Thinking of Buying a Vacation/ Retirement Home? Why Wait?

Extended family walking on beachThe sales of vacation homes skyrocketed last year. A recent study also revealed that 25% of those surveyed said they’d likely buy a second home, such as a vacation or beach house, to use during retirement. For many Baby Boomers, the idea of finally purchasing that vacation home (that they may eventually use in retirement) makes more and more sense as the economy improves and the housing market recovers.

If your family is thinking about purchasing that second home, now may be the perfect time. Prices are still great. If you decide to lease the property until you’re ready to occupy it full time, the rental market in most areas is very strong. And you can still get a great mortgage interest rate.

But current mortgage rates won’t last forever…

According to FreddieMac, the interest rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage at the beginning of April was 4.4%. However, FreddieMac predicts that mortgage rates will steadily climb over the next six quarters.

Let’s assume you want to purchase a home for $500,000 with a 20% down payment ($100,000). That would leave you with a $400,000 mortgage. What happens if you wait to buy this dream house?

Prices are projected to increase over the next year and a half. However, for this example, let’s assume prices remain the same. Your mortgage payment will still increase as mortgage rates climb to more historically normal levels.

This table shows how a principal and interest payment is impacted by a rise in interest rates:

Cost of Waiting $400K

Vacation Home Property Sales Surge

The American desire to own a second home as a vacation home is alive and well!

The National Association of Realtors analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows there are approximately 8 million vacation homes in the U.S. Their 2014 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey shows vacation home sales improved substantially in 2013.

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

“Growth in the equity markets has greatly benefited high net-worth households, thereby providing the wherewithal and confidence to purchase recreational property,” he said. “However, vacation-home sales are still about one-third below the peak activity seen in 2006.”

Here are the key findings from the report:

Raw Numbers

  • Vacation-Home sales rose 29.7 percent to 717,000 from 553,000 in 2012
  • Sales accounted for 13% of all transactions last year, up from 11% in 2012
  • The median price was $168,700, compared with $150,000 in 2012, reflecting a greater number of more expensive recreational property sales in 2013
  • 42% of vacation homes purchased in 2013 were distressed homes (in foreclosure or short sale)

Buyer Profile

  • The typical vacation-home buyer was 43 years old
  • The median household income was $85,600
  • Buyers plan to own their recreational property for a median of 6 years
  • 33% said they were likely to purchase another vacation home within two years
  • 82% of all second-home buyers said it was a good time to buy (compared with 67% of primary residence buyers)

Reasons for Purchasing

Lifestyle factors remain the primary motivation for vacation-home buyers:

  • 87% want to use the property for vacations or as a family retreat
  • 31% plan to use it as a primary residence in the future
  • 28% wanted to diversify their investments or saw a good investment opportunity
  • 23% plan to rent to others

Location

  • 41% of vacation homes purchased last year were in the South
  • 28% in the West
  • 18% in the Northeast
  • 14% in the Midwest

The vacation homebuyer purchased a property that was a median distance of 180 miles from their primary residence (down from 435 in 2012)

  • 46% were within 100 miles
  • 34% were more than 500 miles

Financing

  • 38% of vacation-home buyers paid cash in 2013
  • The median down payment was 30%, up from 27% in 2012

Homeownership’s Impact on Net Worth

4.9 VisualOver 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. A study by the Federal Reserve formally answered this question.

Some of the findings revealed in their report:

  • The average American family has a net worth of $77,300
  • Of that net worth, 61.4% ($47,500) of it is in home equity
  • A homeowner’s net worth is over thirty times greater than that of a renter
  • The average homeowner has a net worth of $174,500 while the average net worth of a renter is $5,100

Bottom Line

The Fed study found that homeownership is still a great way for a family to build wealth in America.

3 Reasons the Housing Market Should Thrive in 2014

threeRecently, HousingWire asked David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide, for his opinion on the near-term future of housing. Below are what Mr. Berson believes to be the three things you need to know about housing in 2014. We have included a quote from the article and a small comment from Keeping Current Matters (KCM) for all three points.

Number 1: 2014 should prove to be the strongest year for housing activity since before the Great Recession

“Most economists expect an improved job market in 2014, with employment growth accelerating and the unemployment rate continuing to decline. That jobless rate drop will reflect more of a pickup in employment than further declines in the labor force participation rate. This will be the key factor improving housing demand this year, even if mortgage rates rise and affordability declines. While the housing market tends to do especially well when the job market improves and mortgage rates decline simultaneously, that combination of events occurs only rarely…People buy homes when their job and income prospects improve – even if it’s more expensive to do so – rather than buy when it is inexpensive to do so but they’re worried about keeping their jobs.”

KCM Comment:

We agree that the job market will continue to improve and that rising interest rates will not be a detriment to the market in 2014. As Doug Duncan, SVP and chief economist at Fannie Mae, recently revealed:

“Consumers have taken the interest rate rise in stride. Expectations for continued improvement in housing persist, and sentiment toward the current buying and selling environment is back on track.”

Number 2: Demographics should start to favor housing activity

“If the economy expands at a faster pace this year, bringing a more rapid rate of job creation, that should translate into more households, raising housing demand. We won’t see all three million missing households return to the housing market at once. (That wouldn’t be a good thing for the housing market anyway, since that would be on top of the 1.2 million households that normally would develop this year; such a surge would swamp the existing housing supply). Beginning in 2014, the pace of household formations should accelerate to an above-trend pace for several years, pushing up housing demand.”

KCM Comment:

The Urban Land Institute recently released a report, Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2014, projecting that 4.48 million new households will be formed over the next three years. Millennials will make up a large portion of these new households. With the economy improving, we believe they will finally be moving out of their parents’ homes and, after they compare renting versus buying, many will choose homeownership.

Number 3: Mortgage availability shouldn’t worsen and may improve

“The rise in mortgage rates already has reduced mortgage origination volumes as refinance activity declines. If mortgage rates rise further this year, as expected, then refinance activity will fall still more. In response, mortgage lenders probably will ease lending standards to the extent possible under the QM rules to boost lending activity by increasing purchase originations. As a result, the increase in new households expected to be created this year, spurred by a stronger job market, should find that qualifying for a mortgage loan will be somewhat easier in 2014 than in prior years.”

KCM Comment:

We also believe that, as the refinancing market begins to dry up, mortgage entities will be more aggressive in the purchase money market (mortgages necessary to purchase a home). There even seems to be recent evidence that lending standards are actually loosening.

Harvard: 5 Financial Reasons to Buy a Home

Eric Belsky is Managing Director of the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University. He also currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Housing Research and Housing Policy Debate. This year he released a new paper on homeownership – The Dream Lives On: the Future of Homeownership in America. In his paper, Belsky reveals five financial reasons people should consider buying a home.

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 many social and family reasons. It also makes sense financially.

Chicken Little is Wrong: Homeownership Still the American Dream

Chicken LittleAfter the harrowing challenges experienced by so many homeowners over the last few years, many housing experts had predicted that the belief in homeownership as a major element of the American Dream would soon die. There is now conclusive evidence that these experts were wrong. As we reported back in September, The Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University completed a study which concluded:

“The long term cultural preference for owning seems to have weathered the recent housing crisis.”

Now, a second source recently announced similar results. Fannie Mae just released their National Housing Survey of Delinquent Mortgage Borrowers. The survey asked questions about the value of homeownership to the most sensitive of all groups – those delinquent on their mortgages. Here is what they found:

Of those delinquent borrowers:

  • 74% still see homeownership as better than renting when building up wealth
  • 71% still see homeownership as better than renting when saving for retirement
  • 73% still see homeownership as better than renting for overall financial stability
  • 80% still see homeownership as better than renting as an investment plan
  • 70% still see homeownership as better than renting for creating an overall tax strategy

Bottom Line

Homeownership has always been and will always be a crucial piece of the American Dream.

Will 20% Soon Be the Minimum Down Payment on a Home?

Increased CostSeveral government agencies are reviewing data to determine what will be the minimum down payment required under the new Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) guidelines scheduled to be revealed in the next few months. In the original Mortgage Market Note issued by the FHFA, it was suggested that loan-to-value (the percentage of the overall purchase price which was being borrowed) was a major factor in determining if a loan would default:

“For most origination years, requirements for borrower credit score and loan-to-value ratio are the factors that most reduce the ever-90-day delinquency rate of mortgages acquired by the Enterprises that would have met the proposed QRM standards.”

The note then made the following proposal:

“An LTV ratio qualified residential mortgage must meet a minimum LTV ratio that varies according to the purpose for which the mortgage was originated. For home purchase mortgages, rate and term refinances, and cash-out refinances, the LTV ratios are 80, 75, and 70 percent, respectively.”

Basically, the original note suggested that a 20% down payment should be the new guideline. We realize that there has been much debate on this issue since and that the minimum down payment required under the new QRM guidelines will probably be less than 20%. However, we can’t know for sure.

Bloomberg reported last week:

“The six regulators drafting the separate QRM rule, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Securities and Exchange Commission, must decide whether to include such a requirement — and whether to make it less than the 20 percent they originally proposed.”

Will it be more difficult to qualify for a mortgage after the new QRM rules are announced? Probably

As David Stevens, President of the Mortgage Bankers Association said during a speech in Washington on Jan. 16:

“I have consistently warned of the regulatory tidal wave to come and it’s finally upon us. These changes will impact business operations and the future of mortgage access for years to come.”