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!

Prices Rose 7.1% Year-Over-Year

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Some Highlights:

  • CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index shows that prices rose by 7.1% across the United States year-over-year.
  • With mortgage interest rates rising in the short term, CoreLogic believes price appreciation will slow to 4.7% by this time next year.
  • 49 out of 50 states, and the District of Columbia, all had positive appreciation over the last 12 months, with the only exception being the state of Connecticut, which experienced a -0.5% appreciation.

Is This the Year to Move Up to Your Dream Home? If So, Do it Early

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It appears that Americans are regaining faith in the U.S. economy. The following indexes have each shown a dramatic jump in consumer confidence in their latest surveys:

  1. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index
  2. National Federation of Independent Businesses’ Small Business Optimism Index
  3. CNBC All-America Economic Survey
  4. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey

It usually means good news for the housing market when the country sees an optimistic future. People begin to dream again about the home their family has always wanted, and some make plans to finally make that dream come true.

If you are considering moving up to your dream home, it may be better to do it earlier in the year than later. The two components of your monthly mortgage payment (home prices and interest rates) are both projected to increase as the year moves forward, and interest rates may increase rather dramatically. Here are some predictions on where rates will be by the end of the year:

HSH.com:

“We think that conforming 30-year fixed rates probably make it into the 4.625 percent to 4.75 percent range at some point during 2017 as a peak.”

Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s Chief Economist:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the 30-year fixed mortgage rate hits 4.75 percent.”

Mark Fleming, the Chief Economist at First American:

“[I see] mortgage rates getting much closer to 5 percent at the end of next year.”

Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist:

“By this time next year, expect the 30-year fixed rate to likely be in the 4.5 percent to 5 percent range.”

Bottom Line

If you are feeling good about your family’s economic future and are considering making a move to your dream home, doing it sooner rather than later makes the most sense.

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.

You Need a Professional on Your Team When Buying a Home

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Many people wonder whether they should hire a real estate professional to assist them in buying their dream home or if they should first try to do it on their own. In today’s market: you need an experienced professional!

You Need an Expert Guide if You Are Traveling a Dangerous Path

The field of real estate is loaded with land mines; you need a true expert to guide you through the dangerous pitfalls that currently exist. Finding a home that is priced appropriately and is ready for you to move into can be tricky. An agent listens to your wants and needs, and can sift through the homes that do not fit within the parameters of your “dream home.”

A great agent will also have relationships with mortgage professionals and other experts that you will need in securing your dream home. 

You Need a Skilled Negotiator

In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

Realize that when an agent is negotiating their commission with you, they are negotiating their own salary; the salary that keeps a roof over their family’s head; the salary that puts food on their family’s table. If they are quick to take less when negotiating for themselves and their families, what makes you think they will not act the same way when negotiating for you and your family?

If they were Clark Kent when negotiating with you, they will not turn into Superman when negotiating with the buyer or seller in your deal. 

Bottom Line

Famous sayings become famous because they are true. You get what you pay for. Just like a good accountant or a good attorney, a good agent will save you money…not cost you money.