Home Sales are NOT Collapsing!

Home Sales are NOT Collapsing! | Simplifying The Market

The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) just released their Existing Home Sales report and some have taken the results and ran with headlines like:

“Existing home sales collapse in January despite low mortgage rates”.

Let’s take a closer look at what the report really shows. There is a seasonality to home sales that happens every year, with a decline in January, (as shown in the graph below.) But in reality 200,000 more homes (3.2%) sold this January over last January.

Existing Home Sales Year-over-Year | Simplifying The Market

The demand for housing hasn’t been a challenge.

Current buyer demand, as shown in the graph below, is actually 3x greater than that of January 2014.

Buyer Activity | Simplifying The Market

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun points to the real issue at hand:

“Realtors® are reporting that low rates are attracting potential buyers, but the lack of new and affordable listings is leading some to delay decisions.”

Months Inventory of Homes For Sale | Simplifying The Market

Even though buyers are out looking for their dream home, they cannot find it! Inventory levels increased slightly since December, but are still below historic norms and unable to keep up with the elevated demand.

Bottom Line

If your plan for 2015 includes selling your house, waiting till the Spring may not be in your best interest. Meet with a local real estate professional in your market who can explain the opportunities available now.

Thinking of Buying? What are you waiting for?

Thinking of Buying? What Are You Waiting For? | Simplifying The Market

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 11.7% (most pessimistic) and 27.5% (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.

Homeownership Rates: Are They Really Crashing?

Homeownership Rates: Are They Crashing? | Simplifying The Market

The Census recently released their 2014 Homeownership Statistics, and many began to worry that Americans have taken a step back from the notion of homeownership.

Easy… Chicken Little

The national homeownership rate peaked in 2004, representing a 69.2% of Americans who bought vs. rented their primary residence. Many have noticed a decline in rate since then and taken that as a bad sign.

However, if you look at the national rate over the last 30 years (1984-2014), you can see that the current homeownership rate has returned closer to the historic norm. 2014 ended the year with a rate of 64% just under the rate in 1985 and 1995.

Homeownership Rates Historically | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

With interest rates and prices still below where experts predict, evaluate your ability to purchase a home with a local real estate professional.

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.

Consumer Confidence at Highest Level in Over a Decade

Consumer Confidence at Highest Level in Over a Decade | Simplifying The Market

Two recently released reports reveal that the American public is starting to feel much better about the U.S. economy. The University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers showed that:

“Consumer optimism reached the highest level in the past decade in the January 2015 survey…Consumers judged prospects for the national economy as the best in a decade, with half of all consumers expecting the economic expansion will continue for another five years. The anticipated strength in the overall economy has been accompanied by more favorable income and employment expectations.”

Here is a chart showing results over the last decade:

Consumer Optimism | Simplifying The Market

As all consumers are feeling more optimistic, more young adults are moving out of their parents’ basements and into a residence of their own. The recent Census report shows that new household formations skyrocketed in 2014. Below is a chart showing the historical significance of the numbers:

Household Formations | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

The economy is definitely improving and, more importantly, the American consumer is beginning to feel much more confident. This should lead to a very robust real estate market in 2015.

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.

Real Estate Heading in the “Right Direction”

Real Estate Heading in the “Right Direction” | Simplifying The Market

The housing market has taken a great turn toward recovery over the last few years. The opinions of the American public toward real estate took longer to recover, until recently.

For the first time since 2006, Americans have an overall positive view of real estate, giving the industry a 12% positive ranking in a Gallup poll.

Americans were asked to rate 24 different business sectors and industries on a five-point scale ranging from “very positive” to “very negative.” The poll was first conducted in 2001, and has been used as an indicator of “Americans’ overall attitudes toward each industry”.

America's View on Real Estate | Simplifying The Market

Americans’ view of the real estate industry worsened from 2003 to the -40% plummet of 2008.  Gallup offers some insight into the reason for decline:

Prices Dropped

“In late 2006, real estate prices in the U.S. began falling rapidly, and continued to drop. Many homeowners saw their home values plummet, likely contributing to real estate’s image taking a hard hit.”

Housing Bubble

“The large drops in the positive images of banking and real estate in 2008 and 2009 reflect both industries’ close ties to the recession, which was precipitated in large part because of the mortgage-related housing bubble.”

Bottom Line

“Although the image of real estate remains below the average of 24 industries Gallup has tracked, the sharp recovery from previous extreme low points suggests it is heading in the right direction.”

If the news of recovery has you considering homeownership, meet with a local real estate professional to discuss the opportunities that exist in today’s market.