New Construction: Hear Those Hammers in the Background?

New Construction: Hear Those Hammers in the Background? | Keeping Current Matters

If you are planning on selling your home over the next two years, now may be the time to act. Demand is high, supply is low and many homeowners are benefiting from an almost auction atmosphere with several buyers fighting for their house in the current multi-bid environment. Higher prices and less stringent contingencies are making it easier for the seller and their family.

However, there may be more (and better) competition about to hit the market in the form of newly constructed homes. This may put an end to the buyers’ frenzy over the limited inventory of existing homes which has been below normal levels for over a year.

According to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the forecast for new housing starts and sales will increase significantly over the next two years:

  • NAR is forecasting 1.1 million new housing starts in 2015, jumping to 1.4 million in 2016.
  • New home sales are projected to increase from the 437,000 in 2014 to 570,000 this year and 720,000 in 2016.

Bottom Line

In major urban areas across the country, building cranes are again stretched across the city skyline. In many suburbs, you can again hear the thumping of a carpenter’s hammer in the background. Those are the sights and sounds that inform us that it may be time to sell.

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More Home Buyers Putting Less Down

More Home Buyers Putting Less Down | Keeping Current MattersA recent post by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that in the months of December 2014 through February 2015, there was an increase in the number of first-time buyers making a down payment of 6% or less as compared to last year:

  • 2014: 61% of first time home buyers
  • 2015: 66% of first time home buyers

While the number of small down payments is lower than it was in 2009 when 77% of down payments were 6% or less, it does show the recent decisions by both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to offer 3% down payment options to certain buyers is impacting the market. FHFA Director Mel Watt recently explained why Freddie and Fannie made this decision:

“The new lending guidelines by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will enable creditworthy borrowers who can afford a mortgage, but lack the resources to pay a substantial down payment plus closing costs, to get a mortgage with 3% down. These underwriting guidelines provide a responsible approach to improving access to credit while ensuring safe and sound lending practices.”

This is great news to millions of purchasers that have been denied the opportunity to own their own home because of the almost impossible burden of saving for a 20% down payment.

Will these programs create future challenges?

Certain pundits fear that low down payment programs will create a wave of foreclosures down the road. Mr. Watt also addressed this concern:

“To mitigate risk, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will use their automated underwriting systems, which include compensating factors to evaluate a borrower’s creditworthiness. In addition, the new offerings will also include homeownership counseling, which improves borrower performance. FHFA will monitor the ongoing performance of these loans.”

Also, the Urban Institute revealed data showing what impact substantially lower down payments would have on default rates in today’s mortgage environment. Their study revealed:

“Those who have criticized low-down payment lending as excessively risky should know that if the past is a guide, only a narrow group of borrowers will receive these loans, and the overall impact on default rates is likely to be negligible. This low down payment lending was never more than 3.5 percent of the Fannie Mae book of business, and in recent years, had been even less. If executed carefully, this constitutes a small step forward in opening the credit box—one that safely, but only incrementally, expands the pool of who can qualify for a mortgage.”

Here are the direct links to the guidelines for each program:

Fannie Mae 3% Down Program

Freddie Mac 3% Down Program

Remember, as with any new program, there will be some confusion. Contact your mortgage professional for a deeper understanding.

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Where Are Prices Headed In The Next 5 Years?

Where Are Prices Headed in the Next 5 Years? | Keeping Current Matters

Today, many real estate conversations center on housing prices and where they may be headed. That is why we like the Home Price Expectation Survey.

Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number. 

The results of their latest survey

  • Home values will appreciate by 4.3% in 2015.
  • The cumulative appreciation will be 19.4% by 2019.
  • That means the average annual appreciation will be 3.6% over the next 5 years.
  • Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of 11.8% by 2019.

Individual opinions make headlines. We believe the survey is a fairer depiction of future values.

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Buying a Home is 35% Less Expensive than Renting!

Buying a Home is 35% Less Expensive than Renting! | Keeping Current Matters

In the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia, they explained that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage throughout the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers actually show that the range is from an average of 16% in Honolulu (HI), all the way to 55% in Sarasota (FL), and 35% Nationwide!

The other interesting findings in the report include:

  • Interest rates have remained low and even though home prices have appreciated around the country (3.9%), they haven’t greatly outpaced rental appreciation (3.7%). “In the past year, these two trends have made homeownership even more affordable compared with renting.”
  • Some markets might tip in favor of renting if home prices increase at a greater rate than rents and if – as most economists expect – mortgage rates rise, due to the strengthening economy.
  • Nationally, rates would have to rise to 10.6% for renting to be cheaper than buying – and rates haven’t been that high since 1989.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. Rents are predicted to increase substantially in the next year, so lock in your housing cost with a mortgage payment now.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. Rents are predicted to increase substantially in the next year, so lock in your housing cost with a mortgage payment now.

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Housing Update: Demand Up, Supply Down, Prices Increasing

Housing Update: Demand Up, Supply Down, Prices Increasing | Keeping Current Matters

Earlier this week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their latest quarterly report. The report covered three important aspects of the housing market:

  1. Buyer Demand
  2. Supply of Housing Inventory
  3. Single Family Residential Prices

Today, we want to break down the highlights of the report along with several quotes from Lawrence Yun, the Chief Economist at NAR.

Buyer Demand

Total existing-home sales (which include single family and condo) were at an annual rate of 4.97 million in the first quarter of 2015. This represents a number which is 6.2 percent higher than the pace during the first quarter of 2014.

Yun: “Sales activity to start the year was notably higher than a year ago, as steady hiring and low interest rates encouraged more buyers to enter the market.”

Supply of Housing Inventory

There were 2 million existing homes available for sale at the end of the first quarter of 2015 which represents a 4.6 months’ supply of inventory which is down from 4.9 months a year ago. A healthy balance of supply between buyers and sellers is 6 to 7 months.

Yun: “With supply remaining tight—especially at the entry-level price range—buyers will need the expertise and local market insight of a Realtor® to help them through each intricate step of the buying process.”

Single Family Residential Prices

Home prices accelerated in 148 out of 174 metro areas (85%) during the first quarter of 2015 and the number of areas experiencing double-digit price appreciation doubled compared to last quarter. Compared to last quarter, the number of regions experiencing double-digit price appreciation doubled.

The national median existing single-family home price in the first quarter was $205,200, compared to $191,100 in first quarter of 2014. This represents a 7.4% increase year-over-year.

Yun: “…stronger demand without increasing supply led to faster price growth in many markets…Homeowners throughout the country have enjoyed accumulating household wealth through the steady rise in home values in the past few years.”

Bottom Line

Whether you are thinking about buying your first home or selling your current residence to buy the home of your dreams, meet with a professional in your market to discuss how the numbers above have affected your neighborhood’s prices.

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You Want to Raise My Rent How Much?

You Want to Raise My Rent How Much? | Keeping Current Matters

We recently reported that investment purchases in 2014 fell 7.4% for the year, that combined with a diminished supply of distressed inventory allowing for big profits, has real estate investors looking for a new way to make more money in 2015.

So if they don’t have new properties to buy… how would they make more money? Easy… they are going to raise your rent!

A recent article from Bloomberg Business gave insight into exactly what the CEO’s of major investment firms are thinking.

“We are focusing aggressively on rent bumps,” American Residential Properties CEO Stephen Schmitz said during a panel discussion. “There’s a supply imbalance in some markets. The same thing that keeps occupancy high also drives rents.”

How Much Are They Going To Raise Your Rent?

Rental rates are predicted to increase 4% on renewals and as much as 5.7% for new tenants.

Haendel St. Juste, a Morgan Stanley analyst put it this way:

“The focus is now on optimizing revenue, compared to getting heads in beds,”

So What Can You Do?

If you are one of the millions of renters out there dreading the day that you have to renew your lease, or planning to move into a new rental property, now may be the time to sit with a real estate professional and evaluate your ability to lock in your housing cost, by buying now.

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The Truth About Rising Prices & Family Wealth

The Truth About Rising Prices & Family Wealth | Keeping Current Matters

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently released a report revealing that the growing wealth gap in this country has been impacted by the recent increases in real estate values coupled with the drop in homeownership rates. The report discloses:

“Over 90 percent of metro areas have experienced declining homeownership rates at a time when home values have risen and incomes have remained flat.”

Increasing home values in many regions of the country have helped homeowners build housing wealth in recent years. However, the continued decline in homeownership means this increase in wealth is shared by fewer people and likely leading to worsening inequality in the U.S.

Here is a chart showing the aforementioned increasing gap between renters and homeowners in regard to family wealth:

Increasing Gap in Family Wealth | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If the experts are correct, and a homeowner really will have an average of 40 times the wealth of a renter by the end of this year, doesn’t it make sense to evaluate if a purchase could be in your future? Meet with a real estate professional in your local market to find out how you can start building your family’s wealth.

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