Wednesday, October 29, 2008
REALOGY PROPOSES SHORT-TERM GOVERNMENT BUY-DOWN IN MORTGAGE RATES TO STIMULATE HOUSING MARKET AND ACCELERATE BROADER ECONOMIC RECOVERY
Realogy calls for rates of 4.5% or lower on 30-year fixed rate mortgages
PARSIPPANY, N.J. (Oct. 29, 2008) – Realogy Corporation, a global provider of real estate and relocation services, today announced that the Company has approached the U.S. Department of Treasury with a practical solution to help stimulate the housing market and lead to a broader economic recovery. The Company also conducted separate national surveys with its real estate franchisees and U.S. homeowners, the results of which underscore the rationale behind its proposal.
“There are millions of credit-worthy people ready to jump back into the housing market, but they need to be motivated,” said Realogy President and CEO Richard A. Smith. “In our view, the incentive of substantially lower mortgage rates would directly stimulate the housing market — both in sales volume and price — and thus accelerate the overall U.S. economic recovery.”
Realogy’s proposal calls for a short-term government buy-down of mortgage rates to at least 4.5%, or lower, for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage (down from current rates of approximately 6.04% ). This homebuyer incentive would apply to the purchase of all new and/or existing homes sold up to $1 million in price. There are a number of ways in which the government ultimately could decide to structure and fund this program, which could be addressed as part of the stimulus packages currently being discussed in Washington. Realogy is working with a number of other organizations to carry this message forward and encourage greater dialogue around solutions aimed at boosting the economy through a direct stimulus to the housing market.
With approximately 16,000 franchised or company-owned real estate brokerage offices around the world, Realogy has a unique perspective on home buyer behavior. The Company has seen a recurring theme in virtually all 50 states –- namely, there are substantial numbers of credit-worthy buyers waiting for lower rates and stability in home prices.
“We think the pent-up consumer demand for housing, if encouraged, is more than sufficient to stabilize housing,” continued Smith. “In our view, substantially lower mortgage rates will stimulate both existing and new home sales, reduce home inventory levels, stabilize home prices and, ultimately, help the overall economy. When home sales increase, housing-related consumer purchasing follows, and we would expect this to help lead our economy to a recovery. We feel strongly mortgage rates must be lowered to stimulate a recovery.”
Residential Broker Survey — Mortgage Rate Drop to 4.5% Would Stimulate Sales:
As recently as October 15th, Realogy conducted a national survey about mortgage rates with responses from approximately 1,500 broker/owners representing 2,300 independently owned and operated residential brokerage companies affiliated with the CENTURY 21®, Coldwell Banker®, ERA®, Sotheby’s International Realty® brands.
Here are the key findings from the Realogy broker survey:
• 95% of brokers said they would expect an increase in home sales if 30-year conforming fixed-rate mortgages were available at 4.5% rates today.
• Most notably, 54% of all responding brokers said the impact of a 4.5% mortgage rate would significantly increase home sales in their markets.
• Of the brokers who answered that rates would increase, nearly half (46%) indicated that they would anticipate unit sales levels to increase between 10% to 25% if 4.5% mortgage rates were available today.
The majority of brokers also agreed that substantially lower mortgage rates would have a strong stabilizing impact on average home sales prices.
• 51% of brokers felt home prices would increase somewhat and 38% felt home prices would stay the same.
• Of the brokers who felt prices would increase or significantly increase due to 4.5% mortgage rates, 22% felt the home price increases would be in the 3% to 5% range and 13% felt it would be in the 5% to 7.5% range.
“Our franchisees are small- to mid-sized business owners who have a strong understanding of what actions would help home sales and prices in their communities, and it’s clear to them that dropping mortgage rates to 4.5%, or lower, would have an immediate impact in helping to stabilize the housing markets throughout this country,” said Smith.
Consumer Survey — Americans still place a high value on homeownership; But the state of the U.S. economy has potential home buyers on the sidelines:
During the week of Oct. 24, Realogy used Ipsos Public Affairs, a global survey-based market research company, to conduct a national homeownership survey resulting in responses from more than 1,000 current homeowners . The key findings from this consumer survey are as follows:
• Even in today’s challenging economic environment, nine out of 10 survey respondents (91%) believe that owning a home is still the best long-term investment they can make with their money.
• At the same time, 27% of U.S. homeowners surveyed said the current U.S. economic environment was causing them to put their plans on hold for the purchase of a new or existing home. This response level was consistent across the four U.S. geographic regions.