Most homeowners believe that the winter is not a good time to sell. This belief is based on the fact that historically the number of buyers decreases in the winter and then increases dramatically during the spring buying market. Though this is still true, there is an interesting pattern developing over the last few months.
The number of prospective purchasers actively looking at a home (foot traffic) has remained strong going into the fall. As a matter of fact, the foot traffic far exceeds the numbers reported for the same months last year (see chart):
At the same time, the National Association of Realtors revealed that the months’ supply of housing inventory has decreased from 5.5 months to 5.3. That equates to less competition for homeowners selling today as compared to next spring when many homeowners will decide to put their home on the market.
Since buying activity is still strong, this might be a great time to put your house on 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’ 2014 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.
If you are thinking of selling your home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process.
Today, many real estate conversations center on housing prices and where they may be headed. That is why we like the Home Price Expectation Survey.
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 4.8% in 2014.
- The cumulative appreciation will be 23.5% by 2019.
- 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 15.1% by 2019.
Individual opinions make headlines. We believe the survey is a fairer depiction of future values.
Eric Belsky is Managing Director of the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University. He also currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Housing Research and Housing Policy Debate. Last year, he released a paper on homeownership – The Dream Lives On: the Future of Homeownership in America. In his paper, Belsky reveals five financial reasons people should consider buying a home.
Here are the five reasons, each followed by an excerpt from the study:
1.) Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available.
“Few households are interested in borrowing money to buy stocks and bonds and few lenders are willing to lend them the money. As a result, homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. Even a hefty 20 percent down payment results in a leverage factor of five so that every percentage point rise in the value of the home is a 5 percent return on their equity. With many buyers putting 10 percent or less down, their leverage factor is 10 or more.”
2.) You’re paying for housing whether you own or rent.
“Homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord.”
3.) Owning is usually a form of “forced savings”.
“Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”
4.) There are substantial tax benefits to owning.
“Homeowners are able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from income…On top of all this, capital gains up to $250,000 are excluded from income for single filers and up to $500,000 for married couples if they sell their homes for a gain.”
5.) Owning is a hedge against inflation.
“Housing costs and rents have tended over most time periods to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation, making owning an attractive proposition.”
We realize that homeownership makes sense for many Americans for an assortment of social and family reasons. It also makes sense financially.
After it was announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would again make available mortgage loans requiring as little as a 3% down payment, many people showed concern. Were we going back to the lower qualifying standards of a decade ago that caused the housing market crash? Won’t lower down payments dramatically increase the default rates? Will we again be faced with an avalanche of short sales and foreclosures?
The simple answer is – NO. Let’s look at the data.
While it was happening (2011)
Back in 2011, as we were just recovering from the worst of the Great Recession, many organizations were looking for the cause of the massive default rate on mortgages.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR), the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the Community Banking Mortgage Project and the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America (MICA) issued a white paper on the subject titled: Proposed QRM Harms Creditworthy Borrowers and Housing Recovery.
Let’s look what the report says:
“In the midst of a very fragile housing recovery, the government is throwing a devastating, unnecessary and very expensive wrench into the American dream. First time homebuyers will have to choose between higher rates today or a 9-14 year delay while they save up the necessary down payment…
High down payment and equity requirements will not have a meaningful impact on default rates. But they will require millions of consumers, who are at low risk of default, to either put off buying a home or pay unnecessarily high rates. The government is penalizing responsible consumers, making homeownership more expensive or simply out of reach for millions. We urge regulators to develop a final rule that encourages good lending and borrowing without punishing credit-worthy consumers.”
The report actually studied the impact a higher down payment would have had on the default rates of loans written from 2002 through 2008. The report states:
“…moving from a 5 percent to a 10 percent down payment on loans that already meet strong underwriting and product standards reduces the default experience by an average of only two- or three-tenths of one percent… Increasing the minimum down payment even further to 20 percent… (creates) small improvement in default performance of about eight-tenths of one percent on average.”
Just last week, the Urban Institute reveled data showing what impact substantially lower down payments would have on default rates in today’s mortgage environment. Their study revealed:
“Of loans that originated in 2011 with a down payment between 3-5 percent, only 0.4 percent of borrowers have defaulted. For loans with slightly larger down payments—between 5-10 percent—the default rate was exactly the same. The story is similar for loans made in 2012, with 0.2 percent in the 3-5 percent down-payment group defaulting, versus 0.1 percent of loans in the 5-10 percent down-payment group.”
We believe that the Institute concluded their report perfectly:
“Those who have criticized low-down payment lending as excessively risky should know that if the past is a guide, only a narrow group of borrowers will receive these loans, and the overall impact on default rates is likely to be negligible. This low down payment lending was never more than 3.5 percent of the Fannie Mae book of business, and in recent years, had been even less. If executed carefully, this constitutes a small step forward in opening the credit box—one that safely, but only incrementally, expands the pool of who can qualify for a mortgage.”
Whether you are buying or selling a home, it can be quite an adventurous journey. You need an experienced Real Estate Professional to lead you to your ultimate goal. In this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can For Sale by Owner or FSBO.
The 5 Reasons You NEED a Real Estate Professional in your corner haven’t changed, but have rather been strengthened due to the projections of higher mortgage interest rates & home prices as the market continues to recover.
1. What do you do with all this paperwork?
Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true Real Estate Professional is an expert in their market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality.
2. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?
According to the Orlando Regional REALTOR Association, there are over 230 possible actions that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, who knows what these actions are to make sure that you acquire your dream?
3. Are you a good negotiator?
So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. However, after looking at the list of parties that you need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll realize the value in selecting a Real Estate Professional. From the buyer (who wants the best deal possible), to the home inspection companies, to the appraiser, there are at least 11 different people that you will have to be knowledgeable with and answer to, during the process.
4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?
It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to the National Association of REALTORS, “the typical FSBO home sold for $184,000 compared to $230,000 among agent-assisted home sales.” Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional.
5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?
There is so much information out there on the news and the internet about home sales, prices, mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively price your home correctly at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a low-ball offer?
Dave Ramsey, the financial guru advises:
“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”
Hiring an agent who has their finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying/selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.
You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic. Why would you make one of your most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a Real Estate Professional?