New homes only represent about 11 percent of all home sales. But, though they’re a small slice of housing market activity, they do play an important role. That’s because, when new homes are selling, builders build more houses. And, since adding new homes to the housing stock can help alleviate upward pressure on home prices, a healthy new home market can make buying conditions better for everyone. These days, though, the market faces some challenges. For example, the increasing cost of land and materials means builders struggle to build new homes in price ranges affordable for first-time and entry level buyers. For example, new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development show that the median sales price of new homes sold in June was $310,400. The average price was $368,600. By comparison, at the end of 2018, the average price of homes purchased by first-time buyers was $219,300. Since a significant share of housing demand these days comes from younger buyers, new home sales are held back by the lack of affordable options for this demographic. More here.
If you’re shopping for a house this summer, you should be prepared to move fast. That’s because, homes are selling quickly so far this season and new numbers from the National Association of Realtors show the trend continuing through June. In fact, 56 percent of the homes sold during the month were on the market for less than a month. The typical property lasted just 27 days, which is up from 26 days the month before. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says the housing market is imbalanced and it’s leading to higher prices and more competition for available homes. “Imbalance persists for mid-to-lower priced homes with solid demand and insufficient supply, which is consequently pushing up home prices,” Yun said. However, like all things real estate, your location will determine the conditions you encounter when shopping for a house. For example, home sales in the Midwest and Northeast – where inventory isn’t quite as tight – increased in June. The South and West, on the other hand, saw declines. More here.
If you’ve never been through the buying process before, you might think you get the keys to your new house right after having your offer accepted. After all, you’ve been approved to borrow the money and the home seller has agreed to sell you their house. So, what could be the holdup? Well, there are a number of things. First off, there’s the paperwork that needs to be done. The details of the home’s sale have to be documented before all of the parties involved can be assured that the necessary requirements have been met. Additionally, the home needs to be inspected and appraised to make sure that the house is valued correctly and has no hidden issues. Put simply, your finances, the home, and the specifics of the transaction all have to be thoroughly verified before the loan can be closed. This, of course, takes time. The good news is the amount of time it takes has been declining. In fact, according to one recent analysis, average closing times have fallen from 74 days to just 38 days since 2017. Most of that improvement is due to the digitization of the process. But some other factors that affect closing … Read More
Sales of previously owned, single-family homes increased 2.5 percent in May, according to new numbers from the National Association of Realtors. The gains follow two months of declines and are evidence that home buyers are responding to improved affordability conditions. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says, purchase power is up. “The purchasing power to buy a home has been bolstered by falling mortgage rates, and buyers are responding,” he said. But though favorable buying conditions are good for potential house hunters, increasing demand comes with its own set of challenges. For example, the typical property was on the market just 26 days in May. Additionally, 53 percent of homes sold were on the market for less than a month. In other words, good homes are selling fast. That means, home buyers looking for a house this summer need to prepare for competition. Before heading out to look at houses, buyers should make sure their finances are in order, they’re pre-qualified to borrow, and that they’re ready to make an offer when they find a house that fits their life and budget. More here.
Buying a home involves more than just finding a house you like, making an offer, and moving in. There are many steps along the way and each has an important purpose. Take the inspection, for example. After you’ve had your offer accepted, the home will need to be professionally inspected. This serves a couple of different purposes. First, it provides the home buyer with necessary information about the health of the home and what it’ll take to maintain it. An inspector looks at things like the roof, structural and mechanical issues, plumbing, electrical systems, and the overall condition of the home. Having a professional go through the house can help reveal issues home buyers may have missed when walking through the home. And, if there are serious issues with the home’s mechanical systems or structure, it gives the buyer an opportunity to renegotiate their offer to account for the previously undetected problem. For these reasons, it’s a good idea for the home’s buyer to be present during the home inspection. It’s a good opportunity to get to know the home you’re buying and also a chance to ask questions about proper care and maintenance . More here.
Naturally, when there are more home buyers than homes for sale, prices and competition increase. That’s why, the fact that there are a lower than normal number of homes for sale ranks high among the main issues affecting today’s home buyer. But what are the factors causing for-sale inventory to lag in markets across the country? Well, one of them is that an increasing number of homeowners have decided that, rather than moving, they’d prefer to renovate or remodel the home they have. In fact, according to Harvard’s Joint Center For Housing Studies, home improvement spending is up. Since 2015, it’s risen 10 percent. And when compared to 2010, it’s up 50 percent. According to the report, older homeowners are driving the trend. “Homeowners age 55 and over have dominated the home remodeling market for nearly a decade, overtaking middle-aged owners as the primary source of home improvement spending,” the report says. “Older homeowners are living longer and are increasingly willing and able to spend for home improvements that allow them to remain safely in their current homes.” More here.
Determining when it’s a good time to for you to buy a house means thinking about things like market conditions, your life goals, job security, and personal finances. That’s why Fannie Mae’s monthly Home Purchase Sentiment Index surveys Americans about those things in an effort to gauge perceptions of the current housing market. And, according to the most recent results, Americans are becoming more enthusiastic. In fact, there was a 13 percent month-over-month increase in the number of respondents who said now is a good time to buy a house. Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, says there are a lot of positive trends currently supporting buying sentiment, though there are also some remaining concerns. “Another sharp rebound in the ‘Good Time To Buy’ component lifted the HPSI nearer its survey high set during last year’s home buying season, though several uncertainties remain,” Duncan said. “While consumers’ more favorable mortgage rate outlook suggests continued support for housing affordability, potential home buyers still face supply constraints. Additionally, while the survey recently resumed its upward trend, consumers’ sense of income growth and job security have moved lower from the highs established earlier in the year, which, if sustained, could weigh on the … Read More
Buying a house is a major financial transaction. So, it makes sense that you’d want to take your time and not rush into anything. Unfortunately, though, buying a house also requires you to act fast, especially in a competitive market. If you spend too much time deliberating, you may lose the house to a buyer who’s quicker than you and makes an offer while you’re still thinking it over. In other words, the home buying process can sometimes make you feel like you have to rush. This is particularly true for buyers who haven’t been through the experience before and don’t know exactly what to expect. That’s what a recent survey of homeowners found, anyway, The survey – which asked homeowners for their views on homeownership and their regrets and expectations – found that the vast majority of young homeowners (between 18 and 34 years old) had at least one regret about their home. And, among those regrets, feeling like they rushed their decision and didn’t have a chance to consider all the options earned the top spot. In fact, 29 percent of young homeowners said they regret rushing the process. By comparison, just 12 percent of older buyers said … Read More
The National Association of Realtors most recent existing-home sales report shows sales were essentially flat in April, falling 0.4 percent from the month before. But though flat sales to begin the spring selling season may seem like trouble, a closer look at the data shows conditions are gradually improving for home buyers and may lead to more activity. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says he believes the improvements will soon help spur more sales. “First, we are seeing historically low mortgage rates combined with a pent-up demand to buy, so buyers will look to take advantage of these conditions,” Yun said. “Also, job creation is improving, causing wage growth to align with home price growth, which helps affordability and will help spur more home sales.” Additionally, inventory continues to improve, with the number of homes available for sale up nearly 2 percent from last year at the same time. However, though the market is becoming more favorable for buyers, it’s still competitive. In fact, 53 percent of homes sold in April were on the market for less than a month. More here
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, average rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances fell again last week. Rates for jumbo loans, loans backed by the FHA, and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages remained mostly flat from the week before. Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said the average 30-year fixed-rate is now at its lowest point in more than a year. “Mortgage rates fell for the fourth straight week, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hitting its lowest level since January 2018, leading to a rebound in refinances,” Kan said. And while it’s true that there was an 8 percent increase in refinance activity last week due to decreasing rates, purchase activity was actually down from the week before. Kan says home buyers may be delaying their search due to economic uncertainty. But though demand for loans to buy homes was down from the week before, it remains 7 percent higher than at the same time last year. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications. More here.