This Week in Real Estate

April 12, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to shaped the housing market as homeowners get hit with a large property tax increase and the number of loans in forbearance programs decline drastically.

* One Year Later: How The Pandemic Has Shaped Today’s Housing Market. A year ago in March, the World Health Organization officially declared Covid-19 a pandemic, and shutdowns began across the United States and much of the world. The real estate market boomed in the suburbs and countryside. A surge in purchasing primary or secondary residences was fueled by lower mortgage rates, which plummeted last spring when the Fed cut rates to zero. We enjoyed the lowest rates of a lifetime with 30-year fixed rates plunging to a record low of 2.5% from nearly 3.625% in February of 2020, helping to fuel the real estate market. The success of the vaccines, easing of restrictions and the $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus package has pushed mortgage rates up nearly .5% in the past several months. A rebounding economy and record government spending spell inflation, and that means higher rates. The average 30-year fixed is now at 3%, which is still a very low rate and has not had any impact on the purchase market. 

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Forbearance Decline Largest in Six Months. Black Knight reports that the number of loans in forbearance programs declined last week for the sixth straight time and it was the largest drop in six months. As of April 6, the number of loans in active plans was 2.312 million or 4.4 percent of all homeowners with mortgages. This is down by 228,000 from the previous Tuesday, a 9 percent drop in a single week. This puts the number of active plans down by 323,000 over the last month – a 12.3% reduction and the strongest rate of improvement since early November. This is also a 2.45 million loan decline (-51 percent) from the spring 2020 peak.

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* Single Family Property Taxes in U.S. Jump 5.4 Percent in 2020. According to ATTOM Data Solutions 2020 property tax analysis for almost 87 million U.S. single family homes; over $323 billion in property taxes were levied on single-family homes in 2020, up 5.4 percent from $306.4 billion in 2019. “Homeowners across the United States in 2020 got hit with the largest average property tax hike in the last four years, a sign that the cost of running local governments and public school systems rose well past the rate of inflation. The increase was twice what it was in 2019,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer for ATTOM Data Solutions. “Fortunately for recent home buyers, they have mortgages with super-low interest rates that somewhat contain the cost of home ownership.” 

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