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NAR Data Shows Now Is a Great Time to Sell!

We all realize that the best time to sell anything is when demand is high and the supply of that item is limited. Two major reports issued by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed information that suggests that now continues to be a great time to sell your house.

Let’s look at the data covered in the latest REALTORS® Confidence Index and Existing Home Sales Report.

REALTORS® CONFIDENCE INDEX

Every month, NAR surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions.” This month, the index showed (again) that home-buying demand continued to outpace supply in May.

The map below illustrates buyer demand broken down by state (the darker your state, the stronger the demand is there).

buyer traffic map

In addition to revealing high demand, the index also mentioned that “compared to conditions in the same month last year, seller traffic conditions were ‘weak’ in 24 states, ‘stable’ in 25 states, and ‘strong’ in D.C and West Virginia.”

Takeaway: Demand for housing continues to be strong throughout 2017, but supply is struggling to keep up, and this trend is likely to continue into 2018.

THE EXISTING HOME SALES REPORT

The most important data revealed in the report was not sales, but was instead the inventory of homes for sale (supply). The report explained:...

Existing Home Sales Surge into Summer [INFOGRAPHIC]

Home sales in summer

Some Highlights:

Existing Home Sales reached their third highest mark this year in May.

Inventory of homes for sale has dropped 8.4% since last year, marking the 24th consecutive month of year-over-year declines.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun had this to say: “Those able to close on a home last month are probably feeling both happy and relieved. Listings in the affordable price range are scarce, homes are coming off the market at an extremely fast pace and the prevalence of multiple offers in some markets are pushing prices higher.”

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75% of Homeowners Think Now is a Good Time to Sell!

house in hands

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently released the findings of their Q2 Homeownership Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) Survey. The report covers core topics like, “if now is a good time to buy or sell a home, the perception of home price changes, perceived ability to qualify for a mortgage, and [an] outlook on the U.S. economy.”

The survey revealed that 75% of homeowners think now is a good time to sell, compared to 70% last quarter. This is a considerable increase from more than a year ago when 66% agreed.

Even though homeowners believe that now is a good time to sell, many have not taken the step to list their homes, as inventory shortages still exist across the country. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist, had this to say:

“There are just not enough homeowners deciding to sell because they’re either content where they are, holding off until they build more equity, or hesitant seeing as it will be difficult to find an affordable home to buy…

As a result, inventory conditions have worsened and are restricting sales from breaking out while contributing to price appreciation that remains far above income growth.”


Bottom Line

If you are wondering if now is a good time to sell your house, let’s get together to discuss the opportunities available in our market.

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Buyer’s Market Helps Premium Home Sales Soar

We previously reported how a shortage of inventory in the starter and trade-up home markets is driving prices up and causing bidding wars, creating a true seller’s market. At the same time, in the premium home market, an over-abundance of inventory has started to see prices come down and put buyers in the driver’s seat, creating the beginning of a buyer’s market.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors released their Existing Home Sales Report which shed some additional light on the impact of inventory levels on sales in each price range.

The chart below shows the year-over-year difference in sales at each price range.

change in sales chart

The under $100K range has shown declines in recent years due to the shortage of distressed homes available for sale (just 5% of sales this past month, compared to 35% in January 2012). Sales in the next two price ranges are no doubt being hindered by low inventory as buyers compete for the same home.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, explained:

“Those able to close on a home last month are probably feeling both happy and relieved. Listings in the affordable price range are scarce, homes are coming off the market at an extremely fast pace and the prevalence of multiple offers in some markets are pushing prices higher.”

The biggest surprise? This is the first time in years where the $1M and up price range had the highest jump in sales when compared to last year and to all other price ranges (29.1%)! The two price ranges right underneath the $1M range were a close...

Pre-Approval Should Always Be Your First Step

child walking

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the amount of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the My Home section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”

Freddie Mac describes the 4 Cs that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

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2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers

In Realtor.com’s recent article, “Home Buyers’ Top Mortgage Fears: Which One Scares You?” they mention that “46% of potential home buyers fear they won’t qualify for a mortgage to the point that they don’t even try.

Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”

Buyers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the First Quarter 2017 Homeownership Program Index (HPI) from Down Payment Resource, saving for a down payment was the barrier that kept 70% of renters from buying.

Rob Chrane, CEO of Down Payment Resource had this to say,

“There are many mortgage-ready renters today, but they don’t know it. Often, homebuyers remain sidelined for years due to the down payment.”

Many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream home, but programs are available that allow buyers put down as little as 3%. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with new programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher to Buy”

The survey revealed that 59% of Americans either don’t know (54%) or are misinformed (5%) about what FICO® score is necessary to qualify.

Many Americans believe a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.

To help debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.

FICO Score Chart...

The Cost of Renting vs. Buying in the US [INFOGRAPHIC]

chart for cost of renting vs buying

Some Highlights:

Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a tough decision.
Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (29.2%) vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (15.8%), the choice becomes obvious.
Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you can put your housing costs to work by buying this year!

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The Importance of Home Equity in Retirement Planning

retirement couple

We often discuss the difference in family wealth between homeowner households and renter households. Much of that difference is the result of the equity buildup that homeowners experience over the time that they own their home. In a report recently released by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), they reveal how valuable equity can be in retirement planning.

Craig Copeland, Senior Research Associate at EBRI, recently authored a report, Importance of Individual Account Retirement Plans and Home Equity in Family Total Wealth, in which he reveals:

“Individual account retirement plan assets, plus home equity, represent almost all of what families have to use for retirement expenses outside of Social Security and traditional pensions. Those families without individual account assets typically have very low overall assets, so they have almost nothing to draw from for retirement expenses.”

The report echoed the findings of a working paper, Home Equity Patterns among Older American Households, authored by Barbara Butrica and Stipica Mudrazija of Urban Institute. Fannie Mae highlighted these findings for their blog The...

The Supply & Demand Problem Plaguing New Construction

Many real estate economists have called on new home builders to ramp up production to help relieve the shortage of inventory of homes for sale throughout the United States. The added inventory would no doubt aid buyers in their search to secure their dream home, while also helping to ease price increases throughout the country.

Unfortunately for builders, there are many forces that are making it difficult for them to do just that!

Last week at the National Association of Real Estate Editors 51st Annual Conference, CoreLogic’s Chief Economist Frank Nothaft broke down the 4 ‘L’s of New Home Construction: Lots, Labor, Lumber, and Lending.

The concept of supply and demand is ripe in the new home construction industry. The four ‘L’s of new home construction are each suffering a supply problem, and with that comes added costs. Let’s break it down!

Lots – There is a shortage of land near metros at an affordable price, causing builders to move farther and farther away from cities to keep costs down. This isn’t always an attractive option for those who want to stay close to work.

Labor – The Great Recession forced many skilled construction and trade workers to find other sources of income once their jobs were lost at the time of the crash. Even though the overall housing market has recovered, these workers have not returned. Those who remain are starting to age out and retire, causing even more of a shortage and additional costs.

Lumber – The cost to build a new home is directly tied to the cost of the lot and the cost of the supplies needed to build the home. Lumber costs continue to escalate due to policies restricting the importation of Canadian lumber, making larger luxury homes an attractive option to recoup costs when selling, rather than building smaller single-family homes and making less profit.

Below...

Do You Know How Much Equity You Have in Your Home?

house of money

CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report revealed that 91,000 properties regained equity in the first quarter of 2017. This is great news for the country, as 48.2 million of all mortgaged properties are now in a positive equity situation.

Price Appreciation = Good News for Homeowners

Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic’s Chief Economist, explains:

“One million borrowers achieved positive equity over the last year, which means risk continues to steadily decline as a result of increasing home prices.” 

Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, believes this is a great sign for the market in 2017 as well, as he had this to say:

“Homeowner equity increased by $766 billion over the last year, the largest increase since Q2 2014. The rising cushion of home equity is one of the main drivers of improved mortgage performance. Since home equity is the largest source of homeowner wealth, the increase in home equity also supports consumer balance sheets, spending and the broader economy.” 

This is great news for homeowners! But, do they realize that their equity position has changed? 

According to the Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI), more homeowners are beginning to realize that they may have more equity than they first thought.

“This is only the second time in the survey’s history that the net share of those saying it’s a good time to sell surpassed the net share of those saying it’s a good time to buy.” 

78.8% of homeowners have significant equity (more than 20%) in their homes today! 

This means that many Americans with a mortgage have an opportunity...

Buying Is Now 33.1% Cheaper Than Renting in the US

rent vs buy

The results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia show that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers actually show that the range is an average of 3.5% less expensive in San Jose (CA), all the way up to 50.1% less expensive in Baton Rouge (LA), and 33.1% nationwide!

Other interesting findings in the report include:
•Interest rates have remained low and, even though home prices have appreciated around the country, they haven’t greatly outpaced rental appreciation.
•With rents & home values moving in tandem, shifts in the ‘rent vs. buy’ decision are largely driven by changes in mortgage interest rates.
•Nationally, rates would have to reach 9.1%, a 128% increase over today’s average of 4.0%, for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven’t been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. If you are one of the many renters out there who would like to evaluate your ability to buy this year, let’s get together

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Top Home Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC]

Top Renovations chart

Some Highlights:

Whether you are selling your home, just purchased your first home, or are a homeowner planning to stay put for a while, there is value in knowing which home improvement projects will net you the most Return On Investment (ROI).
While big projects like adding a bathroom or a complete kitchen remodel are popular ways to increase a home’s value, something as simple as updating landscaping and curb appeal can have a quick impact on a home’s value.
For more information about top renovation projects that net you the most ROI, you can check out the complete list here.

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Are Home Prices Approaching Bubble Territory?

As home values continue to rise, some are questioning whether we are approaching another housing bubble. Zillow just reported that:

“National home values have surpassed the peak hit during the housing bubble and are at their highest value in more than a decade.”
Though that statement is correct, we must realize that just catching prices of a decade ago does not mean we are at bubble numbers. Here is a graph of median prices as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

median prices of homes

We can see that prices rose during the early 2000s, fell during the crash and have risen since 2013.

However, let’s assume there was no housing bubble and crash and that home prices appreciated at normal historic levels (3.6% annually) over the last ten years.

Here is a graph comparing actual price appreciation (tan bars) with what prices would have been with normal appreciation (blue bars).

price appreciation

Bottom Line

As we can see, had there not been a boom and bust, home values would essentially be where they are right now.

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The TRUTH Behind the RENT vs. BUY Debate

buy vs rent

In a blog post published last Friday, CNBC’s Diana Olnick reported on the latest results of the FAU Buy vs. Rent Index. The index examines the entire US housing market and then isolates 23 major markets for comparison. The researchers at FAU use a “‘horse race’ comparison between an individual that is buying a home and an individual that rents a similar-quality home and reinvests all monies otherwise invested in homeownership.”

Having read both the index and the blog post, we would like to clear up any confusion that may exist. There are three major points that we would like to counter:

1. The Title

The CNBC blog post was titled, “Don’t put your money in a house, says a new report.” The title of the press release about the report on FAU’s website was “FAU Buy vs. Rent Index Shows Rising Prices and Mortgage Rates Moving Housing Markets in the Direction of Renting.”

Now, we all know headlines can attract readers and the stronger the headline the more readership you can attract, but after dissecting the report, this headline may have gone too far. The FAU report notes that rising home prices and the threat of increasing mortgage rates could make the decision of whether to rent or to buy a harder one in three metros, but does not say not to buy a home.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates are Rising

According to Freddie Mac, mortgage interest rates reached their lowest mark of 2017 last week at 3.89%. Interest rates have hovered around 4% for the majority of 2017, giving many buyers relief from rising home prices and helping with affordability.

While experts predict that rates will increase by the end of 2017, the latest projections have softened, with Freddie...

Homeownership Is a Good Financial Investment!

house on pile of money

According to a recent report by Trulia, “buying is cheaper than renting in 100 of the largest metro areas by an average of 33.1%.” The report may have some people thinking about buying a home instead of signing another lease extension, but does that make sense from a financial perspective?

Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia’s Chief Economist explains:

“Owning a home is one of the most common ways households build long-term wealth, as it acts like a forced savings account. Instead of paying your landlord, you can pay yourself in the long run through paying down a mortgage on a house.”

The article listed five reasons why owning a home makes financial sense:

Mortgage payments can be fixed while rents go up.
Equity in your home can be a financial resource later.
You can build wealth without paying capital gains.
A mortgage can act as a forced savings account.
Overall, homeowners can enjoy greater wealth growth than renters.

Bottom Line

Before you sign another lease, let’s get together and discuss all your options.

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4 Reasons to Buy This Summer!

Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today, instead of waiting.

Buy Home now

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 7.1% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.9% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have remained around 4%. Most experts predict that they will begin to rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You are Paying a Mortgage

There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to...

The Impact Your Interest Rate Makes [INFOGRAPHIC]

Different Interest Rates

Some Highlights:

Interest rates have come a long way in the last 30 years.
The interest rate you secure directly impacts your monthly payment and the amount of house that you can afford if you plan to stay within a certain budget.
Interest rates are at their lowest in years… RIGHT NOW!
If buying your first home, or moving up to the home of your dreams is in your future, now may be the time to act!

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Mortgage Interest Rates Reverse Course in 2017

To start the year, housing experts all agreed on one thing: 2017 was going to be the year we would see mortgage interest rates begin to rise. After years of historically low rates, and an improving economy, the question wasn’t if they would increase but instead how much they would increase. Some thought we could see rates hit 5-5.5% by the end of the year.

However, the exact opposite has happened. Instead of higher rates as we head into the middle of 2017, we now have the lowest rates of the year (as reported by Freddie Mac). Here is a graph of mortgage rate movement since the beginning of the year:

30 year fixed mortgage

Projections still call for an increase…

Four major entities (Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors) are still projecting that rates will increase by the fourth quarter of the year.

Rising Mortgage Rates


Bottom Line

No one knows for sure where interest rates will be in six months. However, if you are thinking about buying your first house or trading up to the home...

69% of Buyers are Wrong About Down Payment Needs

According to a recent survey conducted by Genworth Financial Inc. at the Annual Mortgage Bankers’ Association Secondary Market Conference, 69% of mortgage professionals say that first-time buyers still believe a 20% down payment is necessary to buy in today’s market.

Nearly 40% of mortgage industry professionals surveyed believe that a lack of knowledge about the home-buying process is keeping potential buyers on the sidelines. Saving for a down payment is often cited as a huge barrier for first-time homebuyers to make the leap into homeownership.

If homeowners believe that they need a 20% down payment to enter the market, they also believe that they will have to wait years (in some markets) to come up with the necessary funds to buy their dream homes.

The greatest source of confusion cited in the survey results centered around down payments. The results are broken down in the chart below:

Down Payment Needs


Bottom Line

Don’t let a lack of understanding of the home-buying process keep you and your family out of the housing market. Let’s get together to discuss your options!

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If Your Home Hasn’t Sold Yet… Definitely Check the Price!

The residential housing market has been hot. Home sales have bounced back solidly and are now at their fourth highest pace over the past year. Demand has remained strong ­throughout spring as many real estate professionals are reporting bidding wars with many homes selling above listing price. What about your house?

If your house hasn’t sold, it could be the price.

If your home is on the market and you are not receiving any offers, look at your price. Pricing your home just 10% above market value dramatically cuts the number of prosp­­ective buyers that will even see your house. See chart below.

see the percentage of potential buyers who will look for property

Bottom Line

The housing market is hot. If you are not seeing the results you want, sit down with your agent and revisit the pricing conversation.

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