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Housing Will Not Fall Victim to Next Economic Storm

Some experts are calling for a slowdown in the economy later this year and most economists have predicted that the next recession could only be eighteen months away. The question is, what impact will a recession have on the housing market?

Here are the opinions of several experts on the subject:

Ivy Zelman in her latest “Z Report”:

“While economic activity appears to have accelerated so far in 2018, some prominent economic forecasters have become more cautious about growth prospects for 2019 and 2020…

All told, while solid long-term demographic underpinnings support our positive fundamental outlook for housing, in the event micro-economic headwinds surface, we would expect housing transaction volumes and home prices to weather the storm.”

Aaron Terrazas, Zillow’s Senior Economist:

“While much remains unknown about the precise path of the U.S. economy in the years ahead, another housing market crisis is unlikely to be a central protagonist in the next nationwide downturn.”

Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist:

“If a recession is to occur, it is unlikely to be caused by housing-related activity, and therefore the housing sector should be one of the leading sources to come out of the recession.”

Mark J. Hulbert, Financial Analyst and Journalist:

“Real estate may be one of your best investments during the next bear market for stocks. And by real estate, I mean your home or other residential properties.”

U.S. News and World Report:

“Fortunately – and hopefully – the history of recessions and current issues that could harm the economy don’t lead many to believe the housing market crash will repeat itself in an upcoming decline.”


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How Long Do Most Families Live in a House?

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) keeps historical data on many aspects of homeownership. One of their data points, which has changed dramatically, is the median tenure of a family in a home, meaning how long a family stays in a home prior to moving.

As the graph below shows, over the last twenty years (1985-2008), the median tenure averaged exactly six years. However, since 2014, that average is almost ten years – an increase of almost 50%.

How Long Do Most Families Live in a House? | Keeping Current Matters

Why the dramatic increase?

The reasons for this change are plentiful!

The fall in home prices during the housing crisis left many homeowners in a negative equity situation (where their home was worth less than the mortgage on the property). Also, the uncertainty of the economy made some homeowners much more fiscally conservative about making a move.

With home prices rising dramatically over the last several years, 95.3% of homes with a mortgage are now in a positive equity situationaccording to CoreLogic.

With the economy coming back and wages starting to increase, many homeowners are in a much better financial situation than they were just a few short years ago.

One other reason for the increase was brought to light by NAR in their 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report. According to the report,

“Sellers 37 years and younger stayed in their home for six years…”

These homeowners, who are either looking for more space to accommodate their growing families or for better school districts to do the same, are likely to move more often (compared to typical sellers who stayed in their homes for 10 years). The homeownership rate among young families, however, has still not caught up to previous generations, resulting in the jump we have seen in median tenure!

What does this mean for housing?

Many believe that a large portion of homeowners are not in a house that is best for their current family circumstance; they could be baby boomers living in an empty, four-bedroom colonial, or a millennial couple living in a one-bedroom condo planning to start a family.

These homeowners are ready to make a move, and since a lack of housing inventory is still a major challenge in the current housing market, this could be great news.


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The #1 Reason to List Your House for Sale NOW!

If you are debating whether or not to list your house for sale this year, here is the #1 reason not to wait!

Buyer Demand Continues to Outpace the Supply of Homes for Sale

The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun recently commented on the current lack of inventory:

“Inventory coming onto the market during this year’s spring buying season – as evidenced again by last month’s weak reading – was not even close to being enough to satisfy demand. 

That is why home prices keep outpacing incomes and listings are going under contract in less than a month – and much faster – in many parts of the country.”

The latest Existing Home Sales Report shows that there is currently a 4.1-month supply of homes for sale. This remains lower than the 6-month supply necessary for a normal market, and 6.1% lower than last year’s inventory level.

The chart below details the year-over-year inventory shortages experienced over the last 12 months:

The #1 Reason to List Your House for Sale NOW! | Keeping Current Matters

Anything less than a six-month supply is considered a “seller’s market.”

Bottom Line

Meet with a local real estate professional who can show you the supply conditions in your neighborhood and assist you in gaining access to the buyers who are ready, willing, and able to buy right now!


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Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000

Rising home prices have many concerned that the average family will no longer be able to afford the most precious piece of the American Dream – their own home.

However, it is not just the price of a home that determines its affordability. The monthly cost of a home is determined by the price and the interest rate on the mortgage used to purchase it.

Today, mortgage interest rates stand at about 4.5%. The average annual mortgage interest rate from 1985 to 2000 was almost double that number, at 8.92%. When comparing affordability of homeownership over the decades, we must also realize that incomes have increased.

This is why most indexes use the percentage of median income required to make monthly mortgage payments on a typical home as the point of comparison.

Zillow recently released a report comparing home affordability over the decades using this formula. The report revealed that, though homes are less affordable this year than last year, they are more affordable today (17.1%) than they were between 1985-2000 (21%). Additionally, homes are more affordable now than at the peak of the housing bubble in 2006 (25.4%). Here is a chart of these findings:

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000 | Keeping Current Matters

What will happen when mortgage interest rates rise?

Most experts think that the mortgage interest rate will increase to about 5% by year’s end. How will that impact affordability? Zillow also covered this in their report:

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000 | Keeping Current Matters

Rates would need to approach 6% before homes became less affordable than they had been historically.

Bottom Line

Though homes are less affordable today than they were last year, they are still a great purchase while interest rates are below the 6% mark.


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Buying This Summer? Be Prepared for Bidding Wars

Summer is traditionally a busy season for real estate. Buyers come out in force and homeowners list their houses for sale hoping to capitalize on those buyers who are looking to purchase before the new school year. This year will be no different!

Buyers have already been out in force looking for their dream homes and more are on their way. The challenge is that the inventory of homes for sale has not kept up with demand, which has led to A LOT of competition for the homes that are available.

A recent article by the National Association of Realtors touched on the current market conditions:

“Realtors® in areas with strong job markets report that consumer frustration is rising. Home shoppers are increasingly struggling to find an affordable property to buy, and the prevalence of multiple bids is pushing prices further out of reach.”

Realtor.com went on to explain why buyers are flocking to the market in such big numbers:

“A booming economy and stable employment in most parts of the country have created a new generation of eager home buyers – and led to fevered price battles spilling over into some unexpected, smaller markets.”

Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for Realtor.com had this to say about competition:

Multiple-offer scenarios are no longer reserved to the usual big, fast-moving markets…demand for homes has spilled outward into secondary, smaller markets, and more buyers are gearing up to face fierce competition in more places around the country.”

Realtor.com looked at the number of homes that were selling above asking price to determine which markets were heating up. Below are the Top 10:

  • Akron, OH
  • Worcester, MA
  • Lexington, KY
  • Irvine, CA
  • Greensboro, NC
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Madison, WI
  • Louisville, KY
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Little Rock, AR

Bottom Line

In today’s competitive atmosphere, you need a professional on your side who not only knows the exact conditions in your market but can also help you take the steps you need to in order to secure your new home!


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Next Recession in 2020? What Will Be the Impact?

Economists and analysts know that the country has experienced economic growth for almost a decade. They also know that a recession can’t be too far off. A recent report by Zillow Research shed light on a survey conducted by Pulsenomics in which they asked economists, investment strategists and market analysts how they felt about the current housing market. That report revealed the possible timing of the next recession:

Experts largely expect the next recession to begin in 2020.”

That timing concurs with a recent survey of economists by the Wall Street Journal:

“The economic expansion that began in mid-2009 and already ranks as the second-longest in American history most likely will end in 2020 as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to cool off an overheating economy, according to forecasters surveyed.”

Here is a graph comparing the opinions of those surveyed by both the Wall Street Journal and Pulsenomics:

Next Recession in 2020? What Will Be the Impact? | Keeping Current Matters

Recession DOES NOT Equal Housing Crisis

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a recession is defined as follows:

“A period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.”

A recession means the economy has slowed down markedly. It does not mean we are experiencing another housing crisis. Obviously, the housing crash of 2008 caused the last recession. However, during the previous five recessions home values appreciated.

Next Recession in 2020? What Will Be the Impact? | Keeping Current Matters

According to the experts surveyed by Pulsenomics, the top three probable triggers for the next recession are:

  • Monetary policy
  • Trade policy
  • A stock market correction

A housing market correction was ranked ninth in probability. Those same experts also projected that home values would continue to appreciate in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.  

Others agree that housing will not be impacted like it was a decade ago.

Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist, explained:

“If a recession is to occur, it is unlikely to be caused by housing-related activity, and therefore the housing sector should be one of the leading sources to come out of the recession.”

And U.S. News and World Report agreed:

“Fortunately – and hopefully – the history of recessions and current issues that could harm the economy don’t lead many to believe the housing market crash will repeat itself in an upcoming decline.”

Bottom Line

A recession is probably less than two years away. A housing crisis is not.


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3 Issues Facing Today’s Real Estate Market

Last week, the National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE) held their 52nd Annual Journalism Conference in Las Vegas, NV. Among the many highly anticipated sessions was one called “Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate™,” given by Joseph Nahas, Jr., Chair of the Counselors of Real Estate & Senior Vice President of Equus Capital Partners. 

The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) “is an international organization of high profile property professionals which include principals of prominent real estate, financial, legal, and accounting firms as well as recognized leaders of government and academia.” 

Their annual “top 10” list spans any and all issues that could have an impact on the real estate market. This year, the list was broken up into “Current” and “Long-Term Issues.”

Today we’re going to focus on three of the five “Current” issues with a brief explanation of their impacts on the housing market today!

E-Commerce & Logistics

With promises of 2-day shipping no matter where you live, we are benefiting more now than ever before from the speed and ease-of-use of online retailers like Amazon. These e-retailers haven’t changed whether or not we buy certain items, but rather HOW we buy them!

Many traditional malls or big-box stores are being repurposed as warehouses or distribution centers for online retailers so that they can get their products out faster.

A Look to the Future: “Developers who are including experiences into their locations are the ones who will succeed. It’s about the experience and gaining something over just going to buy a product.”

Generational Change & Demographics

By now we’ve all heard that the millennial generation is the largest yet, just by sheer volume. The largest group of millennials turns 30 years-old in 2020. The average first-time homebuying age is between 30 and 32, depending on marital status. Real estate professionals will be inundated with more and more buyers as the years roll on. Nahas commented on this in his presentation, saying that,

“Too many developers have become dependent on making decisions based on baby boomer’s preferences.

The 75 million millennials are coming, and they will influence real estate and commerce even faster than the baby boomers in the 50s and 60s.”

Interest Rates & the Economy

The interest rate that you secure for your mortgage is a big factor in your monthly housing cost and in how much you ultimately pay for your home. According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates rose to 4.62% on a 30-year fixed rate loan last week.

The Federal Reserve also raised the federal funds rate for the second time this year. If unemployment continues to be at or near record lows, two more hikes are likely to come later this year.

Nahas added,

“Rising rates can be good and bad for the economy. Bad for borrowing money with additional costs, but good to control inflation and help grow the economy at a moderate pace.”

Bottom Line

If you are planning on buying and/or selling a home this year, consult a local real estate professional who can help you navigate the conditions in your market and set you up for success.


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How A Lack of Inventory Impacts the Housing Market

The housing crisis is finally in the rear-view mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up, home sales are up, and distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen to their lowest points in years. The market will continue to strengthen in 2018.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. Buyer demand naturally increases during the summer months, but supply is not keeping up.

Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject:

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at National Association of Realtors

“The worsening inventory crunch through the first three months of the year inflicted even more upward pressure on home prices in a majority of markets. Following the same trend over the last couple of years, a strengthening job market and income gains are not being met by meaningful sales gains because of unrelenting supply and affordability headwinds.”

Sam Khater, Chief Economist for Freddie Mac

“As we head into late spring, the demand for purchase credit remains rock solid, which should set us up for another robust summer home sales season. While this year’s high rates – up 50 basic points from a year ago – have put pressure on the budgets of some home shoppers, weak inventory levels are what’s keeping the housing market from a stronger sales pace.”

Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for Realtor.com

“The dynamics of increased competition and buyer frustration are unlikely to change…In fact, the direction of the trend is pointing to a growing mismatch between the pool of prospective buyers and existing inventory.”

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strong at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price.


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When Is a Good Time to Rent? Not Now!

People often ask if now is a good time to buy a home, but nobody ever asks whether or not it’s a good time to rent. Regardless, we want to make certain that everyone understands that now is NOT a good time to rent.

The Census Bureau recently released their 2018 first quarter median rent numbers. According to their report, here is a graph showing rent increases from 1988 until today:

When Is a Good Time to Rent? Not Now! | Keeping Current Matters

As you can see, rents have steadily increased and are showing no signs of slowing down. If you are faced with making the decision of whether or not you should renew your lease, you might be pleasantly surprised at your ability to buy a home of your own instead.

Bottom Line

One way to protect yourself from rising rents is to lock in your housing expense by buying a home. If you are ready and willing to buy, meet with a local real estate professional who can help determine if you are able to today!


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Days on The Market Drops to New Low in April

According to recently released data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median number of days that a home spent on the market hit a new low of 26 days in April, as 57% of homes were on the market for under a month.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, had this to say,

“What is available for sale is going under contract at a rapid pace. Since NAR began tracking this data in May 2011, the median days a listing was on the market was at an all-time low in April, and the share of homes sold in less than a month was at an all-time high.”

Strong buyer demand, a good economy, and a low inventory of new and existing homes for sale created the perfect storm to accelerate the time between listing and signing a contract.

The chart below shows the median days on the market from April 2017 to April 2018:

Days on The Market Drops to New Low in April | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If you are a homeowner who is debating whether or not to list your home for sale, know that national market conditions are primed for a quick turnaround! Meet with a local real estate agent who can explain to you exactly what’s going on in your area, today!


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Did Tax Reform Kill the Luxury Market? NOT SO FAR!

The new tax code limits the deduction of state and local property taxes, as well as income or sales taxes, to a total of $10,000. When the tax reform legislation was put into law at the beginning of the year, some experts felt that it could have a negative impact on the luxury housing market.

Capital Economics:

“The impact on expensive homes could be detrimental, with a limit on the MID raising taxes for those that itemize.”

Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics:

“The impact on house prices is much greater for higher-priced homes, especially in parts of the country where incomes are higher and there are thus a disproportionate number of itemizers, and where homeowners have big mortgages and property tax bills.”

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) predicted price declines in “high cost, higher tax areas” because of the tax changes. They forecasted a depreciation of 6.2% in New Jersey and 4.8% in Washington D.C. and New York.

What has actually happened?

Here are a few metrics to consider before we write-off the luxury market:

1. According to NAR’s latest Existing Home Sales Report, here is the percent change in sales from last year:

  • Homes sales between $500,000 – $750,000 are up 11.9%
  • Homes sales between $750,000 – $1M are up 16.8%
  • Homes sales over $1,000,000 are up 26.7%

2. In a report from Trulia, it was revealed that searches for “premium” homes as a percentage of all searches increased from 38.4% in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 41.4% in the first quarter of 2018.

3. According to an article from Bloomberg:

“Median home values nationally rose 8 percent in March compared with a year earlier, while neighborhoods of San Francisco and San Jose, California, have increased more than 25 percent.

Prices in affluent areas in Delaware and New York, such as the Hamptons, also surged more than 20 percent.”

Bottom Line

Aaron Terrazas, Zillow’s Senior Economist, probably summed up real estate’s luxury market the best:

“We are seeing the opposite of what was expected. We have certainly not seen the doomsday predictions play out.”


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Why Have Interest Rates Jumped to a 7-Year High?

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have climbed from 3.95% in the first week of January up to 4.61% last week, which marks a 7-year high according to Freddie Mac. The current pace of acceleration has been fueled by many factors.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist, had this to say:

“Healthy consumer spending and higher commodity prices spooked bond markets and led to higher mortgage rates over the past week.

Not only are buyers facing higher borrowing costs, gas prices are currently at four-year highs just as we enter the important peak home sales season.”

But what do gas prices have to do with interest rates?

Investopedia explains the relationship like this:

“The price of oil and inflation are often seen as being connected in a cause-and-effect relationship. As oil prices move up or down, inflation follows in the same direction.”

You may have noticed that filling your gas tank has become substantially more expensive in recent months. The average national gas price has climbed nearly $0.50 from the beginning of the year, leading to the highest price for Memorial Day weekend since 2014.

As rates go up, your purchasing power goes down, but don’t worry; rates are still well below the averages we’ve seen over the last four decades.

“Freddie Mac said this year’s higher rates have not yet caused much of a ripple in the strong demand levels for buying a home seen in most markets, but inflationary pressures and the prospect of rates approaching 5 percent could begin to hit the psyche of some prospective buyers.”

Buying sooner rather than later will help lock in a lower rate than waiting, as the experts believe rates will continue to climb. Even a small increase in interest rates can have a big impact on your monthly housing cost.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on buying a home this year, keep an eye on gas prices the next time you’re at the pump. If you start to feel a big jump in price, know that rates are probably on their way up too.


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Don’t Wait to Sell Your House! Buyers Are Out Now

Recently released data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) suggests that a now is a great time to sell your home. The concept of ‘supply & demand’ reveals that the best price for an item is realized when the supply of that item is low and the demand for that item is high.

Let’s see how this applies to the current residential real estate market.

SUPPLY

It is no secret that the supply of homes for sale has been far below the number needed to sustain a normal market for over a year at this point. A normal market requires six months of housing inventory to meet the demand. The latest report from NAR revealed that there is currently only a 3.6-month supply of houses on the market.

Supply is currently very low!

DEMAND

A report that was just released tells us that demand is very strong. The most recent Foot Traffic Report (which sheds light on the number of buyers who are actually out looking at homes) disclosed that “foot traffic grew 10.5 points to 52.4 in March as the new season approaches.”

Demand is currently very high!

Bottom Line

Waiting to sell will only increase the competition between you and all of the other sellers putting their houses on the market later this summer. If you are debating whether or not to list your home, contact a local real estate professional who can explain the conditions in your market.


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Renters Under 50 Want to Buy a Home!

Every year, the New York Federal Reserve publishes the results of their Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE). Each survey covers a wide range of topics including inflation, labor market, household finance, credit access and housing.

One of the many questions asked in the housing section of the survey was:

Assuming you had the financial resources to do so, would you like to OWN instead of RENT your primary residence?

Over three-quarters of respondents under the age of 50 said that they would prefer to own their home, rather than rent. While only 52.6% of those over 50 would prefer to own. The full breakdown can be found in the chart below.

Renters Under 50 Want to Buy a Home! | Keeping Current Matters

When renters were asked what the average probability of owning a primary residence at some point in their future was, 66.4% of those under 50 believed that they would eventually own their home, while only 23% of those over 50 did.

Renters Under 50 Want to Buy a Home! | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Many had wondered if young Americans had lost their desire to own a home, but for those renting now, that dream is still alive.


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Homeownership: “A Man Is Not a Complete Man, Unless He Owns a House”

The famous quote by Walt Whitman, “A man is not a whole and complete man, unless he owns a house and the ground it stands on,” can be used to describe homeownership in America today. The Census revealed that the percentage of homeowners in America has been steadily climbing back up since hitting a 50-year low in 2016. The homeownership rate in the first quarter of 2018 was 64.2%, higher than last year’s 63.6%.
Homeownership: "A Man Is Not a Complete Man, Unless He Owns a House" | Keeping Current Matters

Chief Economist, Dr. Ralph McLaughlin, in his VUE Blog gave these new homeownership numbers some context:

“The trend is clear: the homeownership rate has been ticking up for five consecutive quarters, and the number of new renter households has fallen for four consecutive quarters. Owner-occupied households grew by 1.345 million from a year ago, while the number of renters actually fell by 286,000 households.

The fact that we now have four consecutive quarters where owner households increased while renter households fell is a strong sign households are making a switch from renting to buying. This is a trend that multifamily builders, investors, and landlords should take note of.”

In a separate article comparing the rental population in America to the homeowner population, Realtor.com also concluded that the gap is now shrinking:

“The U.S. added 1.3 million owner households over the last year and lost 286,000 renter households, the fourth consecutive quarter in which the number of renter households declined from the same quarter a year earlier. That could pose challenges for apartment landlords, who are bracing this year for one of the largest infusions of new rental supply in three decades.”

America’s belief in homeownership was also evidenced in a survey conducted by Pew Research. They asked consumers “How important is homeownership to achieving the American Dream?”

The results:

  • 43% said homeownership was essential to the American Dream
  • 48% said homeownership was important to the American Dream
  • Only 9% said it was not important

Bottom Line

Homeownership has been, is, and always will be a crucial part of the American Dream.


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5 Ways Tax Reform Has Impacted the 2018 Housing Market

Starting late last year, some predicted that the 2018 tax changes would cripple the housing market. Headlines warned of the potential for double-digit price depreciation and suggested that buyer demand could drop like a rock. There was even sentiment that homeownership could lose its coveted status as a major component of the American Dream.

Now that the first quarter numbers are in, we can begin to decipher the actual that impact tax reform has had on the real estate market.

1. Has tax reform killed off home buyer demand? The answer is “NO.”

According to the Showing Time Index which “tracks the average number of buyer showings on active residential properties on a monthly basis” and is a “highly reliable leading indicator of current and future demand trends,” buyer demand has increased each month over the last three months and is HIGHER than it was for the same months last year. Buyer demand is not down. It is up.

2. Have the tax changes affected America’s belief in real estate as a long-term investment? The answer is “NO.”

Two weeks ago, Gallup released its annual survey which asks Americans which asset they believed to be the best long-term investment. The survey revealed:

“More Americans name real estate over several other vehicles for growing wealth as the best long-term investment for the fifth year in a row. Just over a third cite real estate for this, while roughly a quarter name stocks or mutual funds.” 

The survey also showed that the percentage of Americans who believe real estate is the best long-term investment was unchanged from a year ago.

3. Has the homeownership rate been negatively impacted by the tax changes? The answer is “NO.”

Not only did the homeownership rate not crash, it increased when compared to the first quarter of last year according to data released by the Census Bureau.

In her latest Z Report,Ivy Zelman explains that tax reform didn’t hurt the homeownership rate, but instead, enhanced it:

“We have been of the opinion that homeownership is most highly correlated with income and the net effect of tax reform would be a positive, rather than negative catalyst for the homeownership rate. While still in the early innings of tax changes, this has proven to be the case.”

4. Has the upper-end market been crushed by new State and Local Taxes (SALT) limitations? The answer is “NO.”

In the National Association of Realtors latest Existing Home Sales Report it was revealed that:

  • Sales between $500,000 and $750,000 were up 4.5% year-over-year
  • Sales between $750,000 and $1M were up 15.1% year-over-year
  • Sales over $1M were up 17.3% year-over-year

5. Will the reforms in the tax code cause home prices to tumble over the next twelve months? The answer is “NO.”

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insights Report, home prices will appreciate in each of the 50 states over the next twelve months. Appreciation is projected to be anywhere from 1.9% to 10.3% with the national average being 4.7%.

Bottom Line

The doomsday scenarios that some predicted based on tax reform fears seem to have already blown over based on the early housing industry numbers being reported.


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4 Reasons Why Today’s Housing Market is NOT 2006 All Over Again

With home prices rising again this year, some are concerned that we may be repeating the 2006 housing bubble that caused families so much pain when it collapsed. Today’s market is quite different than the bubble market of twelve years ago. There are four key metrics that explain why:

  1. Home Prices
  2. Mortgage Standards
  3. Mortgage Debt
  4. Housing Affordability

1. HOME PRICES

There is no doubt that home prices have reached 2006 levels in many markets across the country. However, after more than a decade, home prices should be much higher based on inflation alone.

Frank Nothaft is the Chief Economist for CoreLogic (which compiles some of the best data on past, current, and future home prices). Nothaft recently explained:

“Even though CoreLogic’s national home price index got to the same level it was at the prior peak in April of 2006, once you account for inflation over the ensuing 11.5 years, values are still about 18% below where they were.” (emphasis added)

2. MORTGAGE STANDARDS

Some are concerned that banks are once again easing lending standards to a level similar to the one that helped create the last housing bubble. However, there is proof that today’s standards are nowhere near as lenient as they were leading up to the crash.

The Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center issues a Housing Credit Availability Index (HCAI). According to the Urban Institute:

“The HCAI measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates that lenders are willing to tolerate defaults and are taking more risks, making it easier to get a loan.”

The graph below reveals that standards today are much tighter on a borrower’s credit situation and have all but eliminated the riskiest loan products.

4 Reasons Why Today’s Housing Market is NOT 2006 All Over Again | Keeping Current Matters

3. MORTGAGE DEBT

Back in 2006, many homeowners mistakenly used their homes as ATMs by withdrawing their equity and spending it with no concern for the ramifications. They overloaded themselves with mortgage debt that they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) repay when prices crashed. That is not occurring today.

The best indicator of mortgage debt is the Federal Reserve Board’s household Debt Service Ratio for mortgages, which calculates mortgage debt as a percentage of disposable personal income.

At the height of the bubble market a decade ago, the ratio stood at 7.21%. That meant over 7% of disposable personal income was being spent on mortgage payments. Today, the ratio stands at 4.48% – the lowest level in 38 years!

4. HOUSING AFFORDABILITY

With both house prices and mortgage rates on the rise, there is concern that many buyers may no longer be able to afford a home. However, when we look at the Housing Affordability Index released by the National Association of Realtors, homes are more affordable now than at any other time since 1985 (except for when prices crashed after the bubble popped in 2008).

4 Reasons Why Today’s Housing Market is NOT 2006 All Over Again | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

After using four key housing metrics to compare today to 2006, we can see that the current market is not anything like the bubble market.


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How Much Has Your Home Increased in Value Over the Last Year?

Home values have risen dramatically over the last twelve months. In CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Report, they revealed that national home prices have increased by 6.7% year-over-year.

CoreLogic broke down appreciation even further into four price ranges, giving us a more detailed view than if we had simply looked at the year-over-year increases in national median home price.

The chart below shows the four price ranges from the report, as well as each one’s year-over-year growth from February 2017 to February 2018 (the latest data available).

How Much Has Your Home Increased in Value Over the Last Year? | Keeping Current Matters

It is important to pay attention to how prices are changing in your local market. The location of your home is not the only factor that determines how much your home has appreciated over the course of the last year.

Lower-priced homes have appreciated at greater rates than homes at the upper ends of the spectrum due to demand from first-time home buyers and baby boomers looking to downsize.

Bottom Line

If you are planning to list your home for sale in today’s market, find a local agent who can explain exactly what’s going on in your area and your price range.


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Why Home Prices Are Increasing

There are many unsubstantiated theories as to why home values are continuing to increase. From those who are worried that lending standards are again becoming too lenient (data shows this is untrue), to those who are concerned that prices are again approaching boom peaks because of “irrational exuberance” (this is also untrue as prices are not at peak levels when they are adjusted for inflation), there seems to be no shortage of opinion.

However, the increase in prices is easily explained by the theory of supply & demand. Whenever there is a limited supply of an item that is in high demand, prices increase.

It is that simple. In real estate, it takes a six-month supply of existing salable inventory to maintain pricing stability. In most housing markets, anything less than six months will cause home values to appreciate and anything more than seven months will cause prices to depreciate (see chart below).

Why Home Prices Are Increasing | Keeping Current Matters

According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the monthly inventory of homes for sale has been below six months for the last five years (see chart below).

Why Home Prices Are Increasing | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If buyer demand continues to outpace the current supply of existing homes for sale, prices will continue to appreciate. Nothing nefarious is taking place. It is simply the theory of supply & demand working as it should.


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Existing Home Sales Grow Despite Low Inventory [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors, sales grew 1.1% in March to an annual pace of 5.60 million.
  • This is the strongest pace since November of 2017.
  • Inventory levels dropped year-over-year for the 34th consecutive month and are now 7.2% lower than March 2017 levels, representing a 3.6-month supply.

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Buying a Home Is Cheaper Than Renting in the Majority of the US

The results of the 2018 Rental Affordability Report from ATTOM show that buying a median-priced home is more affordable than renting a three-bedroom property in 54% of U.S. counties analyzed for the report.

The updated numbers show that renting a three-bedroom property in the United States requires an average of 38.8% of income.

The least affordable market for renting was Marin County, CA, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, where renters spend a staggering 79.5% of average wages on rent, while the most affordable market was Madison County, AL where 22.3% of average wages went to rent.

Other interesting findings in the report include:

  • Average rent rose faster than income in 60% of counties
  • Average rent rose faster than median home prices in 41% of counties
  • While median home prices rose faster than average rents in 58% of counties

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, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you find your dream home.


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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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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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Freddie Mac: Rising Mortgage Rates DO NOT Lead to Falling Home Prices

Recently, Freddie Mac published an Insight Report titled Nowhere to go but up? How increasing mortgage rates could affect housing. The report focused on the impact the projected rise in mortgage rates might have on the housing market this year.

Many believe that an increase in mortgage rates will cause a slowdown in purchases which would, in turn, lead to a fall in house values. Ultimately, however, prices are determined by supply and demand and while rising mortgage rates may slow demand, they also affect supply. From the report:

 “For current homeowners, the decision to buy a new home is typically linked to their decision to sell their current home… Because of this link, the financing costs of the existing mortgage are part of the homeowner’s decision of whether and when to move.

Once financing costs for a new mortgage rise above the rate borrowers are paying for their current mortgage, borrowers would have to give up below-market financing to sell their home.

Instead, they may choose to delay both the sale of their existing home and the purchase of a new home to maintain the advantageous financing.”

The Freddie Mac report, in acknowledging this situation, concluded that prices are not adversely impacted by higher mortgage rates. They explained:

“While there is a drop in the demand for homes, there is an associated drop in the supply of homes from the link between the selling and buying decisions. As both supply and demand move together in this way they have offsetting effects on price—lower demand decreases price and lower supply increases price.

They went on to reveal that the Freddie Mac National House Price Index is…

“…unresponsive to movements in interest rates. In the current housing market, the driving force behind the increase in prices is a low supply of both new and existing homes combined with historically low rates. As mortgage rates increase, the demand for home purchases will likely remain strong relative to the constrained supply and continue to put upward pressure on home prices.”

The following graph, based on data from the report, reveals what happened to home prices the last six times mortgage rates rose by at least 1%.

Freddie Mac: Rising Mortgage Rates DO NOT Lead to Falling Home Prices | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Whether you are a move-up buyer or first-time buyer, waiting to purchase your next home based on the belief that prices will fall because of rising mortgage rates makes no sense.


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