How Historically Low Interest Rates Positively Impact Affordability

Today, home prices are appreciating. When we hear prices are going up, it’s normal to think a home will cost more as the trend continues. The way the housing market is positioned today, however, low mortgage rates are actually making homes more affordable, even as prices rise. Here’s why.

According to the Mortgage Monitor Report from Black Knight:

“While home prices have risen for 97 consecutive months, July’s record-low mortgage rates have made purchasing the average-priced home the most affordable it’s been since 2016.

How is that possible?

Black Knight continues to explain:

“As of mid-July, it required 19.8% of the median monthly income to make the mortgage payment on the average-priced home purchase, assuming a 20% down payment and a 30-year mortgage. That was more than 5% below the average of 25% from 1995-2003.

This means it currently requires a $1,071 monthly payment to purchase the average-priced home, which is down 6% from the same time last year, despite the average home increasing in value by more than $12,000 during that same time period.

In fact, buying power is now up 10% year-over-year, meaning the average home buyer can afford nearly $32,000 more home than they could at the same time last year, while keeping their monthly payment the same.”

This is great news for the many buyers who were unable to purchase last year, or earlier in the spring due to the slowdown from the pandemic. By waiting a little longer, they can now afford 10% more home than they could have a year ago while keeping their monthly mortgage payment unchanged.

With mortgage rates hitting all-time lows eight times this year, it’s now less expensive to borrow money, making homes significantly more affordable over the lifetime of your loan. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, shares what low mortgage rates mean for affordability:

“In July, house-buying power got a big boost as the 30-year, fixed mortgage rate made history by moving below three percent. That drop in the mortgage rate from 3.23 percent in May to 2.98 percent in July increased house-buying power by nearly $15,000.”

The graph to the right shows the last time homes were affordable by state.

Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, and West Virginia – homes have not been this affordable in more than 25 years.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of making a move, now is a great time to take advantage of the affordability that comes with such low mortgage rates. Whether you’re thinking of purchasing your first home or moving into a new one and securing a significantly lower mortgage rate than you may have on your current house, let’s connect today to determine your next steps in the process.


Posted on August 17, 2020 at 2:27 pm
Denise Hallerbach | Posted in In-The-Know Real Estate Blog | Tagged , , ,

Latest Unemployment Report: Great News…for the Most Part

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest Employment Situation Summary last Thursday, and it again beat analysts’ expectations in a big way.  The consensus was for 3,074,000 jobs to be added in June. The report revealed that 4,800,000 jobs were added. The unemployment rate fell to 11.1% from 13.3% last month. Again, excellent news as the unemployment rate fell for the second consecutive month. However, there’s still a long way to go before the economy fully recovers as 17.8 million Americans remain unemployed.

Here are two interesting insights on the report:

What about a supposed misclassification?

The BLS addressed this at length in a blog post last week, and concluded by saying:

“Regardless of the assumptions we might make about misclassification, the trend in the unemployment rate over the period in question is the same; the rate increased in March & April and eased in May.”

They specifically noted the issue in the latest report by explaining that if they adjusted the rate for the potential miscalculation, it would increase from 11.1% to 12.1% (which is lower than the adjusted rate of 16.4% last month). They went on to say:

“However, this represents the upper bound of our estimate of misclassification and probably overstates the size of the misclassification error.”

Does the shutdown of parts of the economy skew the unemployment numbers?

Because the uniqueness of 2020 impacts the employment situation in so many ways, each jobs report is now examined with a microscope to make sure the headlines generated by the report accurately convey what’s happening in the job market.

One such analysis is done by Jed Kolko, Chief Economist at Indeed. He believes the extraordinary number of people in the “temporary” unemployed category confuses the broader issue of how many people have permanently lost their job. He adjusts for this when calculating his “core unemployment rate” (which subtracts temporary layoffs and adds unemployed who didn’t search for a job recently).

The bad news is that his analysis reveals that the number of permanently unemployed is still rising (from 4.6% in April to 5.9% last month). The good news, however, is when you use his methodology to look back at the Great Recession, today’s “core unemployment rate” is significantly lower (5.9% versus 10.5% in April 2010).

Bottom Line

Last week’s jobs report was much better than most expected. However, we should remain cautious in our optimism. As the Wall Street Journal explained in their analysis of the jobs report:

“U.S. job growth surged last month, underscoring the economy’s capacity for a quick rebound if businesses continue to reopen and consumers regain confidence. A recent coronavirus spike, however, could undermine trends captured in the latest jobs report.”


Posted on July 8, 2020 at 11:39 pm
Denise Hallerbach | Posted in In-The-Know Real Estate Blog | Tagged , ,

Is the Health Crisis Driving Buyers Out of Urban Areas?

The pandemic has caused consumers to re-examine the components that make up the “perfect home.” Many families are no longer comfortable with the locations and layouts of their existing homes. The allure of city life (more congested) seems to be giving way to either suburban or rural life (less congested). The fascination with an open floor plan seems to be fading as people are finding a need for more privacy while working from home.

Recently, news.com released a report that revealed how buyers’ views of listings are leaning heavily to more suburban and rural properties. Here are the year-over-year percentage increases in views per property type:

  • Urban – 7%
  • Suburban – 13%
  • Rural – 16%

In the report, Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for realtor.com, gives these numbers some context:

“This migration to the suburbs is not a new trend, but it has become more pronounced. After several months of shelter-in-place orders, the desire to have more space and the potential for more people to work remotely are likely two of the factors contributing to the popularity of the burbs.”

Realtor Magazine also just reported that the desire to move is strongest in our city markets:

“Nearly 30% of respondents living in a high-density urban area say that the pandemic is prompting them to want to move by the end of the year…This is more than double the rate of those living in rural parts of the country, where residents are much more likely to stay put rather than to relocate.”

New Construction Also Seeing a Surge in Views

Since the pandemic has altered how consumers think about floor plans, builders are anticipating how future homes will change. In a recent press release by Zillow, it was explained that:

  • Builders believe as people spend more time at home during the pandemic, buyers are realizing which features of their homes are working and not working.
  • Homebuilders predict open-concept floor plans will be a thing of the past, as people now value more walls, doors, and overall privacy.
  • New construction, which offers the chance to personalize home features, saw its listing page views grow by 73% over last May.

The Virus is Even Impacting the Luxury Second-Home Market

It appears that COVID-19 is impacting the luxury market too. In an article released last week titled, Luxury Buyers Return to Market in Force, Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com reported:

“Stay at home orders and social distancing have put a new value on the extra space. We’re seeing this in the luxury market as well, which could mean there is renewed interest from high-end buyers to find a second-home that is within driving distance from their primary residence.

Much like the suburbs are gaining favor with home shoppers, second home markets are seeing increased interest from luxury buyers…Views of luxury properties accelerated 56% in The Hamptons, 28% in Palm Springs and 24% in Greenwich compared to January trends.”

Bottom Line

It appears that a percentage of people are preparing to leave many American cities. Some of these moves will be permanent, while others will be temporary (such as a getaway to a second home). In either case, many consumers are on the move. Real estate professionals are ready and willing to help in any way they can.


Posted on July 8, 2020 at 6:28 am
Denise Hallerbach | Posted in In-The-Know Real Estate Blog | Tagged , ,

A Historic Rebound for the U.S. Housing Market

Pending Home Sales increased by 44.3% in May, registering the highest month-over-month gain in the index since the National Association of Realtors (NAR) started tracking this metric in January 2001. So, what exactly are pending home sales, and why is this rebound so important?

According to NAR, the Pending Home Sales Index (PHS) is:

“A leading indicator of housing activity, measures housing contract activity, and is based on signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condos, and co-ops. Because a home goes under contract a month or two before it is sold, the Pending Home Sales Index generally leads Existing-Home Sales by a month or two.”

In real estate, pending home sales is a key indicator in determining the strength of the housing market. As mentioned before, it measures how many existing homes went into contract in a specific month. When a buyer goes through the steps to purchase a home, the final one is the closing. On average, that happens about two months after the contract is signed, depending on how fast or slow the process takes in each state.

Why is this rebound important?

With the COVID-19 pandemic and a shutdown of the economy, we saw a steep two-month decline in the number of houses that went into contract. In May, however, that number increased dramatically (See graph here):

 

This jump means buyers are back in the market and purchasing homes right now. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR mentioned:

“This has been a spectacular recovery for contract signings and goes to show the resiliency of American consumers and their evergreen desire for homeownership…This bounce back also speaks to how the housing sector could lead the way for a broader economic recovery.”

But in order to continue with this trend, we need more houses for sale on the market. Yun continues to say:

“More listings are continuously appearing as the economy reopens, helping with inventory choices…Still, more home construction is needed to counter the persistent underproduction of homes over the past decade.”

As we move through the year, we’ll see an increase in the number of houses being built. This will help combat a small portion of the inventory deficit. The lack of overall inventory, however, is still a challenge, and it is creating an opportunity for homeowners who are ready to sell. As the graph below shows, during the last 12 months, the supply of homes for sale has been decreasing year-over-year and is not keeping up with the demand from homebuyers.

Bottom Line

If you decided not to sell this spring due to the health crisis, maybe it’s time to jump back into the market while buyers are actively looking for homes. Let’s connect today to determine your best move forward.

 


Posted on July 2, 2020 at 2:24 am
Denise Hallerbach | Posted in In-The-Know Real Estate Blog | Tagged , ,

Real Estate Tops Best Investment Poll for 7th Year Running

Every year, Gallup conducts a survey of Americans to determine their choice for the best long-term investment. Respondents are asked to select real estate, stocks/mutual funds, gold, savings accounts/CDs, or bonds.

For the seventh year in a row, real estate has come out on top as the best long-term investment. Gallup explained:

“Real estate remains the most favored investment to Americans, as has been the case since 2013, when the housing market was on the rebound. More than a third of Americans have named real estate as the top investment since 2016.”

This year’s results indicated 35% of Americans chose real estate, followed by stocks at 21%. The full results covering the last decade are shown in the chart below:

Bottom Line

The belief of the American people in the stability of housing as a long-term investment remains strong, even through the many challenges our economy faces today.

 


Posted on June 18, 2020 at 6:46 am
Denise Hallerbach | Posted in In-The-Know Real Estate Blog | Tagged , , ,

Unemployment Drops First Time Since The Virus!

Last Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released their May Employment Situation SummaryLeading up to the release, most experts predicted the unemployment rate would jump up to approximately 20% from the 14.7% rate announced last month.

The experts were shocked.

The Wall Street Journal put it this way:

“The May U.S. jobless rate fell to 13.3% and employers added 2.5 million jobs, blowing Wall Street expectations out of the water: Economists had forecast a loss of 8.3 million jobs and a 19.5% unemployment rate.”

In addition, CNBC revealed:

“The May gain was by far the biggest one-month jobs surge in U.S. history since at least 1939.”

Here are some of the job gains by sector:

  • Food Service and Bartenders – 1,400,000
  • Construction – 464,000
  • Education and Health Services – 424,000
  • Retail – 368,000
  • Other Services – 272,000
  • Manufacturing – 225,000
  • Professional Services – 127,000

There’s still a long way to go before the economy fully recovers, as 21 million Americans remain unemployed. That number is down, however, from 23 million just last month. And, of the 21 million in the current report, 73% feel their layoff is temporary. This aligns with a recent Federal Reserve Bank report that showed employers felt 75% of the job losses are temporary layoffs and furloughs.

The Employment Situation Summary was definitely a pleasant surprise, and evidence that the country’s economic turnaround is underway. The data also offers a labor-market snapshot from mid-May, when the government conducted its monthly survey of households and businesses. Many states did not open for business until the second half of May. This bodes well for next month’s jobs report.

Bottom Line

We cannot rejoice over a report that reveals millions of American families are still without work. We can, however, feel relieved that we are headed in the right direction, and much more quickly than most anticipated.


Posted on June 8, 2020 at 3:40 pm
Denise Hallerbach | Posted in In-The-Know Real Estate Blog | Tagged ,

Top 8 Reasons to Own Your Home

There are numerous reasons why owning a home is beneficial.  We’ve quickly summed up the Top 8 Reasons to Own Your Home and here they are…

  1. Privacy.  Creating space that is solely your own means no landlord visits.  It’s not your landlord’s house… It’s yours, so nobody should be stopping by to “check in on things.”
  2. Accomplishment.  Buying your own home is a reflection of your efforts and successes.  Give yourself a pat on the back and be proud of what you acquire.
  3. Family.  Purchasing and living in a home that is dedicated to your family brings them together and is your special place to make lasting memories.
  4. Community.  Owning your home ties to you the community and neighborhood, giving you a sense of belonging (if you so desire).
  5. Comfort.  Having a place to call your own allows you to surround yourself with enhanced experiences…  Construct a home gym, design a hobby room, create a killer home office and enjoy!
  6. Stability.  Investing in and controlling your future direction and security could prove to be beneficial in the long-run.
  7. Personal Expression.  Painting rooms your favorite colors and hanging art are just a couple benefits to putting your own style into your abode.
  8. Financial Investment.  Investing in the real estate puts you in a position to grow your assets and wealth.

Some Highlights

  • June is National Homeownership Month, and it’s a great time to consider the benefits of owning your own home.
  • If you’re in a position to buy, homeownership might help you find the stability, community, and comfort you’ve been searching for this year.
  • Let’s connect today to determine if homeownership is the right next step for you and your family.

Posted on June 3, 2020 at 8:12 pm
Denise Hallerbach | Posted in In-The-Know Real Estate Blog | Tagged , , ,

Economists Forecast Recovery to Begin in the Second Half of 2020

With the U.S. economy on everyone’s minds right now, questions about the country’s financial outlook continue to come up daily. The one that seems to keep rising to the top is: When will the economy begin to recoverWhile no one knows exactly how a rebound will play out, expert economists around the country are becoming more aligned on when the recovery will begin.

According to the latest Wall Street Journal Economic Forecasting Survey, which polls more than 60 economists on a monthly basis, 85.3% believe a recovery will begin in the second half of 2020 (see graph):

 

There seems to be a growing consensus among these experts that the second half of this year will be the start of a turnaround in this country.

Chris Hyzy, Chief Investment Officer for Merrill notes:

“We fully expect the economy could begin to pick up in late June and July with a strong recovery in the fourth quarter.” 

In addition, five of the major financial institutions are also forecasting positive GDP in the second half of the year. Today, four of the five expect a recovery to begin in the third quarter of 2020, and all five agree a recovery should start by the fourth quarter (see graph):

 

Bottom Line

The vast majority of economists, analysts, and financial institutions are in unison, indicating an economic recovery should begin in the second half of 2020. Agreement among these leading experts is stronger than ever.


Posted on May 29, 2020 at 3:52 pm
Denise Hallerbach | Posted in In-The-Know Real Estate Blog |

6 Reasons Why Selling Your House on Your Own Is a Mistake

There are many benefits to working with a real estate professional when selling your house. During challenging times like the one we face today, it becomes even more important to have an expert help guide you through the process. If you’re considering selling on your own, known in the industry as a For Sale By Owner or FSBO, please consider the following:

1. Your Safety Is a Priority

During this pandemic, your family’s safety comes first. When you FSBO, it is incredibly difficult to control entry into your home. A real estate professional will have the proper protocols in place to protect not only your belongings, but your family’s health and well-being too. From regulating the number of people in your home at one time to ensuring proper sanitization during and after a showing, and even facilitating virtual tours for buyers, agents are equipped to follow the latest industry standards recommended by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help protect you and your family.

2. A Powerful Online Strategy Is a Must to Attract a Buyer

Recent studies have shown that, even before COVID-19, the first step 44% of all buyers took when looking for a home was to search online. Throughout the process, that number jumped to 93%. Today, those numbers have grown exponentially. Most real estate agents have developed a strong Internet and social media strategy to promote the sale of your house. Have you?

3. There Are Too Many Negotiations

Here are just a few of the people you’ll need to negotiate with if you decide to FSBO:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent, who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find challenges with the house
  • The appraiser, if there is a question of value

As part of their training, agents are taught how to negotiate every aspect of the real estate transaction and how to mediate the emotions felt by buyers looking to make what is probably the largest purchase of their lives.

4. You Won’t Know if Your Purchaser Is Qualified for a Mortgage

Having a buyer who wants to purchase your house is the first step. Making sure they can afford to buy it is just as important. As a FSBO, it’s almost impossible to be involved in the mortgage process of your buyer. A real estate professional is trained to ask the appropriate questions and, in most cases, will be intimately aware of the progress that’s being made toward a purchaser’s mortgage commitment. Further complicating the situation is how the current mortgage market is rapidly evolving because of the number of families out of work and in mortgage forbearance. A loan program that was there yesterday could be gone tomorrow. You need someone who is working with lenders every day to guarantee your buyer makes it to the closing table.

5. FSBOing Has Become More Difficult from a Legal Standpoint

The documentation involved in the selling process has increased dramatically as more and more disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. In an increasingly litigious society, the agent acts as a third-party to help the seller avoid legal jeopardy. This is one of the major reasons why the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

6. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe they’ll save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission. A study by Collateral Analytics revealed that FSBOs don’t actually save anything by forgoing the help of an agent. In some cases, the seller may even net less money from the sale. The study found the difference in price between a FSBO and an agent-listed home was an average of 6%. One of the main reasons for the price difference is effective exposure:

“Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”

The more buyers that view a home, the greater the chance a bidding war will take place.

Bottom Line

Listing on your own leaves you to manage the entire transaction yourself. Why do that when you can hire an agent and still net the same amount of money? Before you decide to take on the challenge of selling your house alone, let’s connect to discuss your options.


Posted on May 27, 2020 at 10:09 pm
Denise Hallerbach | Posted in In-The-Know Real Estate Blog | Tagged , ,

Summer 2020: The New Spring for Real Estate

With stay-at-home orders starting to gradually lift throughout parts of the country, data indicates homebuyers are jumping back into the market. After many families put their plans on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what we once called the “busy spring real estate season” is shifting into the “summer real estate season.”  In 2020, summer is the new spring for real estate.

Joel KanEconomist at The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) notes:

“Applications for home purchases continue to recover from April’s sizable drop and have now increased for five consecutive weeks…Government purchase applications, which include FHA, VA, and USDA loans, are now 5 percent higher than a year ago, which is an encouraging turnaround after the weakness seen over the past two months.”

Additionally, according to Google Trends, which scores search terms online, searches for real estate increased from 68 points the week of March 15th to 92 points last week. As we can see, more potential homebuyers are looking for homes virtually.

What’s the Opportunity for Buyers?

Another reason buyers are coming back to the market, even with forced unemployment and stay-at-home orders, is historically low mortgage rates. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac indicates:

“For the fourth consecutive week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been below 3.30%, giving potential buyers a good reason to continue shopping even amid the pandemic… As states reopen, we’re seeing purchase demand improve remarkably fast, now essentially flat relative to a year ago.”

With mortgage rates at such low levels and states gradually beginning to reopen, there’s more incentive than ever to buy a home this summer.

What’s the Opportunity for Sellers?

Finding a home to buy, however, is still a challenge, as this spring sellers removed many listings from the market. Though more people are now listing their homes for sale this month as compared to last month, current inventory is still well below last year’s level.

According to last week’s Weekly Economic and Housing Market Update from Realtor.com:

“Weekly Housing Inventory showed continued tightening.  New Listings declined 28% compared with a year ago, as sellers grappled with uncertainty and hesitated bringing homes to market.  Total Listings dropped 20% YoY, a faster rate than in prior weeks, leaving very few homes available for sale. As Time on Market was 15 days slower YoY, asking prices moved up 1.5% YoY.”

If you’re thinking of selling your house this summer, now may be your best opportunity.  With so few homes on the market for buyers to purchase, this season may be the time for your house enjoy limited competing properties.  Buyers are looking, and your house may be at the top of that short list.  Your trusted real estate professionals can help you list safely and effectively, keeping your family’s needs top of mind.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of selling, many buyers may be eager to find a home just like yours. Let’s connect today to make sure you can get your house in on the action this summer.


Posted on May 27, 2020 at 9:26 pm
Denise Hallerbach | Posted in In-The-Know Real Estate Blog | Tagged , ,