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.
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.
Billionaire money manager John Paulson was interviewed last week at the Delivering Alpha Conference presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor. He boldly stated:
“I still think, from an individual perspective, the best deal investment you can make is to buy a primary residence that you’re the owner-occupier of.”
Who is John Paulson?
Paulson is the person who, back in 2005 & 2006, made a fortune betting that the subprime mortgage mess would cause the real estate market to collapse. He understands how the housing market works and knows when to buy and when to sell. What do others think of Paulson?
According to Forbes, John Paulson is:
“A multibillionaire hedge fund operator and the investment genius.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Paulson is:
“A hedge fund tycoon who made his name, and a fortune, betting against subprime mortgages when no one else even knew what they were.”
Why does he believe homeownership is such a great investment?
Paulson breaks down the math of homeownership as an investment:
“Today financing costs are extraordinarily low. You can get a 30-year mortgage somewhere around 4.5 percent. And if you put down, let’s say, 10 percent and the house is up 5 percent, which is the latest data, then you would be up 50 percent on your investment.”
How many are seeing a 50% return on a cash investment right now?
Paulson goes on to compare the long term financial benefits of owning verses renting:
“And you’ve locked in the cost over the next 30 years. And today the cost of owning is somewhat less than the cost of renting. And if you rent, the rent goes up every year. But if you buy a 30-year mortgage, the cost is fixed.”
Whenever a billionaire gives investment advice, people usually clamor to hear it. This billionaire gave simple advice – if you don’t yet live in your own home, go buy one.
According to the latest CoreLogic National Foreclosure Report, “approximately 660,000 homes in the US were in some state of foreclosure as of May 2014”. This figure is down 37% from the 1 million homes in May of 2013. May marked the 31st consecutive month in which there were year-over-year declines.
Mark Fleming chief economist for CoreLogic revealed:
“Significant gains have been made in the last year to reduce the foreclosure stock. Yet, these improvements are occurring disproportionately in non-judicial states. The foreclosure inventory in judicial states is averaging 2.1% which is more than twice the 0.9% average that is occurring in non-judicial states.”
The foreclosure process in the twenty-two judicial states can take, on average, anywhere from 180-400 days according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The lack of initial court intervention in non-judicial states, often means that the process of foreclosure takes significantly less time.
Therefore, judicial states as a whole, have taken longer to catch up to the rest of the country in liquidating foreclosure inventory.
All five states with the highest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of mortgaged homes are judicial states.
On the list of the five lowest inventory states, only North Dakota uses a judicial process.
Even though some states have not recovered completely from the foreclosure crisis, the nation as a whole is on the right track as inventory decreases.
Many sellers are still hesitant about putting their house up for sale. Where are prices headed? Where are interest rates headed? Can buyers qualify for a mortgage? These are all valid questions. However, there are several reasons to sell your home sooner rather than later. Here are five of those reasons.
1. Demand is Strong
There is currently a pent-up demand of purchasers as many home buyers pushed off their search this past winter & early spring because of extreme weather. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the number of buyers in the market, which feel off dramatically in December, January and February, has begun to increase again over the last few months. These buyers are ready, willing and able to buy…and are in the market right now!
2. There Is Less Competition Now
Housing supply is still under the historical number of 6 months’ supply. This means that, in many markets, 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 prices increased over the last eighteen months. 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 continue to increase over the next few months. 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 2014 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. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing timelines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker and simpler.
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 19% from now to 2018. 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 in the low 4’s right now. Rates are projected to be over 5% by the end of next year.
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 and pricing it so it sells. 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.
Every day we are pleasantly surprised with the research coming forward regarding the Millennial generation. Whether it was the over-exaggeration of the student debt challenge, the misbelief that they are not yet ready to buy or the under estimation of their actual home purchases, evidence is beginning to debunk the myths many have held about this generation and homeownership. Now, one more strongly held belief is being questioned.
Do Millennials Live in their Parents Basements?
It seems not as many as once was reported. Our friends at Calculated Risk (CR) alerted us to a post by Derek Thompson in the Atlantic: The Misguided Freakout About Basement-Dwelling Millennials. The article explains that according to the Census Reports:
“It is important to note that the Current Population Survey counts students living in dormitories as living in their parents’ home.”
What?!? If you live in a college dorm, the census counts you as living with your parents. Thompson has some fun with this when he explains:
“When you were adjusting to your freshman roommate, you were ‘living with your parents’. When you snagged that sweet triple with your best friends in grad housing, you were ‘living with your parents’. That one time you launched butt-rattling bottle rockets at the stroke of midnight off your fraternity roof? I hope you didn’t make too much noise. After all, you were ‘living with your parents’.”
The data is “Criminally Misleading”
According to Thompson, the counting of those living in college dorms as living with their parents is “criminally misleading”. He explains that part of the increase in these numbers is actually attributed to the fact that more people are attending college:
“[T]he share of 25- to 29-year-olds with a bachelor degree has grown by almost 50 percent since the early 1980s. More than 84 percent of today’s 27-year-olds spend at least some time in college and now 40 percent have a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. More young people going to school means more young people living in dorms, which means more young people ‘living with their parents’, according to the weird Census.”
Thompson then goes on to reveal that:
“[T]he share of 18-to-24-year-olds living at home who aren’t in college has declined since 1986. But the share of college students living “at home” (i.e.: in dorms, often) has increased.
So the Millennials-living-in-our-parents meme is almost entirely a result of higher college attendance.” (emphasis added)
The Other Side of the Argument
However, Trulia’s chief economist Jed Kolko, doesn’t totally agree. In a post in response to the Thompson article, Kolko explains:
“The Current Population Survey’s (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) counts college students who are living in dorms as living with their parents, and college enrollment has indeed gone up. But it does not follow that basement-dwelling millennials are a myth. The ASEC and other Census data show that after adjusting for college enrollment and for dormitory living, millennials were more likely to live with parents in 2012 and 2013 than at any other time for which a consistent data series is available.”
There are more Millennials living with their parents than ever before. However, the numbers being quoted by some seem to be exaggerated.
A recent survey by Zelman & Associates revealed that 38% of those between the ages of 25-29 years old and 42% of those between the ages of 30-34 years old believe that a minimum of 15% is required as a down payment to purchase a home. A recent questionnaire administered by Freddie Mac showed that over 50% of all respondents thought 20% was required as a down payment. In actuality, a purchaser may be able to put down far less.
Freddie Mac, in a recent blog post addressing the issue, confirmed that there is misinformation regarding the amount necessary when determining the down payment for a home purchase:
“Did you know 40 percent of today’s homebuyers using mortgage financing are making down payments that are less than 10 percent? And how about this: since 2010, the number of people putting down less than 10 percent for conventional loans has grown three fold. So, not only are low down payment options real, they represent a significant portion of today’s purchases.”
In a separate Executive Perspectives, Christina Boyle, Freddie Mac’s VP and Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management explained further:
- A person “can get a conforming, conventional mortgage with a down payment of as little as 5 percent (sometimes with as little as 3 percent coming out of their own pockets)”.
- Qualified borrowers can further reduce the down payment coming out of their own pockets to 3 percent by lining up gifts from family or grants or loans from non-profits or public agencies.
Ms. Boyle goes on to explain: “Letting more consumers know how down payments are determined could bring more qualified borrowers off the sidelines. Depending on their credit history and other factors, many borrowers can expect to make a down payment of about 5 or 10 percent.”
If you are saving for either your first home or that perfect move-up dream house, make sure you know all your options. You may be pleasantly surprised.