By Vera Gibbons of Zillow.com
It’s not just temperatures and tulips that are on the rise these days. Interest in home buying is way up, too.
The home buying season is about to get under way, and it’s expected to be a busy one. Here are four factors that are likely to influence buyers.
Low mortgage rates
Everyone knows that the low-rate party is coming to end. Zillow is forecasting that mortgage rates – currently around 4 percent for the 30-year fixed – will rise to 5 percent by the end of 2015.
Granted, a 1-percent rise may not sound like much, but it’s a great motivator to get in and buy now. After all, a 1-percent increase in rates reduces affordability by a whopping 11 percent.
Zillow’s Housing Confidence Index (ZHCI), which is designed to offer insights into homeowners’ and renters’ intentions and attitudes concerning the housing market, is a forward-looking gauge of housing market health. And things are looking up.
Confidence in the housing market is higher this year than it was last year — among homeowners as well as renters, many of whom are now rethinking their attitudes toward home ownership and are ultimately becoming more interested in buying.
Rental affordability is as bad as it’s ever been across the U.S., in part because there are not enough new, affordable units to meet demand. Renters can expect to spend 30.1 percent of their income on rent, while home buyers can expect to spend about 15.3 percent of their monthly income on a mortgage payment.
Those numbers alone are driving renters who can save for a down payment to pursue homeownership. In fact, data from Zillow shows that 5.2 million renters want to buy in the next year. That’s up from 4.2 million renters from the same time last year — almost a 25-percent boost.
Getting a mortgage is significantly easier than it was a year ago, and the markets are rapidly approaching pre-crisis credit conditions.
What this means to borrowers: Those who last year may have only been eligible for an FHA loan are now being offered conventional loans with private mortgage insurance. As lenders open their doors wider, borrowers have more options, with competitive terms and rates.