“How’s the Market?” What’s Ahead for Real Estate

Real Estate Market

While no one can predict the future with certainty, most experts expect to see modest growth in the U.S. housing market for the remainder of this year and next. Inventory will remain tight, mortgage rates will continue to creep up, and affordability will remain a major issue in many parts of the country.

So what does that mean for home buyers and sellers? To answer that question, we take a closer look at some of the top indicators.

 

CONTINUED GROWTH IN HOUSING MARKET

There’s good news for homebuyers! In many markets across the country, prices have begun to stabilize after a period of rapid appreciation. Nationwide, home sales experienced a slight decline of 1.6 percent in the second quarter, primarily due to higher mortgage rates and housing prices combined with limited inventory.

However, buyers who have been waiting on the sidelines in anticipation of a big price drop may be disappointed. Demand remains strong across the sector and prices continue to rise. The Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index reported a 6.2 percent annual gain in June, a healthy but sustainable rate of appreciation.1

In its latest Outlook Report, Freddie Mac forecasts continued growth in the housing market due to a strong economy and low unemployment rate, which dropped to 3.9 percent in July.

“The housing market hit some speed bumps this summer, with many prospective homebuyers slowed by not enough moderately-priced homes for sale and higher home prices and mortgage rates,” according to Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac. “The good news is, the economy and labor market are very healthy right now, and mortgage rates, after surging earlier this year, have stabilized in recent months. These factors should continue to create solid buyer demand, and ultimately an uptick in sales, in most parts of the country in the months ahead.”3

 

INVENTORY TO REMAIN TIGHT, NEW CONSTRUCTION MAY HELP

Experts predict that demand for housing will continue to outpace available supply, especially in the entry-level price range.

“Today, even as mortgage rates begin to increase and home sales decline in some markets, the most significant challenges facing the housing market stem from insufficient inventory accompanying unsustainable home-price increase,” said National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a recent release.

“The answer is to encourage builders to increase supply, and there is a good probability for solid home sales growth once the supply issue is addressed,” said Yun. Additional inventory will also help contain rapid home price growth and open up the market to prospective homebuyers who are consequently—and increasingly—being priced out. In the end, slower price growth is healthier price growth.”4

With so much demand, why aren’t more builders bringing inventory to the market? According to the National Association of Home Builders, a crackdown on immigration and tariffs on imported lumber have made home construction more difficult and expensive. Those factors—combined with the rising cost of land and increased zoning requirements—have put a damper on the industry overall.5

Still, there’s evidence that a modest rise in the rate of new building projects may be on the way. Freddie Mac predicts new housing construction will increase slightly after a stall last quarter.2And a recent report by Freedonia Focus Reports forecasts an annual increase in housing starts of 2.4 percent through 2022, led by an uptick in single-family homes.6 The boost in inventory should help drive sales growth and relieve some of the pent-up demand in tight markets.

While the current lack of inventory is generally preferred by sellers because it means less competition, a combination of high prices and rising interest rates has narrowed the pool of potential buyers who can afford to enter the market. Sellers should seek out real estate agents who utilize technologically-advanced marketing tactics to reach qualified buyers in their area.

 

AFFORDABILITY REACHES LOWEST LEVEL IN A DECADE

According to a recent report by Morgan Stanley, Americans are paying the most in monthly mortgage payments relative to their incomes since 2008.7And prices aren’t expected to come down any time soon.

“We believe that the current supply and demand environment will continue to push home prices higher, just at a decelerating pace,” said John Egan, Morgan Stanley’s Co-Head of U.S. Housing Strategy.

Fortunately, economists aren’t concerned about affordability levels triggering another housing crisis, as lending standards are much higher today than they were during the run-up before the recession. According to credit reporting agency TransUnion, the share of homeowners who made mortgage payments more than 60-days past due fell in the second quarter to 1.7 percent, the lowest level since the market crash.7

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun agreed with this assessment in a recent statement. “Over the past 10 years, prudent policy reforms and consumer protections have strengthened lending standards and eliminated loose credit, as evidenced by the higher than normal credit scores of those who are able to obtain a mortgage and near record-low defaults and foreclosures, which contributed to the last recession.”4

 

MORTGAGE RATES EXPECTED TO CONTINUE RISING

The Federal Reserve has taken measures to help keep the housing market—and the overall economy—from overheating. It has raised interest rates twice this year so far, causing mortgage rates to surge in the first half of the year.

Economists predict that the rise in mortgage rates will continue at a more gradual rate through this year and next. The U.S. weekly average mortgage rate rose from 3.99 percent in the first week of January to as high as 4.66 percent in May. Freddy Mac forecasts an average rate of 4.6 percent for 2018 and 5.1 percent in 2019.2

The good news is, mortgage rates still remain near historic lows and a whopping 14 points below the recorded high of 18.63 percent in the early 1980s.8Buyers who have been on the fence may want to act soon to lock in an affordable interest rate … before rates climb higher.

“Some consumers may be thinking that because mortgage rates are higher than they were a year ago, maybe I should just wait until rates fall down again,” said NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a recent speech. “Well, they will be waiting forever.”9

  

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN FOR ME?

If you’ve been waiting to buy a home, you may want to act now. A shortage of available homes on the market means prices are likely to keep going up. And a lack of affordable rental inventory means rents are expected to rise, as well.

If you buy now, you will benefit from appreciating property values while locking in an historically-low interest rate on your mortgage. Waiting to buy could mean paying more for your home as prices increase and paying higher interest on your mortgage as rates continue to rise.

And if you’re in the market to sell your home, there’s no need to wait any longer. Prices have begun to stabilize, and rising interest rates could decrease the number of available buyers for your home. Act now to take advantage of this strong seller’s market.

 

LET’S GET MOVING

While national real estate numbers and predictions can provide a “big picture” outlook, real estate is local. As local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the issues most likely to impact sales and home values in your particular neighborhood.

If you have specific questions or would like more information about where we see real estate headed in our area, let us know! We’re here to help you navigate this changing real estate landscape

 

Sources:

  1. S&P Dow Jones Indices Press Release –
    https://www.spice-indices.com/idpfiles/spice-assets/resources/public/documents/766551_cshomeprice-release-0828.pdf?force_download=true
  2. Freddie Mac Outlook Report –
    http://www.freddiemac.com/research/forecast/20180827_strong_economic_growth.html
  3. DSNews –
    https://dsnews.com/daily-dose/08-28-2018/freddie-weighs-in-on-housing-market
  4. PR Newswire –
    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/realtors-chief-economist-reflects-on-past-recession-whats-ahead-for-housing-300702632.html
  5. CNN Money –
    https://www.keyt.com/lifestyle/where-is-the-us-housing-market-headed-4-things-you-need-to-know/787471572
  6. PR Newswire –
    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/us-housing-starts-to-rise-2-4-yearly-to-2022–300711989.html
  7. Business Insider –
    https://www.businessinsider.com/housing-affordability-slowing-market-sales-2018-8
  8. Value Penguin –
    https://www.valuepenguin.com/mortgages/historical-mortgage-rates
  9. Times Free Press –
    https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2018/aug/14/despite-prospects-higher-mortgage-rateshousin/476979/

Real Estate 2018: What to Expect

Real Estate 2018: What to Expect

As we head into a new year, the most common question we receive is, “What’s the outlook for real estate in 2018?”

It’s not just potential buyers and sellers who are curious; homeowners also want reassurance their home’s value is going up. The good news is that a strong U.S. economy, coupled with low unemployment rates, is expected to drive continued real estate growth in 2018. However, changes on the horizon could significantly impact you if you plan to buy, sell or refinance this year.

HOME VALUES WILL CONTINUE TO RISE

Get ready for another strong year! U.S. home values and sales volume will continue to rise in 2018.

Experts agree that home prices will increase in 2018, but predict a slower rate of appreciation than 2017, which clocked in at nearly 7 percent nationwide. National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun predicts a growth rate this year of 5.5 percent,1 while Freddie Mac’s September Outlook Report forecasts a rate of 4.9 percent. Either way, all indicators point towards continued growth in 2018.2

What does it mean for you? If you’re a current homeowner, congratulations! Real estate proves once again to be a solid investment over the long term. And if you’re considering selling this year, there’s never been a better time. Contact us to request a free Comparative Market Analysis to find out how much you can expect your home to sell for under current market conditions.

If you’re in the market to buy this year, there’s good news for you, too. Although prices continue to rise, the rate of appreciation has slowed. Still, don’t wait any longer. Prices will continue to go up, so you’ll pay more six months from now than you would today. Call us to setup a free, no-obligation property search and get notified about listings that meet your criteria as soon as (or before) they hit the market.

NEW CONSTRUCTION WILL MAKE REAL ESTATE MORE ACCESSIBLE

Lack of inventory in the housing market has been a primary impediment to homeownership for many Americans. “Ten years ago, the problem in the housing market was lack of buyers,” says Yun. “Today, the problem is lack of sellers. Inventory levels are near historic lows.”3

Yun also notes, “The lack of inventory has pushed up home prices by 48 percent from the low point in 2011, while wage growth over the same period has been only 15 percent. Despite improving confidence [in 2017] from renters that now is a good time to buy a home, the inability for them to do so is causing them to miss out on the significant wealth gains that homeowners have benefitted from through rising home values.”1

The good news? Yun expects a 9.4 percentage point increase in single-family new home construction starts.4

Economists at Freddie Mac make a similar prediction. “Existing home sales are unlikely to increase much going forward. Limited inventory will remain a consistent problem … Growth in home sales will be primarily driven by new home sales, which should continue to grind higher with single-family construction.”2

Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, agrees. “The markets that are going to grow are ones where builders can add that entry level product.”5

What does it mean for you? If you’ve been frustrated by lack of inventory in the past, 2018 may bring new opportunities for you to find a budget-friendly home that suits your needs. Give us a call to discuss options for new construction in our area.

MILLENNIALS WILL MOVE TO THE SUBURBS

The new entry-level construction will come with a catch though … it will be located in the suburbs, where the availability of land and fewer zoning requirements make it more cost-effective to build. Economists predict that’s where millennials and first-time buyers will flock for the greater variety of homes at affordable prices.6

Rising home prices, a sluggish job market, and an increase in student loan debt made homeownership largely unattainable for many millennials in past years. However, there’s significant evidence that this trend is turning around. For the fourth year a row, the National Association of Realtors’ 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends survey found that millennials were the largest group of homebuyers.7

As millennials age, they are settling down and having families, which has prompted an increasing demand for larger but affordable homes. Thus, many are flocking to the suburbs, with 57 percent of millennial buyers opting for a suburban location.

What does it mean for you? If you’re a millennial who has been priced out of urban living, or is looking for more space for your growing family, a number of suburbs in our area have a lot to offer. We can point you towards the communities that will best meet your needs.

And if you’re a suburban homeowner with plans to sell, give us a call. We know how to market your home to millennials … and can help you sell quickly for top dollar by appealing to this growing market segment! 

BOOMERANG BUYERS WILL RETURN TO THE MARKET

“Boomerang buyers” comprise the nearly 10 million Americans who lost their homes to foreclosure or short sales during the housing recession of 2006 to 2014.

According to MyFico.com, a foreclosure remains on a credit report for seven years. It takes many boomerang buyers at least that long to raise their credit score and save up enough cash to qualify for a new mortgage.8

With this “seven-year window” in mind, RealtyTrac predicts that the largest wave of boomerang buyers – more than 1.3 million – will be eligible to re-enter the housing market in 2018.9

Markets likely to see the highest influx of boomerang buyers are those that had a high percentage of foreclosures AND have remained affordable. The majority of boomerang buyers are middle-class Gen Xers or Baby Boomers. Expect to see even more competition for entry-level homes in those markets.

What does it mean for you? If you’re a boomerang buyer, we understand your unique circumstances. We can help you navigate the real estate process and write competitive offers that will play to your strengths. Contact us to discuss your options.

NEW TAX LEGISLATION WILL IMPACT HOMEOWNER DEDUCTIONS

The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” passed at the end of 2017 nearly doubles the standard deduction, so far fewer Americans are expected to itemize this year. For those who do, however, it could mean less homeowner deductions are available than in the past.

Previously, homeowners could deduct interest paid on the first $1 million of mortgage debt, but that threshold has been lowered to $750,000 for new mortgages. (Existing mortgages will not be impacted.)

Additionally, taxpayers will no longer be able to fully deduct state and local property taxes plus income or sales taxes. The new legislation restricts this deduction to $10,000. It also eliminates the deduction for moving expenses (except for members of the Armed Forces) and interest on home equity loans unless the proceeds are used to substantially improve the residence.10

It’s yet to be seen how the tax bill will impact the real estate market overall. While some economists predict a price reduction in certain markets, Republican lawmakers project the bill will increase take-home pay and stimulate the economy overall. According to Realtor.com Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner, “Some house hunters—particularly wealthy buyers—will see an increase in after-tax income, making an already tough housing market even more competitive. This increased demand could drive prices up even higher than they are already.”11

What does it mean for you? If you’re an existing homeowner, be sure to consult a tax professional if you’re concerned about the impact the new tax bill could have on you.

And if you’re planning to buy or sell this year, we can help you determine how the tax bill could affect demand in your current or target neighborhood and price range.

INTEREST RATES WILL RISE

No one knows exactly what will happen with mortgage rates this year, but the Mortgage Bankers Association anticipates the Federal Reserve will raise rates three times in 2018, with Freddie Mac’s 30-year fixed rate mortgage reaching 4.8 percent by the end of Q4, up from around 4 percent at the end of 2017.12

Kiplinger.com Economist David Payne also predicts interests rates will rise this year, with short-term rates outpacing long-term rates as the Fed aims to curb inflation in a tightening job market. He predicts the bank prime rate that home equity loans are based on will increase from 4.25 percent to 5 percent by the end of 2018. 13

What does it mean for you? If you’re in the market to buy, act now. Rising interest rates will decrease your purchasing power, so act quickly before interest rates go up. Give us a call today to get your home search started.

And if you’re a current homeowner who is considering refinancing or a home equity loan, don’t wait. We can help you estimate your property’s fair market value so you’ll be prepared before contacting a lender.

 

2018 ACTION PLAN

If you plan to BUY this year:

1.     Get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you plan to finance part of your home purchase, getting pre-approved for a mortgage will give you a jump-start on the paperwork and provide an advantage over other buyers in a competitive market. The added bonus: you will find out how much you can afford to borrow and budget accordingly.

2.     Create your wish list. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? How far are you willing to commute to work? What’s most important to you in a home? We can set up a customized search that meets your criteria to help you find the perfect home for you.

3.     Come to our office. The buying process can be tricky. We’d love to guide you through it. We can help you find a home that fits your needs and budget, all at no cost to you. Give us a call to schedule an appointment today!

If you plan to SELL this year:

1.     Call us for a FREE Comparative Market Analysis. A CMA not only gives you the current market value of your home, it’ll also show how your home compares to others in the area. This will help us determine which repairs and upgrades may be required to get top dollar for your property … and it will help us price your home correctly once you’re ready to list.

2.     Prep your home for the market. Most buyers want a home they can move into right away, without having to make extensive repairs and upgrades. We can help you determine which ones are worth the time and expense to deliver maximum results.

3.     Start decluttering. Help your buyers see themselves in your home by packing up personal items and things you don’t use regularly and storing them in an attic or storage locker. This will make your home appear larger, make it easier to stage … and get you one step closer to moving when the time comes!

WE’RE HERE TO HELP

While national real estate numbers and predictions can provide a “big-picture” outlook for the year, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market, and the local issues that are likely to drive home values in your particular neighborhood. If you have specific questions, or would like more information about where we see real estate headed in our area, please give us a call! We’d love to discuss how issues here at home are likely to impact your desire to buy or a sell a home this year.

Sources:

  1. Inman News –
    https://www.inman.com/2017/11/03/what-to-expect-from-the-2018-housing-market/
  2. Freddie Mac September Outlook Report –
    http://www.freddiemac.com/research/outlook/20170921_looking_ahead_to_2018.html
  3. Marketplace.org –
    https://www.marketplace.org/2017/07/05/economy/tight-inventory-slows-housing-market-down-0
  4. National Association of Realtors Press Release –
    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/existing-home-sales-to-grow-37-percent-in-2018-but-inventory-shortages-and-tax-reform-effects-loom-300549447.html
  5. Fox Business News –
    http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/11/27/entry-level-buyers-drive-solid-new-home-sales.html
  6. Zillow Research –
    https://www.zillow.com/research/2018-predictions-17217/
  7. National Association of Realtors’ Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report –
    https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/home-buyer-and-seller-generational-trends
  8. com –
    https://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/questions/foreclosure-fico-score-affect.aspx
  9. RealtyTrac –
    http://www.realtytrac.com/news/foreclosure-trends/boomerang-buyers/
  10. National Association of Realtors –
    https://www.nar.realtor/taxes/tax-reform/the-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act-what-it-means-for-homeowners-and-real-estate-professionals
  11. Realtor.com –
    https://www.realtor.com/news/real-estate-news/tax-cuts-survey/
  12. Mortgage Bankers Association Economic Forecast –
    https://www.mba.org/news-research-and-resources/research-and-economics/forecasts-and-commentary
  13. Kiplinger Economic Forecast –
    https://www.kiplinger.com/article/business/T019-C000-S010-interest-rate-forecast.html#iOf4mkSFvvTmi2wr.99

3 Reasons the Housing Market is NOT in a Bubble

3 Reasons the Housing Market is NOT in a Bubble

Keeping Current Matters:  With prices appreciating at levels that far exceed historical norms, some are fearful that the housing 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.

3 Reasons the Housing Market is NOT in a Bubble

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 Reasons the Housing Market is NOT in a Bubble

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.

via Keeping Current Matters

Did You Know Consumer Confidence in the Economy & Housing is Soaring?

Consumer Confidence

The success of the housing market is strongly tied to the consumer’s confidence in the overall economy. For that reason, we believe 2017 will be a great year for real estate. Here is just a touch of the news coverage on the subject via The KCM Crew.

HousingWire:
“Consumers’ faith in the housing market is stronger than it’s ever been before, according to a newly released survey from Fannie Mae.”

Bloomberg:
“Americans’ confidence continued to mount last week as the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index reached the highest point in a decade on more-upbeat assessments about the economy and buying climate.”

Yahoo Finance:
“Confidence continues to rise among America’s consumers…the latest consumer sentiment numbers from the University of Michigan showed that in March confidence rose again.”

MarketWatch:
“U.S. consumers are the most confident in the U.S. economy in 15 years, buoyed by the strongest job market since before the Great Recession. The survey of consumer confidence rose…according to the Conference Board, the private company that publishes the index. That’s the highest level since July 2001.”

Ivy Zelman, in her recent Z Report, probably best capsulized the reports:
“The results were incredibly strong and…offer one of the most positive consumer takes on housing since the recovery started.”

Real Estate Market 2017: What to Expect

Real Estate Market

One of the most common questions we get at this time of year is, “What’s going on in the market?” It’s not just potential buyers and sellers who are curious; homeowners always want reassurance their home’s value is going up. The good news is the American real estate market is strong and healthy: home values are up, prices and sales are strong, and millennial first-time buyers are eager to become homeowners

We often use national real estate numbers to give us a clearer view of our local market. However, real estate is local, and while statistics and predictions help us understand the overall real estate market, our local market may be different. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, or just want to know how much your home is worth, give us a call!

What to Expect in the Real Estate Market in 2017

The American housing market is stronger than ever! Home values, prices and sales had their strongest numbers in 2016, a sure sign the market is healthy and strong. According to the Home Price Index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), property values have increased in 58 of the last 62 months and have increased more than 35 percent nationally. Homeowners continue to build equity in their largest investment—their homes.

First-time buyers are back.

Housing forecasts from the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), the Mortgage Bankers’ Association, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae all predict existing-home sales will surpass 6 million in 2017, higher than anticipated sales for 2016. Who’s driving the surge? According to NAR, millennials who have put off buying a home are ready to buy. While they may have avoided buying a home due to student debt and limited employment, many are entering their 30s, a time when their attention turns to marriage, family and setting roots with homeownership. They’re predicted to be the driving force behind home and condominium sales from now until into 2020. (Source: MarketWatch)

What does this mean to you? If you’re a millennial who’s been on the fence about buying, now is the time to act. Give us a call to answer your questions about the market and the buying process.

Renters are embracing homeownership

Additionally, many renters who’ve resisted buying are starting home searches due to the economic weight of rising rents. This year’s home buyers seek to take advantage of comparatively low interest rates and, in most cases, static payments each month—an advantage of home ownership. Rental costs will only continue to rise; if you’re thinking of buying, now is an ideal time to do so.

What does this mean to you? Every month you pay rent, you lose the opportunity to build equity in a home of your own. Break free from the limits of renting and invest in your financial future. Come in the office and we’ll discuss your options.

Home prices are on the rise.

According to NAR, the median existing-home price not only increased 6.0 percent year-over-year in October, it’s also the 56th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. Prices are approaching the pre-recession peak.           

What does this mean to you? Home prices, and subsequently home values, are increasing. If you’ve been waiting to list your home until you know you can sell it for what you think it’s worth, now is a great time to do so. We’ll be happy to give you a comparative market assessment of your home and help you get your home in list-ready shape.

If you’re in the market to buy, be prepared to act.

Homes were on the market for the shortest amount of time recorded since 2009: 52 days. The increase of qualified buyers in the market along with the increasing efficiency of the real estate process means homes are selling faster than ever, and in many cases buyers are engaging in bidding wars and paying over the list price to get the home of their dreams.       

What does this mean to you? The home you have your eye on one day may be gone the next. In competitive markets, be prepared to come to the table with a competitive bid.

Looking for a new home?

New-home construction will increase to an average of 1.5 million per year to 2024, according to a report from NAR. However, experts anticipate housing starts will only increase to 1.22 million in 2017, which is less than the 1.5 million new homes required to keep up with growing demand. This inventory shortage of new entry-level homes—typically purchased by first-time buyers—may drive up prices in some areas. Home builders have been focusing on multi-family construction for the last few years, but this type of construction has begun to level off providing hope that builders will once again focus on single-family home construction. However, stricter proposed immigration policies may impact new home construction and tighten inventory.

What does this mean to you? First-time and repeat home buyers agree—there are plenty of advantages of buying a new home. Whether you want a home customized to your family’s needs or you don’t want to bother with age-related maintenance, a new home has much to offer. Give us a call to discuss your options.

Affordability pressures are increasing in many markets

Housing affordability in many of the nation’s largest cities has declined over the past few years, a trend that is expected to continue in 2017. However, there is hope. NAR created the Affordability Index to measure the affordability of homes across the United States. The Affordability Index assesses whether the typical family earning the median family income can qualify for a mortgage on a typical home based on the prevailing mortgage interest rate on loans closed on existing homes from the Federal Housing Finance Board.

The NAR Affordability Index is 170.2 (composite) and 169.8 (fixed), meaning a family earning the median family income has 170.2 percent of the income necessary to buy a median-priced, single-family home. Nationally, the qualifying income is $41,616, but it varies by region. In the Northeast, the qualifying income is $45,024. In the Midwest, it’s $32,640. In the South, it’s $36,960. In the West, it’s $61,824.          

What does this mean to you? If you’ve had your eye on a new home, but weren’t sure if you could afford it, you may be pleasantly surprised. We may have homes in our area that meet your needs and budget. Give us a call today to discuss your home search.

3 Things to Do Now if You Plan to Buy This Year

  1. Get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you’re like most buyers who plan to finance part of the home purchase, getting pre-approved for a mortgage will allow you to put in an offer on a home and may give you an advantage over other buyers. The added bonus: you can see how much home you can afford and budget accordingly.
  2. Start looking. While most buyers start their searches online, be sure to look at homes in neighborhoods you’d like to live in as well. Keep a notebook to write down what you like and dislike about each home you view in person or online. This will help you narrow down where to look and what to look for in your next home.
  3. Come to our office. The buying process can be tricky. We’d love to guide you through it. We can help you find a home that fits your needs and budget. Give us a call to make an appointment today!

3 Things to Do Now if You Plan to Sell This Year

  1. Make repairs. Most buyers want a home they can move into right away, without having to make extensive repairs. While the repairs may or may not add value, making them will give your home a competitive advantage over other similar homes on the market.
  2. Get a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). A CMA not only gives you the current market value of your home, it’ll also show how your home compares to others in the area. This will help us price your home to sell in our market. Call us for your free CMA!
  3. Start packing. Help your buyers see themselves in your home by packing up items you don’t use regularly and storing them in an attic or a storage space. This will make your home easier to stage as well as make it easier to move later on.

Are you thinking of buying or selling?

Whether you’d like to buy or sell a home this year, want to know how much your home is worth, or have general questions about our local market, please give us a call! We’d love to discuss the market with you.

 

Mortgage Interest Rates Just Went Up… Should I Wait to Buy? Nope!

Mortgage Interest Rates

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeks. Along with Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors are all calling for mortgage interest rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact they may no longer be able to get a rate less than 4%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades.

Mortgage Interest Rates

Bottom Line:

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage interest rate ever offered, you can still get a better rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago; a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.

via Keeping Current Matters

 

Why Now is a Good Time to Invest in Real Estate

Real Estate

Real Estate is on an upswing.

HousingWire Aug 10: If you have been on the fence about getting into real estate investing, now may be the best time to take that first dive into this business. Real estate has seen its highs and lows over the past decade.

Due to the subprime mortgage housing crisis, many investors jumped ship when it came to this business, and ever since then, there still seems to be whispers of hesitation to enter back into this market.

However, in recent years, there appears to be an upswing in the real estate market, prompting experienced investors to return and even inspiring confidence in newbie investors to try their hand at investing.

Here are three reasons why now may be the best time to invest in real estate.

1. Home prices are rising

One of the first signs that the real estate market is seeing improvement is that the prices of homes are steadily rising. According to a study conducted by CoreLogic, “national home prices were 5.7% higher in June compared to a year ago.” Some areas are seeing astonishing levels of growth, specifically Washington, Oregon and Colorado, which have experienced a yearly price gain over 9%, the three highest in the country according to CoreLogic’s data.

Yahoo Finance reported that “June is the 52nd consecutive month where U.S. median home prices increased on a year-over-year basis.” This rise in prices could be due to the lack of inventory in the market, which is driving prices up and giving investors the opportunity to capitalize on these investments.

2. The rental market is growing

The rental market for real estate investing also appears to be seeing a change for the better due to this lower inventory of distressed properties which is raising the prices of rentals, giving buy and hold investors important insight into where to invest based on the current market trends.

In a recent webinar hosted by Dennis Cisterna, chief revenue officer for Investability, he discussed how the current single family rental market is experiencing a growth spurt. He attributes this to the stabilizing economy increasing demand for rentals, the lower inventory leading to rising prices, and the difficulty people are experiencing obtaining mortgages as reasons why they are moving more towards renting.

He further explains how investors are branching out to markets outside their local areas: “In 2016, people want to invest in markets outside their own neighborhood because if you want to buy a rental property and live in Southern California right now you’re going to spend over $400,000 and possibly not even have any positive cash flow in year one.”

3. Foreclosure levels at the lowest since 2000

Another important sign that the tides are turning in a positive direction is the fact that foreclosures are on the decline. MarketWatch cites data compiled by Black Knight Financial Services that show in the year 2000, the number of foreclosures was 114,310 and now in 2016, that number has dropped to a staggering 77,657 compared to its peak between 2008 and 2010 of about 650,000 foreclosures reported.

These numbers should further prove how the economy is seeing a change for the better, another indicator for investors to try and get into the business while the market still is primed for it. Less foreclosures mean homeowners have the money to pay their mortgages so banks aren’t coming in and taking away their investments.

The future for investors

If you are new to investing or were involved in the business before and took a break due to the uncertainty of the market, now may be the best time to get back in and start building those investments for the future. Take the rising home prices, the growing rental market, and the low levels of foreclosures as signs of a better real estate market ahead for all investors.

Are you thinking of investing in real estate?  We’d love to help you find some great properties.  Please give us a call.  727-895-6200

Considering Buying a Home?

Are you considering buying a home?  Mortgage interest rates remain at historic lows, but the experts agree, rates will increase over the next year. Prices are also predicted to rise.

Find out the difference a year can make!

Now's the time to be buying a home

  • The Cost of Waiting to Buy is defined as the additional funds it would take to buy a home if prices & interest rates were to increase over a period of time.
  • Freddie Mac predicts interest rates to rise to 4.6% by next year.
  • CoreLogic predicts home prices to appreciate by 5.3% over the next 12 months.
  • If you are ready and willing to buy your dream home, find out if you are able to!

via KCM Crew

How Florida Real Estate Bills Fared This Legislative Session

Florida Realtors logo

via Florida Realtors…

For Florida Realtors, the 2016 session was as much about preserving and protecting homeownership as it was ensuring no new laws were passed that would disrupt your business.

Among real estate bills that passed, there are several notable victories for the industry, prospective buyers and property owners:

$500,000 to combat unlicensed real estate activity and possible savings for licensees. Licensees pay $5 into the unlicensed activity fund when they renew their licenses. Under HB 303 (Rep. Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland), this fee will be waived if the amount of funds collected exceeds what was spent in the previous two years.

$200.1 million to Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Funds. This is the highest funding level in nine years. Lawmakers provided $135.5 million for rental assistance ( State Housing Initiatives Partnership, or SHIP); $5 million for homelessness challenge grants; and $64.6 million for state housing programs, half of which will go to the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) program. Also, lawmakers appropriated monies from general revenue and other trust funds for several local housing initiatives: $4 million for homelessness programs around the state; $16 million for the Low-income Housing Energy Assistance Program; and $1 million for a variety of community development projects.

Statewide water policy. SB 552 (Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness) was one of the first bills passed by the Legislature and signed into law. It’s a complex bill that lays the foundation for a comprehensive water management program for the state. Several aspects of this 134-page bill align with Florida Realtors’ view on how to preserve one of Florida’s greatest natural assets: (1) protect and restore fresh water springs; (2) give the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) oversight for scientifically-based water research programs; and (3) allow the DEP to oversee pollution control measures for Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee Estuary, and the St. Lucie River and Estuary. Separately, the state budget provides monies for other environmental projects: $159.7 million for Everglades restoration; $56.8 million for northern Everglades and estuaries protection; and $50 million for springs protection projects.

Tax exemptions for seniors, solar energy and first responders. Lawmakers passed three proposed constitutional amendments dealing with taxes that voters will consider in November 2016. HJR 1009 (Rep. Larry Metz, R-Groveland) would grant a property tax break for first responders disabled in the line of duty. HJR 193 (Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Fort Myers) would give commercial property owners a tax break on solar and renewable energy devices. And HJR 275 (Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Hialeah) would allow certain low-income senior property owners to keep their additional homestead exemption even though the value exceeds $250,000 due to improving market conditions.

New type of sinkhole insurance. Property owners in so-called “sinkhole alley” (Hillsborough, Hernando and Pasco counties), where coverage currently available only covers catastrophic loss, will be pleased to know protection against less severe damage may soon be available. SB 1274 (Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater) allows insurance companies to offer a new line of sinkhole insurance that covers damage considered less than catastrophic, such as sunken floors and cracked walls. Policyholders would be required to make repairs and not use an insurance payout for other expenses or purchases.

No new restrictions on vacation rentals. Florida Realtors successfully worked against several bills that would have allowed local governments to ban short-term rentals.

Want to challenge your property assessment? Take along a real estate representative. Property owners who disagree with the value placed on their property may challenge the assessment before their county’s Value Adjustment Board (VAB). Currently, only an attorney or “agent” may represent the owner. HB 499 (Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Hialeah) expands the list of representatives to include a real estate appraiser or broker.

Faster lease approvals for members of the military. SB 184 (Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Jacksonville), a broad military/veterans affairs bill, took on a House amendment late in the session requiring landlords and condo/homeowners’ associations to approve or deny a rental application submitted by active duty service personnel within seven days. If the application is denied, the prospective tenant must be told why. If the application is not processed within the seven-day period, the landlord and condo/homeowners’ association must lease the unit to the service member.

FREC appointment. The Senate approved Gov. Rick Scott’s appointment of 2011 Florida Realtors President Patti Fitzgerald to the Florida Real Estate Commission. Fitzgerald, broker associate/manager with Illustrated Properties in Jupiter, will serve a three-year term.

Real Estate Bills that did not pass:

Cap on estoppel certificate fees. Fierce opposition made it difficult to advance legislation that would have capped estoppel certificate fees. HB 203 (Rep. John Wood, R-Winter Haven) made it through all House committees and was poised for discussion on the floor. The Senate version, SB 722 (Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland), died in committee.

Assignment-of-benefits reform. For four years, legislators have tried to curb property insurance fraud, overbilling and lawsuits when property owners allow repair contractors, such as water remediators, to file an insurance claim on their behalf. These abuses, according to insurance companies, drive up rates for all policyholders. Two bills were introduced this session. One pitted trial lawyers against insurance companies, and the other focused on kickbacks that water remediators pay to plumbers and other repairman. Both bills proved too controversial for this Legislature.

New homeowners’ association disclosure. SB 1122 and HB 1375 would have required prospective buyers to receive a homeowners’ association’s governing documents within seven days of closing. The buyer would have been allowed to terminate the contract for purchase within three days after receipt of these documents. Both bills died in committee early in the session.

New renters insurance disclosure. SB 342 would have required two different leases for residential rentals: one lease when tenants are required to purchase a renter’s insurance policy and the other when insurance is not required. SB 342 passed the Senate; its House companion, HB 237, died in committee.

Higher documentary stamp taxes. SB 660 and HB 735 sought to shift the cost of impact fees — paid by builders but often passed along to purchasers of new construction — to all property buyers in the form of higher documentary stamp taxes. If adopted by local governments, doc stamps could have jumped from 70 cents to $1 per $100 of value.

Use of local surtax for water restoration projects. Local governments are permitted to levy an infrastructure surtax to pay for a range of capital projects, such as land for public parks or energy-improvement loans for residential or commercial property. HB 995 and SB 346 would have allowed local governments to use proceeds from this surtax to dredge muck from bodies of water and restore them for public use.

Fair housing, anti-discrimination. Florida Realtors was one of 36 companies and organizations in favor of legislation to ban discrimination in the workplace and housing based on sexual orientation and gender identity. SB 120 and HB 45 died in committee.

Stricter penalties for crimes committed against real estate agents. With attacks against real estate agents on the rise, two bills were filed to stiffen the penalty for certain crimes committed against a real estate professional during property showings. HB 47 made it to the House floor, but its Senate companion, SB 214 , stalled in committee, as legislators questioned why real estate licensees should be given the same protected status as law enforcement officers and sports referees, as currently allowed.

Residential Sales Stats For 2015

Florida Realtors logo  - Residential SalesFlorida’s housing market ended the year on a mixed note. The frenetic residential sales pace during first three quarters slowed down in the fourth quarter, even though December marked the 49th straight month of year-over-year increases in the median sale price for single-family homes.  

Click here for Pinellas County statistics.

“In the fourth quarter and throughout 2015, we’ve seen positive signs that Florida’s housing sector is growing steadily,” said 2016 Florida Realtors® President Matey H. Veissi. “Home prices are rising at a more moderate pace while closed sales remain strong. Florida’s economy is in growth mode, more jobs are being created and mortgage interest rates remain at historically low levels, which will continue to drive the state’s housing market in 2016.”