If Housing Affordability Is About the Money, Don’t Forget This.

If Housing Affordability Is About the Money, Don’t Forget This. | Simplifying The Market

There are many non-financial benefits of buying your own home. However, today’s headlines seem to be focusing primarily on the financial aspects of homeownership – specifically affordability. Many articles are making the claim that it’s not affordable to buy a home in today’s market, but that isn’t the case.

Today’s buyers are spending approximately 20% of their income on their monthly mortgage payments. According to The Essential Guide to Creating a Homebuying Budget from Freddie Mac, the 20% of income that purchasers are currently paying is well within the 28% guideline suggested:

“Most lenders agree that you should spend no more than 28% of your gross monthly income on a mortgage payment (including principal, interest, taxes and insurance).”

So why is there so much talk about challenges regarding affordability?

It’s Not That Homes Are Unaffordable – It’s That They’re Less Affordable.

Since home prices are rising, it’s true that homes are less affordable than they have been since the housing crash fifteen years ago. Headlines making these claims aren’t incorrect; they just don’t tell the whole story. To paint the full picture, you have to look at how today stacks up with historical data. A closer analysis of affordability going further back in time reveals that homes today are more affordable than any time from 1975 to 2005.

Despite that, the chatter about affordability is pushing some buyers to the sidelines. They don’t feel comfortable knowing someone else got a better deal a year ago.

However, Are Homes Really Less Affordable if We Consider Equity?

In a recent post, Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, offers a different take on the financial components of housing affordability. Kushi proposes we should at least consider the impact equity build-up has on the affordability equation, stating:

“For those trying to buy a home, rapid house price appreciation can be intimidating and makes the purchase more expensive. However, once the home is purchased, appreciation helps build equity in the home, and becomes a benefit rather than a cost. When accounting for the appreciation benefit in our rent versus own analysis, it was cheaper to own in every one of the top 50 markets.”

Let’s look at an example. In the above-mentioned post, Kushi examines the rent versus buy situation in Dallas, Texas. Kushi chose Dallas because home prices there sit near the median of the top 50 markets in the nation.

Kushi first calculates the monthly mortgage payment on a median-priced home with a 5% down payment and a mortgage rate of 3% (see chart below):If Housing Affordability Is About the Money, Don’t Forget This. | Simplifying The MarketKushi then takes the monthly cost and subtracts the appreciation the home had over the previous twelve months. The average house price in Dallas increased 17.5% in the second quarter of 2021 compared to last year (this is in line with the national pace). That equates to an equity benefit of approximately $3,550 each month if the pace remains the same (see chart below):If Housing Affordability Is About the Money, Don’t Forget This. | Simplifying The MarketWe can see the equity gained each month was greater than the monthly mortgage payment, resulting in a negative cost to own. The buyer could build their net worth by $1,830 each month – after paying their mortgage.

Kushi then compares the monthly cost of owning to the cost of renting (see chart below):If Housing Affordability Is About the Money, Don’t Forget This. | Simplifying The MarketWhen adding equity build-up into the equation, the cost of renting is $3,140 more expensive than owning. Again, the First American analysis shows that it’s less expensive to own in each of the top 50 markets in the country when including the equity component.

Bottom Line

If you’re on the fence about whether to buy or rent right now, let’s connect so we can determine if the equity increase in our local market should impact your decision.

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More Young People Are Buying Homes

More Young People Are Buying Homes | Simplifying The Market

There’s a common misconception that younger generations aren’t interested in homeownership. Many people point to the fact that millennials put off purchasing their first home as a reason for this belief.

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist for First American, explains why millennials have put off certain milestones linked to homeownership. Those delays led to their homeownership rates trailing slightly behind older generations:

Historically, millennials have delayed the critical lifestyle choices often linked to buying a first home, including getting married and having children, in order to further their education. This is clear in cross-generational comparisons of homeownership rates which show millennials lagging their generational predecessors.”

So, it’s partially true that some millennials have waited on homeownership to focus on other things in their lives – and that’s impacting certain housing market trends.

Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) indicates the average age of a first-time homebuyer is higher today than it’s been over the past 40 years. As the graph below shows, homebuyers today are purchasing their first home an average of 4 years later than people in the 1980s and early 1990s:More Young People Are Buying Homes | Simplifying The MarketBut just because millennials are hitting certain milestones later in life doesn’t mean they’re not interested in becoming homeowners. The recent U.S. Census reveals a significant increase in homeownership rates for millennials and other young homebuyers.More Young People Are Buying Homes | Simplifying The MarketAs the graph above shows, millennials are entering the market in full force, and their share of the market is growing. Based on the data, the belief that younger generations don’t want to buy homes is a misconception. In fact, the recent Capital Market Outlook report from Merrill-Lynch further drives home this point, as it specifically mentions the effect millennials are having on demand:

“Demand is very strong because the biggest demographic cohort in history is moving through the household-formation and peak home-buying stages of its life cycle.”

Kushi is following the trend of millennial homeownership and puts it more simply, saying:

“. . . it’s clear that younger households (millennials!) are driving homeownership growth.”

As the largest generation, millennials’ impact on the market is growing as more and more people from that generation reach homebuying age – and Generation Z isn’t far behind, either. That means younger generations will likely continue to drive demand in the housing market for years to come.

Bottom Line

If you’re a member of a younger generation and interested in purchasing a home, you’re not alone. Many of your peers are on their path to homeownership, too. Let’s connect today and discuss what you can do to accomplish your homebuying goals.

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With Rents on the Rise – Is Now the Time To Buy?

With Rents on the Rise – Is Now the Time To Buy? | Simplifying The Market

According to recent data from realtor.com, median rental prices have reached their highest point ever recorded in many areas across the country. The report found rents rose by 8.1% from the same time last year. As it notes:

Beyond simply recovering to pre-pandemic levels, rents across the country are surging. Typically, rents fluctuate less than 1% from month to month. In May and June, rents increased by 3.0% and 3.2% from each month to the next.”

If you’re a renter concerned about rising prices, now may be the time to consider purchasing a home.

Monthly Rents Are Higher Than Monthly Mortgage Payments

When you weigh your options of whether to buy a home or continue renting, how much you’ll pay each month is likely top of mind. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), monthly mortgage payments are rising, but they’re still significantly lower than the typical rental payment. NAR indicates the latest data on homes closed shows the median monthly mortgage payment is $1,204.

By contrast, the median national rent is $1,575 according to the most current data provided by realtor.com. In other words, buyers who recently purchased a home locked in a monthly payment that is, on average, $371 lower than what renters pay today (see graph below):With Rents on the Rise – Is Now the Time To Buy? | Simplifying The Market

Rents Are Rising Sharply, and They Continue To Increase

The difference in monthly housing costs when comparing renting and homebuying today is significant, but many would-be homebuyers wonder about the future of rental prices. If we look to historical Census data as a reference, the median asking rent has risen consistently since 1988 (see graph below):With Rents on the Rise – Is Now the Time To Buy? | Simplifying The MarketThe rise in rent over time clearly shows one of the major advantages homeownership has over renting: stable housing costs. Renters face increasing costs every year. When you purchase your home, your mortgage rate is locked in for 30 years, meaning your monthly payment stays the same over time. That gives you welcome peace of mind and predictability for many years ahead.

Bottom Line

With rents continuing to rise across the country, renters should consider if now is the right time to buy. There are multiple benefits to buying sooner rather than later. Let’s discuss your options so you can make your most powerful decision.

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The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear | Simplifying The Market

For many young or first-time homebuyers, purchasing a home can feel intimidating. A recent survey shows some homebuyers ages 25 to 40 may be unsure about the homebuying process and what they can afford. It found:

  • “1 in 4 underestimated their buying potential by $150k or more”
  • “1 in 4 underestimated the increase in value by $100k or more”
  • “47% don’t know what a good interest rate is”

Because they feel uncertain, many young homebuyers have given up on their search, or worse, they’ve decided homebuying isn’t for them and never started on their journey to begin with.

If you’re interested in buying but aren’t sure where to begin, here are three key concepts about homeownership you should understand before you get started.

1. What You Need To Know About Down Payments

Saving for a down payment is sometimes viewed as one of the biggest obstacles for homebuyers, but that doesn’t have to be the case. As Freddie Mac says:

The most damaging down payment myth—since it stops the homebuying process before it can start—is the belief that 20% is necessary.”

According to the most recent Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment for homes purchased between July 2019 and June 2020 was only 12%. That number is even lower when we control for age – for buyers in the 22 to 30 age range, the median down payment was only 6%.

2. You May Be Able To Afford More Home Than You Think

Working remotely, exercising, and generally spending more time than ever in our homes has changed what many people are looking for in their living space. However, some young homebuyers don’t feel they can afford a home that suits their growing needs and have decided to continue renting instead. That means they’ll miss out on some of the long-term benefits of owning a home. As an article recently published by NAR points out:

“Many young adults are underestimating how much they need for homeownership, the survey finds. Millennials underestimated how much home they can afford right now, how much interest they would pay over a 30-year mortgage, and how much home values appreciate, on average, over 10 years…”

Knowing how much home you can afford when starting the buying process is critical and could be the game-changer that gets you from renting to buying.

3. Homeownership Will Become Less Affordable the Longer You Wait

Finally, with mortgage rates starting to rise along with home prices appreciating, putting off buying a home now could cost you much more later. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, notes:

As the economy progresses and inflation remains elevated, we expect that rates will continually rise in the second half of the year.”

Most experts forecast interest rates will rise in the months ahead, and even the smallest increase can influence your buying power. If you’ve been on the fence about buying a home, there’s no time like the present.

Bottom Line

If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of starting your home search, you’re not alone. Let’s connect today so we can talk more about the process, what you’ll need to start your search, and what to expect.

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Owning a Home Has Distinct Financial Benefits Over Renting [INFOGRAPHIC]

Owning a Home Has Distinct Financial Benefits Over Renting [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Owning a Home Has Distinct Financial Benefits Over Renting [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • When you rent, you build your landlord’s wealth, your monthly payment depends on ever-rising rents, and you don’t benefit from home price appreciation.
  • On the other hand, when you own your home, you build your own wealth, your monthly payment is locked in, and you benefit directly from home price appreciation.
  • If you’re feeling the challenges of a competitive market, remember that homeownership is a long-term game. Persevering today will lead to financial rewards in the future.

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Housing Wealth: The Missing Piece of the Affordability Equation

Housing Wealth: The Missing Piece of the Affordability Equation | Simplifying The Market

The real estate market is soaring today. Residential home values are rising, and that’s a big win for homeowners. In 2020, there was a double-digit increase in home values – a trend that’s expected to head toward similar levels this year.

However, skyrocketing prices are causing some to start questioning affordability in the current housing market. Many are quick to emphasize the fact that homes today are less affordable than they were last year. Black Knight, a leading provider of data and analytics across the homeownership life cycle, just reported on the issue.

The findings show the historical averages of the national payment to income ratio, which they define as “the share of the median income needed to make the monthly payments on the median-priced home.” Their study reveals:

  • The average over the last 25 years was 23.6%
  • The average over the last 5 years was 20.1%
  • The average today stands at 20.5%

Right now, housing payments are slightly less affordable than the five-year average – but only by less than ½ a percentage point. However, they’re significantly more affordable than the 25-year average. Put another way, a buyer will likely make a slightly greater financial sacrifice to afford a home right now than if they purchased a home within the last five years. On the other hand, it also means the potential financial sacrifice is not nearly as great as it was over the last 25 years.

Does making a sacrifice to buy a home today make financial sense in the long term?

Last week, the Federal Reserve announced that, in the first three months of the year, household net worth increased by $968 billion based solely on the values of the real estate they owned. Another report from CoreLogic reveals the average annual gain in homeowner equity was $33,400 per borrower.

Homeownership continues to be the cornerstone to building personal wealth. For most Americans, their home is the largest asset they own. On top of that, the difference between the net worth of homeowners and renters is significant at every income level. Here’s a table detailing that point using data from a study done by First American:Housing Wealth: The Missing Piece of the Affordability Equation | Simplifying The MarketOwning a home is an essential steppingstone to grow a household’s net worth. Despite the slightly greater sacrifice in the percentage of monthly income you’ll spend on housing today, for most homebuyers, the payoff of starting to build equity now will be worth it.

Bottom Line

Since prices have risen dramatically over the past 18 months, it’s slightly less affordable to buy a home today than it was a year ago. However, when you consider the equity gain and weigh the long-term benefits of building your net worth, you may question if you can afford not to buy now.

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6 Reasons to Celebrate National Homeownership Month

6 Reasons to Celebrate National Homeownership Month | Simplifying The Market

Our homes are so much more than the houses we live in. For many, they’ve also become our workplaces, schools for our children, and safe harbors in which we’ve weathered the toughest moments of a global pandemic. Today, 65.6% of Americans call their homes their own, a rate that has risen to its highest point in 8 years.

As National Homeownership Month kicks off this June, homeowners have every reason to celebrate. A survey by Gallup just ranked real estate as the best investment you can make for the eighth year in a row. However, unlike other investment options, the benefits of owning a home aren’t purely financial. Here are the top ways Americans are winning by owning a home.

Non-Financial Benefits:

1. Civic Participation: Owning a home is owning a part of your neighborhood. Homeowners have a stronger connection to their neighborhoods and are more committed to volunteer work and other ways to get involved.

2. Pride of Ownership: Owning a home is having a space that is uniquely yours. You can customize it to your personal liking and make it reflect your personality and values.

3. A Safe Space: Owning a home gives you a sense of security and privacy – two things that have become even more valuable as we’ve tackled the challenges of the recent health crisis.

Financial Benefits:

1. Forced Savings: Owning a home builds equity. Your equity grows with each payment you make toward your mortgage. This form of forced savings can be used down the road to help you accomplish your biggest financial goals.

2. Appreciation: Owning a home is making an investment that steadily gains value, and experts project home values will continue to rise in the years to come.

3. Stability: Owning a home means having better control over your future housing payments. Over the years, a mortgage stays relatively steady, but rent costs continue to rise.

Bottom Line

If you own your home, take time this June to celebrate the ways homeownership has added value to your life. If you hope to become a homeowner this year, let’s connect today to take the first steps toward achieving your goal.

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How Misunderstandings about Affordability Could Cost You

How Misunderstandings about Affordability Could Cost You | Simplifying The Market

There’s a lot of discussion about affordability as home prices continue to appreciate rapidly. Even though the most recent index on affordability from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows homes are more affordable today than the historical average, some still have concerns about whether or not it’s truly affordable to buy a home right now.

When addressing this topic, there are various measures of affordability to consider. However, very few of the indexes compare the affordability of owning a home to renting one. In a paper just published by the Urban Institute, Homeownership Is Affordable Housing, author Mike Loftin examines whether it’s more affordable to buy or rent. Here are some of the highlights included.

1. Renters pay a higher percentage of their income toward their rental payment than homeowners pay toward their mortgage.

The report explains:

“When we look at the median housing expense ratio of all households, the typical homeowner household spends 16 percent of its income on housing while the typical renter household spends 26 percent. This is true, you might say, because people who own their own home must make more money than people who rent. But if we control for income, it is still more affordable to own a home than to rent housing, on average.”

Here’s the data from the report shown in a graph:How Misunderstandings about Affordability Could Cost You | Simplifying The Market

2. Renters don’t have extra money to invest in other assets.

The report goes on to say:

“Buying a home is not a decision between investing in real estate versus investing in stocks, as financial advisers often claim. Instead, the home buying investment simply converts some portion of an existing expense (renting) into an investment in real estate.”

It explains that you still have a housing expense (rent payments) even if you don’t buy a home. You can’t live in your 401K, but you can transfer housing expenses to your real estate investment. A mortgage payment is forced savings; it goes toward building equity you will likely get back when you sell your home. There’s no return on your rent payments.

3. Your mortgage payment remains relatively the same over time. Your rent keeps going up.

The report also notes:

“Whereas renters are continuously vulnerable to cost increases, rising home prices do not affect homeowners. Nobody rebuys the same home every year. For the homeowner with a fixed-rate mortgage, monthly payments increase only if property taxes and property insurance costs increase. The principal and interest portion of the payment, the largest portion, is fixed. Meanwhile, the renter’s entire payment is subject to inflation.

Consequently, over time, the homeowner’s and renter’s differing trajectories produce starkly different economic outcomes. Homeownership’s major affordability benefit is that it stabilizes what is likely the homeowner’s biggest monthly expense, assuming a buyer has a fixed-rate mortgage, which most American homeowners do. The only portion of the homeowner’s housing expenses that can increase is taxes and insurance. The principal and interest portion stays the same for 30 years.”

A mortgage payment remains about the same over the 30 years of the mortgage. Here’s what rents have done over the last 30 years:How Misunderstandings about Affordability Could Cost You | Simplifying The Market

4. If you want to own a home and can afford it, waiting could cost you.

As the report also indicates:

“We need to stop seeing housing as a reward for financial success and instead see it as a critical tool that can facilitate financial success. Affordable homeownership is not the capstone of economic well-being; it is the cornerstone.”

Homeownership is the first rung on the ladder of financial success for most households, as their home is most often their largest asset.

Bottom Line

If the current headlines reporting a supposed drop-off in home affordability are making you nervous, let’s connect to go over the real insights into our area.

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Buying a Home Is Still Affordable

Buying a Home Is Still Affordable | Simplifying The Market

The last year has put emphasis on the importance of one’s home. As a result, some renters are making the jump into homeownership while some homeowners are re-evaluating their current house and considering a move to one that better fits their current lifestyle. Understanding how housing affordability works and the main market factors that impact it may help those who are ready to buy a home narrow down the optimal window of time in which to make a purchase.

There are three main factors that go into determining how affordable homes are for buyers:

  1. Mortgage Rates
  2. Mortgage Payments as a Percentage of Income
  3. Home Prices

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) produces a Housing Affordability Index. It takes these three factors into account and determines an overall affordability score for housing. According to NAR, the index:

“…measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national and regional levels based on the most recent price and income data.”

Their methodology states:

“To interpret the indices, a value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index above 100 signifies that family earning the median income has more than enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment.”

So, the higher the index, the more affordable it is to purchase a home. Here’s a graph of the index going back to 1990:Buying a Home Is Still Affordable | Simplifying The MarketThe blue bar represents today’s affordability. We can see that homes are more affordable now than they’ve been at any point since the housing crash when distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) dominated the market. Those properties were sold at large discounts not seen before in the housing market for almost one hundred years.

Why are homes so affordable today?

Although there are three factors that drive the overall equation, the one that’s playing the largest part in today’s homebuying affordability is historically low mortgage rates. Based on this primary factor, we can see that it’s more affordable to buy a home today than at any time in the last eight years.

If you’re considering purchasing your first home or moving up to the one you’ve always hoped for, it’s important to understand how affordability plays into the overall cost of your home. With that in mind, buying while mortgage rates are as low as they are now may save you quite a bit of money over the life of your home loan.

Bottom Line

If you feel ready to buy, purchasing a home this summer may save you a significant amount of money over time based on historical affordability trends. Let’s connect today to determine if now is the right time for you to make your move.

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Americans Find the Nonfinancial Benefits of Homeownership Most Valuable

Americans Find the Nonfinancial Benefits of Homeownership Most Valuable | Simplifying The Market

Homeownership is a foundational part of the American Dream. As we look back on more than a year of sheltering in our homes, having a place of our own is more important than ever. While financial benefits are always a key aspect of homeownership, today, homeowners rank the nonfinancial and personal benefits with even higher value.

Recently, two national surveys revealed the reasons homeownership is such an important part of life. The top three personal benefits of homeownership noted by respondents in Unison’s 2021 report on The State of the American Homeowner are:

  • 91% – feel secure, stable, or successful owning a home
  • 70% – feel emotionally attached to the homes that have kept them safe over the past year
  • 51% – call homeownership a “key part of their life”

These sentiments were supported by the most recent National Housing Survey from Fannie Mae, which also shows that the top three reasons Americans value homeownership have nothing to do with money. Those surveyed were given a list of feelings and accomplishments that are associated with or impacted by where we live. They were then asked, “To achieve this, are you better off owning or better off renting?” Here are the top three points from the list that respondents said homeownership could help them achieve:

  • 91% – control over what you do with your living space
  • 90% – a sense of privacy and security
  • 89% – a good place for your family to raise your children

Other nonfinancial advantages of homeownership revealed by the survey include feeling engaged in a community, having flexibility in future decisions, and experiencing less stress.

Bottom Line

Financial and nonfinancial benefits are a key component to the value of homeownership, but the nonfinancial side is most valued after a year full of pandemic-driven challenges. Let’s connect today if you’re ready to take the first steps toward becoming a homeowner.

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