This is Not 2008 All Over Again: The Mortgage Lending Factor

This is Not 2008 All Over Again: The Mortgage Lending Factor | Simplifying The Market

Some are afraid the real estate market may be looking a lot like it did prior to the housing crash in 2008. One of the factors they’re pointing at is the availability of mortgage money.

Recent articles about the availability of low-down payment loans and down payment assistance programs are causing concern that we’re returning to the bad habits of a decade ago. Let’s alleviate the fears about the current mortgage market.

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association releases an index several times a year titled: The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to their website:

“The MCAI provides the only standardized quantitative index that is solely focused on mortgage credit. The MCAI is…a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.”

Basically, the index determines how easy it is to get a mortgage. The higher the index, the more available the mortgage credit.

Here is a graph of the MCAI dating back to 2004, when the data first became available:This is Not 2008 All Over Again: The Mortgage Lending Factor | Simplifying The Market As we can see, the index stood at about 400 in 2004. Mortgage credit became more available as the housing market heated up, and then the index passed 850 in 2006. When the real estate market crashed, so did the MCAI (to below 100), as mortgage money became almost impossible to secure.

Thankfully, lending standards have eased since. The index, however, is still below 200, which is half of what it was before things got out of control.

Bottom Line

It is easier to get a mortgage today than it was immediately after the market crash, but it is still difficult. The difference in 2006? At that time, it was difficult not to get a mortgage.

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Buyer Demand Growing in Every Region

Buyer Demand Growing in Every Region | Simplifying The Market

Buyers are out in full force this fall, increasing the demand for homebuying in all four regions of the country.

According to the latest ShowingTime Showing Index,

“Home showing activity was up again nationwide with a 4.6 percent rise in traffic, as the traditionally slow fall season began with a marked boost in buyer interest.”

Buyers clearly have the right idea, as mortgage rates have dropped over a full percentage point since the fall of 2018. They’ve hovered in a historically low range since this summer, making the overall cost of homeownership significantly more attractive and affordable.

Here’s the breakdown of how ShowingTime reports current buyer traffic patterns across the country:

“The West Region, which until August had experienced 18 consecutive months of flagging home buyer traffic, lead the four regions in year-over-year improvement with an 8.9 percent increase in buyer activity.

The South followed with a 6.4 percent increase, the largest such improvement in the region since April 2018, with the Northeast Region’s 5.6 percent increase the next largest among the four regions.

The Midwest’s more modest 0.8 percent year-over-year growth rounded out the nation’s promising month.”

Buyer Demand Growing in Every Region | Simplifying The MarketWith ShowingTime reporting “nationwide growth for the second consecutive month, a first since December 2017 – January 2018”, it’s one more reason why selling your house this winter is the way to go. List while buyers are on the market, before competition with other sellers pops up in your neighborhood.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of waiting until spring to sell, think again! Let’s get together to discuss listing your house now while buyer traffic is actively surging throughout the country.

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Homeownership Rate Remains on the Rise

Homeownership Rate Remains on the Rise | Simplifying The Market

In the third quarter of 2019, the U.S. homeownership rate rose again, signaling another strong indicator of the current housing market.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced,

“The homeownership rate of 64.8 percent was not statistically different from the rate in the third quarter 2018 (64.4 percent), but was 0.7 percentage points higher than the rate in the second quarter 2019 (64.1 percent).”

Homeownership Rate Remains on the Rise | Simplifying The MarketToday there is still a lack of inventory, particularly at the entry and middle-level segments of the market, but that is not stopping buyers from making every effort to pursue homeownership. The many financial and non-financial benefits continue to drive the American Dream and will likely do so for generations to come.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying a home, let’s get together to make your dream a reality.

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Forget the Price of the Home. The Cost is What Matters.

Forget the Price of the Home. The Cost is What Matters. | Simplifying The Market

Home buying activity (demand) is up, and the number of available listings (supply) is down. When demand outpaces supply, prices appreciate. That’s why firms are beginning to increase their projections for home price appreciation going forward. As an example, CoreLogic increased their 12-month projection for home values from 4.5% to 5.6% over the last few months.

The reacceleration of home values will cause some to again voice concerns about affordability. Just last week, however, First American came out with a data analysis that explains how price is not the only market factor that impacts affordability. They studied prices, mortgage rates, and wages from January through August of this year. Here are their findings:

Home Prices

“In January 2019, a family with the median household income in the U.S. could afford to buy a $373,900 house. By August, that home had appreciated to $395,000, an increase of $21,100.”

Mortgage Interest Rates

“The 0.85 percentage point drop in mortgage rates from January 2019 through August 2019 increased affordability by 9.7%. That translates to a $40,200 improvement in house-buying power in just eight months.”

Wage Growth

“As rates have fallen in 2019, the economy has continued to perform well also, resulting in a tight labor market and wage growth. Wage growth pushes household incomes upward, which were 1.5% higher in August compared with January. The growth in household income increased consumer house-buying power by 1.5%, pushing house-buying power up an additional $5,600.”

When all three market factors are combined, purchasing power increased by $24,500, thus making home buying more affordable, not less affordable. Here is a table that simply shows the data:Forget the Price of the Home. The Cost is What Matters. | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

In the article, Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explained it best:

“Focusing on nominal house price changes alone as an indication of changing affordability, or even the relationship between nominal house price growth and income growth, overlooks what matters more to potential buyers – surging house-buying power driven by the dynamic duo of mortgage rates and income growth. And, we all know from experience, you buy what you can afford to pay per month.”

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Thinking of Selling Your Home? The Waiting Is The Hardest Part.

Thinking of Selling Your Home? The Waiting Is The Hardest Part. | Simplifying The Market

Tom Petty famously penned the words, “the waiting is the hardest part” in his early 80’s hit song The Waiting, and his thought process can surprisingly also be applied to individuals considering selling their homes today. Traditional thinking would suggest it may be best to wait until the spring to sell when there is a flood of buyers in the market, but right now may in fact be an even better time to list your home.

We can see the overall economy is good: wages are rising, there are near record-low unemployment rates, and mortgage interest rates are still very low too. Over the past 10+ years the housing market has stabilized, so what (if anything) is the biggest challenge in the housing market today?

The answer is simple: it’s inventory.

According to the Existing Home Sales Report by the National Association of Realtors,

“Total housing inventory at the end of September sat at 1.83 million, approximately equal to the amount of existing-homes available for sale in August, but a 2.7% decrease from 1.88 million one year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.1-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.0 months in August and down from the 4.4-month figure recorded in September 2018.”

What does this mean?

While homes are coming to the market, they aren’t coming fast enough! Right now, across the country there is less than 6 months of overall inventory of homes for sale, putting us in a seller’s market. The challenge is that there are not enough homes for sale to increase the supply needed for the number of people who want to buy, especially in the starter and middle-level markets.

To be in a balanced market (meaning we have enough inventory for the number of buyers in the market), we need to have 6 months of inventory available. Today we are nowhere near that number, and as a matter of fact, the last time we reached that height was August 2012 (as shown in the graph below):Thinking of Selling Your Home? The Waiting Is The Hardest Part. | Simplifying The MarketWhen we look at the inventory challenge today, we can see that now is a great time to sell your house. Truthfully, waiting may end up being the hardest part in the long run. This landscape is a great place for sellers who own homes in the starter and middle-level markets to take the opportunity to sell in a sellers’ market, before inventory catches up with demand. Serious buyers are actively in the market and ready to make a move at this time of year. When inventory is limited at the lower end, like it is today, selling before more homes are listed could mean a significant seller’s advantage to those who are ready to move up. The upper level of the market has much more inventory available to move into, so it’s a win across the board.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering selling your home, don’t wait – now is the time to make your move! Take advantage of the high housing demand and the low inventory of homes for sale at the lower end of the market and use your purchasing power while mortgage rates are low to go after the move-up home of your dreams. Let’s get together to decide if now is the right time for you.

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Homes Are Selling Quickly [INFOGRAPHIC]

Homes Are Selling Quickly [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Homes Are Selling Quickly [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • The National Association of REALTORS® surveyed their members for the release of their Confidence Index.
  • The REALTORS® Confidence Index is a key indicator of housing market strength based on a monthly survey sent to over 50,000 real estate practitioners. Practitioners are asked about their expectations for home sales, prices, and market conditions.
  • Homes across the country are selling quickly, in an average of just 31 days.
  • 49% of homes sold in less than a month.

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3 Reasons This is NOT the 2008 Real Estate Market

3 Reasons This is NOT the 2008 Real Estate Market | Simplifying The Market

Today’s real estate market is nothing like the 2008 market. When an economic slowdown happens, it won’t resemble the last one.

No one knows for sure when the next recession will occur. What is known, however, is that the upcoming economic slowdown will not be caused by a housing market crash, as was the case in 2008. There are those who disagree and are comparing today’s real estate market to the market in 2005-2006, which preceded the crash. In many ways, however, the market is very different now. Here are three suppositions being put forward by some, and why they don’t hold up.

SUPPOSITION #1

A critical warning sign last time was the surging gap between the growth in home prices and household income. Today, home values have also outpaced wage gains. As in 2006, a lack of affordability will kill the market.

Counterpoint

The “gap” between wages and home price growth has existed since 2012. If that is a sign of a recession, why didn’t we have one sometime in the last seven years? Also, a buyer’s purchasing power is MUCH GREATER today than it was thirteen years ago. The equation to determine affordability has three elements:  home prices, wages, AND MORTGAGE INTEREST RATES. Today, the mortgage rate is about 3.5% versus 6.41% in 2006.

SUPPOSITION #2

In 2018, as in 2005, housing-price growth began slowing, with significant price drops occurring in some major markets. Look at Manhattan where home prices are in a “near free-fall.”

Counterpoint

The only major market showing true depreciation is Seattle, and it looks like home values in that city are about to reverse and start appreciating again. CoreLogic is projecting home price appreciation to reaccelerate across the country over the next twelve months.

Regarding Manhattan, home prices are dropping because the city’s new “mansion tax” is sapping demand. Additionally, the new federal tax code that went into effect last year continues to impact the market, capping deductions for state and local taxes, known as SALT, at $10,000. That had the effect of making it more expensive to own homes in states like New York.

SUPPOSITION #3

Prices will crash because that is what happened during the last recession.

Counterpoint

It is true that home values sank by almost 20% during the 2008 recession. However, it is also true that in the four previous recessions, home values depreciated only once (by less than 2%). In the other three, residential real estate values increased by 3.5%, 6.1%, and 6.6%.

Price is determined by supply and demand. In 2008, there was an overabundance of housing inventory (a 9-month supply). Today, housing inventory is less than half of that (a 4-month supply).

Bottom Line

We need to realize that today’s real estate market is nothing like the 2008 market. Therefore, when a recession occurs, it won’t resemble the last one.

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3 Reasons to Use a Real Estate Pro in a Complex Digital World

3 Reasons to Use a Real Estate Pro in a Complex Digital World | Simplifying The Market

If you’re searching for a home online, you’re not alone; lots of people are doing it. The question is, are you using all of your available resources, and are you using them wisely? Here’s why the Internet is a great place to start the home-buying process, and the truth on why it should never be your only go-to resource when it comes to making such an important decision.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the three most popular information sources home buyers use in the home search are:

  • Online website (93%)
  • Real estate agent (86%)
  • Mobile/tablet website or app (73%)

Clearly, you’re not alone if you’re starting your search online; 93% of home buyers are right there with you. The even better news: 86% of buyers are also getting their information from a real estate agent at the same time.

Here are 3 top reasons why using a real estate professional in addition to a digital search is key:

1. There’s More to Real Estate Than Finding a Home Online. It’s a lonely and complicated trek around the web if you don’t have a real estate professional to also help you through the 230 possible steps you’ll face as you navigate through a real estate transaction. That’s a pretty staggering number! Determining your price, submitting an offer, and successful negotiation are just a few of these key steps in the sequence. You’ll definitely want someone who has been there before to help you through it.

2. You Need a Skilled Negotiator. In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of dollars. From the original offer to the appraisal and the inspection, many of the intricate steps can get complicated and confusing. You need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

3. It Is Crucial to Make a Competitive and Compelling Offer. There is so much information out there in the news and on the Internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates. How do you know what’s specifically going on in your area? 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 a real estate professional who has his or her finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying experience an informed and educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to start your search online, let’s get together. You’ll want someone who is educated and informed at your side who can answer your questions and guide you through a process that can be complex and confusing if you go at it with the Internet alone.

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Be on the Lookout for Gen Z: The Next Generation of Homebuyers

Be on the Lookout for Gen Z: The Next Generation of Homebuyers | Simplifying The Market

Gen Zers are the next generation of homeowners, and they’re eager to jump in and buy their first homes. Whether you are part of this generation or any other, it’s never too early to start saving, so you can reach your homeownership goal sooner rather than later.

You’ve likely heard a ton about Millennials, but what about Gen Z? In the next 5 years, this generation will be between the ages of 23 and 28, and they’re eager to become homeowners faster than you may think.

According to realtor.com,Nearly 80 percent of Generation Z members say they want to own a home before age 30,” and Concentrix Analytics said, “52% of prospective Gen Z buyers are already saving to buy a home.”

Wikipedia defines Generation Z (Gen Z) as “the demographic cohort after the Millennials. Demographers and researchers typically use the mid-1990s to mid-2000s as starting birth years.”

The report from Concentrix goes a little deeper on Gen Z, identifying the main reasons this cohort wants to own homes:

  • 55% want to own a home because they want to start a family
  • 47% want to build wealth over time
  • 33% want to make their family proud

Although they’re eager to buy, this generation also perceives a few challenges ahead:

  • 66% believe saving for a down payment and closing costs will be challenging
  • 58% feel covering the monthly costs of owning may be difficult
  • 52% perceive a lack of knowledge about where to start

It is also interesting to note that 21% of Gen Zers think their parents will provide financial help, 17% will use a down payment assistance program, and 15% believe other family members will help them. One of the highlights of the report mentioned,

“More than half of Gen Zers who think they’ll receive help also think they will need to pay their parents back, compared to 40 percent of millennials.”

Bottom Line

It is never too early to start saving for your own home, whether you are part of Gen Z or a different generation. If you would like to know where to start and how much you need to save to reach your goal of buying a home, let’s get together so you can better understand the process.

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Existing-Home Sales Report Indicates Now Is a Great Time to Sell

Existing-Home Sales Report Indicates Now Is a Great Time to Sell | Simplifying The Market

Based on the current state of the market, trends are shifting in favor of sellers. If you are going to sell, now may be the time to take advantage of the number of buyers who are searching for their dream home.

The best time to sell anything is when demand for that item is high and the supply of that item is limited. The latest Existing-Home Sales Report released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), reveals that demand for housing continues to be strong, but the supply is struggling to keep pace. With this trend likely continuing throughout 2020, now is a great time to sell your house.

THE EXISTING-HOME SALES REPORT

The most important data revealed in this report was not actually sales. In reality, it was the inventory of homes for sale (supply). The report explained:

  • Total housing inventory at the end of August decreased 2.6% to 1.86 million homes available for sale.
  • Unsold inventory is lower than the 4.3-month figure recorded in August 2018.
  • This represents a 1-month supply at the current sales pace.

According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR,

“Sales are up, but inventory numbers remain low and are thereby pushing up
home prices.”

In real estate, there is a simple guideline that often applies here. Essentially, when there is less than a 6-month supply of inventory available, we are in a seller’s market and we will see greater appreciation. Between a 6 to 7-month supply 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 can expect depreciation in home values (see below):Existing-Home Sales Report Indicates Now Is a Great Time to Sell | Simplifying The MarketAs we mentioned before, there is currently a 4.1-month supply of homes on the market, and houses are going under contract fast. The Existing Home Sales Report also shows that 49% of properties were on the market for less than a month when they were sold. In August, properties sold nationally were typically on the market for 31 days. As Yun notes, this should continue,

“As expected, buyers are finding it hard to resist the current rates…The desire to take advantage of these promising conditions is leading more buyers to the market.” 

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 who are out there searching for your house to become their dream home.

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