The real estate market tends to slow down in the fall and winter. Spring and summer are far more popular with home shoppers. But last fall, in addition to the normal seasonal slowdown, mortgage rate increases caused many potential home buyers to put a hold on any plans to purchase a house. In short, affordability conditions, the holidays, and harsher weather dampened demand for homes. Since then, however, mortgage rates have decreased and for-sale inventory has shown signs of recovery. This combined with a healthy job market and the approaching spring sales season has spurred renewed optimism among housing professionals. Take the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index, for example. The index – which measures builder confidence in the market for new homes – saw a four point rebound in February and is now at 62 on a scale where any number above 50 indicates more builders view conditions as good than poor. Randy Noel, NAHB’s chairman, says expectations for the months ahead have turned hopeful. “Ongoing reduction in mortgage rates in recent weeks coupled with continued strength in the job market are helping to fuel builder sentiment,” Noel said. “In the aftermath of the fall slowdown, many … Read More
The fact that younger Americans these days are facing some financial challenges is well documented. Rent has increased and so has student loan debt. That can make saving money to buy a home difficult. So it shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that there are an increasing number of young adults living with their parents. But new numbers from the Urban Institute make clear just how many. According to their research, the share of people between the ages of 25 and 34 who are living with their parents has increased from 11.9 percent in 2000 to 22 percent in 2017. “This translates to more than 5.6 million additional young adults under their parents’ roofs between the two years,” the study says. “This trend matches the decline in young adults’ marital rate (from 55.3 percent to 40 percent) during this period.” In short, young Americans are getting married and establishing households later in life. So what does this mean for the housing market? Well, it means there are a lot of potential first-time home buyers who are going to be looking for affordable, entry-level homes in the years to come. How, where, and when they decide to enter the market will … Read More
Potential spring home buyers may find that they’ve regained some negotiating power when they head out to shop for a house to buy. That’s because, after a few years where sellers held all the cards, buyers are beginning to see conditions shift in a more favorable direction. For example, new data shows that the number of home buyers who paid above asking price in December saw its biggest month-over-month decline in six years. In fact, just 19 percent of homes sold during the month went for a price above what their owner had it listed for. That’s a five percent decline from its peak in May of last year. Simply put, continued home price increases have motivated more homeowners to put their homes up for sale. And, as the number of homes for sale has risen, it’s reduced the amount of competition among buyers. But, while competition may have begun to slow down, it isn’t quite a buyer’s market just yet. So, if you’re looking to buy a home in the months ahead, you should still be prepared, prequalified, and ready to move fast. Good homes will be in high demand, even if the competition isn’t quite as heavy as … Read More
Home buyers hoping for some good news heading into the spring buying season may find it in the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s most recent House Price Index. That’s because, after increasing for the past few years, it looks like home prices are finally starting to slow. In fact, according to the FHFA’s most recent numbers, prices were essentially flat in November from the month before. And, when comparing regional data, some areas may have even seen declines. But while slowing month-over-month increases are a good indication that short-term trends are heading in a more favorable direction, it doesn’t mean prices aren’t still up. In fact, the report shows year-over-year home values were higher than the year before across all nine census divisions – but at varying rates. For example, states in the West South Central division – which includes Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana – were up 4.5 percent from one year earlier while Mountain states like Colorado, Arizona, Montana and Utah saw increases closer to 7 percent. All in all, the report is in line with other recent releases suggesting that home prices are no longer moving upward quite as quickly as they were before. More here.
Searching for a home to buy means making a major financial decision, while at the same time choosing a place to spend the next several years of your life. In other words, it’s not the type of thing you want to rush. However, in a competitive market, home buyers sometimes don’t have the luxury of thinking through their options. A good house is likely to attract a lot of attention and, if you want it, you have to make your offer fast. That has been the case recently, as there have been fewer homes available to buy and a high level of buyer demand. In short, homes have been selling quickly. But, according to new numbers from the National Association of Realtors, that may be changing. In fact, the typical home was on the market for 46 days in December, which is up from 42 days in November and 40 days last year at the same time. And if that doesn’t seem like a big improvement, consider that in August of last year the typical home sold in just 29 days. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says inventory has been improving and it’s helping buyers. “Several consecutive months of rising … Read More
Millennial home buyers face some well-documented challenges. Higher home prices, too few starter homes for sale, and student loan debt are near the top of the list. Add to that having to save for a down payment while paying rent and it can seem like an uphill battle. But younger Americans want to buy and are showing a willingness to get creative in order to make it happen. For example, a new survey finds nearly 70 percent of millennials, who say they’d like to become homeowners soon, would consider buying a home that needs major repairs. And since finding an affordable house in a good neighborhood with quality schools and a short commute to work isn’t always easy, taking on a home improvement project in order to get one may not seem like that big of a trade off. And it isn’t, especially if you can do some of the work yourself. But, if this strategy appeals to you, be careful. Home repairs can get costly and even more so if you don’t have the expertise and experience to handle the job. More here.
Having a good idea what your home is worth is important for a couple of reasons. As a homeowner, knowing how much equity you have in your house can be useful when weighing your options with regard to refinancing or home equity loans. As a potential home seller, it’s even more important. That’s because, setting a fair price for your home will make a big difference in how it’s received by potential buyers. It can also save you some disappointment when it’s officially appraised. Since appraisers base the value of your home on what similar homes in the area have recently sold for, their estimation is going to reflect market conditions and won’t take into account your personal attachment to the property. For homeowners who have an inflated perception of their home’s worth, this can lead to disappointment. Fortunately, new numbers show that today’s homeowner has a fairly realistic view of home values. In fact, appraisal values in December were just 0.45 percent lower than what homeowners expected. This is an improvement over a couple of years ago, when homeowners believed their homes were worth nearly 1.5 percent more than their appraisal. More here.
There are a lot of factors that play a role in the health of the housing market. For example, in order to have an accurate view of where the market is, you have to have an idea about where mortgage rates and prices are headed, how many new homes are being built, how many active listings there are, and how interested buyers may be. Beyond that there things like economic concerns, consumer confidence, and the job market that also have an effect. In other words, it’s a complicated mix and, in order to really understand it, you have to look at the bigger picture. Take home sales, for example. They are a commonly cited statistic but, without context, they don’t mean much. National Association of Realtors’ chief economist, Lawrence Yun, explains one way that today’s numbers can be put in better perspective. “Home sales in 2018 look to close out the year with 5.3 million home sales, which would be similar to that experienced in the year 2000,” Yun says. “But given the 17 million more jobs now compared to the turn of the century, home sales are clearly under performing today. That also means there is steady longer-term growth … Read More
A new survey shows that home ownership among millennials between the ages of 28 and 31 jumped from 27 percent to 47 percent in just two years. Additionally, ownership among people aged 32 to 36 was up 11 percent. That home buying has surged among younger Americans is an encouraging sign for the housing market – especially since home ownership levels haven’t yet fully recovered from the housing crash. But, like anything, there’s another side to the story. That’s because, increasing demand from first-time home buyers could also put pressure on home prices if available inventory can’t keep up with the level of interest. According to one projection, millennials will purchase 10 million homes over the next decade. Whether new home construction and existing supply can meet the demand from those buyers will be a key driver of the real estate market in the years to come. If supply continues to lag behind, home prices will keep rising, which will build equity among current homeowners but cause affordability issues. On the other hand, if supply increases, prices should moderate and lead to booming home sales. Either way, first-time home buyers will have a significant effect on housing market conditions in … Read More
When shopping for something, having more to choose from is generally a good thing. And, when the thing you’re shopping for is a house, that’s especially true. That’s because, in addition to giving buyers options, more homes for sale typically helps keep prices in check. When there are enough homes to meet demand from interested buyers, prices moderate. But, over the past few years, available inventory has been lower than normal in most markets. In fact, last year at this time, inventory was down 9.1 percent on an annual basis. Because of this, home values have been increasing. That may be starting to change, however. According to new data, the number of homes for sale has now increased year-over-year for three consecutive months. And, though the most recent improvement was only 0.4 percent, it’s still a good sign for buyers. After all, if inventory continues to gain, even small increases could help lead to more favorable affordability conditions. More here.