Sales at Highest Pace in 10 Years!

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Highlights:

  • 5.45 million existing homes were sold in 2016! This is the highest mark set since 2006.
  • Inventory of existing homes for sale dropped to a 3.6-month supply, the lowest level since NAR began tracking in 1999.
  • The median price of homes sold in December was $232,200. This is the 58th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.

Buying a Home is More Affordable Than Renting in 66% of US Counties

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According to ATTOM Data Solutions’ 2017 Rental Affordability Report, buying a home is more affordable than renting in 354 of the 540 U.S. counties they analyzed.

The report found that “making monthly house payments on a median-priced home — including mortgage, property taxes and insurance — is more affordable than the fair market rent on a three-bedroom property in 354 of the 540 counties analyzed in the report (66 percent).”

For the report, ATTOM Data Solutions compared recently released fair market rent data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development with reported income amounts from the Department of Labor and Statistics to determine the percentage of income that a family would have to spend on their monthly housing cost (rent or mortgage payments).

Rents have been surging faster than home prices in about 37% of the markets measured. Daren Blomquist, Senior Vice President of ATTOM Data Solutions warns that rising interest rates could be the tipping point of affordability:

“While buying continues to be more affordable than renting in the majority of U.S. markets, that equation could change quickly if mortgage rates keep rising in 2017. In that scenario, renters who have not yet made the leap to homeownership will find it even more difficult to make that leap this year.”

Bottom Line

Rents will continue to rise and mortgage interest rates are still at historic lows. Before you sign or renew your next lease, meet with a local professional who can help you determine if you are able to buy a home of your own and lock in your monthly housing expense.

Tips for Preparing Your House For Sale

1.jpgHighlights:

  • When listing your house for sale your top goal will be to get the home sold for the best price possible!
  • There are many small projects that you can do to ensure this happens!
  • Your real estate agent will have a list of specific suggestions for getting your house ready for market and is a great resource for finding local contractors who can help!

Will Housing Affordability Be a Challenge in 2017?

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Some industry experts are saying that the housing market may be heading for a slowdown in 2017 based on rising home prices and a 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 during that time the housing crisis left the market with an overabundance of housing inventory with as many as one out of three listings being a distressed property (foreclosure or short sale). 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 and look at the current index as compared to the index from 1990 – 2008:

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We can see that, even though prices have increased, mortgage rates are still lower than historical averages and have put the index in a better position than every year for the nineteen years before the crash.

Bottom Line

The Housing Affordability Index is in great shape and should not be seen as a challenge to the real estate market’s continued recovery.

What Would a Millennial Baby Boom Mean for Housing?

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Recently released data from the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that 1.3 million Millennial women gave birth for the first time in 2015. There are now over 16 million women in this generation who have become mothers.

“All told, Millennial women (those born between 1981 to 1997) accounted for about eight in ten (82%) of U.S. births in 2015.”

The data also shows that this generation has waited until later in life to become parents as only 42% of Millennial women were moms in 2014, compared to 49% of Generation X at the same age. A Pew Research Center article discussing the data, points to social influences that may have contributed to the delay:

“The rising age at first birth is hardly limited to the Millennial generation. It has been a trend since at least 1970. Many factors may contribute, including a shift away from marriage, increasing educational attainment and the movement of women into the labor force.”

Do Millennials Want to Be Parents?

“While Millennials may be delaying parenthood, it’s not for a lack of interest in eventually becoming moms and dads. Members of this generation rated being a good parent as a top priority in a 2010 Pew Research Center survey.  

Some 52% said it was one of the most important goals in their lives, well ahead of having a successful marriage, which 30% said was one of their most important lifetime goals.”

So, What Does This Mean for the Housing Market?

As Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist for realtor.com explained: “At any given time in our history, demographics would explain 60-80% of what’s happening [in the market], and we are in a period of time where Millennials make up a largest demographic group.” 

As more and more Millennial families are formed, this generation will shift their focus to providing the best home for their children to grow up in, the best school districts, and often to the stability that owning a home of their own provides.

Two-thirds of Millennials have not yet reached the average first-time home buying age of 32, as reported by the National Association of Realtor. The homeownership rate amongst Millennials has nowhere to go but up!

Bottom Line

Millennials as a generation have delayed traditional social norms until later in their lives. Whether getting married, having children or buying a home, the desire to provide for their family is still there, even if it takes a little while longer than it did for previous generations.

5 Myths About Real Estate Reality TV Explained

1Have you ever been flipping through the channels, only to find yourself glued to the couch in an HGTV binge session? We’ve all been there… watching entire seasons of “Love it or List it,” “Fixer Upper,” “House Hunters,” “Property Brothers,” and so many more, just in one sitting.

When you’re in the middle of your real estate themed show marathon, you might start to think that everything you see on TV must be how it works in real life, but you may need a reality check.

Reality TV Show Myths vs. Real Life:

Myth #1: Buyers look at 3 homes and make a decision to purchase one of them.

Truth: There may be buyers who fall in love and buy the first home they see, but according to the National Association of Realtors the average homebuyer tours 10 homes as a part of their search. 

Myth #2: The houses the buyers are touring are still for sale.

Truth: The reality is being staged for TV. Many of the homes being shown are already sold and are off the market. 

Myth #3: The buyers haven’t made a purchase decision yet.

Truth: Since there is no way to show the entire buying process in a 30-minute show, TV producers often choose buyers who are further along in the process and have already chosen a home to buy. 

Myth #4: If you list your home for sale, it will ALWAYS sell at the Open House.

Truth: Of course this would be great! Open houses are important to guarantee the most exposure to buyers in your area, but are only a PIECE of the overall marketing of your home. Just realize that many homes are sold during regular listing appointments as well.

Myth #5: Homeowners make a decision about selling their home after a 5-minute conversation.

Truth: Similar to the buyers portrayed on the shows, many of the sellers have already spent hours deliberating the decision to list their homes and move on with their lives/goals.

Bottom Line

Having an experienced professional on your side while navigating the real estate market is the best way to guarantee that you can make the home of your dreams a reality!

Top 3 Things Second-Wave Baby Boomers Look for in a Home

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According to data from the U.S Census bureau, there are approximately 76.4 million baby boomers living in the United States today. Contrary to what many think, there are very different segments within this generation, and one piece that sets them apart are their housing needs.

John McManus, editorial director of Hanley Wood’s Residential Group says his company “is focusing on the preferences of the younger half, or second-wave baby boomers, as they exhibit different needs than the older boomers.”

What are ‘second-wave baby boomers’ looking for?

McManus says, “They are seeking a fun, dynamic lifestyle with a home that can also adjust to their changing needs in the future. Living space should either include accessibility features, such as doorway space, lower shelves, and nonslip surfaces, or be easily adjustable when the time comes.

In a homebuyer study performed by The Farnsworth Group, the participants revealed their reasons for purchasing a new home. The top three factors that influence their purchase include area/location (50.2%), price/affordability (37.4%), and the layout of the home (19%) (as shown in the graph below).

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The report also found that when buying a new home, there were other concerns like quality of construction (9%), a safer neighborhood (8.4%), better floor plans (8.25%). The most important rooms or areas are the kitchen (82.8%), master bedroom (59.2%), and great room (36%).

Technology also plays an important role! Second-wave baby boomers prefer wireless security systems (7.1%), lighting that senses and adapts to them (6.3%) and integrated home technology, including “smart” thermostats and lighting controlled by a smartphone (6.2%).

Grey Matter Research and Consulting points to a sense of community as a major factor in wanting to purchase:

The first impressions are important when entering a new community, as is feeling welcome in the community. Amenities such as clubhouses, pools, and walking trails featured prominently in the decision to purchase in a community. Location was key, as residents want their new homes to be near shopping, dining, medical services and entertainment.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many ‘second-wave’ baby boomers who is starting to feel like their current homes no longer fit their needs, take advantage of the low inventory of existing homes in today’s market by selling your current home and moving on to one that truly fits your new lifestyle.