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®

 

California Groups Sue for More Housing

California homeowners and neighborhood groups are filing lawsuits against the state’s major cities, demanding they roll back some of their zoning restrictions for more housing development. While the nation’s most populous state, California ranks 49th in the number of housing units per capita. Low inventory has pushed home prices in California 2.5 times higher than the U.S. median.

“California’s complex land-use and regulatory structure gives opponents of development extraordinary powers to stymie new projects,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “Environmental reviews intended to preserve California’s picturesque coastline and hillsides also provide a means for residents to challenge ordinary development proposals. If a review finds adverse impacts on parking, traffic, noise, or air quality, elected officials can’t approve it until they have addressed opponents’ concerns. Even after a project is approved, opponents can file environmental challenges, a process that can delay projects by two to four years.”

Source: “California Housing Crunch Prompts Push to Allow Building,” The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 25, 2017)

Study: January, February ‘Great for Buying’

For home buyers hoping to snag a deal, they may want to make a move now. Home prices in January usually decrease compared to the spring and summer buying season.

There’s plenty of research to back that up too. NerdWallet recently crunched two years of realtor.com® data that reflected the 50 largest U.S. metros. Researchers found that January and February were the top months for those looking to get a bargain. In those months, home sales prices were 8.45 percent lower on average than in June through August.

“You basically face almost half of the competition with almost the same amount of inventory in the market,” says Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist. Plus, buyers likely will face fewer homes with multiple bidders.

“As we look toward spring and later in 2017, [mortgage rates are] another reason to buy in January and February,” Smoke says. “Because rates are expected to be about 50 basis points, or half a percent, more as the year goes on.”

Source: “Why January Is the Best Time to Buy a Home” NerdWallet (Jan. 13, 2017)

80% of Housing Markets Are Getting Better

The majority of the top 100 housing markets nationwide are improving compared to their historic benchmark range of housing activity, according to Freddie Mac’s Multi-Indicator Market Index.

The index measures the stability of the housing market by reflecting how single-family housing markets are performing to their long-term stable range based on home purchase applications, payment-to-income ratios (changes in home purchasing power based on home prices, mortgage rates, and household income), proportion of on-time mortgage payments, and local employment.

“The purchase applications indicator is up nearly 20 percent from last year and is reflected in the recent better-than-expected existing and new home sales purchase data,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist.

Source: Freddie Mac

First-Time Home Buyers Aren’t Backing Down!

Higher mortgage rates and home prices aren’t deterring first-time buyers yet. Those new to the home-purchase game comprised 32 percent of the market in November, up from a 30 percent share a year ago, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest housing report.

Overall, this has been a good year for this segment of the population. NAR’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, released in November, showed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 35 percent in 2016, which is the highest since 2013 (38 percent).

“There are fewer available homes during the winter months but also fewer buyers,” suggests NAR President William E. Brown. “With mortgage rates and prices expected to increase as the year goes on, the first few months of 2017 could be an opportune time close on a home.” 
So we suggest let us start your home search now, plus the loan options ASAP!

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

The Best Time to Invest Is Now?

“Whether it’s stricter lending standards, a shift in attitudes among borrowers or simply the nation getting wiser about the risks of real estate, we’re hardly seeing irresponsible buying in 2016,” writes Reeves, who is also the editor of InvestorPlace.com. “What we are seeing is a healthy housing market that continues to steadily and organically appreciate.”

“Nobody should put all their savings into one or two properties, but in a diversified portfolio, there is a very good argument for real estate investments in 2016,” writes Reeves.

Companies are stepping in to help more people become investors too. For example, Investability, an online real estate marketplace, says it offers tools like cash flow calculators that allow those interested in investing to input estimated vacancy rates and rental incomes from potential properties.

Source: “This Is the Best Time in History to Invest in Real Estate,” MarketWatch (Aug. 23, 2016)

 

 

July Marked a Big Month for Housing

The housing market heated up in July, with several factors favoring buyers this summer.

Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist, says this summer one of the best in a decade: we’re seeing the highest consumer confidence for a July since 2007, we’ve also had the highest nominal home prices for a July on record, and we’ve had the lowest July mortgage rates on record.

“The good news for would-be buyers who have struggled to find a home or have been outbid in prior attempts is that the balance of power shifts a bit more in your favor in late summer and fall,” Smoke writes in his column at realtor.com®. “This is the time of the year when sales slow down, but inventory is at its peak. That means there are more homes for sale per buyer now, and yet mortgage rates remain close to their all-time lows. The window to enjoy the best summer in a decade for real estate remains open for the well-qualified and those ready to act.”

Source: “Finally, a July to Remember – and to Buy a Home,” realtor.com® (Aug. 4, 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.]

NAR: Sales Make Gains, Prices ‘Rising Too Fast’

Existing-home sales kicked off 2016 on solid footing, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest housing report, released Tuesday. Existing-home sales in January moved to their highest annual rate in six months, while constrained inventory levels also pushed home prices to their fastest increase since last April, according to the report.

Total existing-home sales, which encompass completed transactions for single-family homes, condos, town homes, and co-ops, inched up slightly by 0.4 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million. Sales are 11 percent higher than a year ago, which is the largest year-over-year increase since July 2013.

“The housing market has shown promising resilience in recent months, but home prices are still rising too fast because of ongoing supply constraints,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Despite the global economic slowdown, the housing sector continues to recover and will likely help the U.S. economy avoid a recession.”

In January, properties typically stayed on the market for 64 days, below the 69 days average from January 2015. Thirty-two percent of homes for sale in January sold last month in less than a month.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Home Buyers: The Bargains Are Now!

For home buyers chasing a bargain, they may want to act fast. Closings in January provide the best discount for home buyers, according to Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®. That means buyers can get the best deals when they get a home under contract around December.

From peak price in August and September, home prices decline by 0.51 percent by January closings, according to the Case-Shiller index. On a typical home price of $220,000, that discount could equate to about $1,122, Yun writes in Forbes .

“The seasonal decline is not all price depreciation of homes” in winter, Yun notes. “A good portion of movement is driven by a higher proportion of lower priced and smaller-sized homes getting sold during the winter months. The reason for this is that families with school-aged kids are generally not in the market during the winter because they do not want their kids to be disrupted during a school year, and it is the families with kids that generally require the larger homes that carry higher prices.”

Source: “Now Is the Best Season to Buy a Home,” Forbes (Dec. 2, 2015)