Important Distinction: Homes are Less Affordable, Not Unaffordable

Reprinted from Keeping Current Matters

Important Distinction: Homes Are Less Affordable, Not Unaffordable

It’s impossible to research the subject of buying a home without coming across a headline declaring that the fall in home affordability is a crisis. However, when we add context to the most recent affordability statistics, we soon realize that, though homes are less affordable than they have been over the last few years, they are more affordable than they historically have been.

Black Knight, a premier provider of data and analytics for the mortgage industry, just released their latest Monthly Mortgage Monitor which includes a new analysis of the affordability situation. Here’s what the report reveals:

“The monthly payment required to purchase the average priced home with a 20% down 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased by nearly 20% (+$210) over the first nine months of 2021, . . . It now requires 21.6% of the median household income to make the monthly mortgage payment on the average home purchase, the least affordable housing has been since 30-year rates rose to nearly 5% back in late 2018.”

Important Distinction: Homes Are Less Affordable, Not Unaffordable | Keeping Current Matters

Basically, the report shows that homes are less affordable today than at any other time in the last three years. However, in a previous report earlier this year, Black Knight calculated that the percentage of the median household income to make the monthly mortgage payment on the average home purchase over the last 25 years was 23.6% (see graph below):Today’s payment-to-income ratio is more affordable than the average over the last 25 years. Given that context, we can see that American households still have the same ability to be homeowners as their parents did 20 years ago.

This confirms the recent analysis of ATTOM Data resources where Todd Teta, Chief Product and Technology Officer, explains:

“The typical median-priced home around the U.S. remains affordable to workers earning an average wage, despite prices that keep going through the roof. Super-low interests and rising pay continue to be the main reasons why.”

Bottom Line

It’s true that it’s less affordable to buy a home today than it has been the last few years. However, it’s more affordable to buy today than the average over the last 25 years. In other words, homes are less affordable, but they’re not unaffordable. That’s an important distinction.

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What Does the Future Hold for Home Prices?

Reprinted from Keeping Current Matters

What Does the Future Hold for Home Prices?

If you’re looking to buy or sell a house, chances are you’ve heard talk about today’s rising home prices. And while this increase in home values is great news for sellers, you may be wondering what the future holds. Will prices continue to rise with time, or should you expect them to fall?

To answer that question, let’s first understand a few terms you may be hearing right now.

It’s important to note home prices have increased, or appreciated, for 114 straight months. To find out if that trend may continue, look to the experts. Pulsenomics surveyed over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts asking for their five-year projections. In terms of what lies ahead, experts say the market may see some slight deceleration, but not depreciation.

What Does the Future Hold for Home Prices? | Keeping Current Matters

Here’s the forecast for the next few years:As the graph above shows, prices are expected to continue to rise, just not at the same pace we’ve seen over the last year. Over 100 experts agree, there is no expectation for price depreciation. As the arrows indicate, each number is an increase, which means prices will rise each year.

Bill McBride, author of the blog Calculated Risk, also expects deceleration, but not depreciation:

“My sense is the Case-Shiller National annual growth rate of 19.7% is probably close to a peak, and that year-over-year price increases will slow later this year.”

Ivy Zelman of Zelman & Associates agrees, saying:

“. . . home price appreciation is on the cusp of flipping to a decelerating trend.”

A recent article from realtor.com indicates you should expect:

“. . . annual price increases will slow to a more normal level, . . .”

What Does This Deceleration Mean for You?

What experts are projecting for the years ahead is more in line with the historical norm for appreciation. According to data from Black Knight, the average annual appreciation from 1995-2020 is 4.1%. As you can see from the chart above, the expert forecasts are closer to that pace, which means you should see appreciation at a level that’s aligned with a more normal year.

If you’re a buyer, don’t expect a sudden or drastic drop in home prices – experts say it won’t happen. Instead, think about your homeownership goals and consider purchasing a home before prices rise further.

If you’re a seller, the continued home price appreciation is good news for the value of your house. Work with an agent to list your house for the right price based on market conditions.

Bottom Line

Experts expect price deceleration, not price depreciation over the coming years. Talk to a local real estate professional to understand what’s happening in the housing market today, where things are headed, and what it means for you.

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What’s Causing Today’s Competitive Real Estate Market?

Reprinted from Keeping Current Matters

What’s Causing Today’s Competitive Real Estate Market? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights

  • Today’s strong sellers’ market is the direct result of high demand and low supply.
  • Low mortgage rates and generational trends have created an increased demand for homes. Meanwhile, the slower pace of new home construction and homeowners staying in their homes longer have both led to today’s low supply.
  • If you’re thinking of selling, work with a trusted agent to understand your local area and how you can take advantage of today’s housing market.
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The Main Key to Understanding the Rise in Mortgage Rates

Reprinted from Keeping Current Matters

The Main Key To Understanding the Rise in Mortgage Rates

Every Thursday, Freddie Mac releases the results of their Primary Mortgage Market Survey which reveals the most recent movement in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate. Last week, the rate was announced as 3.01%. It was the first time in three months that the mortgage rate surpassed 3%. In a press release accompanying the survey, Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, explains:

“Mortgage rates rose across all loan types this week as the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield reached its highest point since June.”

The Main Key To Understanding the Rise in Mortgage Rates | Keeping Current Matters
The Main Key To Understanding the Rise in Mortgage Rates | Keeping Current Matters

The reason Khater mentions the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield is because there has been a very strong relationship between the yield and the 30-year mortgage rate over the last five decades. Here’s a graph showing that relationship:The relationship has also been consistent throughout 2021 as evidenced by this graph:The graph also reveals the most recent jump in mortgage rates was preceded by a jump in the 10-year Treasury rate (called out by the red circles).

So, What Impacts the Yield Rate?

According to Investopedia:

“There are a number of economic factors that impact Treasury yields, such as interest rates, inflation, and economic growth.”

Since there are currently concerns about inflation and economic growth due to the pandemic, the Treasury yield spiked last week. That spike impacted mortgage rates.

What Does This Mean for You?

Khater, in the Freddie Mac release mentioned above, says:

“We expect mortgage rates to continue to rise modestly which will likely have an impact on home prices, causing them to moderate slightly after increasing over the last year.”

Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), also addresses the issue:

“Consumers shouldn’t panic. Keep in mind that even though rates will increase in the following months, these rates will still be historically low. The National Association of REALTORS forecasts the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to reach 3.5% by mid-2022.”

Bottom Line

Forecasting mortgage rates is very difficult. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, once quipped:

“You know, the fallacy of economic forecasting is don’t ever try and forecast interest rates and or, more specifically, if you’re a real estate economist mortgage rates, because you will always invariably be wrong.”

That being said, if you’re either a first-time homebuyer or a current homeowner thinking of moving into a home that better fits your current needs, keep abreast of what’s happening with mortgage rates. It may very well impact your decision.

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As Home Equity Rises, So Does Your Wealth

Reprinted from Keeping Current Matters

As Home Equity Rises, So Does Your Wealth

Homeownership is still a crucial part of the American dream. For those people who own a home (and those looking to buy one), it’s clear that being a homeowner has considerable benefits both emotionally and financially. In addition to long-term stability, buying a home is one of the best ways to increase your net worth. This boost to your wealth comes in the form of equity.

Equity is the difference between what you owe on the home and its market value based on factors like price appreciation.

The best thing about equity is that it often grows without you even realizing it, especially in a sellers’ market like we’re in now. In today’s real estate market, the combination of low housing supply and high buyer demand is driving home values up. This is giving homeowners a significant equity boost.

According to the latest data from CoreLogic, the amount of equity homeowners have has continued to grow as home values appreciate. Here are some key takeaways from the Homeowner Equity Insights Report:

  • The average homeowner gained $51,500 in equity over the past year
  • There was a 29.3% increase in national homeowner equity year over year
As Home Equity Rises, So Does Your Wealth | Keeping Current Matters

To give you an idea of what that looks like in your area, the map below shows the average equity gains by state.

What does all of that mean for you?

If you’re already a homeowner, you likely have more equity in your house than you realize. The numbers in the map above reflect year-over-year growth. If you’ve been in your home for longer than a year, you’ll likely have even more equity than that. That equity can take you places. You can use the equity you’ve gained to fuel your next move, achieve other life goals, and more.

On the other hand, if you haven’t purchased a home yet, understanding equity can help you realize why homeownership is a worthwhile goal. Homeowners across the nation gained an average of over $50,000 in equity this year. Don’t miss out on this chance to grow your net worth.

Bottom Line

If you want to learn more, talk with a real estate professional. A trusted advisor can help you understand where home prices are today, how they contribute to a homeowner’s net worth, and the impact equity can have when you own a home.

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Don’t Tackle Selling Your Home on Your Own – an Agent Can Help

Reprinted from Keeping Current Matters

Don’t Tackle Selling Your Home on Your Own – an Agent Can Help

If you’re looking to maximize your sale and minimize your effort, you need to work with a real estate professional. In a sellers’ market like today’s, it can be tempting to list your house on your own – known as For Sale By Owner (FSBO). But the truth is, a real estate professional can save you time and money by managing every step of the process, from pricing your home to reviewing documents and handling negotiations.

Before you decide to sell your house on your own, here are five reasons why working with an agent is your best bet to maximize the sale of your home.

1. First impressions are everything – and an agent knows how to make a great one.

Prepping a house for sale requires a significant amount of time and effort, even though it may seem simple at first glance. Doing it right so it stands out takes expertise and an understanding of what buyers are looking for. An agent considers things like:

  • Should you take down any personal art or pictures?
  • How much landscaping should you invest in to boost your house’s curb appeal?
  • What wall colors are most appealing to buyers?

An expert real estate advisor relies on their experience to answer these questions and more so you don’t invest in the wrong things. Your time and money are important – you shouldn’t waste either.

2. Agents have tools to maximize the number of views your home gets.

Put plainly, the more buyers that view your house, the better your return will be. In our current market, homes are receiving 3.8 offers on average per sale, according to recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). While that’s promising for the sale of your home, it’s important to understand your agent’s role in bringing buyers in.

Agents have multiple tools at their disposal – from social media to agency resources – to ensure your home is viewed by more prospective buyers. Leveraging the tools available to your agent and your agent’s expertise may help boost your sale price as well.

3. An agent won’t miss anything in the fine print.

Your agent can also save you time by taking any guesswork out of navigating the required documentation. Today, more disclosures and regulations are mandatory, meaning the number of legal documents you need to juggle is growing.

Because there’s so much to take care of, it can be hard to truly understand all of the requirements and the fine print. That’s where an expert advisor can truly shine. They’ve been through the process before and can be your guide to avoid any costly missteps.

4. Expert advisors know the market and how to price your home.

Another way your agent maximizes the sale of your home is by making sure it’s priced right. Real estate professionals have the experience to compare your house to recently sold homes in your area. They also understand the market at large and can factor in any upgrades you’ve completed to your home. Combining these factors is the key to making sure your home is priced to move quickly – and at a competitive price.

When you FSBO, you’re operating without this expertise. Even with your own research, you may not find the most up-to-date information and could risk setting a price that’s inaccurate or unrealistic. If you price your house too high, you could turn buyers away before they’re even in the front door. This could also cause problems when it’s time for the appraisal.

5. Your agent will be an expert negotiator.

In addition to their experience navigating sales, real estate professionals understand how to negotiate every aspect of a deal. They also know all the parties that will be involved with the sale, including:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible.
  • The buyer’s agent, who will use their expertise to advocate for the buyer.
  • The inspection company, which works for the buyer and will almost always find concerns with the house.
  • The appraiser, who assesses the property’s value to protect the lender.

An agent relies on their experience and training to make the right moves during the negotiation. They’ll know what levers to pull, how to address each individual’s concerns, and when you may want to get a second opinion. Selling your house as a FSBO means you’ll need to be prepared to have these conversations on your own.

Bottom Line

Selling a house takes time, effort, and expertise – don’t go at it alone. If you truly want to maximize the sale of your home, work with a trusted real estate professional.

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If You’re a Buyer, is Offering Asking Price Enough?

Reprinted from Keeping Current Matters

If You’re a Buyer, Is Offering Asking Price Enough?

In today’s real estate market, buyers shouldn’t shop for a home with the expectation they’ll be able to negotiate a lower sales price. In a typical housing market, buyers try to determine how much less than the asking price they can offer and still get the home. From there, the buyer and seller typically negotiate and agree on a revised price somewhere in the middle.

Things Are Different Today

Today’s housing market is anything but normal. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes today are:

  • Receiving an average of  3.8 offers
  • Selling in just 17 days

Homes selling quickly and receiving multiple offers highlights how competitive the housing market is right now. This is due, in large part, to the low supply of homes for sale. Low supply and high demand mean homes often sell for more than the asking price. In some cases, they sell for a lot more. Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic, explains how these stats can impact buyers:

“The imbalance between robust demand and dismal availability of for-sale homes has led to a continual bidding over asking prices, which reached record levels in recent months. Now, almost 6 in 10 homes listed are selling over the asking price.”

You May Need To Rethink How You Look at a Home’s Asking Price

What does that mean for you? If you’ve found your dream home, you need to be realistic about today’s housing market and how that impacts the offer you’ll make. Offering below or even at a home’s asking price may not cut it. In today’s market, the highest bidder often wins the home, much like at an auction.

Currently, the asking price is often the floor of the negotiation rather than the ceiling. If you really love a home, it may ultimately sell for more than the sellers are asking. That’s important to keep in mind as you work with your agent to craft an offer.

Understand An Appraisal Gap Can Happen

Because of today’s home price appreciation and the auction-like atmosphere in the selling process, appraisal gaps – the gap between the price of your contract and the appraisal for the house – are more frequent.

According to data from CoreLogic:

“Beginning in January 2020, nationally, 7% of purchase transactions had a contract price above the appraisal, but by May 2021, the frequency had increased to 19% of purchase transactions.”

When this happens, your lender won’t loan you more than the home’s appraised value, and the seller may ask you to make up the difference out of pocket. Buyers in today’s market need to be prepared for this possibility. Know your budget, know what you can afford, and work with a trusted advisor who can offer expert advice along the way.

Bottom Line

Bidding wars and today’s auction-like atmosphere mean buyers need to rethink how they look at the asking price of a home. Work with a real estate professional who can advise you on the current market and help determine what the market value is on your dream home.

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Two Reasons Why Waiting a Year to Buy Could Cost You

Reprinted from Keeping Current Matters

Two Reasons Why Waiting a Year To Buy Could Cost You

If you’re a renter with a desire to become a homeowner, or a homeowner who’s decided your current house no longer fits your needs, you may be hoping that waiting a year might mean better market conditions to purchase a home.

To determine if you should buy now or wait, you need to ask yourself two simple questions:

  1. What will home prices be like in 2022?
  2. Where will mortgage rates be by the end of 2022?

Let’s shed some light on the answers to both of these questions.

What will home prices be like in 2022?

Three major housing industry entities project continued home price appreciation for 2022. Here are their forecasts:

Using the average of the three projections (6.27%), a home that sells for $350,000 today would be valued at $371,945 by the end of next year. That means, if you delay, it could cost you more. As a prospective buyer, you could pay an additional $21,945 if you wait.

Where will mortgage rates be by the end of 2022?

Today, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate is hovering near historic lows. However, most experts believe rates will rise as the economy continues to recover. Here are the forecasts for the fourth quarter of 2022 by the three major entities mentioned above:

That averages out to 3.7% if you include all three forecasts, and it’s nearly a full percentage point higher than today’s rates. Any increase in mortgage rates will increase your cost.

What does it mean for you if both home values and mortgage rates rise?

You’ll pay more in mortgage payments each month if both variables increase. Let’s assume you purchase a $350,000 home this year with a 30-year fixed-rate loan at 2.86% after making a 10% down payment. According to the mortgage calculator from Smart Asset, your monthly mortgage payment (including principal and interest payments, and estimated home insurance, taxes in your area, and other fees) would be approximately $1,899.

Two Reasons Why Waiting a Year To Buy Could Cost You | Keeping Current Matters

That same home could cost $371,945 by the end of 2022, and the mortgage rate could be 3.7% (based on the industry forecasts mentioned above). Your monthly mortgage payment, after putting down 10%, would increase to $2,166.

The difference in your monthly mortgage payment would be $267. That’s $3,204 more per year and $96,120 over the life of the loan.

If you consider that purchasing now will also let you take advantage of the equity you’ll build up over the next calendar year, which is approximately $22,000 for a house with a similar value, then the total net worth increase you could gain from buying this year is over $118,000.

Bottom Line

When asking if you should buy a home, you probably think of the non-financial benefits of owning a home as a driving motivator. When asking when to buy, the financial benefits make it clear that doing so now is much more advantageous than waiting until next year.

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Is it Time to Move on to a New Home?

Reprinted from Keeping Current Matters

Is It Time To Move on to a New Home?
Is It Time To Move on to a New Home? | Keeping Current Matters

If you’ve been in your home for longer than five years, you’re not alone. According to recent data from First American, homeowners are staying put much longer than historical averages (see graph below):As the graph shows, before 2008, homeowners sold their houses after an average of just five years. Today, that number has more than doubled to over 10 years. The housing industry refers to this as your tenure.

To really explore tenure, it’s important to understand what drives people to make a move. An article from The Balance explores some of the primary reasons individuals choose to sell their houses. It says:

“People who move for home-related reasons might need a larger home or a house that better fits their needs, . . . Financial reasons for moving include wanting a nicer home, moving to a newer home to avoid making repairs on the old one, or cashing in on existing equity.”

If you’ve been in your home for longer than the norm, chances are you’re putting off addressing one, if not several, of the reasons other individuals choose to move. If this sounds like you, here are a few things to consider:

If your needs have changed, it may be time to re-evaluate your home.

As the past year has shown, our needs can change rapidly. That means the longer you’ve been in your home, the more likely it is your needs have evolved. The Balance notes several personal factors that could lead to your home no longer meeting your needs, including relationship and job changes.

For example, many workers recently found out they’ll be working remotely indefinitely. If that’s the case for you, you may need more space for a dedicated home office. Other homeowners choose to sell because the number of people living under their roof changes. Now more than ever, we’re spending more and more time at home. As you do, consider if your home really delivers on what you need moving forward.

It’s often financially beneficial to sell your house and move.

One of the biggest benefits of homeownership is the equity your home builds over time. If you’ve been in your house for several years, you may not realize how much equity you have. According to the latest Homeowner Equity Report from CoreLogic, homeowners gained an average of $33,400 in equity over the past year.

That equity, plus today’s low mortgage rates, can fuel a major upgrade when you sell your home and purchase a new one. Or, if you’re looking to downsize, your equity can help provide a larger down payment and lower your monthly payments over the life of your next loan. No matter what, there are significant financial benefits to selling in today’s market.

Bottom Line

If you’ve been in your home for 5-10 years or more, now might be the time to explore your options. Today’s low rates and your built-up equity could provide you with the opportunity to address your evolving needs. Reach out to a real estate professional today if you feel it’s time to sell.

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5 Reasons Today’s Housing Market is Anything but Normal

Reprinted from Keeping Matters Current

5 Reasons Today’s Housing Market Is Anything but Normal

There are many headlines out there that claim we’re reverting to a more normal real estate market. That would indicate the housing market is returning to the pre-pandemic numbers we saw from 2015-2019. But that’s not happening. The market is still extremely vibrant as demand is still strong even while housing supply is slowly returning.

Here’s the definition of normal from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

“conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern: characterized by that which is considered usual, typical, or routine.

Using this definition, here are five housing industry metrics that prove we’re nowhere near normal.

1. Mortgage Rates

If we look at the 30-year mortgage rate chronicled by Freddie Mac, we can see the average rates by decade:

  • 1970s: 8.86%
  • 1980s: 12.7%
  • 1990s: 8.12%
  • 2000s: 6.29%
  • 2010s: 4.09%

Today, the average mortgage rate stands at 2.87%, which is very close to the historic low.

Currently, mortgage rates are anything but usual, typical, or routine.

2. Home Price Appreciation

According to Black Knight, a housing data and analytics company, the average annual appreciation on residential real estate prices since 1995 has been 4.14%.

According to the latest forecast from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), home price appreciation will hit 14.1% this year, which will be greater than any year since Black Knight began collecting this data.

Currently, home price appreciation is anything but usual, typical, or routine.

3. Months’ Supply of Inventory (Homes for Sale)

According to NAR:

“Months’ supply refers to the number of months it would take for the current inventory of homes on the market to sell given the current sales pace. Historically, six months of supply is associated with moderate price appreciation, and a lower level of months’ supply tends to push prices up more rapidly.”

As of the latest Existing Homes Sales Report from NAR, the current months’ supply of inventory stands at 2.6. That’s less than half of a normal supply.

Currently, the supply of homes for sale is anything but usual, typical, or routine.

4. Days It Takes To Sell a Home

The days-on-market metric gives an indication of how hot a market is and how quickly homes are selling. In 2019, prior to the pandemic, the average days on market stood at 35, according to NAR. Today, that number is cut in half and is now at 17 days.

Currently, the days-on-market metric is anything but usual, typical, or routine.

5. Number of Offers per Listing

According to NAR, the number of offers per listing stood at 2.2 in 2019. Today, that number is double at 4.5.

Currently, the number of offers per listing is anything but usual, typical, or routine.

Bottom Line

When…

  1. Mortgage rates are near historic lows
  2. Price appreciation is at historic highs
  3. Housing inventory is less than half of the normal amount
  4. The time it takes to sell a home is cut in half, and
  5. There are twice as many offers on each house

…it’s hard to say we’re in a normal market.

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