Mortgage rates inch up; home sales, building permits climbing

Jefferson City saw an increase in homes sales and building permits in 2012.

Jefferson City saw an increase in homes sales and building permits in 2012. Photo by Julie Smith.

Mortgage rates across the nation hit near the lowest they’ve ever been during 2012, but a slight increase in the past few weeks has brokers speculating the low interest rates will continue to rise.

“We’ve definitely seen low rates,” Greg Hoffmeyer, vice president of Financial Accord, said Friday. “We’re starting to see a steady incline, and expect we should be at 4 percent by the end of this year.”

Hoffmeyer said interest rates were around 3.25 percent going into 2013, but have risen to around 3.5 percent in just the past few weeks.

“The floor has hit, and it is still pretty close to that. Take advantage of them,” Hoffmeyer said. “Now is the time to buy the home of your dreams; it may be a lot more expensive in the future.”

According to Freddie Mac, mortgage rates on Thursday were at an average 3.53 percent for a 30-year loan and 2.77 for a 15-year loan.

Bunnie Trickey Cotten, president of the Jefferson City Area Board of Realtors, said she foresees 2013 as being even better than 2012.

Jefferson City saw an increase in overall home sales by 25 percent in 2012, compared with 2011. Transactions were up by 22 percent.

“We’ve been on the growth spurt for quite some time,” Trickey Cotten said.

When looking at January 2012 in comparison with January 2013, the local Realtor president said the numbers look right on track with little change.

“We’ve seen more people coming out to buy; it always helps when the weather improves,” Hoffmeyer noted.

He noted that people who want to stay in their home are taking advantage of the low rates as well. He said refinancing has been more popular over the past 12 months, and home owners have been able to chop off big terms of their loan.

As for mortgage rates, Trickey Cotton agrees that now is the time to buy.

“Whoever heard of below 4 percent (mortgage rates),” she said, encouraging potential home buyers not to be scared off by the slight rise in rates.

Since the economic downturn and housing market crash in 2008, Hoffmeyer said Financial Accord, which also represents St. Louis and Kansas City, didn’t see as big of an impact in Jefferson City.

“Jefferson City holds its value fairly well,” he said.

Trickey Cotten agreed. “Our lending in this area has always been very conservative. ... Therefore we haven’t had the problems (in comparison to the East and West coasts),” she said.

The number of building permits requested in the Capital City declined from 2008 to 2010 by 156 permits, showing residents were cautious in spending the extra cash.

But Vickie Muldoon, executive officer of Central Missouri Home Builders Association, said any trouble Jefferson City saw in the past is now diminishing.

“You are seeing new construction again,” she said. “A lot of our builders are building. ... Obviously things have gotten better.”

Permit requests in 2011 saw a slight increase, and 2012 ended on the upswing with 406 requested. New construction was significantly less than alterations and additions, but the valuation totaled more than $1.6 million.

As more proof that the housing market is improving, Muldoon said Jefferson City has been included on the National HBA List of Improving Housing Markets for quite some time. The latest release on Feb. 6 included other Missouri communities, including Columbia, Joplin, Springfield, St. Louis, St. Joseph and Kansas City. The list is designed to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health. The list index measures the employment growth, house price appreciation and single-family housing permit growth.

“Inventory is good; prices are good,” Trickey Cotten said. “This is a good time for people to invest in themselves.”

2012 Jefferson City building permits

Type of permit - Number - Valuation

Single-family detached - 59 - $10,669,756

Two-family attached - 3 - $428,000

New non-residential - 7 - $127.9 million

Residential alterations/additions - 212 - $4,214,040

Commercial alteration/additions - 125 - $24,733,965

Total - 406 - $167,928,761

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