Mortgage rate forecast to rise to 5.1% in 2014

This time last year, when the 30-year mortgage rate was under 3.5%, the Mortgage Bankers Association forecast that it would rise to 4.5% by the end of 2013. That is very close to current mortgage rates so with that track record their forecast for 2014 bears noting.

MBA is forecasting a rise to 5.1% by the end of 2014 and a further rise to 5.3% by the end of 2015. (more…)

One year and 147 posts later…..

This weekend marks the anniversary of my first blog. I remember being concerned about making a commitment to writing every week and publishing at 8 a.m. on Saturdays. Perhaps I remembered what a journalist told me that it is easier writing to a deadline. I may have had a few late Friday nights and many early Saturday mornings but I have not missed a post all year. I have learned the joy – and angst – of hitting the Publish button. And yes I have unintentionally deleted a few blogs.

I wondered if I would find something of interest every week. Well I guess 147 posts in 52 weeks suggests that I did, at least to me. I have tried to include commentary on all major issues that might affect a decision by a buyer or seller of real estate.

I have written quite a lot about mortgages and mortgage rates; about national and State data on sales and median prices; and about supply at different price points.

I have published an interview with Marblehead’s Assessor talking about property taxes (watch for the latest news in a few weeks) and have started a series about flood insurance.

Specifically in Marblehead and other North Shore cities and towns I have posted detailed breakdowns of sales and prices for both SFHs and Condos, and on more than one occasion the data has demonstrated a change in trend. (more…)

Flood insurance: Part One

A friend said to me recently: “why don’t you write an article about flood insurance?”

Ah, if it were only that simple.

I do plan to write regularly on flood insurance, so please regard this as the first in a series. It does not have all the answers because the story is still unfolding. Two things to bear in mind are that flood damage is not covered under a standard homeowner policy and that flooding occurs throughout the country, not just in coastal areas.

I do have an important message at the end of this article for anybody who is paying flood insurance. (more…)

Housing market recovery to last

This week Forbes published an article, link below, suggesting – with data to support the argument – ” that housing is finally shaking off both the Great Recession and the excesses of the preceding housing bubble.”

The article concludes: “we can expect to see more good news coming – most likely when the 2014 spring/summer selling season emerges. It looks as though 2013 could be the pivotal year needed to produce a bright future in housing.”

The housing recovery is a world-wide phenomenon, as I know from seeing daily reports from around the world.

Here is a summary of the article: (more…)

Marblehead Housing Report for October

Here are the headlines:

Single Family House (SFH) sales were just 12, after being in the 22-30 for each of the previous 6 months. YTD sales are 196, almost unchanged from last year’s 197. With 35 pending sales the year’s total will likely be very close to last year’s level, whereas in the summer it looked as though that total would be easily passed.

The slowdown can be attributed to: the jump in mortgage rates in the summer; the hoopla in Washington over a Government shut down; the lack of supply at the lower end; and the lack of demand at the higher end.

The median price through 10 months of 2013 is $536,000, up 5% from $510,000 in the first 10 months of 2012.

Condo sales were 3 in October, taking the YTD number to 35 compared with 36 last year. With 10 sales pending, the year’s total may improve slightly on last year’s 42. While only 12 condos sold in the first half of 2013, the third quarter alone saw 20 sales, the highest number in one quarter since Q2 2005. Supply remains low with only 17 available for sale.

The median price for condos through 10 months of 2013 is $330,000. While this is a 31% increase from 2012, last year’s number was depressed by the large number of sales at the lower end. In 2011 the median price for 10 months was $310,000.

As with SFHs, it appears that we have cleared out most of the inventory at the lower price levels.

If you are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 781.631.1223 or

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Realty in Marblehead.



Housing Inventory: it’s déjà vu all over again

Well shock horror: the market remains short of inventory at the lower end and has an abundance at the higher end. Same old story.

What is perhaps surprising is how little change there has been in the last seven months. In general the tightest markets at the beginning of the summer remain the tightest today.

Here are the tables for several North Shore cities and towns. First SFHs:

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports


“Housing Market Bubble Deflating”: really?

OK Marbleheaders, confess: you didn’t know you just lived through a housing bubble.

Maybe you got confused by the facts: only one house has sold this year for more than $1.8 million while there are 29 for sale at that price or higher; the median price for the first 9 months of the year was up 5% from 2012, but down 2% from 2011 and is still down 9% from the peak in 2005; after sales of SFHs of 22-30 each month from April to September, sales in October are likely to be around 10.

Fact, facts. (more…)

Jumbo mortgages on sale

A strange thing is happening in mortgage markets: jumbo loans (typically, those above $417,000) are being offered at the same rate as conventional loans and in some case for even less.

Conventional mortgages, below $417,000, are normally sold to Fannie Mae (FNM) or Freddie Mac (FRE). The originating bank has no continuing interest in the loan, it just receives a fee from selling the loan on. (more…)

How do home prices compare with the 2005 peak?

The stock market may have reached new highs this year but the housing market, despite occasional cries of alarm about “unsustainable” double digit price increases, remains in general well below peak levels reached in 2005.

But not everywhere.

The Boston Business Journal analyzed data from The Warren Group and published a list of 27 Eastern Massachusetts communities where median prices for the first nine months of 2013 exceeded those for 2005. Which, of course, got me wondering how Marblehead and other North Shore communities compared. (more…)

Marblehead Third Quarter housing market review

It’s a dreary Friday afternoon (except for the Red Sox who have just scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 4th) and I am doodling with ways to show the market.
First, here’s the state of the market at the beginning of October (L12M= Last 12 Months) :

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

The story here is that there is very little supply under $500,000. That is significant because this segment of the market experienced the greatest pressure during the years from 2008 right up until late 2012. It really does seem that all that inventory has been cleared and now there is a great shortage. (more…)

Where can I find a house in my price range?

Many people look for a house in a certain town, but others are open to considering a number of towns based, in part at least, on price. This article shows the availability by price for a number of cities and towns. First the actual numbers:

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports


North Shore Housing Inventory: remains very tight at lower end

The overall market remains tight on the North Shore, with very little supply under $500,000 and plenty of availability over $2 million.

Here is the overall position at the beginning of October, starting with Single Family Homes (SFHs):

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

While the market overall supply position is largely unchanged note that Ipswich, Manchester and Nahant have all tightened somewhat.

And now condos:

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Most markets have eased slightly. Note that the jump in supply in Swampscott was caused by the listing of 8 units this week in a new development.

Here is a more detailed breakdown for SFHs:

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

and for condos:

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports


This next table shows the overall inventory by price and the percentage of the available market in each price range:

Slource: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports


If you are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 781.631.1223 or

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Realty in Marblehead.

Falling mortgage rates and other housing news

As suggested in last week’s blog, mortgage rates have fallen back with the national average for a 30 year fixed rate loan at 4.32%, a level last seen in July.

While the 30 year fixed rate mortgage is the benchmark normally quoted, note that the average 15 year rate is 3.37%, while the 5/1 ARM is just 3.07%. Freddie Mac weekly mortgage rates

For my comments on Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) read Is it time to consider an ARM?. (more…)

Have house prices gone up too far?

I read yet another “warning” this week of an impending housing bubble and so I decided to put together a very simple table showing what has happened in recent years in the stock market compared with the housing market. I have used the Dow Jones 30 share index and the Case-Shiller 20 city index (which reports in arrears).

Here are the results:

Dow Jones vs Case-Shiller

The dates chosen represent the peaks and troughs in these indices.

Any one see a housing bubble there?

If you are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 781.631.1223 or

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Realty in Marblehead.


Mortgage rates drop as Fed blinks

On Wednesday, when it was widely expected that the Federal Reserve would announce plans to start reducing its purchases of mortgage backed securities (MBS)* this month, it surprised the market by announcing that the start of the slow down – the taper – would be delayed. The result was a drop of about 1/4% in mortgage rates. (more…)