You’ve Played the Housing Market Perfectly. Don’t Blow it Now!

You've Played the Real Estate Market Perfectly! Don't Blow It Now! | Keeping Current Matters

Many people suffered through the housing crisis. We realize that most of the heartache was the result of a housing and mortgage market gone wild. Many consumers were swept away by the waters of a frenzied real estate market that resulted in a crisis even the experts didn’t see coming.

However, some of the suffering was caused by home buyers and home owners simply making bad decisions. NOT YOU! You didn’t buy that house that stretched your family finances past the point of sustainability. You didn’t take out a home equity loan and buy new water skis. You didn’t do a cash-out refinance for the maximum amount possible.

Instead, you bought a home your family could enjoy – and afford! You waited for interest rates to drop to historic lows and then refinanced your mortgage; not for the sake of taking cash out but instead to lower your monthly payment.

You have equity in your house and a nice, low mortgage payment. You played the housing market perfectly.

Don’t Miss the Last Move

Yet, there is one more move many should consider. With interest rates still at historic lows, and prices projected to increase by almost 20% over the next four and a half years, this may be time to buy a new home.

Whether, you are a growing family ready to move-up to that waterfront home you always wanted or an empty nester downsizing to a home that makes more sense, now may be the time to buy. If you have considered buying a vacation/retirement home, there may never be a better time to move forward with that plan.

You have been fiscally astute enough to navigate the treacherous waters of a housing market that sank many a homeowner. Now, that the seas have settled, don’t think there aren’t even greater opportunities on the horizon.

Homeownership’s Impact on Net Worth

Homeownership's Impact on Net Worth | Keeping Current Matters

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. 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

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Bottom Line

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

Home Prices…Where are They Headed?

Home Prices... Where are they Headed? | Keeping Current Matters

Today, many real estate conversations center on housing prices and where they may be headed. That is why the Home Price Expectation Survey is seen to be a reliable source. 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. 

The results of their latest survey

  • Home values will appreciate by 4.6% in 2014.
  • The cumulative appreciation will be 19.5% by 2018.
  • That means the average annual appreciation will be 3.6% over the next 5 years.
  • Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of 11.2% by 2018.

Individual opinions make headlines. We believe the survey is a fairer depiction of future values.

Bigger Ads Don’t Make Dumber Buyers

Bigger Ads Don't Make Dumber Buyers | Keeping Current Matters

Being ‘in and around’ the real estate business for over 30 years, we are still confused about the importance both sellers and real estate agents put on advertising.  Decades ago, advertising a home was important to attract a buyer because there was no other way for an individual real estate office to announce to the world that a house was now on the market.

But times have changed.  With the development of the Multiple Listing Systems (MLS), as soon as a listing is taken the entire agent population of that area or region is informed. Instantly! Every agent working every buyer is put on notice that a new opportunity to sell a home is here. In many cases, through new technologies, the buyers are directly informed of the new listing before the agent can even reach out to them. Buyers already in the market will know the home is up for sale immediately. No ad is required to do this.

You may ask – what about the buyer who is not yet actively engaging an agent in search of a home? Those future buyers are searching the internet months before they are ready to commit. In most areas, once a home is placed on the MLS system, the listing populates a plethora of real estate internet sites where a buyer can easily find it.

Why are no buyers looking at the house? I will argue that it is probably not because they are unaware of the listing. In 99% of the cases, it is about pricing. They know of it and, for some reason, have decided it is not worth seeing. The value was not there for them.

Look at the Price

You may think there are just no buyers in the market for your type of home at the present time. Well, let’s take a step back and ask a question. Would someone buy it at $1? How about $100?  $1,000?  $10,000?  $100,000? Of course!! But, that proves our point. There is a price that buyers will pay for each and every home that is for sale today. You must decide if you are willing to take what the current value of your property is. That is entirely your decision.

But, let’s not believe the house hasn’t sold because it wasn’t advertised more aggressively. You could put it on the front page of your large, regional paper for the next 365 straight days. If it is not priced right, a buyer will not buy it.

Does that mean that you don’t need an agent to sell your home? Actually, we are saying the exact opposite. You need a well-informed real estate professional who knows the proper price for your house and has the courage to tell you the truth. It was great to see that a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors revealed that the number one benefit a seller wants from their agent is assistance in setting a competitive price. That truly is the most important thing an agent can deliver to a seller in this market.

Bottom Line

Get a great agent. Price your home appropriately. And don’t believe that running more ads will create a group of buyers that don’t understand value!!

Buying a Home? You Don’t Need to Do It Alone

Buying a Home? You Don’t Need to Do It Alone | Keeping Current Matters

Last week, Discover Home Loans released an interesting survey which revealed how prepared home buyers are for the actual mortgage process. The survey reported that 94 percent of prospective buyers believe they are making a good investment decision if they buy a home. The survey also explained that 66 percent of buyers reach out to real estate agents to help determine whether buying a certain home would be a good investment. However, there is less certainty regarding the mortgage process.

Most buyers overwhelmed

The majority of potential buyers are actually overwhelmed with the plethora of information available about the home financing process.  Here are some interesting highlights from the report:

  • Nearly 66% feel overwhelmed with the amount of information available
  • 76% of those under the age of 30 feel overwhelmed
  • 76% of first time buyers feel the same way
  • 54% of those buyers who have previously owned also were overwhelmed
  • 59% of buyers turn to mortgage bankers to help evaluate mortgage terms and comparing offers
  • 49% of buyers turn to real estate agents to help evaluate mortgage terms and comparing offers

There is help available…use it!

Cameron Findlay, chief economist at Discover Home Loans, gives great advice:

“The industry is becoming more transparent in an effort to help homebuyers become informed about changes that may affect their process. The sheer amount of information can lead to confusion and stress. Those looking to purchase should work closely with their lender and realtor to make sure they are comfortable with mortgage terms and understand the impact a loan will have on their finances.”

Bottom Line

The purchasing of a home can put great pressure on a family. Reach out to the best mortgage and real estate professionals in your market for assistance throughout the process.

Zillow + Trulia: Why it is NOT the End for Agents

Zillow + Trulia: The Death of the Real Estate Agent? | Keeping Current Matters

KCM founder, Steve Harney, occasionally asks to do a personal post on what he sees as important to our industry. Today is one of those days. Enjoy! – The KCM Crew

Yesterday, Zillow announced the acquisition of Trulia. Some industry experts are predicting the end of the real estate business as we know it. They used words like “checkmate” and “kill shot”. Though we agree that aspects of the industry will be forced to evolve perhaps quicker than they had hoped, we believe this will be an evolution…not a revolution. No one needs to die.

THE EVOLUTION

Will companies and agents need to massage the way they do business? We think so. Marc Davison, the co-founder of 1000WATT Consulting, put it best when he explained that companies needed to:

“…focus on brand marketing, content marketing, data-driven advertising and other more intelligent means of engaging homebuyers and sellers.”

Sites like Zillow/Trulia give the consumer the dots (data) of real estate. Like Davison, we believe the consumer needs the real estate professional to ‘connect those dots’.

I did not have to go far to find anecdotal evidence proving this hypothesis. I just needed to look at my own family.

Massapequa, New York

Five years ago, my older son and his wife bought their first home. They found that home on Zillow and told their agent, “this is the home we’d like to live in”. The agent helped them decide on a target price. She helped them negotiate that price with the seller. She found the industry professionals they needed and coordinated the inspections, the walk-throughs and the appraisal. She helped them work with an attorney and a mortgage professional.

She was their agent and represented them throughout the entire purchasing process. She made sure that they were confident and comfortable at every stage.

They found the house online; that was the easy part. They needed an agent to help them with the hard part: actually getting the house without headaches or stress. My son and his wife truly believe she was worth every penny of her commission.

South Beach, Miami

Two years ago, my wife and I were thinking about buying a winter residence in South Beach. Every day, my wife searched the listing portals for condos for sale. We got a really good feel for South Beach and even picked out a few buildings we liked. However, even though I have been in the industry for over 30 years, we called a real estate agent who specialized in South Beach.

She explained to us how the fiscal responsibility of each building’s board would impact future “special assessments” (something we hadn’t even considered). She explained how proposed new construction might impact the ocean views of certain properties. She helped us find the perfect spot and guided us through the entire buying process.

The nights my wife and I spend eating dinner on our balcony overlooking the ocean would not have been possible without our agent.

Meadville, Pennsylvania

Just this month, my younger son got his dream job; coaching women’s basketball at the collegiate level. It required him to relocate out of state. He needed a twelve month rental. He searched Zillow, Trulia and Craig’s List. He got a feel for the types of units available and the rental costs. But when it came down to it, a local real estate agent named Vic Kress found my son a great place in a sensational building in a perfect location. My son is signing the lease today.

Just the other day, when someone questioned my son on how difficult it was to find a place so far away in such a short period of time, he answered:

“I have a guy down there that is looking out for me.”

That’s what real estate professionals do. They ‘look out for’ their customers and help them through the process.

BOTTOM LINE

Technology has definitely given consumers easier access to information about the housing industry.

However, we believe that buyers and sellers need more than just information. They need an analysis of how that information impacts their family. Every family should feel confident when buying or selling a home. Real estate agents must reach out to these families and simply & effectively explain a complex housing market to them.

That is what will guarantee their existence.

Buying a House? 4 Reasons to DO IT NOW

Buying a House? 4 Reasons to DO IT NOW | Keeping Current Matters

Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today, instead of waiting.

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 30.8% (most optimistic) and 9.4% (most pessimistic).

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 the Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage are currently around 4.2%, Freddie Mac is projecting that rates will increase to 5.2% by this time next year.

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 research 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.

What is holding back the Real Estate Market?

What is holding back the Real Estate Market? | Keeping Current Matters

Though the housing market is recovering nicely, it is not doing quite as well as some analysts had predicted. There has been no shortage of excuses offered as to why this is: the rise in interest rates, more stringent lending standards, the weather.

However, we feel that there is one factor that is most responsible for curtailing the number of houses sold – the number of houses available for sale!

Inventory Levels are BELOW Historic Norms

In a recent economic forecast, Freddie Mac addressed this exact issue:

“Including newly built homes in the inventory count, the total number of homes offered for sale relative to the number of households in the U.S. has been running at the lowest level in more than 30 years, as shown in the second exhibit. The relatively low for-sale inventory reflects several features of today’s market.”

“A supply-constrained market (holding other factors constant) will result in a decline in the volume of sales and an increase in real transaction prices.”

NAR Report Confirms Inventory Constriction

History shows us that a balanced real estate market requires a six month supply of available housing inventory. The National Association of Realtors released their Existing Homes Sales Report earlier this week. The report revealed that we are still only at a 5.5 month supply of homes for sale. We have not reached the 6 month mark in over two years.

The recent increase in buyers now looking will again put a strain on this number.

Bottom Line

While inventory levels remain below historic norms, it will remain a seller’s market. This being the case, if you are considering selling your home, now may be the time to list it for sale.