Every year, Gallup surveys Americans to determine their choice for the best long-term investment. Respondents are given a choice between real estate, stocks, gold, and savings accounts.
For the sixth year in a row, real estate has come out on top as the best long-term investment! That has not always been the case. Gallup explains:
“Between 2008 and 2010, covering most of the Great Recession period that saw plummeting home and stock values, Americans were as likely to name savings accounts or CDs as the best long-term investment as they were to name stocks or real estate.”
This year’s results showed that 35% of Americans chose real estate, followed by stocks at 27%. The full results are shown in the chart below.
Now that the real estate market has recovered, so has the belief of the American people in the stability of housing as a long-term investment.
Source: Keeping Current Matters, 5-23-19
- Existing Home Sales slowed to an annual pace of 5.21 million home sales in March.
- Low inventory levels are still impacting home sales! The current month’s supply of homes for sale is 3.9-months.
- Median home prices were up 3.8% over last March at $259,400. This marked the 85thconsecutive month with year-over-year price gains.
Source: Keeping Current Matters, 4-26-19
There has been a great amount written on millennials and their impact on the housing market. However, the headlines often contradict each other. Some claim this generation is becoming the largest share of first-time home buyers, while others claim millennials don’t want to own a home, blaming them for the dip in homeownership rate.
While it is true that millennials have achieved milestones like getting married, having kids, and buying homes later in life than their parents and grandparents did, they are not solely to blame for today’s housing market trends.
Freddie Mac’s Insight Report explored the impact of the Silent and Baby Boomer Generations on the housing market.
If millennials are unable to find a home to buy at a young age like their predecessors, then who is living in those homes?
The answer: Seniors born after 1931 are staying in their homes longer than previous generations, instead choosing to “age in place.”
Freddie Mac found that,
“this trend accounts for about 1.6 million houses held back from the market through 2018, representing about one year’s typical supply of new construction, or more than half of the current shortfall of 2.5 million housing units estimated in December’s Insight.
Older Americans prefer to age in place because they are satisfied with their communities, their homes, and their quality of life.”
According to the National Association of Realtors, inventory of homes for sale is currently at a 3.5-month supply, which means that nationally we are in a seller’s market. A ‘normal’ housing market requires 6-7 months inventory, a level we have not achieved since August 2012.
“The most important fundamental in today’s housing market is the lack of houses for sale. This shortage has been identified as an important barrier to young adults buying their first homes.”
If you are one of the many seniors who desires to retire in the same area you’ve always lived, you’re not alone. Will your current house fit your needs throughout retirement? If you have any questions about demand for your house, meet with a local real estate professional who can show you the opportunities available today!
Source: Keeping Current Matters, 4-24-19
If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family have your best interests at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market.
Ask yourself the following three questions to help determine if now is a good time for you to buy in today’s market.
1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?
This is truly the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money.
For example, a study by realtor.com found that “73% said buying in a good school district was “important” in their search.”
This report supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the top four reasons Americans buy a home have nothing to do with money. The actual reasons are:
- A good place to raise children and provide them with a good education
- A place where you and your family feel safe
- More space for you and your family
- Control of that space
What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.
2. Where are home values headed?
According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median price of homes sold in February (the latest data available) was $249,500. This is up 3.6% from last year. The increase also marks the 84th consecutive month with year-over-year gains.
Looking at home prices year over year, CoreLogic is forecasting an increase of 4.6%. In other words, a home that costs you $250,000 today will cost you an additional $11,500 if you wait until next year to buy it.
What does that mean to you?
Simply put, with prices increasing, it may cost you more if you wait until next year to buy. Your down payment will also need to be higher in order to account for the higher price of the home you wish to buy.
3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?
A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long-term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates.
Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.
Source: Keeping Current Matters, 4-15-19
With home prices softening, some are concerned that we may be headed toward the next housing crash. However, it is important to remember that today’s market is quite different than the bubble market of twelve years ago.
Here are three key metrics that will explain why:
- Home Prices
- Mortgage Standards
- Foreclosure Rates
A decade ago, home prices depreciated dramatically, losing about 29% of their value over a four-year period (2008-2011). Today, prices are not depreciating. The level of appreciation is just decelerating.
Home values are no longer appreciating annually at a rate of 6-7%. However, they have still increased by more than 4% over the last year. Of the 100 experts reached for the latest Home Price Expectation Survey,94 said home values would continue to appreciate through 2019. It will just occur at a lower rate.
Many are concerned that lending institutions are again easing standards to a level that helped create the last housing bubble. However, there is proof that today’s standards are nowhere near as lenient as they were leading up to the crash.
The Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center issues a quarterly index which,
“…measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates that lenders are willing to tolerate defaults and are taking more risks, making it easier to get a loan.”
Last month, their January Housing Credit Availability Index revealed:
“Significant space remains to safely expand the credit box. If the current default risk was doubled across all channels, risk would still be well within the pre-crisis standard of 12.5 percent from 2001 to 2003 for the whole mortgage market.”
Within the last decade, distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) made up 35% of all home sales. The Mortgage Bankers’ Association revealed just last week that:
“The percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of the fourth quarter was 0.95 percent…This was the lowest foreclosure inventory rate since the first quarter of 1996.”
After using these three key housing metrics to compare today’s market to that of the last decade, we can see that the two markets are nothing alike.
A loaf of bread used to be a nickel. A movie ticket was a dime. Not anymore. Houses were also much less expensive than they are now. Inflation raised the price of all three of those items, along with the price of almost every other item we purchase.
The reason we can still afford to consume is that our wages have also risen over time. The better measure of whether an item is more expensive than it was before is what percentage of our income it takes to purchase that item today compared to earlier. Let’s look at purchasing a home.
The COST of a home is determined by three major components: price, mortgage interest rate, and wages. The big question? Are we paying a greater percentage of our income toward our monthly mortgage payment today than previous generations? Surprisingly, the answer is no.
Historically, Americans have paid just over 21% of their income toward their monthly mortgage payment.
Though home prices are higher than before, wages have risen as well. And, the most important component in the cost equation – the mortgage rate – is dramatically lower than it was in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.
Today, according to the latest Home Affordability Index just released by the National Association of Realtors, Americans are paying 17.4% of their income toward their mortgage payment. That is much lower than the 21% average previous generations have paid.
The cost of purchasing a home today is a bargain compared to previous generations when we look at it from a percentage of income basis. However, with mortgage rates expected to increase and home prices continuing to appreciate, that will not always be the case. Whether you are buying your first home or looking to move-up to a more expensive home, purchasing sooner rather than later probably makes sense.
Source: Keeping Current Matters, 1-17-19
Homeowners who purchase their homes before the age of 35 are better prepared for retirement at age 60, according to a new Urban Institute study. The organization surveyed adults who turned 60 or 61 between 2003 and 2015 for their data set.
“Today’s older adults became homeowners at a younger age than today’s young adults. Half the older adults in our sample bought their first house when they were between 25 and 34 years old, and 27 percent bought their first home before age 25.”
The full breakdown is in the chart below:
The study goes on to show the impact of purchasing a home at an early age. Those who purchased their first homes when they were younger than 25 had an average of $10,000 left on their mortgage at age 60. The 50% of buyers who purchased in their mid-twenties and early-30s had close to $50,000 left, but traditionally had purchased more expensive homes.
Many housing experts are concerned that the homeownership rate amongst millennials, those 18-34, is much lower than previous generations in the same age range. The study results gave a great reason why this generation should consider buying instead of signing a renewal on their lease:
“As people age into retirement, they rely more heavily on their wealth rather than their income to support their lifestyles. Today’s young adults are failing to build housing wealth, the largest single source of wealth, at the same rate as previous generations.
While people make the choice to own or rent that suits them at a given point, maybe more young adults should take into account the long-term consequences of renting when homeownership is an option.”
If you are one of the many young people debating whether buying a home this year is right for you, sit with a local real estate professional who can help.
Source: Keeping Current Matters, 1-15-19
Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage climbed consistently throughout 2018 until the middle of November. After that point, rates returned to levels that we saw in August to close out the year at 4.55%, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
After the first week of 2019, rates have continued their downward trend. As Freddie Mac’s Chief EconomistSam Khater notes, this is great news for homebuyers. He states,
“Mortgage rates declined to start the new year with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipping to 4.51 percent. Low mortgage rates combined with decelerating home price growth should get prospective homebuyers excited to buy.”
In some areas of the country, the combination of rising interest rates and rising home prices had made some first-time buyers push pause on their home searches. But with more inventory coming to market, continued price growth, and interest rates slowing, this is a great time to get back in the market!
Will This Trend Continue?
According to the latest forecasts from Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Association of Realtors, mortgage rates will increase over the course of 2019, but not at the same pace they did in 2018. You can see the forecasts broken down by quarter below.
Even a small increase (or decrease) in interest rates can impact your monthly housing cost. If buying a home in 2019 is on your short list of goals to achieve, meet with a local real estate professional who can help prepare you to take action.
Source: Keeping Current Matters, 1-9-19
As we kick off the new year, many families have made resolutions to enter the housing market in 2019. Whether you are thinking of finally ditching your landlord and buying your first home or selling your starter house to move into your forever home, there are two pieces of the real estate puzzle you need to watch carefully: interest rates & inventory.
Mortgage interest rates had been on the rise for much of 2018, but they made a welcome reversal at the end of the year. According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates climbed to 4.94% in November before falling to 4.62% for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage last week. Despite the recent drop, interest rates are projected to reach 5% in 2019.
The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.
Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford to buy will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.
The chart below shows the impact that rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a $400,000 home while keeping your principal and interest payments between $2,020-$2,050 a month.
With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5% (in this example, $10,000).
A ‘normal’ real estate market requires there to be a 6-month supply of homes for sale in order for prices to increase only with inflation. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), listing inventory is currently at a 3.9-month supply (still well below the 6-months needed), which has put upward pressure on home prices. Home prices have increased year-over-year for the last 81 straight months.
The inventory of homes for sale in the real estate market had been on a steady decline and experienced year-over-year drops for 36 straight months (from July 2015 to May 2018), but we are starting to see a shift in inventory over the last six months.
The chart below shows the change in housing supply over the last 12 months compared to the previous 12 months. As you can see, since June, inventory levels have started to increase as compared to the same time last year.
This is a trend to watch as we move further into the new year. If we continue to see an increase in homes for sale, we could start moving further away from a seller’s market and closer to a normal market.
If you are planning to enter the housing market, either as a buyer or a seller, make sure that you have an experienced local agent who can help you navigate the changes in mortgage interest rates and inventory.
Source: Keeping Current Matters, 1-2-19