Cash Home Sales Lowest Since 2008

The number of home buyers bringing all-cash to a transaction this year is on track to be the lowest since 2008, according to new findings from CoreLogic, a real estate data firm. For the first two months of this year, the share of cash sales averaged 35.6 percent.

In January 2011, cash sales peaked at 46.6 percent of total home sales nationally. Cash sales comprised 35.7 percent of all home sales in February, down 2.5 percentage points from a year ago.

Prior to the housing crisis, the share of cash sales averaged about 25 percent. CoreLogic analysts predict that if cash sales continue on current trends, all-cash sales should reach the 25 percent mark by mid-2018.

Real estate-owned (REO) sales continue to have the largest share of cash sales at 59.2 percent. Resales followed at a 35.6 percent share of cash sales, and then short sales at 32.6 percent and new-home construction homes at 15.2 percent.

Source: “Cash Sales in 2016 on Track to Be Lowest Since 2008,” CoreLogic Insights Blog (May 19, 2016)

Kitchen Makeover Ideas for Under $1,000

Kitchen remodels can cost your clients upwards to $20,000 or more. But there are a few simple and inexpensive tweaks that can give a dated kitchen a more modern edge. Here are some ideas:

  • Hardware: Replacing current hardware can really modernize the kitchen, but make sure it compliments the kitchen’s existing décor. Hardware can make a big difference in the look of a kitchen.
  • Faucet: Make a new faucet the focal point in the kitchen that can offer an eye-catching makeover.
  • Backsplash: A backsplash can be an instant way to dress up a kitchen. A stainless steel laminate backsplash can work with most kitchen styles and is known as being a more affordable option.
  • Paint: Repaint or refinish old cabinets for a dramatic update. White kitchen cabinets are among the most popular trends right now, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s trend reports.
  • Lighting: Swap out the lighting for more updated models, such as pendant lights over a kitchen island or add under-cabinet lighting to highlight the countertops.

Source: “Redoing Your Kitchen on a Budget of $1,000 or Less,” RISMedia (May 18, 2016)

Home Loan Interest Rates at 3-Year Lows

“Disappointing April employment data once again kept a lid on Treasury yields, which have struggled to stay above 1.8 percent since late March,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “As a result, the 30-year mortgage rate fell 4 basis points to 3.57 percent, a new low for 2016 and the lowest mark in 3 years. Prospective home buyers will continue to take advantage of a falling rate environment that has seen mortgage rates drop in 14 of the previous 19 weeks.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending May 12:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.57 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.61 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.85 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.81 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 2.86 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.07 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Sellers Happy, But Home Buyers Are Frustrated

The number of home buyers who say now is a good time to buy dipped to an all-time survey low in Fannie Mae’s latest Home Purchase Sentiment Index. Meanwhile, home owners who say now is a good time to sell soared to an all-time survey high.

Some highlights from Fannie Mae’s latest Home Purchase Sentiment Index:

  • 30% of Americans say now is a good time to purchase a home, a drop of 3 percentage points from the previous month and now at an all-time survey low.
  • 15% of Americans say now is a good time to sell a home, now at an all-time survey high.
  • More consumers think home prices will rise over the next 12 months compared to March, and slightly fewer consumers also expect mortgage rates to go up over the next year.
  • The percentage of respondents who say they are not concerned with losing their job increased 6 percentage points to 74%, nearly a 7 percentage point decrease in March.
  • The percentage of respondents who say their household income is higher than it was 12 months ago held at 11%.

Source: Fannie Mae

Mortgage Rates Drop, Near 2016 Lows

“The Fed’s decision to stand pat followed by a week of assorted unsettling news drove Treasury yields lower,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “As a consequence, the 30-year mortgage rate drifted down to 3.61 percent, just 3 basis points above the low for the year. Since the start of February, mortgage rates have varied within a narrow range, providing an extended period for house hunters to take advantage of historically low rates.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending May 5:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.61 percent, with an average 0.6 point, dropping from last week’s 3.66 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.80 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.86 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 2.89 percent average. Last year at this time, 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.02 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

4 Ways to Remove Smelly Home Odors

Whether it’s a pet odor or yesterday’s pungent dinner, you can take steps to remove bad odors from a home prior to a showing.

“If you enter a home and immediately encounter a smell, that is generally all people focus on, and all they will remember,” says Debra Johnson, a home cleaning specialist with Merry Maids.

Realtor.com® recently offered the following tips for banishing common odors from a home.

1. Pet urine: Use a spray with enzymes that breaks down odor molecules. Soak the area with the spray and let it seep into the carpet.

2. Dinner: Open the windows and turn the range hood fan on to high when cooking high odor items, like fish. If smells still linger, fill a shallow bowl with white vinegar or coffee grounds put it on the counter. It’ll absorb the smells overnight.

3. Paint: Slice an onion in half. Place each half on a dish on opposite sides of the room. It will neutralize paint smells. (The smell of the onion should only linger for an hour.)

4. Kitchen sink: Check your drain and garbage disposal to make sure something isn’t stuck. Then, place two or three slices of lemon or orange into the disposal. Turn on the water. Flip the switch.

Read more tricks at realtor.com®.

Source: “Tricks to Banish Bad Smells From Your Home—Forever,” realtor.com® (April 28, 2016)

Home Loan Interest Rates Inch Slightly Higher

“Treasury yields marched higher this week. As a result, the 30-year mortgage rate jumped 7 basis points to 3.66 percent,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The Federal Reserve’s decision to leave the Federal funds rate unchanged triggered a 9 basis point drop in the 10-year Treasury yield on Wednesday, however the drop occurred too late to impact this week’s survey.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending April 28:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.66 percent, with an average 0.6 point, rising from last week’s 3.59 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.68 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.89 percent, with an average 0.6 point, increasing from last week’s 2.85 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.94 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

3 Housing Trends Emerging This Spring

The spring tends to be real estate’s most active season of buying and selling. So what housing trends are emerging right now that you should be aware of? The Street recently took a look at three trends it sees as getting bigger this spring:

1. Inventories are favoring the seller. With a limited number of homes for sale across the country, home sellers have the upper hand as home buyers are forced to compete for limited inventories. Inventories of less expensive “starter homes,” in particular have dropped, which is making it difficult for first-time buyers to break into the market. Home buyers need to be ready to act when they see a home they want.

2. More buyers may consider a new home. Some home buyers may seek greater alternatives to limited inventories and consider building a home and buying new. Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist with Trulia, says there’s a 10-year high for homes being bought off of a plan alone. “Why? The inventory of existing homes continues to fall,” he notes.

3. Buying is cheaper than renting. Seven in 10 respondents of a recent Freddie Mac survey believe it’s cheaper to pay rent than a monthly mortgage on a home. Saving for a down payment may a big hurdle for many. However, studies show that buying trumps renting in 98 of the 100 largest metros in the nation.

Source: “3 Real Estate Trends to Watch This Spring,” The Street (April 20, 2016)

Survey: Real Estate Is the Best Investment

Americans ranked real estate as the best long-term investment, even over stocks and gold, according to a recent Gallup Poll of about 1,000 U.S. adults. Real estate has been the top investment choice for the past two years, and it’s lead is increasing over four other popular investment choices.

Thirty-five percent of Americans selected real estate as their top investment choice compared to 22 percent for stocks and mutual funds; 17 percent for gold; 15 percent for savings accounts/CDs; and 7 percent for bonds. By comparison, 34 percent of Americans said gold was their top long-term investment choice in 2011 while 19 percent said real estate.

“As the average sale price of new homes in the U.S. increased from $259,300 in August 2011 to $348,900 in February of this year, the percentage of Americans picking real estate as the best long-term investment almost doubled,” according to Gallup. “During approximately the same time span—from August 2011 to April of this year—gold prices plunged from $1,910 to $1,254 per ounce, and the percentage thinking gold would be the best investment was cut in half.”

Source: Gallup.com

Get to Know the ‘Transitional Kitchen’

When it comes to kitchen design, it’s time to throw some of the old traditional rules out and embrace the mix-and-match transitional kitchen approach.

What is a transitional kitchen exactly? It’s a style that equal parts functional and expressive. It accommodates the individual needs of the family, showcases the personality of the home owners, but is also universally appealing and homey. And it’s hotter than ever.

In a recent survey by the National Kitchen and Bath Association, home owners listed the transitional kitchen as their top style pick, beating the traditional kitchen for the first time in many years.

Bottom line: A transitional kitchen at its essence should be functional for owners’ specific needs, but the other main rule is that there are no rules. The days where kitchen design had to solely embrace one style may be over, and buyers and owners alike are looking for a space that mixes and matches elements that reflects their individual personality.

Source: “Elements of Transitional Kitchen Style,” Houselogic.