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Is Family Mortgage Debt Out of Control?

Some homeowners have recently done a “cash out” refinance and have taken a portion of their increased equity from their house. Others have sold their homes and purchased more expensive homes with larger mortgages. At the same time, first-time buyers have become homeowners and now have mortgage payments for the first time.

These developments have caused concern that families might be reaching unsustainable levels of mortgage debt. Some are worried that we may be repeating a behavior that helped precipitate the housing crash ten years ago.

Today, we want to assure everyone that this is not the case. Here is a graph created from data released by the Federal Reserve Board which shows the Household Debt Service Ratio for mortgages as a percentage of disposable personal income. The ratio is the total quarterly required mortgage payments divided by total quarterly disposable personal income. In other words, the percentage of spendable income people are using to pay their mortgage.

Is Family Mortgage Debt Out of Control? | Keeping Current Matters

Today’s ratio of 4.44% is nowhere near the ratio of 7.21% during the peak of the housing bubble and is instead at the lowest rate since 1980 (4.38%).

Bill McBride of Calculated Risk recently commented on the ratio:

“The Debt Service Ratio for mortgages is near the low for the last 38 years. This ratio increased rapidly during the housing bubble and continued to increase until 2007. With falling interest rates, and less mortgage debt, the mortgage ratio has declined significantly.”

Bottom Line

Many families paid a heavy price because of questionable practices that led to last decade’s housing crash. It seems the American people have learned a lesson and are not repeating that same behavior regarding their mortgage debt.


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How Much Do You Need to Make to Buy a Home in Your State?

It’s no mystery that cost of living varies drastically depending on where you live, so a new study by GOBankingRates set out to find out what minimum salary you would need to make in order to buy a median-priced home in each of the 50 states, and Washington, D.C.

States in the Midwest came out on top as most affordable, requiring the smallest salaries in order to buy a median-priced home. States with large metropolitan areas saw a bump in the average salary needed to buy with California, Washington, D.C., and Hawaii edging out all others with the highest salaries required.

Below is a map with the full results of the study:

How Much Do You Need to Make to Buy a Home in Your State? | Keeping Current Matters

GoBankingRates gave this advice to anyone considering a home purchase,

“Before you buy a home, it’s important to find out if you can afford the monthly mortgage payment. To do this, some financial experts recommend your housing costs — primarily your mortgage payments — shouldn’t consume more than 30 percent of your monthly income.”

As we recently reported, research from Zillow shows that historically, Americans had spent 21% of their income on owning a median-priced home. The latest data from the fourth quarter of 2017 shows that the percentage of income needed today is only 15.7%!

Bottom Line

If you are considering buying a home, whether it’s your first time or your fifth time, consult a local real estate professional who can help evaluate your ability to do so in today’s market!


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Rising Prices Help You Build Your Family’s Wealth

Over the next five years, home prices are expected to appreciate, on average, by 3.6% per year and to grow by 18.2% cumulatively, according to Pulsenomics’ most recent Home Price Expectation Survey.

So, what does this mean for homeowners and their equity position?

As an example, let’s assume a young couple purchased and closed on a $250,000 home this January. If we only look at the projected increase in the price of that home, how much equity will they earn over the next 5 years?

Rising Prices Help You Build Your Family’s Wealth | Keeping Current Matters

Since the experts predict that home prices will increase by 5.0% in 2018, the young homeowners will have gained $12,500 in equity in just one year.

Over a five-year period, their equity will increase by over $48,000! This figure does not even take into account their monthly principal mortgage payments. In many cases, home equity is one of the largest portions of a family’s overall net worth.

Bottom Line

Not only is homeownership something to be proud of, but it also offers you and your family the ability to build equity you can borrow against in the future. If you are ready and willing to buy, find out if you are able to today!


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A Tale of Two Markets [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • A trend that has been emerging for some time now is the contrast between inventory & demand in the Premium & Luxury Markets vs. the Starter & Trade-Up Home Markets and what that’s, in turn, doing to prices!
  • Inventory continues to rise in the luxury & premium home markets which is causing prices to cool.
  • Demand continues to rise with low inventory in the starter & trade-up home markets, causing prices to rise!

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The COST of Your Next Home Will Be LESS Than Your Parents’ Home Was

There is no doubt that the price of a home in most regions of the country is greater now than at any time in history. However, when we look at the cost of a home, it is cheaper to own today than it has been historically.

The Difference Between PRICE and COST

The price of a home is the dollar amount you and the seller agree to at the time of purchase. The cost of a home is the monthly expense you pay for your mortgage payment.

To accurately compare costs in different time periods, we must look at home prices, mortgage rates, and wages during each period. Home prices were less expensive years ago, but paychecks were also smaller and mortgage rates were much higher (the average mortgage interest rate in 1988 was 10.34%).

The best way to measure the COST of a home is to determine what percentage of income is necessary to buy a home at the time. That would take into account the price of the home, the mortgage interest rate and wages at the time.

Zillow just released research that examined home costs using this formula. The research compares the historic percentage of income necessary to afford a mortgage to the percentage needed today. It also revealed the cost if mortgage rates continue to rise as experts are predicting. Here is a graph of their findings*:

The COST of Your Next Home Will Be LESS Than Your Parents' Home Was | Keeping Current Matters

Rates would need to jump to 7% in order for the percentage of necessary income to be greater than historic norms.

Bottom Line

Whether you are a homeowner considering selling your current house and moving up to the home of your dreams, or a first-time buyer trying to purchase your first home, it’s a great time to move forward.

*Assumptions in the Zillow report: Buyer puts 20% down, takes out a conforming, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at rates prevailing at the time, earns the median household income, and is buying a median-valued home.

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Mortgage Interest Rates Have Begun to Level Off

Whether you are a buyer searching for your first home, or a homeowner looking to move up to your next home, you should pay attention to where mortgage interest rates are heading.

Over the course of 2018, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates have increased from 3.95% in the first week of January to 4.40% in the first week of April.

At first glance, the difference between these numbers in such a short amount of time could be concerning, but if we look at the graph below, we’ll see that rates have already started to level off and return to the mark set in February.

Mortgage Interest Rates Have Begun to Level Off | Keeping Current Matters

This is great news for anyone looking to buy a home this spring! The spring is always one of the busiest seasons for home buying, and with rates increasing even more, buyers have come off the fence to lock in great rates! This is still great advice as the experts believe that rates will continue to rise throughout the year.

Every month, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors release their projections for where they believe mortgage rates will be in the coming months. If we take the average of what each of the four organizations is predicting for the second quarter, rates are expected to rise to about 4.48% by June.

That average climbs to 4.73% by the end of this year.

So, what does this mean?

Waiting until the end of the year to buy, with rates still projected to increase, will end up costing you more money on your monthly mortgage payment. For every $250,000 you need to borrow to purchase your dream home, you will spend $49.21 more per month, $590.52 per year, and over $17,700 by the end of your 30-year mortgage.

And that’s just the impact of your interest rate going up!

Bottom Line

If you are ready and willing to purchase a home, find out if you’re able to by sitting with a local real estate professional who can evaluate your needs and help you with next steps!


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House Prices: Simply a Matter of Supply & Demand

Why are home prices still rising? It is a simple answer. There are more purchasers in the market right now than there are available homes for them to buy. This is an example of the theory of “supply and demand” which is defined as:

“the amount of a commodity, product, or service available and the desire of buyers for it, considered as factors regulating its price.”

When demand exceeds supply, prices go up. This is currently happening in the residential real estate market.

Here are the numbers for supply and demand as compared to last year for the last three months (March numbers are not yet available):

House Prices: Simply a Matter of Supply & Demand | Keeping Current Matters

In each of the last three months, demand (buyer traffic) has increased as compared to last year while supply (number of available listings) has decreased. If this situation persists, home values will continue to increase.

Bottom Line

The reason home prices are still rising is because there are many purchasers looking to buy, but very few homeowners ready to sell. This imbalance is the reason prices will remain on the uptick.


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99% of Experts Agree: Home Prices Will Increase

Some believe that the combined effects of the new tax code and rising mortgage rates will have an adverse impact on residential real estate prices in 2018. However, the clear majority of recently surveyed housing experts believe that home values will continue to rise this year.

What is the Home Price Expectation Survey?

Each quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists. Those surveyed include experts such as:

  • Daniel Bachman, Senior Manager, U.S. Economics at Deloitte Services, LP
  • Kathy Bostjancic, Head of U.S. Macro Investors Service at Oxford Economics
  • David Downs, Real Estate Finance Professor at VCU
  • Edward Pinto, Resident Fellow at American Enterprise Institute
  • Albert Saiz, Director at MIT Center for Real Estate

Where do these experts see home values headed in 2018?

Here is a breakdown of where they see home values twelve months from now:

  • 21.6% believe prices will appreciate by 6% or more
  • 71.6% believe prices will appreciate between 3 and 5.99%
  • 5.7% believe prices will appreciate between 0 and 2.99%
  • Only 1.1% believe prices will depreciate

Bottom Line

Almost ninety-nine percent of the top experts studying residential real estate believe that prices will appreciate this year, and over 93% believe home values will appreciate by at least 3%.


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Buyer Demand Still Outpacing the Supply of Homes for Sale

The price of any item is determined by the supply of that item, as well as market demand. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between Seller Traffic (supply) and Buyer Traffic (demand).

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”

Buyer Demand Still Outpacing the Supply of Homes for Sale | Keeping Current Matters

The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes in that area. Only four states had a ‘stable’ demand level.

Seller Supply

The index also asked: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”

As you can see from the map below, 25 states reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 21 states reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, 3 states and Washington D.C. reported ‘strong’ seller traffic, and only 1 state reported ‘very strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are out looking for their dream homes.

Buyer Demand Still Outpacing the Supply of Homes for Sale | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, meet with a local real estate professional in your area who can help you capitalize on the demand in the market now!


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5 Reasons Why to Sell This Spring!

Here are five reasons listing your home for sale this spring makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase…and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory has declined year over year for the last 32 months and is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon.

Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in their home was six but has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the average time it took to close a loan was 45 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has forced these markets into a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.8% over the next year according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.


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20 Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale This Spring [INFOGRAPHIC]

Highlights:

  • When listing your house for sale your top goal will be to get the home sold for the best price possible!
  • There are many small projects that you can do to ensure this happens!
  • Your real estate agent will have a list of specific suggestions for getting your house ready for market and is a great resource for finding local contractors who can help!

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Is a Major Home Renovation Worth It in the Long Run?

Last week, we shared 7 Factors To Consider When Choosing A Home To Retire In.For some homeowners, these seven factors can be taken into account with a home renovation, but is it worth it to remodel or change floor plans?

Let’s look at this example.

Let’s say you have a 4-bedroom colonial style home in a great school district. The neighborhood is amazing, and you are very comfortable there, but your kids are all grown up and the original benefits of the home no longer apply.

You’ve always wanted a huge master suite and are considering merging 3 of the smaller bedrooms on the second floor to achieve this dream.

In the short term, you are over the moon excited about your newly renovated oasis.

In the long term, when you go to sell your home down the road, you’ve now taken a 4-bedroom home in a great school district and turned it into a 2-bedroom home. Your pool of potential buyers has shrunk significantly and so has the value of your home (unless you are able to find someone who has the exact needs you have today!).

Why not consider listing your 4-bedroom home now and moving into a gorgeous 2-bedroom with a master suite? Your house can become a home for the next family looking for that perfect neighborhood with a great school district to raise their kids in!

You may even be able to achieve your dream in the same area you love, without having to give up your favorite restaurants and grocery stores.

Bottom Line

If you are debating a major renovation that would change the layout of your home, before you pick up that sledgehammer, meet with a local real estate professional who can show you the available listings in your area that might meet your needs today!


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Are You Aware of How Much Equity You Have in Your Home? You May Be Surprised!

CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report revealed that 675,000 US homeowners regained positive equity in their homes in 2017. This is great news for the country, as 95.1% of all mortgaged properties are now in a positive equity situation.

U.S homeowners with mortgages (roughly 63% of all the properties) have seen their equity increase by a total of $908.4 billion since the fourth quarter 2016, an increase of 12.2%, year over year.”

Price Appreciation = Good News for Homeowners

Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic’s Chief Economist, explains:

Home-price growth has been the primary driver of home-equity wealth creation. The CoreLogic Home Price Index grew 6.2 percent during 2017. The largest calendar-year increase since 2013. Likewise, the average growth in home equity was more than $15,000 during 2017, the most in four years.”

He also believes this is a great sign for the market in 2018, saying:

“Because wealth gains spur additional consumer purchases, the rise in home-equity wealth during 2017 should add more than $50 billion to U.S. consumption spending over the next two to three years. 

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

study by Fannie Mae suggests that many homeowners are not aware that they have regained equity in their homes as their investment has increased in value. For example, their study showed that 23% of Americans still believe their home is in a negative equity position when, in actuality, CoreLogic’s report shows that only 4.9% of homes are in that position (down from 6.3% in Q4 2016).

The study also revealed that only 37% of Americans believe that they have “significant equity” (greater than 20%) when in actuality, 83% do!

Are You Aware of How Much Equity You Have in Your Home? You May Be Surprised! | Keeping Current Matters

This means that 46% of Americans with a mortgage fail to realize the opportune situation they are in. With a sizeable equity position, many homeowners could easily move into a house (either larger or smaller) that better meets their current needs.

Fannie Mae spoke out on this issue in their report:

“Homeowners who underestimate their homes’ values not only underestimate their home equity, they also likely underestimate 1) how large a down payment they could make with their home equity, 2) their chances of qualifying for mortgages, and, therefore, 3) their opportunities for selling their current homes and for buying different homes.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many Americans who is unsure of how much equity you have built in your home, don’t let that be the reason you fail to move on to your dream home in 2018! Meet with a local real estate professional today who can help you evaluate your situation and assist you along the way!


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Moving up Is MORE Affordable Now Than Almost Any Other Time in 40 Years

If you are considering selling your current home, to either move up to a larger home or into a home in an area that better suits your current family needs, great news was just revealed.

Last week, Trulia posted a blog, Not Your Father’s Housing Market, which examined home affordability over the last 40+ years (1975-2016). Their research revealed that:

“Nationally, homes are just about the most affordable they’ve been in the last 40 years… the median household could afford a home 1.5 times more expensive than the median home price. In 1980, the median household could only afford about 3/4 of the median home price.

Despite relatively stagnant incomes, affordability has grown due to the sharp drop in mortgage rates over the last 30 years – from a high of over 16% in the 1980s to under 4% by 2016.

Of the nation’s 100 largest metros, only Miami became unaffordable between 1990 and 2016. Meanwhile, 22 metros have flipped from being unaffordable to becoming affordable in that same time frame.”

Here is a graph showing the Affordability Index compared to the 40-year average:

Moving up Is MORE Affordable Now Than Almost Any Other Time in 40 Years | Keeping Current Matters

The graph shows that housing affordability is better now than at any other time in the last forty years, except during the housing crash last decade.

(Remember that during the crash you could purchase distressed properties – foreclosures and short sales – at 20-50% discounts.)

There is no doubt that with home prices and mortgage rates on the rise, the affordability index will continue to fall. That is why if you are thinking of moving up, you probably shouldn’t wait.

Bottom Line

If you have held off on moving up to your family’s dream home because you were hoping to time the market, that time has come.


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7 Factors to Consider When Choosing A Home to Retire In

As more and more baby boomers enter retirement age, the question of whether or not to sell their homes and move will become a hot topic. In today’s housing market climate, with low available inventory in the starter and trade-up home categories, it makes sense to evaluate your home’s ability to adapt to your needs in retirement.

According to the National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents (NAEBA), there are 7 factors that you should consider when choosing your retirement home.

1. Affordability

“It may be easy enough to purchase your home today but think long-term about your monthly costs. Account for property taxes, insurance, HOA fees, utilities – all the things that will be due whether or not you have a mortgage on the property.

Would moving to a complex with homeowner association fees actually be cheaper than having to hire all the contractors you would need to maintain your home, lawn, etc.? Would your taxes go down significantly if you relocated? What is your monthly income going to be like in retirement?

2. Equity

“If you have equity in your current home, you may be able to apply it to the purchase of your next home. Maintaining a healthy amount of home equity gives you a source of emergency funds to tap, via a home equity loan or reverse mortgage.”

The equity you have in your current home may be enough to purchase your retirement home with little to no mortgage. Homeowners in the US gained an average of over $14,000 in equity last year.

3. Maintenance

“As we age, our tolerance for cleaning gutters, raking leaves and shoveling snow can go right out the window. A condominium with low-maintenance needs can be a literal lifesaver, if your health or physical abilities decline.”

As we mentioned earlier, would a condo with an HOA fee be worth the added peace of mind of not having to do the maintenance work yourself?

4. Security

“Elderly homeowners can be targets for scams or break-ins. Living in a home with security features, such as a manned gate house, resident-only access and a security system can bring peace of mind.”

As scary as that thought may be, any additional security and an extra set of eyes looking out for you always adds to peace of mind.

5. Pets

“Renting won’t do if the dog can’t come too! The companionship of pets can provide emotional and physical benefits.”

Evaluate all of your options when it comes to bringing your ‘furever’ friend with you to a new home. Will there be necessary additional deposits if you are renting or in a condo? Is the backyard fenced in? How far are you from your favorite veterinarian?

6. Mobility

“No one wants to picture themselves in a wheelchair or a walker, but the home layout must be able to accommodate limited mobility.”

Sixty is the new 40, right? People are living longer and are more active in retirement, but that doesn’t mean that down the road you won’t need your home to be more accessible. Installing handrails and making sure your hallways and doorways are wide enough may be a good reason to look for a home that was built to accommodate these needs.

7. Convenience

“Is the new home close to the golf course, or to shopping and dining? Do you have amenities within easy walking distance? This can add to home value!”

How close are you to your children and grandchildren? Would relocating to a new area make visits with family easier or more frequent? Beyond being close to your favorite stores and restaurants, there are a lot of factors to consider.

Bottom Line

When it comes to your forever home, evaluating your current house for its ability to adapt with you as you age can be the first step to guaranteeing your comfort in retirement. If after considering all these factors you find yourself curious about your options, contact a local real estate professional who can evaluate your ability to sell your house in today’s market and get you into your dream retirement home!


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The Difference an Hour Will Make This Spring [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Don’t forget to set your clocks forward this Sunday, March 11th at 2:00 AM EST in observance of Daylight Saving Time.
  • Unless of course, you are a resident of Arizona or Hawaii!
  • Every hour in the United States: 614 homes are sold, 81 homes regain equity (meaning they are no longer underwater on their mortgage), and the median home price rises $1.51!

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A New Housing Bubble Forming…Not Before 2024!

A recent report by CoreLogic revealed that U.S. home values appreciated by more than 37% over the last five years. Some are concerned that this is evidence we may be on the verge of another housing “boom & bust” like the one we experienced from 2006-2008.

Recently, several housing experts weighed in on the subject to alleviate these fears.

Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac Chief Economist

 “The evidence indicates there currently is no house price bubble in the U.S., despite the rapid increase of house prices over the last five years.”

Edward Golding, a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center

 “There is not likely to be a national bubble in the way that we saw the first decade of the century.”

Christopher Thornberg, Partner at Beacon Economics

 “There is no direct or indirect sign of any kind of bubble.”

Bill McBride, Calculated Risk

 “I wouldn’t call house prices a bubble.”

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices

 “Housing is not repeating the bubble period of 2000-2006.”

A recent article by Teo Nicolais, a real estate entrepreneur who teaches courses on real estate principles, markets, and finance at Harvard Extension School concluded that the next housing bubble may not occur until 2024.

The article, How to Use Real Estate Trends to Predict the Next Housing Bubble, looks at previous peaks in real estate values going all the way back to 1818. Nicolais uses the research of several economists. The article details the four phases of a real estate cycle and what defines each phase.

Nicolais concluded his article by saying:

“Those who study the financial crisis of 2008 will (we hope) always be weary of the next major crash. If George, Harrison, and Foldvary are right, however, that won’t happen until after the next peak around 2024. 

Between now and then, aside from the occasional slow down and inevitable market hiccups, the real estate industry is likely to enjoy a long period of expansion.”

Bottom Line

The reason for the price appreciation we are seeing is an imbalance between supply and demand for housing. This has created a natural increase in values, not a bubble in prices.


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Home Prices: The Difference 5 Years Makes

The economists at CoreLogic recently released a special report entitled, Evaluating the Housing Market Since the Great Recession. The goal of the report was to look at economic recovery since the Great Recession of December 2007 through June 2009.

One of the key indicators used in the report to determine the health of the housing market was home price appreciation. CoreLogic focused on appreciation from December 2012 to December 2017 to show how prices over the last five years have fared.

Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, commented on the importance of breaking out the data by state,

“Homeowners in the United States experienced a run-up in prices from the early 2000s to 2006, and then saw the trend reverse with steady declines through 2011. After finally reaching bottom in 2011, home prices began a slow rise back to where we are now.

Greater demand and lower supply – as well as booming job markets – have given some of the hardest-hit housing markets a boost in home prices. Yet, many are still not back to pre-crash levels.”

The map below was created to show the 5-year appreciation from December 2012 – December 2017 by state.

Home Prices: The Difference 5 Years Makes | Keeping Current Matters

Nationally, the cumulative appreciation over the five-year period was 37.4%, with a high of 66% in Nevada, and a modest increase of 5% in Connecticut.

Where were prices expected to go?

Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over 100 economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists and asks them to project how residential home prices will appreciate over the next five years for their Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES).

According to the December 2012 survey results, national homes prices were projected to increase cumulatively by 23.1% by December 2017. The bulls of the group predicted home prices to rise by 33.6%, while the more cautious bears predicted an appreciation of 11.2%.

Where are prices headed in the next 5 years?

Data from the most recent HPES shows that home prices are expected to increase by 18.2% over the next 5 years. The bulls of the group predict home prices to rise by 27.4%, while the more cautious bears predict an appreciation of 8.3%.

Bottom Line

Every day, thousands of homeowners regain positive equity in their homes. Some homeowners are now experiencing values even higher than before the Great Recession. If you’re wondering if you have enough equity to sell your house and move on to your dream home, contact a local real estate professional who can help!


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Competition is Coming, Are You Thinking of Selling Your Home?

The number of building permits issued for single-family homes is the best indicator of how many newly built homes will rise over the next few months. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Residential Sales Report, the number of these permits were up 7.4% over last year.

How will this impact buyers?

More inventory means more options. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist, explained this is good news for the housing market – especially for those looking to buy:

“This rise in single-family housing construction will help tame home price growth, and the increase in multifamily units should continue to help slow rent growth.”

How will this impact sellers?

More inventory means more competition. Today, because of the tremendous lack of inventory, a seller can expect:

  1. A great price on their home as buyers outbid each other for it
  2. A quick sale as buyers have so little to choose from
  3. Fewer hassles as buyers don’t want to “rock the boat” on the deal

With an increase in competition, the seller may not enjoy these same benefits. As Chief Economist Nela Richardson, added:

“Because existing home inventory has been so low for so long, new construction is taking a larger share of the market…Builders meet the buyers and see the demand firsthand.”

Bottom Line

If you are considering selling your house, you’ll want to beat this new competition to market to ensure you get the most attention for your listing and the best price.


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Housing Market Expected To “Spring Forward” This Year

Just like our clocks this weekend in the majority of the country, the housing market will soon “spring forward!” Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale in the market right now is what is holding back the market.

Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest, and traditionally they would have been right.

Buyer demand has seasonality to it, which usually falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic temperatures and conditions.

That hasn’t happened this year.

Demand for housing has remained strong as mortgage rates have remained near historic lows. Even with the recent increase in rates, buyers are still able to lock in an affordable monthly payment. Many more buyers are jumping off the fence and into the market to secure a lower rate.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the top 10 dates sellers listed their homes in 2017 all fell in April, May, or June.

Those who act quickly and list now could benefit greatly from additional exposure to buyers prior to a flood of more competition coming to market in the next few months.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your home in 2018, meet with a local real estate professional to evaluate the opportunities in your market.


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4 Reasons to Sell This Spring [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Buyer demand continues to outpace the supply of homes for sale which means that buyers are often competing with one another for the few listings that are available!
  • Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed to sustain a normal housing market.
  • Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

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Latest NAR Data Shows Now Is a Great Time to Sell!

We all realize that the best time to sell anything is when demand for that item is high, and the supply of that item is limited. Two major reports released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed information that suggests that now is 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 homebuying demand continued to outpace the supply of homes available in January.

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

Latest NAR Data Shows Now Is a Great Time to Sell! | Keeping Current Matters

In addition to revealing high demand, the index also shows that compared to conditions in the same month last year, seller traffic conditions were ‘weak’ in 22 states, ‘stable’ in 25 states, and ‘strong’ in only 4 states (Alaska, Nevada, North Dakota & Utah).

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

  • Total housing inventory rose 4.1% from December to 1.52 million homes available for sale.
  • Unsold inventory is 9.5% lower than a year ago, marking the 32nd consecutive month with year-over-year declines.
  • This represents a 3.4-month supply at the current sales pace.

According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR:

“Another month of solid price gains underlines this ongoing trend of strong demand and weak supply. The underproduction of single-family homes over the last decade has played a predominant role in the current inventory crisis that is weighing on affordability.”

In real estate, there is a guideline that often applies; when there is less than a 6-month supply of inventory available, we are in a seller’s market and we will see appreciation. Between 6-7 months is a neutral market, where prices will increase at the rate of inflation. More than a 7-month supply means we are in a buyer’s market and should expect depreciation in home values.

As we mentioned before, there is currently a 3.4-month supply, and houses are going under contract fast. The Existing Home Sales Report shows that 43% of properties were on the market for less than a month when sold.

In January, properties sold nationally were typically on the market for 42 days. As Yun notes, this will continue unless more listings come to the market.

“While the good news is that Realtors in most areas are saying buyer traffic is even stronger than the beginning of last year, sales failed to follow course and far lagged last January’s pace. It’s very clear that too many markets right now are becoming less affordable and desperately need more new listings to calm the speedy price growth.”

Takeaway: Inventory of homes for sale is still well below the 6-month supply needed for a normal market and supply will ‘fail to catch up with demand’ if a ‘sizable’ supply does not enter the market.

Bottom Line

If you are going to sell, now may be the time to take advantage of the ready, willing, and able buyers that are still out searching for your house.


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Mortgage Rates on FIRE! Home Prices Up in Smoke?

Mortgage interest rates have already risen by over a quarter of a percentage point in 2018. Many are projecting that rates could increase to 5% by the end of the year.

What impact will rising rates have on house values?

Many quickly jump to the conclusion that an increase in mortgage rates will have a detrimental impact on real estate prices as fewer buyers will be able to qualify for a loan. This seems logical; if there is less demand for housing then prices will drop.

However, in a good economy, rising mortgage rates increase demand as many prospective purchasers immediately jump off the fence to guarantee they get the lower rate.

Let’s look at home prices the last four times mortgage rates increased dramatically.

Mortgage Rates on FIRE! Home Prices Up in Smoke? | Keeping Current Matters

In each case, home prices APPRECIATED and did not depreciate. No one is projecting as dramatic an increase in rates as the examples above. Most are projecting an increase of approximately 1% by the end of the year.

The last time mortgage rates increased by 1% over a twelve-month period was January 2013 (3.41%) to January 2014 (4.43%). What happened to house prices during that span? They appreciated by 9.8%.

Just two weeks ago, Rick Palacios Jr., Director of Research at John Burns Real Estate Consulting explained:

“Mortgage rates have risen 1% or more ten times in the last 43 years, with little impact on home sales and prices when the economy was also strong…Historically, rising confidence, solid job growth, and higher wages have more than offset reduced demand for housing resulting from higher mortgage rates.”

Bottom Line

When mortgage rates increase, history has shown that prices appreciate (and do not depreciate) during that same time span.


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2 Ways to Get the Most Money from The Sale of Your Home

Every homeowner wants to make sure they maximize their financial reward when selling their home. But how do you guarantee that you receive the maximum value for your house?

Here are two keys to ensure that you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW 

This may seem counterintuitive, but let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their homes a little OVER market value will leave them with room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house (see chart below).

2 Ways to Get the Most Money from The Sale of Your Home | Keeping Current Matters

Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing this, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price but will instead have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

Realtor.com gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This, too, may seem counterintuitive. The seller may think they would make more money if they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

study by Collateral Analytics, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save any money, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

The results of the study showed that the differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%. Sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

Price your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the price you get for your house.


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Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling!

Whether you are buying or selling a home it can be quite the adventure, which is why you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to achieving your ultimate goal. But in this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can ‘For Sale by Owner’ or ‘FSBO.’

The 5 reasons you NEED a real estate professional in your corner haven’t changed but have rather been strengthened by the projections of higher mortgage interest rates & home prices as the market continues to pick up steam.

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true real estate professional is an expert in his or her market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality.

2. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?

There are over 180 possible steps that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to make sure that you achieve your dream?

3. Are you a good negotiator?

So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. After looking at the list of parties that you will need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll soon realize the value in selecting a real estate professional. From the buyers (who want the best deals possible), to the home inspection companies, all the way to the appraisers, there are at least 11 different people who you will need to be knowledgeable of, and answer to, during the process.

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the amount of time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to a study by Collateral Analytics, FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by real estate agents:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?

There is so much information out there on the news and on the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively and correctly price your home at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a lowball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring an agent who has his or her finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line

You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic, so why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a real estate professional?


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