3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying A Home

3 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying A Home | Simplifying The Market

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are surely getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interest at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in real estate. Let’s look at whether or not now is actually a good time for you to buy a home.

There are 3 questions you should ask before purchasing in today’s market:

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with finances.

A study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University reveals that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of the space

What non-financial benefits will you and your family derive from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.

2. Where are home values headed?

When looking at future housing values, Home Price Expectation Survey provides a fair assessment. Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over 100 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.

Here is what the experts projected in the latest survey:

  • Home values will appreciate by 4.4% in 2015.
  • The cumulative appreciation will be 19.3% by 2019.
  • Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of over 11.7% by 2019.

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?

A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by an increase in mortgage rates.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Realtors and Freddie Mac have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase by approximately one full percentage over the next twelve months.

Bottom Line

Only you and your family can know for certain the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

How Quickly Are Homes Selling In Your State? [INFOGRAPHIC]

How Quickly Are Homes Selling In Your State? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • The National Association of REALTORS® surveyed their members for their Confidence Index
  • The REALTORS® Confidence Index is a key indicator of housing market strength based on a monthly survey sent to over 50,000 real estate practitioners. Practitioners are asked about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions.
  • Homes sold in less than 90 days in 36 out of 50 states and Washington D.C.
  • Only 3 states had a median sold date in the 121 – 210 day range

Is Getting a Mortgage Getting Easier?

Is Getting a Mortgage Getting Easier? | Simplifying The Market

There has been a lot of discussion about how difficult it is to get a home mortgage in this market. There is no doubt that the process is not as easy as it was eight to ten years ago and that’s probably good news. However, it does appear that availability to mortgage money is increasing with each passing day.

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association publishes the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to their site the index is “a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time”. As we can see from the graph below, mortgage availability has been increasing dramatically over the last six months.

Mortgage Availability | Simplifying The Market

Accompanying the latest index was this comment from Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Chief Economist:

“A number of factors contributed to a loosening of credit in March: Freddie Mac’s introduction of their 97 LTV program (Fannie Mae’s was implemented in December) [and the] additional loosening of parameters on jumbo loan programs… Although credit remains tight by historical standards, this increase in availability, coupled with low rates and job market strength, should lead to stronger home purchase activity this spring.”

Bottom Line

If you have remained on the sidelines regarding homeownership because you were concerned about your ability to qualify for a mortgage, it may be time to get into the game.

Housing Market is Healthiest in Years!

Housing Market is Healthiest in Years! | Simplifying The Market

According to Nationwide’s recently unveiled, Health of Housing Market (HoHM) Report, the US housing market is at it’s healthiest levels since the index’s creation in 2001.

The index analyzes the health of the housing market across the country and in 373 metro areas every quarter. Using the data that they have collected over the past 15 years, Nationwide will look to give a “data-driven view of the near-term performance of housing markets based upon current health indicators.”

The fourth quarter of 2014 ended with the highest indicator score in over 15 years of data analyzed by the study at 109.8. The report explains:

“An index value over 100 suggests that the national housing market is healthy, with lower chances of a housing downturn over the next year as the index moves increasingly above the 100 breakeven value.”

Employment, demographics, the mortgage market, and housing prices are all used to evaluate the health of each market. The top 10 healthiest housing markets according to the index are:

  1. Pittsburgh, PA
  2. Cleveland-Elyria, OH
  3. Philadelphia, PA
  4. Rockford, Ill.
  5. Burlington, NC
  6. Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, PA
  7. Fayetteville-Springdale, AR
  8. Idaho Falls, ID
  9. Tulsa, OK
  10. Kennewick-Richland, WA

The two ‘least healthy’ markets were Bismark, ND and Atlantic City, NJ who received “just slightly negative performance rankings”.

David Berson, Nationwide’s Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, says “the quarterly report should serve as a resource to gauge how healthy housing markets are today but, perhaps more important, what to expect in the future and why.”

Bottom Line

The housing market continues to recover and surpass recent history. Meet with an agent in your local market to determine if you are able to take advantage of the opportunities available in real estate today.

Pending Sales Surge: Great Sign for the Housing Market

Pending Sales Surge: Great Sign for the Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

The most recent Pending Homes Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors revealed that homes going into contract in February increased to their highest level since June 2013.

The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The Index is now 12.0 percent above February 2014. The index is at its highest level since June 2013, has increased year-over-year for six consecutive months and is above what is considered “the average level of activity” – for the 10th consecutive month.

Here is a graph showing the Pending Sales numbers:

Pending Sales

Here is a chart showing the Pending Sales increases by region:

Pending Sales By Region | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

In an article from Investors’ Business Daily, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors, explained what these numbers will mean to the overall market:

“It looks like the buyers want to come out to the market and they are eager to find the right home and make an offer. Therefore, I expect the second quarter of this year to be easily ahead of last year in terms of sales activity. Pending contracts are implying that the closing activity in coming months will be quite solid.”

New Study: Homeownership Creates Family Wealth

New Study: Homeownership Creates Family Wealth | Simplifying The Market

Matthew Rognlie, from the Department of Economics at MIT, recently released a paper: Deciphering the Fall and Rise in the Net Capital Share. One of the major findings of the report is that homeownership is and has been for the last fifty years a major component to family wealth.

An article on the study in The Economist notes one of the findings of the study:

“The return on non-housing wealth, in fact, has been remarkably stable since 1970. Instead, surging house prices are almost entirely responsible for growing returns on capital.”

This came as no surprise to us as the Federal Reserve previously reported that the net worth of families that own their own home is 36 times greater than that of families that rent.

Bottom Line

HousingWire’s Senior Financial Reporter, Trey Garrison, summed it up well in his reporting on Rognlie’s study:

“Homeownership has consistently created generational wealth more reliably, and more ‘democratically’, than any other asset class. And it does so in a manner entirely ancillary to its primary purpose of giving you a place to lay your head and keep your stuff.”

The Difference A Year Can Make [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Difference A Year Can Make [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

The Difference A Year Can Make [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Important Points To Consider:

  • The latest Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey reports the 30-year fixed rate at 3.7%.
  • Freddie Mac’s projection for Q2 2016 is that the rate will be 4.7% (a full percentage point higher)
  • The Home Price Expectation Survey predicts that home prices will appreciate by 4.4% during this same time

The impact waiting a year to purchase your dream home can make on your monthly payment is significant. Contact me today to discuss your options before the experts’ predictions become reality!

Selling Your House? Price it Right Up Front

Selling Your House? Price it Right Up Front | Simplifying The Market

In today’s market, where demand is outpacing supply in many regions of the country, pricing a house is one of the biggest challenges real estate professionals face. Sellers often want to price their home higher than recommended, and many agents go along with the idea to keep their clients happy. However, the best agents realize that telling the homeowner the truth is more important than getting the seller to like them.

There is no “later.”

Sellers sometimes think, “If the home doesn’t sell for this price, I can always lower it later.” However, research proves that homes that experience a listing price reduction sit on the market longer, ultimately selling for less than similar homes.

John Knight, recipient of the University Distinguished Faculty Award from the Eberhardt School of Business at the University of the Pacific, actually did research on the cost (in both time and money) to a seller who priced high at the beginning and then lowered the their price. In his article, Listing Price, Time on Market and Ultimate Selling Price published in Real Estate Economics revealed:

“Homes that underwent a price revision sold for less, and the greater the revision, the lower the selling price. Also, the longer the home remains on the market, the lower its ultimate selling price.”

Additionally, the “I’ll lower the price later” approach can paint a negative image in buyers’ minds. Each time a price reduction occurs, buyers can naturally think, “Something must be wrong with that house.” Then when a buyer does make an offer, they low-ball the price because they see the seller as “highly motivated.” Pricing it right from the start eliminates these challenges.

Don’t build “negotiation room” into the price.

Many sellers say that they want to price their home high in order to have “negotiation room.” But, what this actually does is lower the number of potential buyers that see the house. And we know that limiting demand like this will negatively impact the sales price of the house.

Not sure about this? Think of it this way: when a buyer is looking for a home online (as they are doing more and more often), they put in their desired price range. If your seller is looking to sell their house for $400,000, but lists it at $425,000 to build in “negotiation room,” any potential buyers that search in the $350k-$400k range won’t even know your listing is available, let alone come see it!

A better strategy would be to price it properly from the beginning and bring in multiple offers. This forces these buyers to compete against each other for the “right” to purchase your house.

Look at it this way: if you only receive one offer, you are set up in an adversarial position against the prospective buyer. If, however, you have multiple offers, you have two or more buyers fighting to please you. Which will result in a better selling situation?

The Price is Right

Great pricing comes down to truly understanding the real estate dynamics in your neighborhood. Look for an agent that will take the time to simply and effectively explain what is happening in the housing market and how it applies to your home. You need an agent that will tell you what you need to know rather than what you want to hear. This will put you in the best possible position.