2017: Strong Year for Commercial Real Estate

Strengthening demand from smaller markets will help the commercial sector see stable growth and offer “decent” returns for investors in 2017, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ quarterly commercial real estate forecast.

NAR predicts that the national office vacancy rate will drop 1.1 percentage points to 12.1 percent this year. Job growth in the business and professional services sector is expected to increase the need for office space in 2017. The apartment sector is expected to remain the top performer.

Further, the vacancy rate in the industrial space is predicted to drop 1.3 percentage points to 7.1 percent, while retail space availability will likely drop slightly by 0.7 percentage points to 11.2 percent. The multifamily sector will likely have little change to its vacancy rate over the next year as apartment completions stay at 6.5 percent, NAR reports.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Home Loan Interest Rates in Holding Pattern?

Good news for now! Mortgage rates continue to defy expectations, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate barely budging for the fourth consecutive week.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Feb. 23:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.16 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.15 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.62 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.37 percent, with an average 0.5 point, increasing slightly from last week’s 3.35 percent. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.93 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Older Americans Face Challenges When Aging

Freddie Mac released today its Insight for February, which outlines challenges, costs and potential solutions of addressing the desire of older Americans to age in place. Survey data shows half of all 55+ Americans and three quarters of 75+ Americans are impacted by at least one physical functional limitation, heightening the growing demand for retrofitting.

Insight Highlights: 1)The Freddie Mac survey of the 55+ population indicates almost two-thirds of homeowners — 43 million people — wish to age in place. 2)Two-thirds of survey participants report their homes are not accessible for someone with arthritis, limited mobility, or in a wheelchair. 3)About 1.5 million older households today need some retrofitting, and that number rises to 2.0 million per year by 2030. 4)If a major retrofit is required, it can be 40 times more expensive than a simple retrofit such as adding some grab bars and new drawer handles. Retrofitting may be too expensive for many of those who wish to age in place.

Existing-Home Sales Reach Decade High

Existing-home sales in January reached their fastest pace in nearly a decade, with all major regions except the Midwest posting gains last month, the National Association of REALTORS® reports.

Total existing-home sales—completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops—rose 3.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.69 million in January. That’s 3.8 percent higher than a year ago and marks the strongest month since February 2007, according to the NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

The REALTORS® Affordability Distribution Curve and Score, a new measurement of homebuying activity created by NAR and realtor.com®, revealed that the combination of higher mortgage rates and home prices made active listings less affordable for households in more than half of all states last month.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

 

Age 50+ ‘Real Estate Resources’

REALTORS® who carry the Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) designation are specially qualified to address the real estate needs of those age 50+. SRES® designees recognize that a home often is the largest and most precious asset that baby boomers and seniors have.

Thus, SRES® designees bring a unique approach to each transaction and interaction with clients. They not only offer a deep knowledge of real estate and the local and economic issues shaping market trends, but they’re also educated on issues of particular concern to aged 50+ clients.

Their special skills help such clients look at the big picture, factoring in financial issues and current and future care needs, to ensure that each client arrives at the best decision about selling a property and finding a new home.

Ready to buy, sell, rent or relocate? Find an SRES® designee near you to get started! www.seniorsrealestate.com

Mortgage Rates: Is It a ‘Year Full of Surprises’?

Interesting thought of the week with this real estate opinion:  “For the last 46 years, the 30-year mortgage rate has been almost perfectly correlated with the yield on the 10-year Treasury, but not this year,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “From Dec. 29, 2016, through today, the 30-year mortgage rate fell 17 basis points to this week’s reading of 4.15 percent. In contrast, the 10-year Treasury yield began and ended the same period at 2.49 percent. While we expect mortgage rates to fall into line with Treasury yields shortly, this just may be a year full of surprises.”

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages for the week ending Feb. 16:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.15 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.17 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.65 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.35 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.39 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.95 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

The Big Down Payment Myth

39 percent of non-owners say they believe they need more than 20 percent for a down payment on a home purchase. Twenty-six percent believe they need to put down 15 to 20 percent, and 22 percent say they need a down payment of 10 percent to 14 percent to buy, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Aspiring Home Buyers Profile report.

But now for the reality: The average down payment on a purchase mortgage was just 11 percent in 2016. And that’s just the average; often times down payments are much lower. For borrowers under the age of 35, the average down payment was just under 8 percent, according to NAR’s survey.

There are many mortgage options that offer the opportunity to make low or even no down payments. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture offer no-money down loans to those who are eligible. In 2016, 16 percent of buyers under the age of 35 put no money down on their home purchase.

Further, the largest share of loans for buyers under age 35 last year were for people putting down less than 5 percent on a home purchase (or about $3,500). The 3 percent down payment programs backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the 3.5 percent FHA mortgage that primarily targets first-time buyers, are both helpful programs to consider. These loan programs don’t require unblemished credit either. Please contact us for more details (no obligation).

Source: “Attention First-Time Buyers: Here’s the Key Stuff You Don’t Know About Mortgages,” realtor.com® (Feb. 9, 2017)

Don’t Underestimate Power of Pets

Pets are having more of an influence in home buying and selling as well as renovation, a new study by the National Association of REALTORS® shows. Eighty-one percent of Americans say that animal-related considerations play a role when deciding on their next living situation, according to the 2017 Animal House: Remodeling Impact report.

“In 2016, 61 percent of U.S. households either have a pet or plan to get one in the future, so it is important to understand the unique needs and wants of animal owners when it comes to homeownership ” says NAR President William E. Brown. “REALTORS® understand that when someone buys a home, they are buying it with the needs of their whole family in mind; ask pet owners, and they will enthusiastically agree that their animals are part of their family.”

99 percent of pet owners say they consider the animal part of the family. Eighty-nine percent of respondents say they would not give up their animal because of housing restrictions or limitations. Home owners are willing to move for their pets too. Twelve percent of pet owners have moved to accommodate their animal; 19 percent would consider moving to accommodate their animal in the future.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Home Loan Interest Rates Are Holding Steady

Rates have mostly stayed flat the past three weeks, offering buyers a pause to steadily rising rates.

“Rates are at about the same level at which they started the year and have stayed within a two basis point range over the past three weeks. Mixed economic releases such as Friday’s jobs report and uncertainty about the Administration’s fiscal policies have contributed to the holding pattern in rates.” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Feb. 9:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.17 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 4.19 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.65 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.39 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.41 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.95 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

From Boom to Bust? Farmlands Are In Trouble

Many farmers are facing higher debt as a multiyear drop in prices for corn, wheat, and other commodities plagues on. That is pushing more farmers out of business. The Farm Belt will soon have fewer than 2 million farms, the lowest in years.

Still, economists aren’t predicting the crisis to be as severe as the one that struck the Farm Belt in the 1980s, in which farmland values plummeted and interest rates soared.

Economists expect farmland values to fair much better this time around. After all, farm incomes had record highs in 2013. Many farmers still have significant cash reserves. Plus interest rates are still relatively low.

Lenders say farmers are going through their saving fast. They say younger farmers – without sufficient reserves — and large growers – those who may have expanded too much during the boom years — may be the most vulnerable. Large growers may have accumulated too much debt in recent years as they expanded operations and also locked into multiyear land leases at high rents.

Source: “The Next American Farm Bust Is Upon Us,” The Wall Street Journal (2017)