Desire to Own a Vacation Home Growing

Desire to Own a Vacation Home Growing | Simplifying The Market

The National Association of Realtors just released their 2015 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey which revealed that vacation home sales boomed in 2014 to above their most recent peak level in 2006.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said favorable conditions are driving second-home sales:

“Affluent households have greatly benefited from strong growth in the stock market in recent years, and the steady rise in home prices has likely given them reassurance that real estate remains an attractive long-term investment. Furthermore, last year’s impressive increase also reflects long-term growth in the numbers of baby boomers moving closer to retirement and buying second homes to convert into their primary home in a few years.”

The report shows:

  • Vacation-home sales catapulted to an estimated 1.13 million last year
  • This was the highest amount since NAR began the survey in 2003
  • Vacation sales were up 57.4% from 717,000 in 2013
  • Vacation-home sales accounted for 21 percent of all transactions in 2014, their highest market share since the survey was first conducted

Bottom Line

If you have been considering a waterfront condo at the beach, that ranch in the foothills or that special getaway you someday will retire to, maybe now is the time to act. Prices are good and mortgage rates are at historic lows. Contact a local real estate professional to help you put your dreams to a plan.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying A Home

3 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying A Home | Simplifying The Market

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are surely getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interest 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 3 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 100 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 4.4% in 2015.
  • The cumulative appreciation will be 19.3% by 2019.
  • Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of over 11.7% 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 Realtors 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.

Is Getting a Mortgage Getting Easier?

Is Getting a Mortgage Getting Easier? | Simplifying The Market

There has been a lot of discussion about how difficult it is to get a home mortgage in this market. There is no doubt that the process is not as easy as it was eight to ten years ago and that’s probably good news. However, it does appear that availability to mortgage money is increasing with each passing day.

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association publishes the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to their site the index is “a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time”. As we can see from the graph below, mortgage availability has been increasing dramatically over the last six months.

Mortgage Availability | Simplifying The Market

Accompanying the latest index was this comment from Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Chief Economist:

“A number of factors contributed to a loosening of credit in March: Freddie Mac’s introduction of their 97 LTV program (Fannie Mae’s was implemented in December) [and the] additional loosening of parameters on jumbo loan programs… Although credit remains tight by historical standards, this increase in availability, coupled with low rates and job market strength, should lead to stronger home purchase activity this spring.”

Bottom Line

If you have remained on the sidelines regarding homeownership because you were concerned about your ability to qualify for a mortgage, it may be time to get into the game.

Housing Market is Healthiest in Years!

Housing Market is Healthiest in Years! | Simplifying The Market

According to Nationwide’s recently unveiled, Health of Housing Market (HoHM) Report, the US housing market is at it’s healthiest levels since the index’s creation in 2001.

The index analyzes the health of the housing market across the country and in 373 metro areas every quarter. Using the data that they have collected over the past 15 years, Nationwide will look to give a “data-driven view of the near-term performance of housing markets based upon current health indicators.”

The fourth quarter of 2014 ended with the highest indicator score in over 15 years of data analyzed by the study at 109.8. The report explains:

“An index value over 100 suggests that the national housing market is healthy, with lower chances of a housing downturn over the next year as the index moves increasingly above the 100 breakeven value.”

Employment, demographics, the mortgage market, and housing prices are all used to evaluate the health of each market. The top 10 healthiest housing markets according to the index are:

  1. Pittsburgh, PA
  2. Cleveland-Elyria, OH
  3. Philadelphia, PA
  4. Rockford, Ill.
  5. Burlington, NC
  6. Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, PA
  7. Fayetteville-Springdale, AR
  8. Idaho Falls, ID
  9. Tulsa, OK
  10. Kennewick-Richland, WA

The two ‘least healthy’ markets were Bismark, ND and Atlantic City, NJ who received “just slightly negative performance rankings”.

David Berson, Nationwide’s Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, says “the quarterly report should serve as a resource to gauge how healthy housing markets are today but, perhaps more important, what to expect in the future and why.”

Bottom Line

The housing market continues to recover and surpass recent history. Meet with an agent in your local market to determine if you are able to take advantage of the opportunities available in real estate today.

Pending Sales Surge: Great Sign for the Housing Market

Pending Sales Surge: Great Sign for the Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

The most recent Pending Homes Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors revealed that homes going into contract in February increased to their highest level since June 2013.

The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The Index is now 12.0 percent above February 2014. The index is at its highest level since June 2013, has increased year-over-year for six consecutive months and is above what is considered “the average level of activity” – for the 10th consecutive month.

Here is a graph showing the Pending Sales numbers:

Pending Sales

Here is a chart showing the Pending Sales increases by region:

Pending Sales By Region | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

In an article from Investors’ Business Daily, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors, explained what these numbers will mean to the overall market:

“It looks like the buyers want to come out to the market and they are eager to find the right home and make an offer. Therefore, I expect the second quarter of this year to be easily ahead of last year in terms of sales activity. Pending contracts are implying that the closing activity in coming months will be quite solid.”

New Study: Homeownership Creates Family Wealth

New Study: Homeownership Creates Family Wealth | Simplifying The Market

Matthew Rognlie, from the Department of Economics at MIT, recently released a paper: Deciphering the Fall and Rise in the Net Capital Share. One of the major findings of the report is that homeownership is and has been for the last fifty years a major component to family wealth.

An article on the study in The Economist notes one of the findings of the study:

“The return on non-housing wealth, in fact, has been remarkably stable since 1970. Instead, surging house prices are almost entirely responsible for growing returns on capital.”

This came as no surprise to us as the Federal Reserve previously reported that the net worth of families that own their own home is 36 times greater than that of families that rent.

Bottom Line

HousingWire’s Senior Financial Reporter, Trey Garrison, summed it up well in his reporting on Rognlie’s study:

“Homeownership has consistently created generational wealth more reliably, and more ‘democratically’, than any other asset class. And it does so in a manner entirely ancillary to its primary purpose of giving you a place to lay your head and keep your stuff.”

Housing Inventory Slowly Disappearing | Simplifying The Market

Housing Inventory Slowly Disappearing

The price of any item is determined by the supply of that item, and the market demand. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their latest Existing Home Sales Report this week.

Inventory Levels & Demand

Amidst reporting on the fact that sales of existing homes rose 1.2% from January, and outpaced year-over-year figures for the fifth consecutive month, was the news that total unsold housing inventory is at 4.6-month supply.
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