We previously reported how a shortage of inventory in the starter and trade-up home markets is driving prices up and causing bidding wars, creating a true seller's market. At the same time, in the premium home market, an over-abundance of inventory has started to see prices come down and put buyers in the driver's seat, creating the beginning of a buyer's market.
Last week, the National Association of Realtors released their Existing Home Sales Report which shed some additional light on the impact of inventory levels on sales in each price range.
The chart below shows the year-over-year difference in sales at each price range.
The under $100K range has shown declines in recent years due to the shortage of distressed homes available for sale (just 5% of sales this past month, compared to 35% in January 2012). Sales in the next two price ranges are no doubt being hindered by low inventory as buyers compete for the same home.
NAR's Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, explained:
"Those able to close on a home last month are probably feeling both happy and relieved. Listings in the affordable price range are scarce, homes are coming off the market at an extremely fast pace and the prevalence of multiple offers in some markets are pushing prices higher."
The biggest surprise? This is the first time in years where the $1M and up price range had the highest jump in sales when compared to last year and to all other price ranges (29.1%)! The two price ranges right underneath the $1M range were a close second and third. As the price went up, so did the sales!
With additional inventory available in the higher price ranges, and the economy improving, many luxury buyers are finding it easier to find their dream homes. Yun commented,
"The job market in most of the country is healthy and the recent downward trend in mortgage rates continues to keep buyer interest at a robust level."
If you are one of the many homeowners who is looking to sell your starter or trade up home and move up to a luxury home, now is the time!
The results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia show that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.
The updated numbers actually show that the range is an average of 3.5% less expensive in San Jose (CA), all the way up to 50.1% less expensive in Baton Rouge (LA), and 33.1% nationwide!
Other interesting findings in the report include:
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.
In Realtor.com's recent article, "Home Buyers' Top Mortgage Fears: Which One Scares You?" they mention that "46% of potential home buyers fear they won't qualify for a mortgage to the point that they don't even try."
Myth #1: "I Need a 20% Down Payment"
Buyers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the First Quarter 2017 Homeownership Program Index (HPI) from Down Payment Resource, saving for a down payment was the barrier that kept 70% of renters from buying.
Rob Chrane, CEO of Down Payment Resource had this to say,
"There are many mortgage-ready renters today, but they don't know it. Often, homebuyers remain sidelined for years due to the down payment."
Many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream home, but programs are available that allow buyers put down as little as 3%. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with new programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.
Myth #2: "I Need a 780 FICOÂ® Score or Higher to Buy"
The survey revealed that 59% of Americans either don't know (54%) or are misinformed (5%) about what FICOÂ® score is necessary to qualify.
Many Americans believe a 'good' credit score is 780 or higher.
To help debunk this myth, let's take a look at Ellie Mae's latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.
As you can see in the chart above, 53.2% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 600-749.
Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Your dream home may already be within your reach.
Many real estate economists have called on new home builders to ramp up production to help relieve the shortage of inventory of homes for sale throughout the United States. The added inventory would no doubt aid buyers in their search to secure their dream home, while also helping to ease price increases throughout the country.
Unfortunately for builders, there are many forces that are making it difficult for them to do just that!
Last week at the National Association of Real Estate Editors 51st Annual Conference,CoreLogic's Chief Economist Frank Nothaft broke down the 4 'L's of New Home Construction: Lots, Labor, Lumber, and Lending.
The concept of supply and demand is ripe in the new home construction industry. The four 'L's of new home construction are each suffering a supply problem, and with that comes added costs. Let's break it down!
Lots - There is a shortage of land near metros at an affordable price, causing builders to move farther and farther away from cities to keep costs down. This isn't always an attractive option for those who want to stay close to work.
Labor - The Great Recession forced many skilled construction and trade workers to find other sources of income once their jobs were lost at the time of the crash. Even though the overall housing market has recovered, these workers have not returned. Those who remain are starting to age out and retire, causing even more of a shortage and additional costs.
Lumber - The cost to build a new home is directly tied to the cost of the lot and the cost of the supplies needed to build the home. Lumber costs continue to escalate due to policies restricting the importation of Canadian lumber, making larger luxury homes an attractive option to recoup costs when selling, rather than building smaller single-family homes and making less profit.
Below is a graph showing the increase in cost of 1,000 board feet of framing lumber.
Year-over-year, lumber costs are up 13% after reaching a high of $433 in the second week of April.
Lending - During the Great Recession, many small community banks were forced to close their doors. These banks were a great source of capital and lending for builders looking to borrow money at a low interest rate in the community in which they were building. Tougher lending standards have made borrowing funds more expensive and more difficult for builders.
ââAdditional costs across all 4 'L's have made building luxury properties more attractive to builders as they are able to make a larger margin with the higher sales price. The move to scale down to starter and trade up homes to help with supply will mean any additional costs are absorbed by the builders unless the supply of the 4 'L's can increase!
As home values continue to rise, some are questioning whether we are approaching another housing bubble. Zillow just reported that:
"National home values have surpassed the peak hit during the housing bubble and are at their highest value in more than a decade."
Though that statement is correct, we must realize that just catching prices of a decade ago does not mean we are at bubble numbers. Here is a graph of median prices as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
We can see that prices rose during the early 2000s, fell during the crash and have risen since 2013.
However, let's assume there was no housing bubble and crash and that home prices appreciated at normal historic levels (3.6% annually) over the last ten years.
Here is a graph comparing actual price appreciation (tan bars) with what prices would have been with normal appreciation (blue bars).
As we can see, had there not been a boom and bust, home values would essentially be where they are right now.
In a blog post published last Friday, CNBC's Diana Olnick reported on the latest results of the FAU Buy vs. Rent Index. The index examines the entire US housing market and then isolates 23 major markets for comparison. The researchers at FAU use a
"'horse race' comparison between an individual that is buying a home and an individual that rents a similar-quality home and reinvests all monies otherwise invested in homeownership."
Having read both the index and the blog post, we would like to clear up any confusion that may exist. There are three major points that we would like to counter:
1. The Title
The CNBC blog post was titled, "Don't put your money in a house, says a new report."The title of the press release about the report on FAU's website was "FAU Buy vs. Rent Index Shows Rising Prices and Mortgage Rates Moving Housing Markets in the Direction of Renting."
Now, we all know headlines can attract readers and the stronger the headline the more readership you can attract, but after dissecting the report, this headline may have gone too far. The FAU report notes that rising home prices and the threat of increasing mortgage rates could make the decision of whether to rent or to buy a harder one in three metros, but does not say not to buy a home.
2. Mortgage Interest Rates are Rising
According to Freddie Mac, mortgage interest rates reached their lowest mark of 2017 last week at 3.89%. Interest rates have hovered around 4% for the majority of 2017, giving many buyers relief from rising home prices and helping with affordability.
While experts predict that rates will increase by the end of 2017, the latest projections have softened, with Freddie Mac predicting that rates will rise to 4.3% in Q4.
3. "Renting may be a better option than buying, according to the report."
Of the 23 metros that the study reports on, 11 of them are firmly in buy territory, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and more. This means that in nearly half of all the major cities in the US, it makes more financial sense to buy a home than to continue renting one.
In 9 of the remaining metros, the decision as to whether to rent or buy is closer to a toss-up right now. This means that all things being equal, the cost to rent or buy is nearly the same. That leaves the decision up to the individual or family as to whether they want to renew their lease or buy a home of their own.
The 3 remaining metros Dallas, Denver and Houston, have experienced high levels of price appreciation and have been reported to be in rent territory for well over a year now, so that's not newsâ¦
Beer & Cookies
One of the three authors of the study, Dr. Ken Johnson has long reported on homeownership and the decision between renting and buying a home. The methodology behind the report goes on to explain that even in a market where a renter would be able to spend less on housing, they would have to be disciplined enough to reinvest their remaining income in stocks/bonds/other investments for renting a home to be a more attractive alternative to buying.
Johnson himself has said:
"However, in perhaps a more realistic setting where renters can spend on consumption (beer, cookies, education, healthcare, etc.), ownership is the clear winner in wealth accumulation. Said another way, homeownership is a self-imposed savings plan on the part of those that choose to own."
In the end, you and your family are the only ones who can decide if homeownership is the right path to go down. Real estate is local and every market is different. Meet with a local real estate professional who can explain what's really going on in your area and can help you make the best, most informed decision for you and your family.
To start the year, housing experts all agreed on one thing: 2017 was going to be the year we would see mortgage interest rates begin to rise. After years of historically low rates, and an improving economy, the question wasn't if they would increase but instead how much they would increase. Some thought we could see rates hit 5-5.5% by the end of the year.
However, the exact opposite has happened. Instead of higher rates as we head into the middle of 2017, we now have the lowest rates of the year (as reported by Freddie Mac). Here is a graph of mortgage rate movement since the beginning of the year:
Projections still call for an increaseâ¦
Four major entities (Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors) are still projecting that rates will increase by the fourth quarter of the year.
No one knows for sure where interest rates will be in six months. However, if you are thinking about buying your first house or trading up to the home of your dreams, you can still get a mortgage at historically low rates RIGHT NOW.
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 purchaseâ¦ and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home.
Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.
2. There Is Less Competition Now
Housing inventory 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.
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.
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.
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.
The biggest challenge to today's housing market is the shortage of housing inventory for sale. A normal market would see a six-month supply of homes for sale. Currently, that number is below four months. This is the major reason home prices have continued to appreciate at higher levels than historic averages. The good news is that builders are now starting to build more homes in lower price ranges.
Builder Confidence is Up
The Housing Market Index from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reveals that builder confidence increased last month. HousingWire quoted NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz about the reason for the increase in confidence amongst builders.
"The HMI measure of future sales conditions reached its highest level since June 2005, a sign of growing consumer confidence in the new home market. Especially as existing home inventory remains tight, we can expect increased demand for new construction moving forward."
Builders are Meeting the Needs of Today's Purchaser
Builders are not only jumping into the market - they are doing a better job of matching current demand. The Wall Street Journal recently reported:
"In a shift, new households are overwhelmingly choosing to buy rather than rent. Some 854,000 new-owner households were formed during the first three months of the year, more than double the 365,000 new-renter households formed during the period, according to Census Bureau data."
The WSJ article went on to say:
"Home builders are beginning to shift their focus away from luxury homes and toward homes at lower price points to cater to this burgeoning millennial clientele."
The graph below compares 2016 to 2017 new construction sales by price point. As we can see, builders are slowly beginning to shift to prices more favorable to the first-time and non-luxury buyer.
There is a drastic need for a larger supply of home inventory to meet the skyrocketing demand. Builders are finally doing their part to help rectify this situation.