2015: A Year of Housing Opportunity

2015: A Year of Housing Opportunity | Simplifying The Market

Many believed that when the housing market crashed, so too would the desire of American’s to own a home again. Many reports have shown that, especially among younger generations, the American Dream of homeownership is still very much alive.

Julián Castro, Secretary for HUD, recently summed up what it means to own a home in a speech at the National Press Club.

“Homeownership is still the cornerstone of the American Dream — a fact you can see in the lives of everyday folks.

It’s a source of pride. It’s a source of wealth, providing both a nest and a nest egg. And it strengthens communities and fuels growth in the overall economy.”

Castro appropriately named his speech, “2015: A Year of Housing Opportunity”, a theme that rang true throughout.

“Opportunity is not an abstract concept – it’s a path to a more prosperous life, and housing often serves as its foundation. T.S. Elliot once said that “home is where one starts from.”

“A home is often a primary source of wealth in a family… Having a home is generational way to pass that wealth on. We want people responsible enough to own a home to have that opportunity.”

Bottom Line

“Over the years-through decades of economic downturns and wars-the American people have always held on to this Dream, and always will.”

As the economy continues to improve, more and more Americans will qualify for homeownership, allowing more families to obtain the American Dream.

Either Way, You’re Paying a Mortgage

Either Way You're Paying a Mortgage | Simplifying The Market

There are some people that have not purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent free, you are paying a mortgage – either your mortgage or your landlord’s.

As a paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

Also, if you purchase with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, your ‘housing expense’ is locked in over the thirty years for the most part. If you rent, the one guarantee you will have is that your rent will increase over that same thirty year time period.

As an owner, the mortgage payment is a ‘forced savings’ which will allow you to have equity in your home you can tap into later in your life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person with that equity.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, owning might make more sense than renting since home values and interest rates are still lower than projected.

Net Worth: A Homeowner’s is 36x Greater Than A Renter!

Net Worth

Over the last six years, homeownership has lost some of its allure as a financial investment. As homeowners suffered through the housing bust, more and more began to question whether owning a home was truly a good way to build wealth.

Every three years the Federal Reserve conducts a Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups.

Some of the findings revealed in their report:

  • The average American family has a net worth of $81,200
  • Of that net worth, 61.4% ($49,856) of it is in home equity
  • A homeowner’s net worth is over 36 times greater than that of a renter
  • The average homeowner has a net worth of $194,500 while the average net worth of a renter is $5,400

Bottom Line

There are many reasons why owning a home makes sense, the Fed study shows that owning is still a great way for families to build wealth in America.

Attaining the American Dream: 5 Financial Reasons to Buy

Attaining the American Dream: 5 Financial Reasons to Buy | Simplifying The Market

Heading into 2015 many people have their sights set on buying a home. The personal reasons differ for each buyer, with many basic similarities. Eric Belsky, the Managing Director of the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University expanded on the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership his paper – The Dream Lives On: the Future of Homeownership in America.

Here are the five reasons, each followed by an excerpt from the study:

1.) Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available.

“Few households are interested in borrowing money to buy stocks and bonds and few lenders are willing to lend them the money. As a result, homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. Even a hefty 20 percent down payment results in a leverage factor of five so that every percentage point rise in the value of the home is a 5 percent return on their equity. With many buyers putting 10 percent or less down, their leverage factor is 10 or more.”

2.) You’re paying for housing whether you own or rent.

“Homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord.”

3.) Owning is usually a form of “forced savings”.

“Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”

4.) There are substantial tax benefits to owning.

“Homeowners are able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from income…On top of all this, capital gains up to $250,000 are excluded from income for single filers and up to $500,000 for married couples if they sell their homes for a gain.”

5.) Owning is a hedge against inflation.

“Housing costs and rents have tended over most time periods to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation, making owning an attractive proposition.”

Bottom Line

We realize that homeownership makes sense for many Americans for an assortment of social and family reasons. It also makes sense financially.

3 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home

3 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home | Simplifying The Market

If you are thinking about purchasing a home right now, you are surely 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 real estate. Let’s look at whether or not now is actually a good time for you to buy a home.

There are three questions you should ask before purchasing in today’s market:

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This truly is 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 finances. A study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University reveals that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of the space

What non-financial benefits will you and your family derive 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?

When looking at future housing values, Home Price Expectation Survey provides a fair assessment. 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.

Here is what the experts projected in the latest survey:

  • Home values will appreciate by 4% in 2015.
  • The cumulative appreciation will be 23.5% by 2019.
  • Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of over 15.1% by 2019.

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 an increase in mortgage rates.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of RealtorsFannie Mae and Freddie Mac have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase by approximately one full percentage over the next twelve months.

Bottom Line

Only you and your family can know for certain the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

Did It Make Sense to Wait?

Did It Make Sense to Wait? | Simplifying The Market

There are many people out there who debated purchasing a home over the course of the last year, but ultimately did not. Whatever their reasons were for delaying, let’s look at whether the decision to wait to buy made sense.

What happened in 2014?

The 30 year fixed rate on January 2, 2014 was 4.53% as reported by Freddie Mac. Looking at the chart below, your monthly mortgage payment with principal and interest for a $250,000 home would have been $1,271.17.

Even though interest rates have dropped below 4% and ended 2014 at 3.87%, home prices appreciated by 4.8 percent over the same time according to the Home Price Expectation Survey.

So that same home appreciated by $12,000 and now costs $262,000. The most recent report by Freddie Mac reports the average 30-year fixed rate is currently 3.73%.

Did It Make Sense To Wait? | Simplifying The Market

Many may say, “See waiting a year made total sense, I’m saving $60 a month.” And they’d be right, over the course of the year they saved $729.36.

But what they haven’t realized, is that as the price of the home they purchased went up by $12,000, even if they just put a down payment of 5%, they had to come up with an additional $600 at the start of the process. So really they’ve only saved $129.36 in a year.

Is a savings of $11 a month really worth holding off on pursuing a home to call your own after you weigh all the benefits that come along with that?

  • Building equity you can borrow against in the future
  • Having a safe, comfortable environment that fits your family’s needs
  • Having control over your space
  • Tax benefits
  • And so many more…

Bottom Line

The experts are predicting that homes will appreciate by another 4% and interest rates will increase by a full percentage point by the end of 2015. If you are in a position to be able to buy a home now before these predictions become reality, contact a local real estate professional and start the process.

A Stunning $441 Billion Paid in Rent

A Stunning $441 Billion Paid in Rent | Simplifying The Market

A recently released study revealed that a whopping $441 Billion was spent on rents in the U.S. in 2014. This represents an increase of over $20 Billion from the year before. As shown on the chart below, rents have increased consistently over the last 20+ years.

Median Rents Since 1988 | Simplifying The Market

However, the recent increases have been astounding.

Why such a jump?

Many Millennials have postponed the purchase of their first home while waiting for the economy to recover. This has increased demand and dramatically lowered vacancy rates. In a recent article on the MarketWatch, economics reporter Ruth Mantell explains:

“Landlords have ramped up rents by the fastest pace in six years, with national vacancy rates the lowest in two decades.”

Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries let us know that increases will continue:

“Another increase in total rent paid similar to that seen this year isn’t out of the question. In fact, it’s probable.”

4 Reasons to Buy Before Spring

4 Reasons to Buy Before Spring | Simplifying The Market

The holiday season is behind us, time to focus on what exciting new experiences 2015 can bring! If you are planning on becoming a homeowner, or moving up to the home of your dreams in 2015, here are four great reasons to consider buying a home now, instead of waiting until spring.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report projects appreciation in home values over the next five years to be between 15.1% (most pessimistic) and 32.8% (most optimistic).

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense. 

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have softened recently, most experts predict that they will begin to rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by the end of 2015.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

3. Either Way You are Paying a Mortgage

As a paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe it is time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.