New York Times: Homeownership is Best Way To Build Wealth

New York Times: Homeownership is Best Way To Build Wealth | Simplifying The Market

The New York Times recently published an editorial entitled, Homeownership and Wealth Creation.” The housing market has made a strong recovery, not only in sales and prices, but also in the confidence of consumers and experts as an investment.

The article explains:

“Homeownership long has been central to Americans’ ability to amass wealth; even with the substantial decline in wealth after the housing bust, the net worth of homeowners over time has significantly outpaced that of renters, who tend as a group to accumulate little if any wealth.”

Many of the points that were made in the article are on track with the research that the Federal Reserve has also conducted in their Survey of Consumer Finances.

The study found that the average net worth of a homeowner ($194,500) is 36x greater than that of a renter ($5,400).

One reason for this large discrepancy in net worth is the concept of ‘forced savings’ created by having a mortgage payment and was explained by the Times:

“Homeownership requires potential buyers to save for a down payment, and forces them to continue to save by paying down a portion of the mortgage principal each month.”

“Even in instances where renters have excess cash, saving a substantial amount is difficult without a near-term goal, like a down payment. It is also difficult to systematically invest each month in stocks, bonds or other assets without being compelled to do so.”

Bottom Line

“As a means to building wealth, there is no practical substitute for homeownership.” If you are a renter who is considering making a purchase, sit with a local real estate professional who can explain the benefits of signing a contract to purchase over renewing your lease!

Confusing Real Estate News? An Agent Can Help

Confusing Real Estate News? An Agent Can Help | Simplifying The Market

Below are the headlines from three separate news releases issued over a one month period:

11/3/2014 – Millions of Potential New Households Waiting Out the Recovery

11/11/2014 – Experts: First-Time Homebuyers’ Weak Finances Holding Back Housing Market

And then, the contrarian view:

12/2/2014 – In 2015, Millennials Will Be Biggest Home Buying Group

It sure seems that the group that released the first two stories emphatically disagrees with the organization that published the last news release.

Amazingly, the same entity published all three reports. What?

It seems the company (a well-respected provider of housing information) reported that those forming new households are not looking to buy a home. They actually surveyed over one hundred housing experts who agreed. But 30 days later, they reported that millennials (most new households) will be the biggest group of home buyers this year. All in one month!!

All the headlines could actually be true. However, a consumer reading them might be misled. This is evidence of how difficult it is to actually understand the intricacies of today’s housing market. Even the experts can seem confused.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of either buying or selling a home, it is probably best to engage a local real estate professional to help you successfully navigate the ins-and-outs of today’s real estate transaction.

Will Higher Interest Rates Kill HOME SALES?

Will Higher Interest Rates Kill HOME SALES? | Simplifying The Market

The Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Realtors, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are each projecting mortgage interest rates to increase substantially over the next twelve months. What will that mean to the housing market in 2015?

Last week, we posted a graph showing that home prices appreciated each of the last four times mortgage interest rates dramatically increased. Today, we want to talk about the impact higher rates might have on the number of home sales.

The reason many experts are calling for a rise in rates is because they see a stabilizing economy. With the economy beginning to improve, they expect the employment situation to regain some ground lost during the recession, incomes to grow and for consumer confidence to improve.

What will that mean to home sales next year?

In its November 2014 U.S. Economic & Housing Market Outlook, Freddie Mac explains:

“While higher interest rates generally detract from housing activity, when they occur with strong job and income growth the net result can be increases in household formations, construction, and home sales. Our view for 2015 is exactly that, namely, income and job growth offset the negative effect of higher interest rates and translate into gains for the nation’s housing market.”

Bottom Line

Even with mortgage rates increasing, home sales and home appreciation should be just fine in 2015.

Breaking News: Fannie and Freddie formally announce 3% Down Programs

Breaking News: Fannie and Freddie formally announce 3% Down Programs | Simplifying The Market

Yesterday, HousingWire reported that both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac formally announced their 3% down options on home purchases. Fannie Mae’s plan will be effective December 13, 2014 while the Freddie Mac plan will be available March 23, 2015. The HW article quotes FHFA Director Mel Watt:

“The new lending guidelines released today by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will enable creditworthy borrowers who can afford a mortgage, but lack the resources to pay a substantial down payment plus closing costs, to get a mortgage with 3% down. These underwriting guidelines provide a responsible approach to improving access to credit while ensuring safe and sound lending practices.”

This is great news to millions of purchasers that have been denied the opportunity to own their own home because of the almost impossible burden of saving for a 20% down payment.

Will these programs create future challenges?

Certain pundits fear that low down payment programs will create a wave of foreclosures down the road. Mr. Watt also addressed this concern:

“To mitigate risk, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will use their automated underwriting systems, which include compensating factors to evaluate a borrower’s creditworthiness. In addition, the new offerings will also include homeownership counseling, which improves borrower performance. FHFA will monitor the ongoing performance of these loans.”

We also recently addressed this issue.

Here are the direct links to the guidelines for each program:

Fannie Mae 3% Down Program

Freddie Mac 3% Down Program

Remember, as with any new program, there will be some confusion as it is unveiled. Contact a mortgage professional for a deeper understanding. Don’t have a mortgage person yet? Contact me for a referral.

Rent Increases Expected to Continue through 2015

Rent Increases Expected to Continue through 2015 | Keeping Current Matters

CNBC’s Diana Olick recently reported that rents in the residential housing sector continued to rise in 2014. She interviewed Jed Kolko, Chief Economist at Trulia, who revealed:

“Rents are rising because of strong demand that supply hasn’t kept up with. Nearly all the new households are renters, and young people moving out of their parents’ homes will keep fueling rental demand.”

Where are rents headed in 2015?

The question now is where rents will be heading over the next twelve months. In a press release last week, Zillow chief economist Dr. Stan Humphries predicted residential rental prices will continue to climb in 2015:

“Home value appreciation will continue to cool down, from roughly 6 percent now to around 2.5 percent by the end of 2015. But rents will see no such slowdown, and will continue to grow around 3.5 percent annually throughout 2015. As renters’ costs keep going up, I expect the allure of fixed mortgage payments and a more stable housing market will entice many more otherwise content renters into the housing market.”

However, those potential buyers must make a decision quickly because, as Kolko explains:

“Paying more on rent makes it harder for would-be homebuyers to save for a down payment.”

Bottom Line

Ryan Severino, a senior economist at Reis, in Olick’s article stated the obvious:

“Landlords should still be able to push asking rent increases on to their tenants.”

If you are thinking about buying a home in 2015 instead of continuing to rent, it probably makes sense.

Will an Increase in Interest Rates Crush Home Prices?

Will an Increase in Interest Rates Crush Home Prices? | Simplifying The Market

There are some who are calling for a substantial drop in home prices should mortgage interest rates begin to rise rapidly. Intuitively that makes sense. The cost of a home is determined by the price of the home and the price of financing that home. If mortgage interest rates increase, less people will be able to buy. The logic says prices will fall if demand decreases.

However, history shows us that this has not been the case the last four times mortgage interest rates dramatically increased.

Here is a graph showing what actually did happen:

Interest Rate Increases | Simplifying The Market

We will have to wait and see what happens as we move forward. But, a fall in prices should rates go up is not guaranteed.