tunnel walls, and the two, single-track tubes will need to be shut down for a year, one at a time, to repair all the damage. When that happens, rush hour train service will be a hellacious nightmare — cut from 24 trains an hour to just six.

    Even if a new tunnel couldn’t be completed in time to stave off that calamity, it would at least prevent more in the future. Water is leaking into the inner tunnel, and when it gets cold, a special patrol has to be sent in to break off all the icicles that can knock out train power as much as 12 times a day.


  29. jj says:

    All the Salty Italina Food Chris Christie consumed has eaten away at his own tunnel wall.

  30. Ragnar says:

    This is a simple problem with a simple solution.
    Come up with some technical guidelines for the tunnel project, related to where, how much capacity, etc. Allow private infrastructure funds to bid on the project, with them owning the project execution risk.

    Around the world there is a lot of private money investing in infrastructure assets. Compared to very little in the US. Plenty of private tollroad & bridge companies, airport operators, marine port operators outside of the US. China, Brazil, Mexico, Hong Kong, and a number of European companies. Much less in the U.S.
    Because global interest rates are low, lots of institutions are thrilled to invest in toll infrastructure that may generate a 6% IRR.

    Christie seems only interested in decisions that further his political career in the short term, so I guess this isn’t one of them. The only value Christie has is that he occupies the governor’s chair, so that an even worse governor has to wait a few more years before taking over. I predict the next governor does more tax, spend, and regulate and the spending is guaranteed to be wasteful

  31. ccb223 says:

    Ragnar – ever watch Vikings? Great show. You are excellent in it.

  32. Juice Box says:

    re: “Monmouth residents riled by new assessment program.”

    My assessment went up 30K, however the entire neighborhood is up at least 10% since I moved in.

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  35. The Great Pumpkin says:

    Why does a nice state like New Jersey turn up — again and again — on those “worst places” lists?

    The latest examples arrived in a flurry on Monday. Bankrate.com rated the Garden State as the 6th-worst place to retire, based on its high tax burden and high cost of living. WalletHub, a personal finance website, said that the state’s high earners are among the most heavily taxed in the nation. And the National Association of Insurance Commissioners said the state had the most expensive car insurance in the nation, at an average $1,220 a year in 2012.

    One of the reasons that New Jersey turns up on such lists is its enviable position on another ranking: Highest incomes. The U.S. Census consistently ranks the Garden State as one of the most affluent states in the nation. In 2013, New Jersey’s inflation-adjusted household income was the third highest in the nation, after Maryland and Alaska.

    Richer states generally have higher taxes and living costs, because wealthier people will pay more for better schools, lifestyles and public services, economists say.

    In the case of the car insurance, the state has a long history of expensive auto insurance, which it tackled with a bill in the late 1990s that limited medical expenses in car accidents. But though that slowed the rate of increase, New Jersey drivers still pay more because the state is the nation’s most densely populated, meaning there are a whole lot of cars on the road. In addition, the NAIC rankings don’t include dividends, and New Jersey policyholders tend to get higher dividends back from their insurance companies than drivers in other states, NAIC said.

    As for taxes, WalletHub said that New Jersey’s highest earners have the third highest tax bills among high earners nationwide, paying about 10.3 percent of their income on all taxes.

    On the other hand, that’s just a little higher than the 10 percent paid by low earners in the state – making New Jersey one of the most fair states in terms of how the tax burden is shared by low and high earners, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which supplied the numbers used by WalletHub. In most states, wealthier taxpayers pay a significantly smaller percentage of their incomes in taxes than their less affluent neighbors, often because there is no progressive income tax in many states, WalletHub said.

    Overall, Bankrate acknowledged that a lot of its “worst” states for retirement are densely packed places like New Jersey – in other words, places where a lot of people like to live.

    “There’s more competition for space and resources, and, as a result, those states tend to put more financial pressure on people with fixed incomes,” Bankrate analyst Chris Kahn wrote. “Retirees still may find a lot to love in those states, but it could take more work to stay happy.”

    On the bright side, Bankrate said New Jersey’s crime rate is 8th lowest in the U.S., and Bankrate also gave above-average rankings to its health care system and – believe it or not – weather.

    In case you’re wondering, Bankrate said the best places to retire are Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. The worst: Arkansas, New York and Alaska.

    Email: lynn@northjersey.com; Twitter: @KathleenLynn3


  36. The Great Pumpkin says:

    I guess we are special here. Consistently ranked as one of the most affluent states in the nation.

    “One of the reasons that New Jersey turns up on such lists is its enviable position on another ranking: Highest incomes. The U.S. Census consistently ranks the Garden State as one of the most affluent states in the nation. In 2013, New Jersey’s inflation-adjusted household income was the third highest in the nation, after Maryland and Alaska.

    Richer states generally have higher taxes and living costs, because wealthier people will pay more for better schools, lifestyles and public services, economists say.”

  37. The Great Pumpkin says:

    38- Imagine if you didn’t have south jersey or the giant ghettos up north counted in these figures. Nj would blow every state out the door. Still think places like Ridgewood are full of bag-holders? If so, where is all this money coming from?

  38. The Great Pumpkin says:

    If I hear another person complaining about the cost of retiring in nj or how much cheaper it is to live somewhere else, I might have to knock some sense into them. It’s cheaper because nobody wants to live there. It’s really that simple. Big difference between “retiring” somewhere and “living” somewhere.

    “Overall, Bankrate acknowledged that a lot of its “worst” states for retirement are densely packed places like New Jersey – in other words, places where a lot of people like to live.”

  39. Libturd at home says:


    I read that Honda is extending their lease on the EV with the same free perks. And for only $199 a month. That’s a heck of a deal.

  40. Comrade Nom Deplume, the loan snark says:

    [40] punkin,

    I live in Pennsy. It’s cheaper but not by a lot. On balance, I’d rather live here. Sure, there are things I miss about jersey but I don’t miss them so much that I’d pay the huge premium.

  41. Comrade Nom Deplume, the loan snark says:

    [42] redux

    And I can legally fire off my AR in my own woods. Can’t do that in Jersey.

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