Household Net Worth Reaches Record High

Americans are feeling richer. Household net worth neared $100 trillion in the final quarter of last year, falling into record territory, according to new data released by the Federal Reserve on Thursday. Rising stock markets and property prices were attributed to the jolt in the fourth quarter. (Household net worth is the value of all of a consumer’s assets, like stocks and real estate, minus any liabilities like mortgage and credit card debt.)

Household net worth increased more than $2 trillion last quarter to a record $98.7 trillion in the final three months of last year, according to the report. Households in the U.S. saw their net worth increase to nearly seven times their disposable personal income in 2017.

More at source: “U.S. Household Net Worth Pushes Further Into Record Territory,” The Wall Street Journal (March 8, 2018) [Log-in required.] and “Stock Market Lifts U.S. Household Wealth to $98.7 Trillion,” The Associated Press/USA Today (March 8, 2018)

Survey: Home Owners Worried, Buyers Excited

Consumer sentiment is following an unusual trend for a seller’s market: Home buyers are upbeat, but homeowners are less so, according to ValueInsured’s latest quarterly survey of about 1,600 consumers. Why the divergence between buyers and owners? Some homeowners may feel stuck, while buyers are anxious to jump into real estate before home prices and mortgage rates rise further.

Fifty-eight percent of homeowners surveyed say they want to sell but are holding off because they don’t want to purchase again at today’s higher prices. Fifty-nine percent of owners say they believe buyers in their area are overpaying for a home, according to the survey.

Buyers still have plenty of concerns, such as saving for a down payment and eroding housing affordability, particularly in the nation’s hottest housing markets. Some say they are ready to make some sacrifices to afford their first home.

We suggest you view charts and data at: ValueInsured Modern Homebuyer Survey

Hispanics: ‘Helping Home Ownership Rates’

For the third consecutive year, the Hispanic population is driving growth in homeownership, according to the latest State of Hispanic Homeownership Report. Hispanics’ rising populations and household formation, as well as their increased workforce participation, is behind the uptick, according to the report by the Hispanic Wealth Project and National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

The Hispanic population in the United States increased by 1 million last year and accounted for 51 percent of U.S. population growth. Hispanics increased their homeownership rate slightly from 46 percent to 46.2 percent, or a net increase of 167,000 new-owner households in 2017. Hispanics boasted the highest workforce participation rate among any other ethnic or racial demographic at 66.1 percent, according to the report.

The three biggest obstacles facing Hispanic homeownership: Lack of inventory, recent natural disasters, and the nation’s immigration policy, according to the report.

Source: National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals

This Could Boost Millions of Credit Scores

Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion announced they will soon remove tax lien and civil judgment data from some consumer credit records. The reason for this change is that many liens and most judgments fail to include vital pieces of information. Beginning on July 1, the public records data the firms use must include these data points: the consumer’s name, address, and either a social security number or a date of birth. Existing reports that fail to comply will be struck from the consumer’s credit record and new data that does not have that information will not be added.

Credit scores are weighed carefully by lenders in making decisions about loan terms and how much consumers can borrow, and can be very important in securing a sustainable mortgage. FICO estimates the changes will cause an improvement to about 12 million consumer scores; however the boost will be modest, likely less than 20 points.

In recent months, several lawsuits brought by states have been pushing credit reporting companies to remove some categories of negative data from credit score reports, such as information related to library fines or gym memberships. But some experts fear removing negative public record information could pose a greater risk to lenders.

Source: “Reporting Change Could Raise Credit Scores, Risk,” Mortgage News Daily (March 14, 2017)

Home Buyers: Watch Out for Deed Restrictions

Deed restrictions can bring nasty surprises to homeowners looking to remodel or even when buying a home. These restrictions can limit a number of property features, such as the number of bedrooms in your home, the building height, the type of vehicles in your driveway, the fencing permitted, the type and number of trees that can be removed from a property, and even the style and color of construction materials used in a renovation (which often is intended to limit architectural variations).

During the escrow process or before making an offer, make sure you are aware of any deed restrictions—often called “restrictive covenants” — before buying to avoid problems later on. The property does not have to be part of a homeowners association to be limited by a developer rule included in a deed.

“Deed restrictions turn up during title searches and a careful reading of the current deed,” a realtor.com® article notes. Anyone who buys the property must abide by the restrictions, even if they were put in place on the land a century ago. Deed restrictions are known for being difficult to change and often take a judicial ruling to invalidate them.

Source: “Building, Buying, or Beefing Up a Home? Watch Out for Annoying Deed Restrictions,” realtor.com® (3/01/17)

Homeowners Living Farther From Their Work

The typical American commute continues to get longer and longer. The average commute time grew to 26.4 minutes, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. Multiplied out, the average American spends about three hours and 20 minutes longer getting to and from work than they did in 2014. Our ‘Sierra Foothills’ locations are great for Sacramento commuters! (See our Videos)

Even longer commutes than that are the norm for many workers. The number of workers with 45-minute commutes increased to 3.5 percent and the number of hour-long commutes increased to 5.1 percent. Workers with extreme commutes — 90 minutes or more — grew by the fastest rate of all, to 8 percent.

One potential future bright spot for workers faced with longer commute times is the gradual growing acceptance of remote working. About 4.6 percent of workers, or 6.8 million, worked from home in 2015, according to U.S. Census data. That is a 5 percent increase since 2014.

Source: “The American Commute Is Worse Today Than It’s Ever Been,” The Washington Post (Feb. 22, 2017)

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)