New Construction = New Competition

New Construction = New Competition | Simplifying The Market

For the last several years, home sellers had to compete with huge inventories of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales). The great news is that the supply of these properties is falling like a rock in the vast majority of housing markets (only 11% of homes sold in January). Many homeowners are now thinking of selling as the impact of this substantially discounted competition has disappeared.

However, every seller of an existing residential property must realize that there is a new form of competition in the market: newly constructed homes.

According to the National Association of Realtors’ Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers new home sales accounted for 16% of all homes sold in 2014. The graph below shows the top 5 reasons that a buyer would choose new construction over an existing home.

Reasons to Own a New Home | Simplifying The Market

The top three should not come by surprise. With a new home comes the ability to customize the design of the home and the ability to avoid having to renovate or deal with existing problems.

The 10% of respondents who cited “Lack of Inventory of Existing Homes” could very well increase in 2015. Existing home inventory for sale currently sits at a 4.7 months supply, well below the six-months needed to be at a historically normal market.

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that there is currently a 5.4 months supply inventory of new construction available for purchase.

Month's Inventory New Homes For Sale | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

With a steady buyer demand currently in the market, if you are thinking of selling, perhaps you should do it now to avoid additional competition coming to the market.

Selling Your Home? The Importance of Using an Agent

Selling Your Home? The Importance of Using an Agent | Simplifying The Market

When a homeowner decides to sell their house, they obviously want the best possible price with the least amount of hassles. However, for the vast majority of sellers, the most important result is to actually get the home sold.

In order to accomplish all three goals, a seller should realize the importance of using a real estate professional. We realize that technology has changed the purchaser’s behavior during the home buying process. For the past two years, 92% of all buyers have used the internet in their home search according to the National Association of Realtors’ most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers.

However, the report also revealed that for the second year in a row 96% percent of buyers that used the internet when searching for a home purchased their home through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% purchased their home directly from a seller whom the buyer didn’t know.

Buyers search for a home online but then depend on an agent to find the actual home they will buy (53%) or negotiate the terms of the sale & price (31%) or understand the process (63%).

Stephen Phillips, the Chief Operating Officer for HSF Affiliates LLC, put it best:

“Home buyers are more informed than ever with their Internet searches and ongoing research; however, there’s a critical need to transform that information into analysis and advice that helps consumers make the best home-buying and selling decisions.

The plethora of information now available has resulted in an increase in the percentage of buyers that reach out to real estate professionals to “connect the dots”. This is obvious as the percentage of overall buyers who used an agent to buy their home has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling your home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process.

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.

Two Graphs that Scream – List Your Home Today!

Two Graphs that Scream - List Your Home Today! | Simplifying The Market

We all learned in school that when selling anything, you will get the most money if the demand for that item is high and the inventory of that item is low. It is the well-known Theory of Supply & Demand.

If you are thinking of selling your home, here are two graphs that strongly suggest that the time is now. Here is why…

DEMAND

According to research at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer activity last month (January) was three times greater than it was last January. Purchasers who are ready, willing and able to buy are in the market at great numbers.

Buyer Demand | Simplifying The Market

SUPPLY

The most recent Existing Home Sales Report from NAR revealed that the months’ supply of housing inventory had fallen to 4.4 months which is the lowest it has been in over a year.

Months Supply of Home For Sale | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Listing your house for sale when demand is high and supply is low will guarantee the offers made will truly reflect the true value of your property.

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.

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.

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t For Sale By Owner

5 Reasons You Shouldn't For Sale By Owner | Simplifying The Market

Some homeowners consider trying to sell their home on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). There are several reasons this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

Here are five reasons:

1. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale By Owner:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house.
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value

2. Exposure to Prospective Purchasers

Recent studies have shown that 88% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 21% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

3. Results Come from the Internet

Where do buyers find the home they actually purchased?

  • 43% on the internet
  • 9% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspaper

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

4. FSBOing has Become More and More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 9% over the last 20+ years.

5. You Net More Money when Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $208,000 while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $235,000. This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $27,000 more for your home as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with a real estate professional in your marketplace and see what they have to offer.

No Matter What the Groundhog Says… You Should Sell Before Spring!

No Matter What

Is spring closer than we think? Depending on which Groundhog you witnessed today, you may have less time than you think to get your home on the market before the busy spring season.

Many sellers feel that the spring is the best time to place their home on the market as buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year. However, the next six weeks before spring hits also have their own advantages.

Here are five reasons to sell now.

1. Demand is Strong

Foot traffic refers to the number of people out actually physically looking at homes right now. The latest foot traffic numbers show that there are currently more prospective purchasers looking at homes than at any other time in the last 12 months, which includes last spring’s buyers’ market. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now!

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing supply just dropped to 4.4 months, which is under the 6 months’ supply that is needed for a normal housing market. This means, in many areas, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market.

There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market in the near future.

Also, new construction of single-family homes is again beginning to increase. A recent study by Harris Poll revealed that 41% of buyers would prefer to buy a new home while only 21% prefer an existing home (38% had no preference).

The choices buyers have will increase in the spring. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. There is less overall business done in the winter. Therefore, the process will be less onerous than it will be in the spring. Getting your house sold and closed before the spring delays begin will lend itself to a smoother transaction.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 23.5% from now to 2019. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate below 4% right now. Rates are projected to be a full point higher by the end of 2015.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take back control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps, the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.