Walter Gorman

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Mortgage rates rose steadily during the first half of 2018, and have since leveled off a bit. Looking forward, a new round of industry forecasts suggest that mortgage rates in New Jersey and nationwide could hover just below the 5% range for much of 2019.

Mortgage Rates Up Since the Start of 2018

On average, mortgage rates have risen by roughly 1% since the start of this year. The average rate for a 30-year fixed home loan was 3.95% during the first week of January, according to Freddie Mac. That average had risen to around 4.94%, as of mid-November 2018.

Those who are planning to buy a home next year are probably wondering: What are mortgage rates in New Jersey expected to do in 2019? Will they rise gradually over the coming months, or continue to hover within their current range?

While there’s no way to answer such questions with certainty, a pair of new mortgage rate forecasts have shed some light on the subject. Here’s what the experts are predicting, as of November 2018.

Forecasts Predict That Rates Could Hover Just Below 5%

No one can predict future rate movements with complete accuracy. There are too many variables involved, and those factors are ever-changing. But there does seem to be a general consensus among industry analysts. And those forecasts suggest that rates could remain relatively stable over the coming months.

The first forecast came from the Mortgage Bankers Association ...


Sorry home buyers. FHA mortgage insurance premiums in New Jersey won’t be reduced anytime soon. That recent announcement came from officials with the Federal Housing Administration. So the mortgage insurance premiums that are currently in place will be carried over to 2019, unchanged.

FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums in 2019

Home buyers in New Jersey who make a relatively small down payment typically have to pay for mortgage insurance. These policies are usually required when the borrower’s loan-to-value (LTV) ratio rises above 80%.

There has been some industry “chatter” over the past few months that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) might lower the FHA mortgage insurance premium that’s required on most FHA loans. That would’ve been a money-saver for home buyers using an FHA loan to buy a house in New Jersey.

And there’s a precedent for this kind of thing. FHA insurance premiums have been reduced in the past, most recently during President Obama’s time in office. The Obama-era reductions were scheduled to begin toward the end of January 2017. But they were later reversed by President Trump, shortly after he took office on January 20.

The National Association of REALTORS® and other groups have asked HUD to reduce FHA mortgage ...


Mortgage rates in New Jersey and nationwide have leveled off a bit over the past few weeks, and that trend could continue into 2019. Home prices, on the other hand, continue to climb in most of the state. Those are just two of the trends and forecasts that we are monitoring. Here’s an updated look at housing trends for New Jersey, with an outlook stretching into 2019.

Mortgage Rates Settle in the 5% Range for Now

Last week, Freddie Mac reported the results of its latest survey of the mortgage industry. According to that report, the average rate for a 30-year fixed home loan was 4.94%. That was roughly 1% higher than the first week of 2018. So rates have risen a bit since the start of this year.

Looking forward, housing analysts and economists are predicting that mortgage rates could hover within their current range for a while.

For example, the economic research team at Freddie Mac recently predicted that 30-year home loan rates would average 5.1% during 2019. The Mortgage Bankers Association (an industry group) issued a nearly identical forecast in October, suggesting that rates would hover in the low 5% range throughout next year.

Note: The trends and forecasts mentioned above pertain to industry-wide averages. The actual interest rate assigned to home loans can vary due to a number of factors (the type of mortgage loan being used, the borrower’s qualifications, etc.). Please contact us if you would like a ...


A recent report revealed the average credit score among home buyers in New Jersey and nationwide. The average score for borrowers using an FHA loan has dropped slightly over the last few years, while the average for conventional mortgage loans has remained somewhat consistent.

The report also showed a significant increase in the average debt-to-income ratio among borrowers. This means that people are qualifying for mortgage loans with a higher level of debt today, compared to in the past.

Average Credit Scores for FHA Loans

In October 2018, the property information company CoreLogic released a report that showed the average credit score among home buyers in New Jersey and the rest of the nation. The report also highlighted trends relating to debt-to-income and loan-to-value ratios among borrowers.

One of the most noteworthy findings has to do with FHA loans and credit scores. According to the October report, the average credit score among home buyers using an FHA-insured mortgage has declined steadily since 2011.

During the second quarter of 2011, home buyers who used that government-backed mortgage program had an average credit score of 709. But by the second quarter or 2018, that average had dropped to 681 — an overall decline of 28 points.

(Note: The widely used FICO credit-scoring model runs from 300 to 850, with a higher number being better. Borrowers with higher scores tend to have an easier time qualifying for loans, and ...


Federal Housing Administration (FHA) home loans are a popular financing path among New Jersey home buyers. In fact, data collected during 2017 revealed that FHA-insured mortgage loans accounted for nearly 30% of all home purchase loans in New Jersey.

That put the FHA program in second place behind conventional or “regular” loans, which were the most popular type of mortgage in New Jersey last year.

FHA and Conventional Loan Market Share in New Jersey

The Urban Institute, a housing and economic research group based in the nation’s capital, created an interactive map tool that shows the market share of different mortgage programs. It offers results for the nation as a whole, as well as the individual states.

We used this tool to figure out the percentage of New Jersey home buyers who use FHA versus conventional loans when purchasing a property. As it turns out, conventional mortgage loans still reign supreme.

Here are the market-share percentages for loan programs used last year:

  • Conventional, 65.4% of home buyers
  • FHA, 29.2%
  • VA, 4.3%

That adds up to 98.9% by the way. Special mortgage financing programs, such as the USDA loan designed for rural borrowers, likely made up the remaining 1.1% of loan volume.

Note: These figures are for 2017. The finalized numbers for 2018 were not available at the time this article was published.

Difference Between the Mortgage ...


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