After over a year of moderating home prices across the US, it appears home value appreciation is about to reaccelerate. Skylar Olsen, Director of Economic Research at Zillow, explained in a recent article:
“A year ago, a combination of a government shutdown, stock market slump and mortgage rate spike caused a long-anticipated inventory rise. That supposed boom turned out to be a short-lived mirage as buyers came back into the market and more than erased the inventory gains. As a natural reaction, the recent slowdown in home values looks like it’s set to reverse back.”
CoreLogic, in their January 2020 Market Pulse Report, agrees with Olsen, projecting home value appreciation in all fifty states this year. Here’s the breakdown:
- 21 states appreciating 5% or more (Reno-Sparks appreciated 12.2%)
- 26 states appreciating between 3-5%
- Only 3 states appreciating less than 3%
Many believe when real estate values are increasing, owning a home becomes less affordable. That misconception is not necessarily true.
In most cases, homes are purchased with a mortgage. The current mortgage rate is a major component of the affordability equation. Mortgage rates have fallen by almost a full percentage point since this time last year.
Another major piece of the equation is a buyer’s income. The median family income has risen by 5% over the last year, contributing to the affordability factor.
Black Knight, in their latest Mortgage Monitor, addressed this exact issue:
“Despite the average home price increasing by nearly $13,000 from just over a year ago, the monthly mortgage payment required to buy that same home has actually dropped by 10% over that same span due to falling interest rates…
Put another way, prospective homebuyers can now purchase a $48K more expensive home than a year ago while still paying the same in principal and interest, a 16% increase in buying power.”
If you’re thinking about purchasing a home, realize that homes may still be affordable even though prices are increasing. As the Black Knight report concluded:
“Even with home price growth accelerating, today’s low-interest-rate environment has made home affordability the best it’s been since early 2018.”
It’s hard to listen to today’s news without hearing about the uncertainty surrounding global markets, the spread of the coronavirus, and tensions in the Middle East, just to name a few. These concerns have caused some to question their investment plans going forward. As an example, in Vanguard’s Global Outlook for 2020, the fund explains, “Slowing global growth and elevated uncertainty create a fragile backdrop for markets in 2020 and beyond.”
Is there a silver lining to this cloud of doubt?
Some worry this could cause concern for the U.S. housing market. The uncertainty, however, may actually mean good news for real estate. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, discussed the situation in a recent report, “Global events and uncertainty…impact the U.S. economy, and more specifically, the U.S. housing market…U.S. bonds, backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, are widely considered the safest investments in the world. When global investors sense increased uncertainty, there is a ‘flight to safety’ in U.S. Treasury bonds, which causes their price to go up, and their yield to go down.”
Last week, in a HousingWire article, Kathleen Howley reaffirmed Fleming’s point, “The death toll from the coronavirus already has passed Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, that bruised the world’s economy in 2003… That’s making investors around the world anxious, and when they get anxious, they tend to sell off stocks and seek the safe haven of U.S. bonds. An increase in competition for bonds means investors, including the people who buy mortgage-backed bonds, have to take lower yields. That translates into lower mortgage rates.”
The yield from treasury bonds is the rate investors receive when they purchase the bond. Historically, when the treasury rate moves up or down, the 30-year mortgage rate follows. Here’s a powerful graph showing the relationship between the two over the last 48 years:
How might concerns about global challenges impact the housing market in 2020? Fleming explains, “Even a small change in the 10-year Treasury due to increased uncertainty, let’s say a slight drop to 1.6 percent, would imply a 30-year, fixed mortgage rate as low as 3.3 percent. Assuming no change in household income, that would mean a house-buying power gain of $21,000, a five percent increase.”
The Bottom Line.
For a multitude of reasons, 2020 could be a challenging year. It seems, however, real estate will do just fine. As Fleming concluded in his report, “Amid uncertainty, the house-buying power of U.S. consumers can benefit significantly.”
When the number of buyers in the housing market outnumbers the number of homes for sale, it’s called a “seller’s market.” The advantage tips toward the seller when the home is priced at or near market value, and as low inventory heats up, so too does the competition among those searching for a place to call their own. This can create multiple offer scenarios and bidding wars, making it tough for buyers to land their dream homes, unless they are coming in a with a big wad of cash. When financing your home purchase, here are three reasons why pre-approval should be your first step in the buying process:
- Gain A Competitive Advantage. Low inventory, like we have today, means homebuyers need every advantage they can get to make a strong impression and close the deal. One of the best ways to get one step ahead of other buyers is to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you make an offer. For one, it shows the sellers you’re serious about buying a home, which is always a plus in your corner. In addition, having pre-approval from a LOCAL lender that the we know and trust, and that the listing agent recognizes, may give you a huge advantage over the competition. Sellers and their Realtors tend to look more favorably on experienced lenders we know over online “quickie” loans.
- Accelerate the Home Buying Process. Pre-approval can also speed up the home buying process, so you can move faster when you’re ready to make an offer. In a competitive arena like we have today, being ready to put your best foot forward when the time comes may be the leg-up you need to cross the finish line first and land the home of your dreams.
- Know What You Are Qualified to Borrow. When you have provided all of the essential information to get pre-approved by a local lender, you also have a better sense of your budget, what you can afford, and ultimately how much you’re eligible to borrow for your mortgage. Ultimately, you’re less apt to have your heart set on a home that may be out of your reach.
If you are preparing to purchase a home in the near future, we are happy to refer you with a highly skilled and knowledgeable loan officer to get you moving in the right direction. The loan officer will pre-approve you based on the following criteria, also know as “The 4 C’s”:
- Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
- Capital or Cash Reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
- Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
- Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time
While there are still many additional steps you’ll need to take in the home buying process, it’s clear why pre-approval is always the best place to begin. It’s your chance to gain the competitive edge you may need if you’re serious about owning a home. Let’s get together today to make sure you’re on the fastest path to homeownership. Call me at 775-233-0682 to get started.