People often ask if now is a good time to buy a home, but nobody ever asks when a good time to rent is. Regardless, we want to make certain that everyone understands that today is NOT a good time to rent.
The Census Bureau recently released their 2017 first quarter median rent numbers. Here is a graph showing rent increases from 1988 until today:
As you can see, rents have steadily increased and are showing no signs of slowing down. If you are faced with making the decision of whether or not you should renew your lease, you might be pleasantly surprised at your ability to buy a home of your own instead.
One way to protect yourself from rising rents is to lock in your housing expense by buying a home. If you are ready and willing to buy, let’s meet to determine if you are able to today!
The biggest challenge to today’s housing market is the shortage of housing inventory for sale. A normal market would see a six-month supply of homes for sale. Currently, that number is below four months. This is the major reason home prices have continued to appreciate at higher levels than historic averages.
The good news is that builders are now starting to build more homes in lower price ranges.
Builder Confidence is Up
The Housing Market Index from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reveals that builder confidence increased last month. HousingWire quoted NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz about the reason for the increase in confidence amongst builders.
“The HMI measure of future sales conditions reached its highest level since June 2005, a sign of growing consumer confidence in the new home market. Especially as existing home inventory remains tight, we can expect increased demand for new construction moving forward.”
Builders are Meeting the Needs of Today’s Purchaser
Builders are not only jumping into the market – they are doing a better job of matching current demand. The Wall Street Journal recently reported:
“In a shift, new households are overwhelmingly choosing to buy rather than rent. Some 854,000 new-owner households were formed during the first three months of the year, more than double the 365,000 new-renter households formed during the period, according to Census Bureau data.”
The WSJ article went on to say:
“Home builders are beginning to shift their focus away from luxury homes and toward homes at lower price points to cater to this burgeoning millennial clientele.”
The graph below compares 2016 to 2017 new construction sales by price point. As we can see, builders are slowly beginning to shift to prices more favorable to the first-time and non-luxury buyer.
There is a drastic need for a larger supply of home inventory to meet the skyrocketing demand. Builders are finally doing their part to help rectify this situation.
Buying a home can be intimidating if you are not familiar with the terms used during the process. To start you on your path with confidence, we have compiled a list of some of the most common terms used when buying a home.
Freddie Mac has compiled a more exhaustive glossary of terms in their “My Home” section of their website.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) – This is a broader measure of your cost for borrowing money. The APR includes the interest rate, points, broker fees and certain other credit charges a borrower is required to pay. Because these costs are rolled in, the APR is usually higher than your interest rate.
Appraisal – A professional analysis used to estimate the value of the property. This includes examples of sales of similar properties. This is a necessary step in getting your financing secured as it validates the home’s worth to you and your lender.
Closing Costs – The costs to complete the real estate transaction. These costs are in addition to the price of the home and are paid at closing. They include points, taxes, title insurance, financing costs, items that must be prepaid or escrowed and other costs. Ask your lender for a complete list of closing cost items.
Credit Score – A number ranging from 350-800, that is based on an analysis of your credit history. Your credit score plays a significant role when securing a mortgage as it helps lenders determine the likelihood that you’ll repay future debts. The higher your score, the better, but many buyers believe they need at least a 780 score to qualify when, in actuality, over 55% of approved loans had a score below 750.
Discount Points – A point equals 1% of your loan (1 point on a $200,000 loan = $2,000). You can pay points to buy down your mortgage interest rate. It’s essentially an upfront interest payment to lock in a lower rate for your mortgage.
Down Payment – This is a portion of the cost of your home that you pay upfront to secure the purchase of the property. Down payments are typically 3 to 20% of the purchase price of the home. There are zero-down programs available through VA loans for Veterans, as well as USDA loans for rural areas of the country. Eighty percent of first-time buyers put less than 20% down last month.
Escrow – The holding of money or documents by a neutral third party before closing. It can also be an account held by the lender (or servicer) into which a homeowner pays money for taxes and insurance.
Fixed-Rate Mortgages – A mortgage with an interest rate that does not change for the entire term of the loan. Fixed-rate mortgages are typically 15 or 30 years.
Home Inspection – A professional inspection of a home to determine the condition of the property. The inspection should include an evaluation of the plumbing, heating and cooling systems, roof, wiring, foundation and pest infestation.
Mortgage Rate – The interest rate you pay to borrow money to buy your house. The lower the rate, the better. Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have hovered between 4 and 4.25% for most of 2017.
Pre-Approval Letter – A letter from a mortgage lender indicating that you qualify for a mortgage of a specific amount. It also shows a home seller that you’re a serious buyer. Having a pre-approval letter in hand while shopping for homes can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.
Primary Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – If you make a down payment lower than 20% on your conventional loan, your lender will require PMI, typically at a rate of .51%. PMI serves as an added insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage and can be cancelled from your payment once you reach 20% equity in your home. For more information on how PMI can impact your monthly housing cost, click here.
Real Estate Professional – An individual who provides services in buying and selling homes. Real estate professionals are there to help you through the confusing paperwork, to help you find your dream home, to negotiate any of the details that come up, and to help make sure that you know exactly what’s going on in the housing market. Real estate professionals can refer you to local lenders or mortgage brokers along with other specialists that you will need throughout the home-buying process.
The best way to ensure that your home-buying process is a confident one is to find a real estate professional who will guide you through every aspect of the transaction with ‘the heart of a teacher,’ and who puts your family’s needs first.
There are some experts questioning whether the current pace of residential home sales is maintainable. Are too many people buying homes like in 2004-2006? Are we headed for another housing crisis? Actually, if we look closely at the numbers, we can see that we are looking at a very healthy real estate market.
Why the concern?
Some are looking at the last four years of home sales and comparing them to the three years just prior to the housing bubble. Looking at the graph below, we can understand that thinking.
However, if we go further back in history, we can see the real picture. After taking out the “boom & bust” years, the pace of sales is growing at quite a natural pace.
And new home sales are way below historic numbers. Dave Liniger, Re/Max CEO explains:
“We expect a seasonal uptick in sales this time of year and March certainly met and somewhat exceeded that expectation. We don’t anticipate the tightening inventory to ease up in most markets until new home construction can catch up to its pre-recession pace. Until then, sellers will enjoy a fast-paced market and buyers will need to work with their agents to get in the right home.”
The current pace of residential home sales definitely seems maintainable.
- The National Association of REALTORS® surveyed their members for their monthly Confidence Index.
- The REALTORS® Confidence Index is a key indicator of housing market strength based on a monthly survey sent to over 50,000 real estate practitioners. Practitioners are asked about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions.
- Homes sold in 60 days or less in 36 out of 50 states, and Washington D.C.
- Homes typically went under contract in 34 days in March!
In school, we all learned the theory of supply and demand. When the demand for an item is greater than the supply of that item, the price will surely rise.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the inventory of homes for sale stands at a 3.8-month supply. This is considerably lower than the 6-month supply necessary for a normal market.
Every month NAR reports on the number of buyers out in the market looking for homes, which is also known as buyer traffic. As seen on the map below, buyer demand in March was strong or very strong in 45 out of 50 states nationwide, and Washington, DC.
Many buyers are being confronted with a very competitive market in which they must compete with other buyers for their dream homes (if they are even able to find a home they wish to purchase).
Listing your house for sale now will allow you to capitalize on the shortage of homes for sale in the market, which will translate into a better pricing situation.
Many homeowners underestimate the amount of equity they currently have in their homes. According to a recent Fannie Mae study, 37% of homeowners believe that they have more than 20% equity in their homes. In reality, CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report tells us that 78.9% actually do!
Many homeowners who are undervaluing the equity they have in their homes may feel trapped, which may be contributing to the lack of inventory in the market.
If you are debating selling your home this year, let’s meet up to evaluate the equity you have in your home, as well as the opportunities available in your market.
Saving for a down payment is often the biggest hurdle for a first-time homebuyer. Depending on where you live, median income, median rents, and home prices all vary. So, we set out to find out how long would it take you to save for a down payment in each state?
Using data from the United States Census Bureau and Zillow, we determined how long it would take, nationwide, for a first-time buyer to save enough money for a down payment on their dream home. There is a long-standing ‘rule’ that a household should not pay more than 28% of their income on their monthly housing expense.
By determining the percentage of income spent renting a 2-bedroom apartment in each state, and the amount needed for a 10% down payment, we were able to establish how long (in years) it would take for an average resident to save enough money to buy a home of their own.
According to the data, residents in Iowa can save for a down payment the quickest in just under 2 years (1.99). Below is a map created using the data for each state:
What if you only needed to save 3%?
What if you were able to take advantage of one of Freddie Mac’s or Fannie Mae’s 3% down programs? Suddenly, saving for a down payment no longer takes 5 or 10 years, but becomes attainable in a year or two in many states as shown in the map below.
Whether you have just started to save for a down payment, or have been saving for years, you may be closer to your dream home than you think! Let’s meet up so I can help you evaluate your ability to buy today.
Forbes.com recently released the results of their new American Dream Index, in which they measure “the prosperity of the middle class, and…examine which states best support the American Dream.”
The monthly index measures several different economic factors, including goods-producing employment, personal and commercial bankruptcies, building permits, startup activity, unemployment insurance claims, labor force participation, and layoffs.
The national index score was rounded out to 100 in January and saw a modest jump to 100.5 in February.
Alaska represented the lowest score on the index at 80.7, due mostly to the recent collapse in oil prices. Nevada came in with the highest score at 108.8, boosted by big gains in goods-producing jobs and new construction activity. The full results can be seen in the map below.
Forbes Senior Editor Kurt Badenhausen explained why many states saw a boost in the index last month:
“[B]usinesses are hiring in part in anticipation of tax cuts and less regulation… Many areas of the country have experienced strong upticks in employment and construction, as well as declines in unemployment claims since the start of the year.”
The American Dream, for many, includes being able to own a home of his or her own. With the economy improving in many areas of the country, that dream can finally become a reality.
If you thought about selling your house this year, now may be the time to do it. The inventory of homes for sale is well below historic norms and buyer demand is skyrocketing. We were still in high school when we learned the concept of supply and demand: the best time to sell something is when supply of that item is low and demand for that item is high. That defines today’s real estate market.
Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com, revealed in a recent article that:
“The biggest challenge to buyers this spring will be simply finding a home to buy and getting it successfully under contract. That’s because the supply of homes for sale is at an all-time low, and yet demand is strong and getting stronger.”
Smoke goes on to say:
“We started the year with the lowest inventory of homes available for sale that we’ve ever seen on realtor.com. While we did see inventory grow 2% in February, total inventory was down 11% over last year.”
In this type of market, a seller may hold a major negotiating advantage when it comes to price and other aspects of the real estate transaction including the inspection, appraisal and financing contingencies.
As a potential seller, you are in the driver’s seat right now. It might be time to hit the gas.
The media has extensively covered the rise in mortgage interest rates since last fall (from 3.42% last September to the current 4.1% according to Freddie Mac). However, a less covered aspect of the mortgage market is that requirements to get a mortgage have eased while rates have risen.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) quantifies the availability of mortgage credit each month with their Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to the MBA, the MCAI is:
“A summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.”
The higher the index, the easier it is to get a mortgage. Here is a chart showing the MCAI over the last several months as rates have increased.
Have requirements for attaining a mortgage actually eased?
Yes. Here are two examples:
- FICO® Score – the credit score which helps determine a buyer’s eligibility. The score required to attain a mortgage has been falling over the last five months:
- Down Payment Requirement – the percentage of the purchase price necessary to place as a down payment on a home. To make this point, let’s look at the percentage of first-time buyers who have put less than 5% down over the last several years as compared to the 1st quarter of 2017:
Whether you are a current homeowner looking to move to a home that will better serve your family’s current needs, or a first-time buyer looking for a starter home, it is easier to get a mortgage today than it has been at any other time in the last ten years.