Real Estate Roundup: 2019 Mortgage Rates Are the Lowest in California

Here’s a look at recent news of interest to homebuyers, home sellers, and the home-curious.

CALIFORNIA HOMEBUYERS ENJOY THE LOWEST MORTGAGE RATES IN AMERICA

Aerial shot of California coast

Although California claimed four of the nation’s five most expensive real estate markets in the fourth quarter, homebuyers here at least have a shot at scoring the lowest average mortgage rates in the country.

That’s according to an analysis by LendingTree Chief Economist Tendayi Kapfidze, which puts the average U.S. 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 4.84 percent in early 2019. So far this year, lenders are giving California homebuyers the lowest rates in the country, with the state edging out New Jersey at 4.74 percent.

Due to big-ticket home prices, California borrowers obtain the largest average loans in America — $313,508. Golden State homebuyers are placing average down payments of $41,502, the second highest in the country behind New Yorkers.

California home shoppers who have excellent credit can likely obtain an even lower mortgage rate right now. According to Freddie Mac, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages dropped to 4.37 percent for the week ended Feb. 14, a 12-month low. According to company Chief Economist Sam Khater, lower mortgage rates and a strong U.S. economy should combine to help drive demand for homes as spring approaches.


SAN FRANCISCANS OVERWHELMINGLY WANT MORE HOUSING, TRANSIT OPTIONS

San Francisco ranked as California’s second most expensive housing market as of the fourth quarter, and its residents are all too aware of the city’s shortage of dwellings.

Citing poll results from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Curbed SF reports that 63 percent of San Franciscans think that housing availability is worsening, compared with just 9 percent who see the situation as improving. All three top concerns that residents have concern the housing market: homelessness (64 percent), rental costs (41 percent), and the cost of buying a home (30 percent).

Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed believe that San Francisco should maximize any type of housing construction, and 74 percent think that the units should be build close to public transportation. More than three-quarters say that the Bay Area needs a second Transbay tunnel, extra ferry service, and another high-speed rail system.

A final point from the poll: While nearly half of San Franciscans think that the city is headed in the wrong direction, 64 percent say that it is a better place to call home than most others.


U.S. MORTGAGE DELINQUENCY RATE FALLS TO 18-YEAR LOW

U.S. mortgage delinquencies have reached the lowest level in nearly two decades, with very few San Franciscans submitting late payments.

Recent CoreLogic research found that 4.1 percent of Americans with a mortgage were in some stage of delinquency in November, the lowest for that month in 18 years. Foreclosure activity also reached the lowest point in 18 years, dropping to 0.4 percent, below the level observed before the Great Recession.

Of the 10 largest U.S. core-based statistical areas, San Francisco had the lowest number of homeowners who were 30 days or more delinquent on their mortgage payments: 1.4 percent. Los Angeles ranks third for that metric, with about 2.5 percent of homeowners more than a month late on housing payments.


CALIFORNIA CLAIMS 90 PERCENT OF NATION’S 20 LEAST AFFORDABLE HOUSING MARKETS

Although buyers in California’s most expensive housing markets saw affordability improve slightly year over year in the fourth quarter, the state’s conditions remain extremely difficult on a national level.

The latest Housing Opportunity Index from the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo puts the San Francisco metropolitan area as the nation’s least-affordable housing market for the fifth consecutive quarter, with only 6.0 percent of households able to qualify for a mortgage on the median-priced $1.3 million home (both new and existing properties). The country’s other four least-affordable major housing markets can also be found in the Golden State: Los Angeles (7.7 percent), Anaheim (8.9 percent), San Jose (12.7 percent), and San Diego (14.0 percent).

California also claims the nation’s five least-affordable small real estate markets: Santa Cruz (8.5 percent), Salinas (8.6 percent), San Luis Obispo (13.9 percent), San Rafael (14.2 percent), and Napa (15.8 percent). The other California cities that rank among the least-affordable housing markets in America include Oakland, Santa Rosa, Oxnard, Merced, Santa Barbara, Vallejo, Stockton, and Modesto.

(Photo: iStock/nata_rass)

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