- Buying a home in today’s sellers’ market doesn’t have to feel like an uphill battle.
- Here are four ways to make sure you’re positioned for success when making a home purchase, even when the scale tips toward sellers.
- Let’s connect to make sure you’re armed for victory in the housing market this season.
Housing inventory is at an all-time low. Realtor.com just reported that there are 39% fewer homes for sale today than there were last year. At the same time, buyer demand remains strong. In a recent newsletter, research analyst Ivy Zelman explained:
“Although the headwind of severe supply constraints in most markets has contributed to slight moderation in seasonally-adjusted and year-over-year new pending contract growth for two consecutive months (albeit still growing strongly), the underlying strength of buyer demand, particularly for this time of year, remains apparent.”
Whenever there’s a shortage in the supply of an item that’s in high demand, the price of that item increases. That’s exactly what’s happening in the real estate market right now. As a result, home values are surging.
This is great news if you’re planning to sell your house. On the other hand, as either a first-time or repeat buyer, this may instead seem like troubling news. Purchasers, however, should realize that the price of a house is not as important as the monthly cost. Here’s how it breaks down.
There are several factors that influence the cost of a home. Two of the major ones are:
- The price of the home
- The mortgage rate at which a buyer can borrow the funds necessary to purchase the home
How do these factors impact affordability?
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) produces a Housing Affordability Index which takes these factors into account and determines an overall affordability score for housing. According to NAR, the index:
“…measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national and regional levels based on the most recent price and income data.”
Their methodology states:
“To interpret the indices, a value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index above 100 signifies that family earning the median income has more than enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment.”
So, the higher the index, the more affordable it is to purchase a home. Here’s a graph of the index going back to 1990:
The blue bar represents today’s affordability. We can see that homes are more affordable now than they were from:
- 1990 to 2008
- 2017 to 2018
Buying a home today is just a little less affordable than it was last year, but still very affordable compared to historical housing market trends.
Note: During the housing crash from 2009 to 2015, distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) dominated the market. Those properties were sold at large discounts not seen before in the housing market.
Why are homes still affordable today?
The number one factor impacting today’s homebuying affordability is record-low mortgage rates. There’s no doubt that prices are on the rise. However, mortgage rates have fallen dramatically. Last week, Freddie Mac announced that the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 2.72%. Last year at this time, the average rate was 3.68%.
If you’re considering purchasing your first home or moving up to the one you’ve always hoped for, it’s important to understand how affordability plays into the overall cost of your home. With that in mind, buying while mortgage rates are as low as they are now may save you quite a bit of money over the life of your home loan.
At this point, home purchase affordability is still in a historically good place. However, we need to watch price increases going forward. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, noted in a recent post:
“Faster nominal house price appreciation can erode, or even eliminate, the boost in affordability from lower mortgage rates, especially if household income growth doesn’t keep up.”
This year’s record-low mortgage rates sparked high demand among homebuyers. Current homeowners, however, haven’t put their houses on the market so quickly. This makes finding a home to buy today challenging for many potential buyers. With an obstacle like this, those searching for their dream homes may be pressing pause on their searches as we approach the end of the year, but that could be a big mistake for many hopeful house hunters. Here’s why.
According to the most recent Housing Trends Report from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):
“The length of time spent searching for a home continues to grow.”
The report indicates that 62% of buyers now spend 3 months or more looking for a home, an increase from 58% one year ago. A primary cause for the delay is the heavy competition today’s buyers face when making an offer on a home. Based on recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average house in today’s market receives 3.4 offers before it’s sold. This means for every buyer who purchases a home, there are on average two or three buyers who have to begin their search all over again.
Compared to this time last year, the NAHB report shows that buyers are having more success finding homes in their price range. However, it also notes the percentage of buyers saying they’re getting outbid when they make an offer has jumped from 15% to 27%. Buyers are indicating that bidding wars are a major obstacle to finding their dream home (See graph below):
If this is a challenge you’re up against in your home search, you’re not alone. Feeling stuck in the process can be frustrating, but if there’s ever been a year to power through, this is the one. NAHB noted:
“Difficulties finding a home to buy will likely lead 20% of active buyers to give up until next year or later. That share is up from 15% a year earlier.”
Experts anticipate home prices will continue to rise into 2021, and the incredibly low interest rates we’ve seen this year are also forecasted to increase as the economy strengthens. Hopeful homebuyers who decide to hold off on their search until there’s less competition run the risk of finding a more expensive housing market when they start looking again. If affordability is a key motivator behind your decision to buy a home, this winter is still the best time to make it happen.
Bidding wars may be one of the greatest challenges buyers face in today’s housing market, but they shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Having the right expert on your side throughout the buying process will give you the advantage you need when it comes to finding the right home and making a competitive offer. If you’re ready to buy this winter, let’s connect to discuss how to position yourself for success.
Through all the challenges of 2020, the real estate market has done very well, and purchasers are continuing to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates. Realtor Magazine just explained:
“While winter may be typically a slow season in real estate, economists predict it isn’t likely to happen this year…Low inventories combined with high demand due to record-low mortgage rates is sending buyers to the market in a flurry.”
However, one challenge for the housing industry heading into this winter is the dwindling number of homes available for sale. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), recently said:
“There is no shortage of hopeful, potential buyers, but inventory is historically low.”
In addition, Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com, notes:
“Fewer new sellers coming to market while a greater than usual number of buyers continue to search for a home causes inventory to continue to evaporate.”
One major indicator the industry uses to measure housing supply is the months’ supply of inventory. According to NAR:
“Months’ supply refers to the number of months it would take for the current inventory of homes on the market to sell given the current sales pace.”
Historically, six months of supply is considered a normal real estate market. Going into the pandemic, inventory was already well below this mark. As the year progressed, the supply has was reduced even further. Here is a graph showing this measurement over the last year:
What does this mean if you’re a buyer?
Be patient during your home search. It may take time to find a home you love. Once you do, be ready to move forward quickly. Get pre-approved for a mortgage, be prepared to make a competitive offer from the start, and understand how the shortage in inventory has led to more bidding wars. Calculate just how far you’re willing to go to secure a home if you truly love it.
What does this mean if you’re a seller?
Realize that, in some ways, you’re in the driver’s seat. When there’s a shortage of an item at the same time there’s a strong demand for it, the seller is in a good position to negotiate. Whether it’s the price, moving date, possible repairs, or anything else, you’ll be able to ask for more from a potential purchaser at a time like this – especially if you have multiple interested buyers. Do not be unreasonable, but understand you probably have the upper hand.
The housing market will remain strong throughout the winter and heading into the spring. Know what that means for you, whether you’re buying, selling, or doing both.
As the economy recovers from this year’s health crisis, the housing market is playing a leading role in the turnaround. It’s safe to say that what we call “home” is taking on a new meaning, causing many of us to consider buying or selling sooner rather than later. Housing, therefore, has thrived in an otherwise down year.
In addition, last week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced the U.S. Gross Domestic Product increased at an annual rate of 33.1% in the 3rd quarter of this year, after decreasing by 31.4% in the second quarter. There’s no doubt the growing economy is being fueled in part by the soaring housing market. Experts forecast this housing growth to carry into 2021, continuing to make a big impact on the economy next year as well.
The American Dream of homeownership has continued to thrive in the midst of this year’s economic downturn, and “home” has taken on a new meaning for many of us during this time. Best of all, the housing market is making a significant impact as the economy recovers.
Equity continues to rise, helping American homeowners secure a much more stable financial future. According to the most recent data from CoreLogic, the average homeowner gained $9,800 in equity over the past year. In addition, experts project 2020 home prices to continue rising. With prices going up, equity gains will also keep accelerating. Black Knight just reported:
“The annual percent change in the overall median existing single-family-home price has skyrocketed in the past several months, with recent numbers at three to five times higher than rates seen in the past several years.”
Jeff Tucker, Senior Economist at Zillow, just qualified recent price increases as “jaw-dropping” and “within a hair’s breadth of double-digit year-over-year appreciation.”
Knowing equity will help enable many homeowners to better survive the economic distress caused by the ongoing pandemic, it’s important to break down two key homeowner benefits of increasing equity.
1. Equity Increases a Homeowner’s Options to Buy a New Home
Aside from the financial damage of the last seven months, there has also been a tremendous emotional toll on many people. Shelter-in-place mandates, quarantine requirements, and virtual schooling have all made us re-evaluate the must-have requirements a home should deliver. Having equity in your current house gives you a better opportunity to move-up or build your perfect home from scratch.
Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, recently explained:
“As homeowners gain equity in their homes, they are more likely to consider using that equity to purchase a larger or more attractive home – the wealth effect of rising equity.”
If you need to make a move, the equity in your current home can help make that possible – right now.
2. Equity Enables Homeowners to Help Future Generations
An increase in home equity grows overall wealth, which can transfer to future generations. The Federal Reserve, in an addendum to their recent Survey of Consumer Finances, explains:
“There are numerous ways families can transmit wealth and resources across generations. Families can directly transfer their wealth to the next generation in the form of a bequest. They can also provide the next generation with inter vivos transfers (gifts), for example, providing down payment support to enable a home purchase or a substantial wedding gift.”
The Federal Reserve also explains another way wealth (including the additional net worth generated by an increase in home equity) can benefit future generations:
“In addition to direct transfers or gifts, families can make investments in their children that indirectly increase their wealth. For example, families can invest in their children’s educational success by paying for college or private schools, which can in turn increase their children’s ability to accumulate wealth.”
Equity can help a homeowner grow their confidence in a more stable financial future. It provides near-term move-up options and creates a positive impact for future generations. In many cases, the largest single investment a person has is their home. As that investment appreciates in value, financial options increase too.
One of the biggest misconceptions for first-time homebuyers is how much you’ll need to save for a down payment. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always have to put 20% down to buy a house. Here’s how it breaks down.
A recent survey by Point2Homes mentions that 74% of millennials (ages 25-40) say they’re interested in purchasing a home over the next 12 months. The study notes, “88% say they have significantly less savings than the average national down payment amount, which is $62,600.”
Thankfully, $62,600 is not the amount every buyer needs for a down payment in the United States. There are many different options available, especially for first-time homebuyers (millennial or not). That amount can also be significantly less, depending on the purchase price of the house.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), “The median existing-home price for all housing types in August was $310,600.” (These are the latest numbers available). NAR also indicates that:
“In 2019, the median down payment was 12 percent for all buyers, six percent for first-time buyers, and 16 percent for repeat buyers.” (See graph below):
That means if a qualified first-time buyer purchases a home at today’s median price, $310,600, with a 6% down payment, in reality, the down payment only amounts to $18,636. That’s nowhere near $62,600.
Knowing there are also programs like FHA where the down payment can be as low as 3.5% of the purchase price for a first-time buyer, that up-front cost could be significantly less – as little as $10,871 for the same home noted above. There are also other programs like USDA and loans for Veterans that waive down payment requirements.
The Point2Homes study also shares how much millennials have indicated they’ve saved for a down payment. As we can see in the graph below, 39% have already saved enough for a down payment on a median-priced home. Another 47% are close to reaching that goal, depending on the purchase price of the home.
Unfortunately, the lack of knowledge about the homebuying process is keeping many motivated first-time buyers on the sidelines. That’s why it’s important to contact a local real estate professional to understand the requirements in your local area if you want to buy a home. A trusted agent and your lender can guide you through the process.
Be careful not to let big myths about homebuying keep you and your family out of the housing market. Let’s connect to discuss your options today.
- With so few houses available on the market today, being ready for a bidding war is essential for prospective homebuyers.
- From pre-approval to making your best offer, here are three tips to make sure you can act quickly and confidently when you find the perfect home.
- Let’s connect today to be sure you have the guidance you need as the competition for homes heats up this season.
Through all the volatility in the economy right now, some have put their search for a home on hold, yet others have not. According to ShowingTime, the real estate industry’s leading showing management technology provider, buyers have started to reappear over the last several weeks. In the latest report, they revealed:
“The March ShowingTime Showing Index® recorded the first nationwide drop in showing traffic in eight months as communities responded to COVID-19. Early April data show signs of an upswing, however.”
Why would people be setting appointments to look at prospective homes when the process of purchasing a home has become more difficult with shelter-in-place orders throughout the country?
Here are three reasons for this uptick in activity:
1. Some people need to move. Whether because of a death in the family, a new birth, divorce, financial hardship, or a job transfer, some families need to make a move as quickly as possible.
2. Real estate agents across the country have become very innovative, utilizing technology that allows purchasers to virtually:
· View homes
· Meet with mortgage professionals
· Consult with their agent throughout the process
All of this can happen within the required safety protocols, so real estate professionals are continuing to help families make important moves.
3. Buyers understand that mortgage rates are a key component when determining their monthly mortgage payments. Mortgage interest rates are very close to all-time lows and afford today’s purchaser the opportunity to save tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan.
Looking closely at the third reason, we can see that there’s a big difference between purchasing a house last December and purchasing one now (see chart below):
Many families have decided not to postpone their plans to purchase a home, even in these difficult times. If you need to make a move, let’s connect today so you have a trusted advisor to safely and professionally guide you through the process.
In this day and age of being able to shop for anything anywhere, it is really important to know what you’re looking for when you start your home search.
If you’ve been thinking about buying a home of your own for some time now, you’ve probably come up with a list of things that you’d LOVE to have in your new home. Many new homebuyers fantasize about the amenities that they see on television or Pinterest, and start looking at the countless homes listed for sale through rose-colored glasses.
Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the “man cave” of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?
The first step in your home buying process should be getting pre-approved for your mortgage. This allows you to know your budget before you fall in love with a home that is way outside of it.
The next step is to list all the features of a home that you would like, and to qualify them as follows:
· “Must-Haves” – if this property does not have these items, then it shouldn’t even be considered (ex: distance from work or family, number of bedrooms/bathrooms).
· “Should-Haves” – if the property hits all of the ‘must-haves’ and some of the ‘should-haves,’ it stays in contention but does not need to have all of these features.
· “Absolute-Wish List” – if we find a property in our budget that has all of the ‘must-haves,’ most of the ‘should-haves,’ and ANY of these, it’s the winner!
Having this list fleshed out before starting your search will save you time and frustration. It also lets your agent know what features are most important to you before they start showing you houses in your desired area.