Home Prices Continue to Rise

Home Prices Continue to Rise | Simplifying The Market

“Broad-based Slowdown for Home Prices”

That is a headline you might have seen over the past weekend. And though it is true, we must understand the story behind the headline. Case Shiller reports on the year-over-year difference in home values. Their latest report revealed that the rate of appreciation has slowed – not that prices are falling!! Here is exactly what they said:

“The 20-City Composite gained 4.9% year-over-year, compared to 5.6% in August.”

Prices are still up this month over last year’s values (4.9%) just not as much as they were last month (5.6%).

Home Prices are NOT Falling.

As a matter of fact, the latest Home Price Expectation Survey by Pulsenomics (a survey of a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists) showed that home prices will continue to appreciate for the next several years.

Home Price Expectation Survey Projected Prices | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Both first time buyers and families thinking of moving-up to their dream home can be assured that their investment in their new home makes sense.

Freddie Mac: Buy Sooner Rather than Later

Freddie Mac: Buy Sooner Rather than Later | Simplifying The Market

In a recent video update on the housing market, Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, stated that with both mortgage interest rates and home prices projected to increase in 2015 buying now makes sense.

“If you are planning to buy a home in the next year, it’s better to do it sooner rather than later.”

Here are the latest mortgage interest rate projections from four major housing entities: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

Mortgage Rate Projections | Simplifying The Market

Thinking of Selling & Moving Up?

This advice isn’t limited to just the first time buyer. If you are considering moving up to the home your family has always wanted, waiting also makes no sense.

Buying a Home Remains 38% Less Expensive than Renting!

Buying a Home Remains 38% Less Expensive Than Renting! | Simplifying The Market

In Trulia’s latest Rent vs. Buy Report, they explained that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage throughout the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers actually show that the range is from an average of 17% in Honolulu, all the way to 63% in Detroit, and 38% Nationwide! This is up from an average of only 5% cheaper in Honolulu in April.

The other interesting findings in the report include:

  • Rents have continued to increase nationally even as home price increases are starting to slow. Current low mortgage rates have kept homeownership from becoming more expensive than renting.
  • Some markets might tip in favor of renting next year if home prices increase at a greater rate than rents and if – as most economists expect – mortgage rates rise, due to the strengthening economy.

Nationally, rates would have to rise to 10.6% for renting to be cheaper than buying – and rates haven’t been that high since 1989.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense. Rental costs have historically increased at a higher rate of inflation. Lock in a mortgage payment now before home prices and mortgage rates rise as experts expect they will.

Either Way, You’re Still 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 at bargain prices.

Future Homeowners Share American Dream

Future Homeowners Share American Dream | Keeping Current Matters

Two recently released reports indicate that both young adults (Millennials) and teenagers (Generation Z) still see homeownership as an important piece of their future success.

A report by The Demand Institute, Millennials and Their Homes: Still Seeking the American Dream, revealed that the Millennial Generation is optimistic about their financial future and still believe in homeownership. The findings were based on a survey of millennial households (ages 18 to 29).

The report predicted that:

  • 8.3 million new Millennial (Gen Y) households will form in the next five years
  • $1.6 trillion will be spent on home purchases by Millennials and $600 billion on rent over the next five years

Millennials optimistic about their finances and homeownership

Of those surveyed:

  • 74% expect to move within the next five years
  • 79% expect their financial situation to improve
  • 75% believe homeownership is an important long-term goal
  • 73% believe homeownership is an excellent investment
  • 24% already own their home and
  • An additional 60% plan to buy a home in the future
  • 44% do think it would be difficult to qualify for a mortgage

What about the next generation (today’s teenagers)?

A recent survey by Better Homes and Gardens® revealed that Generation Z (teens ages 13-17) is very traditional in their views toward homeownership and is willing to sacrifice to attain the American Dream.

Findings from the survey show:

  • 82% of Gen Z teens indicate that homeownership is the most important factor in achieving the American Dream.
  • 89% said owning a home is part of their interpretation of the American Dream
  • 97% believe they will own a home
  • 77% percent chose owning a home over owning a business

Bottom Line

It seems that the belief that homeownership as a huge part of the American Dream still beats in the hearts of the young people of this country.

Be Quiet Chicken Little! Real Estate is Just Fine

Be Quiet Chicken Little! The Sky is Not Falling | Keeping Current Matters

The latest Existing-Home Sales Report from NAR revealed that sales decreased 1.8 percent in August. Many might start to panic, but let’s see what the report really shows.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist explains “there was a marked decline in all cash sales from investors. On the positive side, first-time buyers have a better chance of purchasing a home now that bidding wars are receding and supply constraints have significantly eased in many parts of the country.”

There is Still A LOT of Good News:

  • The median existing-home price for all housing types in August was $219,800, which is 4.8 percent above August 2013. This marks the 30th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.
  • 40% of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a month.
  • Distressed home sales remain at single digits for the second straight month, at 8%, down from 12% last year this time.
  • More buyers qualified for mortgages to purchase a home in August, as evidenced by the decline in the number of all cash buyers from 29% to 23%.

New Home Sales Surge:

Newly built single-family home sales surged 18% in August, the highest level in six years according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Experts Agree:

“This robust level of new-home sales activity is a good sign that the housing recovery is moving towards higher ground,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Historically low mortgage rates, attractive home prices and firming job and economic growth should keep the housing market moving forward in 2014.”

Yun adds, “As long as solid job growth continues, wages should eventually pick up to steadily improve purchasing power and help fully release the pent-up demand for buying.”

Bottom Line

Now is still a great time to buy a home, whether as a first time homebuyer or you’re moving up to the home of your dreams, don’t let the headlines scare you from making the best decision for your family.

Homeownership: A Few Stats and Quotes

Homeownership: A Few Stats and Quotes | Keeping Current Matters

2014 American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

“About two-thirds (65%) of homeowners say they are confident they would get the asking price for their home if they were to put it on the market today (up from 40% in 2010).”

Financial Security Index Survey

“Eighty nine percent of Americans feel that buying a home is an important part of achieving the American Dream.”

“How America Views Homeownership” Survey

“Sixty eight percent of Americans feel that now is a good time to buy a home.”

Housing Confidence Index

“A two-thirds majority of renter households said that owning a home someday is a specific goal that they are determined to reach, or something that they think about a lot.”

Fannie Mae

“Homes have accounted for 23.5% of American’s wealth on average since 1959. That’s nearly double the proportion U.S. households and nonprofits have invested in stocks.”

Wall Street Journal

“A measure of owners’ equity as a share of the value of real-estate holdings hit 53.6% in the second quarter, up from 53.2% in the first quarter and below 50% a year earlier. For most Americans, a home is their biggest asset, so the growing level of home equity suggests improvements in the economy are now reaching more Americans.”

The Truth About Buying a Home: You DON’T Need 20% Down

The Truth About Buying a Home: You DON'T Need 20% Down | Keeping Current Matters

In a recent survey, How America Views Homeownership, it was revealed that 68% of Americans feel that now is a good time to buy a home and 95%said they want to own a home if they don’t already.

Franklin Codel, head of Wells Fargo home mortgageproduction, explains:

“Although the home buying process has changed in many ways in recent years, our survey found Americans still view homeownership as an achievement to be proud of and many believe that now is a good time to buy a home.”

Confusion Creates Paralysis

However, the survey also reported that many are afraid to purchase a home because of uncertainty about “qualifying for a mortgage or navigating the home buying process”. Though 74% said they “know and understand” the financial process involved in buying a home, they also gave answers that suggest otherwise. For example:

  • 30% of respondents believe that only individuals with high incomes can obtain a mortgage
  • 64% of respondents believe they must have a “very good” credit score to buy a home
  • 44% believe that a 20% down payment is required

In actuality many of these beliefs are unfounded. Let’s look at the question of down payment:

Freddie Mac, in a recent blog post addressing the issue, confirmed that there is misinformation regarding the amount necessary when determining the down payment for a home purchase:

“Did you know 40 percent of today’s homebuyers using mortgage financing are making down payments that are less than 10 percent? And how about this: since 2010, the number of people putting down less than 10 percent for conventional loans has grown three fold.  So, not only are low down payment options real, they represent a significant portion of today’s purchases.”

In a separate Executive Perspectives, Christina Boyle, Freddie Mac’s VP and Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management explained further:

  • A person “can get a conforming, conventional mortgage with a down payment of as little as 5 percent (sometimes with as little as 3 percent coming out of their own pockets)”.
  • Qualified borrowers can further reduce the down payment coming out of their own pockets to 3 percent by lining up gifts from family, grants or loans from non-profits or public agencies.

Education is the Key

Boyle talked about the importance of educating potential buyers:

“Letting more consumers know how down payments are determined could bring more qualified borrowers off the sidelines. Depending on their credit history and other factors, many borrowers can expect to make a down payment of about 5 or 10 percent.”

Codel agreed:

“It is important for prospective homebuyers to feel empowered to ask lenders and real estate agents questions about available options, such as down payment assistance or FHA loan programs or VA loans for veterans.”

Bottom Line

If you are saving for either your first home or that perfect move-up dream house, make sure you know all your options. You may be pleasantly surprised.