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Home Buying Myths Slayed

Some Highlights: 1) Interest rates are still below historic numbers. 2) 88% of property managers raised their rent in the last 12 months! 3) The credit score requirements for mortgage approval continue to fall.

Some Highlights:

1) Interest rates are still below historic numbers.

2) 88% of property managers raised their rent in the last 12 months!

3) The credit score requirements for mortgage approval continue to fall.

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3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your Dream Home

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interests at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market. Ask yourself the following 3 questions to help determine if now is a good time for you to buy in today’s market. Get Pre-Qualified 1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?  This is truly the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money. For example, a survey by Braun showed that over 75% of parents say, “their child’s education is an important part of the search for a new home.” This survey supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the top four reasons Americans buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are: A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education A place where you and your family feel safe More space for you and your family Control of that space What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not. Get Pre-Qualified 2. Where are home values headed? According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median price of homes sold in May (the latest data available) was $252,800, which is up 5.8% from last year. This increase also marks the 63rd consecutive month with year-over-year gains. If we look at home prices year over year, CoreLogic is forecasting an increase of 5.3% over the next twelve months. In other words, a home that costs you $250,000 today will cost you an additional $13,250 if you wait until next year to buy it. What does that mean to you? Simply put, with prices increasing each month, it might cost you more if you wait until next year to buy. Your down payment will also need to be higher in order to account for the higher price of the home you wish to buy.  Get Pre-Qualified 3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed? A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long-term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), NAR, and Fannie Mae have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase over the next twelve months, as you can see in the chart below:

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interests at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market.

Ask yourself the following 3 questions to help determine if now is a good time for you to buy in today’s market.

Get Pre-Qualified

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place? 

This is truly the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money.

For example, a survey by Braun showed that over 75% of parents say, “their child’s education is an important part of the search for a new home.”

This survey supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the top four reasons Americans buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are:

A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education

A place where you and your family feel safe

More space for you and your family

Control of that space

What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.

Get Pre-Qualified

2. Where are home values headed?

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median price of homes sold in May (the latest data available) was $252,800, which is up 5.8% from last year. This increase also marks the 63rd consecutive month with year-over-year gains.

If we look at home prices year over year, CoreLogic is forecasting an increase of 5.3% over the next twelve months. In other words, a home that costs you $250,000 today will cost you an additional $13,250 if you wait until next year to buy it.

What does that mean to you?

Simply put, with prices increasing each month, it might cost you more if you wait until next year to buy. Your down payment will also need to be higher in order to account for the higher price of the home you wish to buy. 

Get Pre-Qualified

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?

A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long-term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), NAR, and Fannie Mae have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase over the next twelve months, as you can see in the chart below:

Bottom Line Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

Bottom Line

Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

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5 Reasons You Should Sell This Summer

Here are five reasons listing your home for sale this summer makes sense. 1. Demand Is Strong The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home. Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market. Get Pre-Qualified 2. There Is Less Competition Now Housing inventory is currently at a 4.2-month supply, well under the 6-months needed for a normal housing market. This means, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market this summer. Also, builder's confidence in the market has hit its highest mark in over 11 years. Experts are predicting that new construction of single-family homes will ramp up this summer. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell. Get Pre-Qualified 3. The Process Will Be Quicker Fannie Mae anticipates an acceleration in home sales that will surpass 2007's pace. As the market continues to strengthen, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing-time lines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker & simpler. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to a new low of 42 days, after seeing a 12-month high of 48 days in January. Get Pre-Qualified 4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.9% over the next year, according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate around 4% right now. Rates are projected to increase in the next 12 months. Get Pre-Qualified 5. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should? Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire. That is what is truly important.   Get Pre-Qualified

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

1. Demand Is Strong

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

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

Get Pre-Qualified

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is currently at a 4.2-month supply, well under the 6-months needed for a normal housing market. This means, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon.

There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market this summer.

Also, builder's confidence in the market has hit its highest mark in over 11 years. Experts are predicting that new construction of single-family homes will ramp up this summer.

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

Get Pre-Qualified

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Fannie Mae anticipates an acceleration in home sales that will surpass 2007's pace. As the market continues to strengthen, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing-time lines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker & simpler. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to a new low of 42 days, after seeing a 12-month high of 48 days in January.

Get Pre-Qualified

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

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.9% over the next year, according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

You can also lock in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate around 4% right now. Rates are projected to increase in the next 12 months.

Get Pre-Qualified

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

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

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

That is what is truly important.

 

Get Pre-Qualified

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3 Reasons the Housing Market is NOT in a Bubble

With housing prices appreciating at levels that far exceed historical norms, some are fearful that the market is heading for another bubble. To alleviate that fear, we just need to look back at the reasons that caused the bubble ten years ago. Last decade, demand for housing was artificially propped up because mortgage lending standards were way too lenient. People that were not qualified to purchase were able to attain a mortgage anyway. Prices began to skyrocket. This increase in demand caused homebuilders in many markets to overbuild. Eventually, the excess in new construction and the flooding of the market with distressed properties (foreclosures & short sales), caused by the lack of appropriate lending standards, led to the housing crash. Where we are today… 1. If we look at lending standards based on the Mortgage Credit Availability Index released monthly by the Mortgage Bankers Association, we can see that, though standards have become more reasonable over the last few years, they are nowhere near where they were in the early 2000s.

With housing prices appreciating at levels that far exceed historical norms, some are fearful that the market is heading for another bubble. To alleviate that fear, we just need to look back at the reasons that caused the bubble ten years ago.

Last decade, demand for housing was artificially propped up because mortgage lending standards were way too lenient. People that were not qualified to purchase were able to attain a mortgage anyway. Prices began to skyrocket. This increase in demand caused homebuilders in many markets to overbuild.

Eventually, the excess in new construction and the flooding of the market with distressed properties (foreclosures & short sales), caused by the lack of appropriate lending standards, led to the housing crash.

Where we are today…

1. If we look at lending standards based on the Mortgage Credit Availability Index released monthly by the Mortgage Bankers Association, we can see that, though standards have become more reasonable over the last few years, they are nowhere near where they were in the early 2000s.

2. If we look at new construction, we can see that builders are not “over building.” Average annual housing starts in the first quarter of this year were not just below numbers recorded in 2002-2006, they are below starts going all the way back to 1980.

2. If we look at new construction, we can see that builders are not “over building.” Average annual housing starts in the first quarter of this year were not just below numbers recorded in 2002-2006, they are below starts going all the way back to 1980.

3. If we look at home prices, most homes haven’t even returned to prices seen a decade ago. Trulia just released a report that explained: “When it comes to the value of individual homes, the U.S. housing market has yet to recover. In fact, just 34.2% of homes nationally have seen their value surpass their pre-recession peak.” Bottom Line Mortgage lending standards are appropriate, new construction is below what is necessary and home prices haven’t even recovered. It appears fears of a housing bubble are over-exaggerated.

3. If we look at home prices, most homes haven’t even returned to prices seen a decade ago. Trulia just released a report that explained:

“When it comes to the value of individual homes, the U.S. housing market has yet to recover. In fact, just 34.2% of homes nationally have seen their value surpass their pre-recession peak.”

Bottom Line

Mortgage lending standards are appropriate, new construction is below what is necessary and home prices haven’t even recovered. It appears fears of a housing bubble are over-exaggerated.

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The 'REAL' News about Housing Affordability

Some industry experts are claiming that the housing market may be headed for a slowdown as we proceed through 2017, based on rising home prices and a potential jump in mortgage interest rates. One of the data points they use is the Housing Affordability Index, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Here is how NAR defines the index:

“The Housing Affordability Index measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national level based on the most recent price and income data.”

Basically, a value of 100 means a family earning the median income earns enough to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home, based on the price and mortgage interest rates at the time. Anything above 100 means the family has more than enough to qualify.

The higher the index, the easier it is to afford a home.

Why the concern?

The index has been declining over the last several years as home values increased. Some are concerned that too many buyers could be priced out of the market.

But, wait a minute…

Though the index skyrocketed from 2009 through 2013, we must realize that during that time, the housing crisis left the market with an overabundance of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales). All prices dropped dramatically and distressed properties sold at major discounts. Then, mortgage rates fell like a rock.

The market is recovering, and values are coming back nicely. That has caused the index to fall.

However, let’s remove the crisis years (shaded in gray) and look at the current index as compared to the index from 1990 – 2008:

 

Though prices and rates appear to be increasing, we must realize that affordability is composed of three ingredients: home prices, interest rates, and income. And, incomes are finally rising.

ATTOM Data Solutions recently released their Q1 2017 U.S. Home Affordability Index. The report explained:

“Stronger wage growth is the silver lining in this report, outpacing home price growth in more than half of the markets for the first time since Q1 2012, when median home prices were still falling nationwide. If that pattern continues, it will help turn the tide in the eroding home affordability trend.”

Bottom Line

Compared to historic norms, it is still a great time to buy from an affordability standpoint.

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Buying this Spring? Be Prepared for Bidding Wars

Traditionally, spring is the busiest season for real estate. Buyers come out in force and homeowners list their houses for sale hoping to capitalize on buyer activity. This year will be no different!

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

A recent Bloomberg article touched on the current market conditions:

“It’s the 2017 U.S. spring home-selling season, and listings are scarcer than they’ve ever been. Bidding wars common in perennially hot markets like the San Francisco Bay area, Denver and Boston are now also prevalent in the once slow-and-steady heartland, sending prices higher and sparking desperation among buyers across the country.”

Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic went on to explain why buyers are flocking to the market in big numbers:

“In today’s market, many buyers think the trough in [interest] rates is over. If you don’t get in now, it’s just going to be worse later. Rates will be higher, prices will be higher, and maybe inventory selection will be lower.”

In some markets, “thirty-five percent of properties are selling within the first week or two of hitting the market.” Homes are selling at a rapid clip in places like:

  • Denver, CO
  • Seattle, WA
  • Oakland, CA
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Boise, ID
  • Madison, WI
  • Omaha, NE

Bottom Line

Let’s get together to discuss your exact market conditions and help you create a strategy to secure your new home in this competitive atmosphere!

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4 Great Reasons to Buy This Spring!

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

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 6.9% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.8% over the next year.

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

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have remained around 4% over the last couple months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by at least a half a percentage point this time next year.

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

3. Either Way, You are Paying a Mortgage 

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

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

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

4. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

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Which Homes Have Appreciated the Most?

Home values have risen dramatically over the last twelve months. The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors puts the annual increase in the median existing-home price at 7.1%. CoreLogic, in their most recent Home Price Insights Report, reveals that national home prices have increased by 6.9% year-over-year.

The CoreLogic report broke down appreciation even further into four different price categories:

  1. Lower Priced Homes: priced at 75% or less of the median
  2. Low-to-Middle Priced Homes: priced between 75-100% of the median
  3. Middle-to-Moderate Priced Homes: priced between 100-125% of the median
  4. High Price Homes: priced greater than 125% of the median

Here is how each category did in 2016:

Bottom Line The lower priced homes (which are more in demand) appreciated at greater rates than the homes at the upper ends of the spectrum

Bottom Line

The lower priced homes (which are more in demand) appreciated at greater rates than the homes at the upper ends of the spectrum

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Do You Know the Real Cost of Renting vs. Buying?

Some Highlights: 1) Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a close decision. 2) Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (30%), vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (15%), the choice becomes obvious. 3) Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you could use your housing costs to own a home of your own!

Some Highlights:

1) Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a close decision.

2) Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (30%), vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (15%), the choice becomes obvious.

3) Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you could use your housing costs to own a home of your own!

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5 Reasons to Love Using A RE Pro

Highlights: Hiring a real estate professional to guide you through the process of buying a home or selling your house can be one of the best decisions you make! They are there for you to help with paperwork, explaining the process, negotiations, and helping you with pricing (both when making an offer or setting the right price for your home). One of the top reasons to hire a real estate professional is their understanding of your local market and how the conditions in your neighborhood will impact your experience. If you would like to get connected with a great real estate agent, please fill out the form below. We work with many great agents all over California and would be happy to introduce you to one.

Highlights:

Hiring a real estate professional to guide you through the process of buying a home or selling your house can be one of the best decisions you make!

They are there for you to help with paperwork, explaining the process, negotiations, and helping you with pricing (both when making an offer or setting the right price for your home).

One of the top reasons to hire a real estate professional is their understanding of your local market and how the conditions in your neighborhood will impact your experience.

If you would like to get connected with a great real estate agent, please fill out the form below. We work with many great agents all over California and would be happy to introduce you to one.

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Buyer Demand Is Outpacing the Supply of Homes for Sale

The price of any item is determined by the supply of that item, as well as the market demand. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index. Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between Seller Traffic (supply) and Buyer Traffic (demand). Buyer Demand The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”

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

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

Buyer Demand

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

The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes in that area. Only six states had a weak demand level. Seller Supply The Index also asked: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?” As you can see from the map below, the majority of the country has weak Seller Traffic, meaning there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are out looking for their dream homes

The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes in that area. Only six states had a weak demand level.

Seller Supply

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

As you can see from the map below, the majority of the country has weak Seller Traffic, meaning there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are out looking for their dream homes

Bottom Line

Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet the buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, let’s get together to help you capitalize on the demand in the market now!

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Buyers Are Searching For Your House

The most recent Pending Homes Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors revealed a slight bump in contracts with an increase of 1.6% in December. This news comes as existing home sales are also forecasted to be on pace for 5.54 million in 2017, a 1.7% increase over 2016, which was the best year for sales in a decade. The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed. According to NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, “Pending sales bounded last month as enough buyers fended off rising mortgage rates and alarmingly low inventory levels to sign a contract.” So, what’s the problem? Buyers are searching for existing homes, but supply is not keeping up with their demand! Yun went on to explain, “The main storyline in the early months of 2017 will be if supply can meaningfully increase to keep price growth at a moderate enough level for households to absorb higher borrowing cost. Sales will struggle to build on last year’s strong pace if inventory conditions don’t improve.” (emphasis added) Bottom Line Buyers are out in force right now! If you are considering selling your home this year, the early months of 2017 will be your best option. Let’s get together to discuss how you can capitalize on current market conditions.

The most recent Pending Homes Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors revealed a slight bump in contracts with an increase of 1.6% in December. This news comes as existing home sales are also forecasted to be on pace for 5.54 million in 2017, a 1.7% increase over 2016, which was the best year for sales in a decade.

The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed.

According to NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun,

Pending sales bounded last month as enough buyers fended off rising mortgage rates and alarmingly low inventory levels to sign a contract.

So, what’s the problem?

Buyers are searching for existing homes, but supply is not keeping up with their demand!

Yun went on to explain,

The main storyline in the early months of 2017 will be if supply can meaningfully increase to keep price growth at a moderate enough level for households to absorb higher borrowing cost. Sales will struggle to build on last year’s strong pace if inventory conditions don’t improve.” (emphasis added)

Bottom Line

Buyers are out in force right now! If you are considering selling your home this year, the early months of 2017 will be your best option. Let’s get together to discuss how you can capitalize on current market conditions.

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January 9th Weekly Update

January 9, 2017 Market Update:  

QUOTE OF THE WEEK... "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year." --Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, lecturer and poet

INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE
... This year we should have 357 best days ahead of us, if most of the housing market forecasts come true. One online real estate firm expects a fast sales pace, thanks to millennials surging into the market, helping to push existing home sales up by 2.8% in 2017. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) currently estimates existing home sales will rise by 2.0%, their lower estimate based on increasing home prices. Yet a financial services company, whose house price index looks at inflation, wage growth and other factors, says prices are still more affordable now than during the housing boom.

Speaking of home prices, a real estate tech and data firm reported prices in November up 7.1% versus a year ago. The property economist for a research consultancy put this to continued low inventories and the rise in housing demand after the election. Of course, the situation varies by market. That data firm forecasts the year will show a 5% increase in prices overall. But some areas may hit double-digit gains, while others decline. Last week, Case-Shiller reported home prices were finally above their all-time highs. Now a listing site notes that the value of housing stock nationally hit an all-time high in 2016, though some markets are still below their peak prices.

BUSINESS TIP OF THE WEEK... The beginning of the year is a great time to re-commit yourself to your business. It takes a 100% commitment to give you the drive you need to keep meeting the challenges and enjoying the ride.

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Inadequate Inventory Driving Prices Up

The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed a direct correlation between a lack of inventory and rising prices.

We are all familiar with the concept of supply and demand. As the demand for an item increases the supply of that same item goes down, driving prices up.

Year-over-year inventory levels have dropped each of the last 18 months, as inventory now stands at a 4.0-month supply, well below the 6.0-month supply needed for a ‘normal’ market.

The median price of homes sold in November (the latest data available) was $234,900, up 6.8% from last year and marking the 57th consecutive month with year-over-year gains.

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

"Existing housing supply at the beginning of the year was inadequate and is now even worse heading into 2017. Rental units are also seeing this shortage. As a result, both home prices and rents continue to far outstrip incomes in much of the country."

But there is good news about rising prices. More and more homeowners are recovering from a negative equity situation and learning that they are able to sell their homes and either move up to their dream home or downsize to a property that will better suit their needs. Look for these homes to come to market soon.

Bottom Line

Buyer demand continues to outpace the supply of homes for sale. Listing your home in the winter attracts serious buyers who are looking to close the transaction quickly.

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January 3, 2017 Market Update

QUOTE OF THE WEEK... "And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been." --Rainer Maria Rilke, German poet

INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE
... In the housing market we hope this year will be chock full of new transactions. But some question whether this will happen. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) Pending Home Sales index dipped in November, 2.5% below its October reading. This measure of contracts signed on existing homes points to actual sales a few months out. The NAR said higher borrowing costs "somewhat cloud" the housing market outlook for 2017. Yet their chief economist noted that the effect of higher rates will be "partly neutralized" by stronger growth in wages and this year's expected two million net new job additions.

Meanwhile, the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index (HPI) came in with an annual gain of 5.6% in October. This finally put prices past the all-time highs set more than ten years ago--long recovery, hey? However, since the National HPI bottomed out in February 2012, it climbed to a peak yearly rate just shy of 11% before falling to its present 5% range of annual gains. Case-Shiller's managing director noted "the current high consumer confidence numbers and low unemployment rate...do not suggest an immediate reversal in home price trends." But some observers point out that more buyers and sellers might get off the fence given the new market conditions.

BUSINESS TIP OF THE WEEK... Take every opportunity to build trust with clients and prospects. Make phone calls and deliver information when you say you will and show up for meetings on time. Trust is the basis of business success.

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Will Increasing Mortgage Rates Impact Home Prices?

There are some who are calling for a decrease in home prices should mortgage interest rates begin to rise rapidly. Intuitively, this makes sense as the cost of a home is determined by the price of the home, plus the cost of financing that home. If mortgage interest rates increase, fewer people will be able to buy, and logic says prices will fall if demand decreases.

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However, history shows us that this has not been the case the last four times mortgage interest rates dramatically increased.

Here is a graph showing what actually happened:

Last week, in an article titled “Higher Rates Don’t Mean Lower House Prices After All, the Wall Street Journal revealed that a recent study by John Burns Real Estate Consulting Inc. found that:

“[P]rices weren’t especially sensitive to rising rates, particularly in the presence of other positive economic factors, such as strong job growth, rising wages and improving consumer confidence.”

Last week’s jobs report was strong and the Conference Board just reported that the Consumer Confidence Index was back to pre-recession levels.

Bottom Line

We will have to wait and see what happens as we move forward, but a decrease in home prices should rates go up is anything but guaranteed.

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FHFA Announces new, higher loan limts

Today the FHFA announced the new conforming loan limits for loans purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on or after January 1, 2017.  The base limit will increase to $424,100 and the high balance ceiling will increase to $636,150.  The base limit in Hawaii will be $636,150.

A list of the 2017 conforming loan limits for all counties can be found here.  A map showing the maximum loan limits across the country can be found here.

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Homes across the country are selling fast!

1) The National Association of REALTORS® surveyed their members for the release of their Confidence Index.

2) 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.

3) Homes sold in 60 days or less in 42 out of 50 states, and Washington D.C.

4) Homes sold in 30 days or less in 17 states.

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