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With Home Values Surging, Is it Still Affordable to Buy Right Now?

Housing inventory is at an all-time low. Realtor.com just reported that there are 39% fewer homes for sale today than there were last year. At the same time, buyer demand remains strong. In a recent newsletter, research analyst Ivy Zelman explained:

“Although the headwind of severe supply constraints in most markets has contributed to slight moderation in seasonally-adjusted and year-over-year new pending contract growth for two consecutive months (albeit still growing strongly), the underlying strength of buyer demand, particularly for this time of year, remains apparent.”

Whenever there’s a shortage in the supply of an item that’s in high demand, the price of that item increases. That’s exactly what’s happening in the real estate market right now. As a result, home values are surging.

This is great news if you’re planning to sell your house. On the other hand, as either a first-time or repeat buyer, this may instead seem like troubling news. Purchasers, however, should realize that the price of a house is not as important as the monthly cost. Here’s how it breaks down.

There are several factors that influence the cost of a home. Two of the major ones are:

  1. The price of the home
  2. The mortgage rate at which a buyer can borrow the funds necessary to purchase the home

How do these factors impact affordability?

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) produces a Housing Affordability Index which takes these factors into account and determines an overall affordability score for housing. According to NAR, the index:

“…measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national and regional levels based on the most recent price and income data.”

Their methodology states:

“To interpret the indices, a value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index above 100 signifies that family earning the median income has more than enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment.”

So, the higher the index, the more affordable it is to purchase a home. Here’s a graph of the index going back to 1990:With Home Values Surging, Is it Still Affordable to Buy Right Now? | Simplifying The MarketThe blue bar represents today’s affordability. We can see that homes are more affordable now than they were from:

  • 1990 to 2008
  • 2017 to 2018

Buying a home today is just a little less affordable than it was last year, but still very affordable compared to historical housing market trends.

Note: During the housing crash from 2009 to 2015, distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) dominated the market. Those properties were sold at large discounts not seen before in the housing market.

Why are homes still affordable today?

The number one factor impacting today’s homebuying affordability is record-low mortgage rates. There’s no doubt that prices are on the rise. However, mortgage rates have fallen dramatically. Last week, Freddie Mac announced that the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 2.72%. Last year at this time, the average rate was 3.68%.

If you’re considering purchasing your first home or moving up to the one you’ve always hoped for, it’s important to understand how affordability plays into the overall cost of your home. With that in mind, buying while mortgage rates are as low as they are now may save you quite a bit of money over the life of your home loan.

Bottom Line

At this point, home purchase affordability is still in a historically good place. However, we need to watch price increases going forward. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, noted in a recent post:

“Faster nominal house price appreciation can erode, or even eliminate, the boost in affordability from lower mortgage rates, especially if household income growth doesn’t keep up.”

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Is Buying a Home Today a Good Financial Move?

There’s no doubt 2020 has been a challenging year. A global pandemic coupled with an economic recession has caused heartache for many. However, it has also prompted more Americans to reconsider the meaning of “home.” This quest for a place better equipped to fulfill our needs, along with record-low mortgage rates, has skyrocketed the demand for home purchases.

This increase in demand, on top of the severe shortage of homes for sale, has also caused more bidding wars and thus has home prices appreciating rather dramatically. Some, therefore, have become cautious about buying a home right now.

The truth of the matter is, even though homes have appreciated by a whopping 6.7% over the last twelve months, the cost to buy a home has actually dropped. This is largely due to mortgage rates falling by a full percentage point.

Let’s take a look at the monthly mortgage payment on a $300,000 house one year ago, and then compare it with that same home today, after it has appreciated by 6.7% to $320,100:Is Buying a Home Today a Good Financial Move? | Simplifying The MarketCompared to this time last year, you’ll actually save $87 dollars a month by purchasing that home today, which equates to over one thousand dollars a year.

But isn’t the economy still in a recession?

Yes, it is. That, however, may make it the perfect time to buy your first home or move up to a larger one. Tom Gil, a Harvard trained negotiator and real estate investor, recently explained:

“When volatile assets are facing recessions, hard assets, such as gold and real estate, thrive. Historically speaking, residential real estate has done better compared to other markets during and after recessions.”

That thought is substantiated by the fact that homeowners have 40 times the net worth of renters. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist for First American Financial Corporation, recently said:

“Despite the risk of volatility in the housing market, numerous studies have demonstrated that homeownership leads to greater wealth accumulation when compared with renting. Renters don’t capture the wealth generated by house price appreciation, nor do they benefit from the equity gains generated by monthly mortgage payments, which become a form of forced savings for homeowners.”

Bottom Line

With home prices still increasing and mortgage rates perhaps poised to begin rising as well, buying your first home, or moving up to a home that better fits your current needs, likely makes a ton of sense.

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Don’t Let Buyer Competition Keep You from Purchasing a Home

This year’s record-low mortgage rates sparked high demand among homebuyers. Current homeowners, however, haven’t put their houses on the market so quickly. This makes finding a home to buy today challenging for many potential buyers. With an obstacle like this, those searching for their dream homes may be pressing pause on their searches as we approach the end of the year, but that could be a big mistake for many hopeful house hunters. Here’s why.

According to the most recent Housing Trends Report from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):

“The length of time spent searching for a home continues to grow.”

The report indicates that 62% of buyers now spend 3 months or more looking for a home, an increase from 58% one year ago. A primary cause for the delay is the heavy competition today’s buyers face when making an offer on a home. Based on recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average house in today’s market receives 3.4 offers before it’s sold. This means for every buyer who purchases a home, there are on average two or three buyers who have to begin their search all over again.

Compared to this time last year, the NAHB report shows that buyers are having more success finding homes in their price range. However, it also notes the percentage of buyers saying they’re getting outbid when they make an offer has jumped from 15% to 27%. Buyers are indicating that bidding wars are a major obstacle to finding their dream home (See graph below):Don’t Let Buyer Competition Keep You from Purchasing a Home | Simplifying The MarketIf this is a challenge you’re up against in your home search, you’re not alone. Feeling stuck in the process can be frustrating, but if there’s ever been a year to power through, this is the one. NAHB noted:

“Difficulties finding a home to buy will likely lead 20% of active buyers to give up until next year or later. That share is up from 15% a year earlier.”

Experts anticipate home prices will continue to rise into 2021, and the incredibly low interest rates we’ve seen this year are also forecasted to increase as the economy strengthens. Hopeful homebuyers who decide to hold off on their search until there’s less competition run the risk of finding a more expensive housing market when they start looking again. If affordability is a key motivator behind your decision to buy a home, this winter is still the best time to make it happen.

Bottom Line

Bidding wars may be one of the greatest challenges buyers face in today’s housing market, but they shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Having the right expert on your side throughout the buying process will give you the advantage you need when it comes to finding the right home and making a competitive offer. If you’re ready to buy this winter, let’s connect to discuss how to position yourself for success.

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It Pays to Sell with a Real Estate Agent [INFOGRAPHIC]

It Pays to Sell with a Real Estate Agent [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • Today, it’s more important than ever to have an expert you trust to guide you as you sell your house.
  • From your safety throughout the process to the complexity of negotiating the deal, you need a professional on your side.
  • Before you decide to take on the challenge of selling your house on your own, let’s connect to discuss your options.

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Homeownership Is a Key to Building Wealth

For years, real estate has been considered the best investment you can make. A major reason for this is due to the net worth a household gains through homeownership. In fact, according to the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finance Data from the Federal Reserve, for the average homeowner:

“…a primary home accounts for 90% of the total wealth of a family in the U.S.”

How do homeowners gain wealth?

Most large purchases, like cars and appliances, depreciate in value as they age, so it’s understandable to question how owning a home can increase wealth over time. In a simple equation, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains how the combination of paying your mortgage and home price appreciation grow overall wealth:

Principal Payments + Price Appreciation Gains = Housing Wealth Gain

As home values increase and you make payments toward your home loan, you’ll gain wealth through equity. The same article from NAR also addresses how wealth gains tend to play out over time:

“Housing wealth accumulation takes time and is built up by paying off the mortgage debt and by price appreciation. And while home prices can fall, home prices tend to recover and go up over the longer term. As of September 2020, the median sales price of existing home sales was $311,800, a 35% gain since July 2006 when prices peaked at $230,000.”

Taking a look at how equity has grown for the typical homeowner, it’s clear to see how real estate is a sound long-term investment. NAR notes:

“Nationally, a person who purchased a typical home 30 years ago would have typically gained about $283,000 as of the second quarter of 2020.” (See graph below):

Homeownership Is a Key to Building Wealth | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a current homeowner planning to put your equity toward a new home or have hopes of buying your first home soon, homeownership will always be a great opportunity to build your net worth and overall wealth. Owning a home is truly an investment in your financial future.

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Rent vs. Buy: How to Decide What’s Best for You

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median rent continues to rise. With today’s low mortgage rates, there’s great opportunity for current renters to make a move into homeownership that stretches each dollar a little bit further.

While the best timeline to buy a home is different for everyone, the question remains: Should I continue renting or is it time for me to buy? The answer depends on your current situation and your future plans, so here are some thoughts to help you decide if you’re ready to own a home of your own.

1. Rent Will Continue to Increase

This is one of the top reasons why renters decide to move because in most cases, rent will continue increasing each year. As noted above, the U.S. Census Bureau recently released its quarterly homeownership report, and as the graph below shows, median rent is climbing year after year. When you own a home, you’ll lock in your monthly payment for the life of your loan, creating consistency and predictability in your payments.Rent vs. Buy: How to Decide What’s Best for You | Simplifying The Market

2. Freedom to Customize

This is a big decision-making point for many people who want to be able to paint, renovate, and make home upgrades. In many cases, landlords determine all of these selections and prefer you do not alter them as a renter. As a homeowner, you have the freedom to decorate and personalize your home to truly make it your own.

3. Privacy

When renting, your landlord has access to your space in case of an emergency. If you own your home, however, you’re the one to decide who can come inside. Given today’s health concerns around the pandemic, this may be a growing priority for you.

4. Flexibility for Relocation

If you’re renting, it may be easier to move quickly should you have a job transfer or simply decide it’s time for a change. When you’re a homeowner and need to sell your house, this might take a little more time. Today, however, with the housing market’s low inventory, this may no longer be the case. Homes are selling at a record-breaking pace, so you may have more flexibility than you think.

5. Building Equity

When you pay your rent, your landlord earns the equity the property gains. If you own your home, the benefits of your investment go directly toward your net worth. This is savings you’ll be able to use in the future for things like sending children to college, starting a new business, buying a bigger home, or simply downsizing to save for retirement.

6. Tax Advantages

When you own your home, there are additional advantages that work in your favor as well. You can deduct things like your property taxes and mortgage interest (Always make sure you check with your accountant to see which tax-deductible benefits apply to your situation). When you rent, however, the tax benefits are directed to your landlord.

Bottom Line

It’s up to you to decide if you’d prefer to rent or buy, and it’s different for every person. If you’d like to learn more about the pros and cons of each, as well as resources to help you along the way, let’s connect to discuss your options. This way, you can make a confident and informed decision with a trusted expert on your side.

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Should I Renovate My House Before I Sell It? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Should I Renovate My House Before I Sell It? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • In today’s hyper-competitive market, buyers are often willing to overlook cosmetic or minor repair needs if it means snagging a home in their price range.
  • With so few houses available for sale today, you may be able to skip the bigger renovations before you sell and cash in on the current demand for your house.
  • If you’re ready to move, let’s connect to determine your best next steps in this sellers’ market.

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Three Ways Low Inventory Is a Win for Sellers

The number of houses for sale today is significantly lower than the high buyer activity in the current housing market. According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“There is no shortage of hopeful, potential buyers, but inventory is historically low.”

When the demand for homes is higher than what’s available for sale, it’s a great time for homeowners to sell their house. Here are three ways low inventory can help you win if you’re ready to make a move this fall.

1. Higher Prices

With so many more buyers in the market than homes available for sale, homebuyers are frequently entering into bidding wars for the houses they want to purchase. This buyer competition drives home prices up. As a seller, this can definitely work to your advantage, potentially netting you more for your house when you close the deal.

2. Greater Return on Your Investment

Rising prices mean homes are also gaining value, which drives an increase in the equity you have in your home. In the latest Homeowner Equity Insights Report, CoreLogic explains:

“In the second quarter of 2020, the average homeowner gained approximately $9,800 in equity.”

This year-over-year growth in equity gives you the ability to put that money toward a down payment on your next home or to keep it as extra savings.

3. Better Terms

When we’re in a sellers’ market like we are today, you’re in the driver’s seat if you sell your house. You have the power to sell on your terms, and buyers are more likely to work with you if it means they can finally move into their dream home.

So, is low housing inventory a big deal?

Yes, especially if you want to sell your house at the perfect time. Today’s market gives sellers immense negotiating power. However, it won’t last forever, especially as more sellers return to the housing market next year. If you’re considering selling your house, the best time to do so is now.

Bottom Line

If you’re interested in taking advantage of the current sellers’ market, let’s connect today to determine your best move in our local market.

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Two Important Impacts of Home Equity

Equity continues to rise, helping American homeowners secure a much more stable financial future. According to the most recent data from CoreLogic, the average homeowner gained $9,800 in equity over the past year. In addition, experts project 2020 home prices to continue rising. With prices going up, equity gains will also keep accelerating. Black Knight just reported:

“The annual percent change in the overall median existing single-family-home price has skyrocketed in the past several months, with recent numbers at three to five times higher than rates seen in the past several years.”

Jeff Tucker, Senior Economist at Zillow, just qualified recent price increases as “jaw-dropping” and “within a hair’s breadth of double-digit year-over-year appreciation.”

Knowing equity will help enable many homeowners to better survive the economic distress caused by the ongoing pandemic, it’s important to break down two key homeowner benefits of increasing equity.

1. Equity Increases a Homeowner’s Options to Buy a New Home

Aside from the financial damage of the last seven months, there has also been a tremendous emotional toll on many people. Shelter-in-place mandates, quarantine requirements, and virtual schooling have all made us re-evaluate the must-have requirements a home should deliver. Having equity in your current house gives you a better opportunity to move-up or build your perfect home from scratch.

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, recently explained:

“As homeowners gain equity in their homes, they are more likely to consider using that equity to purchase a larger or more attractive home – the wealth effect of rising equity.”

If you need to make a move, the equity in your current home can help make that possible – right now.

2. Equity Enables Homeowners to Help Future Generations

An increase in home equity grows overall wealth, which can transfer to future generations. The Federal Reserve, in an addendum to their recent Survey of Consumer Finances, explains:

“There are numerous ways families can transmit wealth and resources across generations. Families can directly transfer their wealth to the next generation in the form of a bequest. They can also provide the next generation with inter vivos transfers (gifts), for example, providing down payment support to enable a home purchase or a substantial wedding gift.”

The Federal Reserve also explains another way wealth (including the additional net worth generated by an increase in home equity) can benefit future generations:

“In addition to direct transfers or gifts, families can make investments in their children that indirectly increase their wealth. For example, families can invest in their children’s educational success by paying for college or private schools, which can in turn increase their children’s ability to accumulate wealth.”

Bottom Line

Equity can help a homeowner grow their confidence in a more stable financial future. It provides near-term move-up options and creates a positive impact for future generations. In many cases, the largest single investment a person has is their home. As that investment appreciates in value, financial options increase too.

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Home Values Projected to Keep Rising

As we enter the final months of 2020 and continue to work through the challenges this year has brought, some of us wonder what impact continued economic uncertainty could have on home prices. Looking at the big picture, the rules of supply and demand will give us the clearest idea of what is to come.

Due to the undersupply of homes on the market today, there’s upward pressure on prices. Consider simple economics: when there is high demand for an item and a low supply of it, consumers are willing to pay more for that item. That’s what’s happening in today’s real estate market. The housing supply shortage is also resulting in bidding wars, which will also drive price points higher in the home sale process.

There’s no evidence that buyer demand will wane. As a result, experts project price appreciation will continue over the next twelve months. Here’s a graph of the major forecasts released in the last 60 days:Home Values Projected to Keep Rising | Simplifying The Market

I hear many foreclosures might be coming to the market soon. Won’t that drive prices down?

Some are concerned that homeowners who entered a mortgage forbearance plan might face foreclosure once their plan ends. However, when you analyze the data on those in forbearance, it’s clear the actual level of risk is quite low.

Ivy Zelman, CEO of Zelman & Associates and a highly-regarded expert in housing and housing-related industries, was very firm in a podcast last week:

“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”

With demand high, supply low, and little risk of a foreclosure crisis, home prices will continue to appreciate.

Bottom Line

Originally, many thought home prices would depreciate in 2020 due to the economic slowdown from the coronavirus. Instead, prices appreciated substantially. Over the next year, we will likely see home values rise even higher given the continued lack of inventory of homes for sale.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters