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

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)

Factors Boosting Housing Market This Month

Four current housing market factors that will likely translate into greater sales this April:

1. Low mortgage rates: Mortgage rates have moved lower this month and are hovering near the lowest averages in the past three years. Lower mortgage rates help boost home buyers’ purchasing power as well as buyers’ ability to qualify for a mortgage.

2. More urgency: Many buyers were frustrated last year with their inability to buy. This spring, they’re heading to the housing market more determined. Loan applications for purchases are up 20 percent.

3. More searching: Realtor.com® reports a record number of people searching and looking at its website for homes. Nevertheless, there are 2 percent fewer homes for sale that they’ll find when compared to last year.

4. Faster sales: The time that listings spend on the market has dropped dramatically. Nationwide, the median days on the market dropped 14 days in the first two weeks of April compared to the first two weeks of March.

Source: “Mid-April Forecast: Warm Weather Will Bring Out Home Buyers,” realtor.com® (April 15, 2016)

Home Buyers Really Need to Hurry

Home buyers are expected to outnumber home sellers this spring, which likely will drive up asking prices, Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, told The Wall Street Journal. “Given that prices are rising, more people will be pushed on the borderline of conventional mortgage limits and may need a large down payment or a jumbo mortgage,” Yun says.

Good news for home buyers this spring: Mortgage rates are expected to stay low, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage not likely to rise above 4 percent before May, says Keith Gumbinger, HSH.com.

We urge home buyers to get preapproved for a loan prior to home-shopping — a step above prequalification. Local lenders do this and assist with loan information. This could save home shoppers up to 10 days in the purchase process.

Source: “This Spring, Expect Higher Home Prices,” The Wall Street Journal (March 10, 2016) [Log-in required.]

Owners Overvalue Homes by Larger Margin

For the seventh consecutive month, the gap has widened between what home owners say their home is worth compared to what appraisers say, according to Quicken Loans’ August 2015 Home Price Perception Index.

Home owner estimates now stand 2.65 percent higher than appraiser opinions, the largest gap in more than a year, according to the index.

“The perception trend of most of this year suggests home owners may be assuming that home values have been in a steady, linear path upward,” says Bob Walters, Quicken Loans chief economist. “In reality, home values have remained mostly flat this year, and this false assumption may be leaving home owners disappointed when their appraisals come in.”

Source: Quicken Loans

Generational Differences Drive Housing Preferences?

Younger home buyers tend to view their home as a strong investment, more so than older buyers who tend to view their homes as a match to their lifestyle, according to the 2014 NAR Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study, based on a survey of more than 8,700 responses from buyers and sellers.

The survey provided an look at generational differences of recent buyers and sellers.

The largest group of recent buyers is millennials, those under the age of 34, comprising 31 percent of recent home purchases, according to the survey. Generation X buyers, born between 1965 and 1979, accounted for 30 percent of recent purchases, and younger boomers, born between 1955 and 1964, accounted for 16 percent.

“Given that millennials are the largest generation in history after the baby boomers, it means there is a potential for strong underlying demand,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Moreover, their aspiration and the long-term investment aspect to owning a home remain solid among young people. However, the challenges of tight credit, limited inventory, eroding affordability, and high debt loads have limited the capacity of young people to own.”

Other findings are at survey source:   National Association of REALTORS®