The residential real estate market has come roaring out of the gates in 2020. Compared to this time last year, the number of buyers looking for a home is up 20%, and the number of home sales is up almost 10%. The increase in purchasing activity has caused home price appreciation to begin reaccelerating. Many analysts have boosted their projections for price appreciation this year.
Whenever home prices begin to increase, there’s an immediate concern about how that will impact the ability Americans have to purchase a home. That thinking is understandable. We must, however, realize that price is not the only element to the affordability equation. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, recently explained:
“When demand increases for a scarce (limited or low supply) good, prices will rise faster. The difference between houses and other goods is that we buy them with a mortgage. So, it’s not the actual price that matters, but the price relative to purchasing power.”
While home prices have risen recently, mortgage interest rates have fallen rather dramatically. At the beginning of last year, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage stood at 4.46%. Today, that number stands over a full percentage point lower.
How does a lower mortgage rate impact your monthly mortgage payment?
Michael Hyman, a research data specialist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explained in a recent report that, even though home values have increased over the last year, the monthly cost of owning a home has decreased:
“With lower mortgage rates compared to one year ago, the payment as a percentage of income fell to 15.5%…from 17.1% a year ago.”
When purchasing a home, the price is not as important as its cost. Today, the monthly expense (cost) of purchasing the same house you could have purchased last year would be less. Or, you could purchase a more expensive home for the same monthly expense.
Fleming, looking at all aspects of the affordability equation (prices, wages, and mortgage rates), calculated the actual numbers in a recent blog post:
“Low mortgage rates and income growth triggered a 13.5% increase in house-buying power compared with a year ago.”
Since wages have increased and mortgage rates have dropped to historically low levels, this is a great time to buy your first home or move up to the home of your dreams. As Tendayi Kapfidze, Chief Economist at LendingTree, recently advised:
“If you are in a point in your life where you’re considering buying a home today, it’s a better time to buy than 10 years ago. If you can get a mortgage, you’re getting much lower interest rates, and it enables you to afford more.”
Whether you’ve considered becoming a homeowner for the first time or have decided to sell your home and buy one that better suits your current lifestyle, now is a great time to sit with a real estate professional to discuss your options.
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Buying your first home can seem overwhelming. Thankfully, there’s a lot of great information out there to help you feel more confident as you learn about the process. For those in younger generations who aspire to buy, here are three things to consider sooner rather than later in your journey:
1. Understand What it Takes to Purchase a Home
Overall, Millennials make up the largest group of homebuyers in today’s real estate market, and Gen Z is not too far behind. A recent study shared by Freddie Mac shows, however, that Generation Z isn’t as confident in the homebuying process as Millennials. The best thing potential young buyers can do is understand what it takes to buy a home. Learn as much as you can about the mortgage process, down payment options, and the overall steps to take along the way.
2. Realize Your Opportunity to Build Wealth
Homeownership allows you the chance to put a small portion of the home’s value down when you buy, and then watch your appreciation grow on the full value of the home – not just on the down payment. It’s one of the best investments you can make, and a form of ‘forced savings’ working in your favor over time. The added bonus? You get to live there, too.
3. Find Someone You Trust to Help You Through the Process
Having someone you trust to guide you through this process is invaluable. Finding a local real estate expert to help you navigate through the transaction and feel more confident as you make important decisions could be the best choice you make.
For Millennials and Gen Z’ers thinking about buying, today’s historically low interest rates combined with the outlook for future home appreciation is a big win. This means whatever you buy today, you’ll be bragging about 10 years from now. You can feel confident about that!
If you’re ready, buying your first home sooner rather than later is one of the best decisions you can make. But there are many things to consider before taking that step, so it is critically important to educate yourself properly and find someone who can help you confidently navigate through the full journey.
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Rising home prices have been in the news a lot lately, and much of the focus is on whether they’re accelerating too quickly and how sustainable the growth in prices really is. One of the often-overlooked benefits of rising prices, however, is the impact they have on a homeowner’s equity position.
Home equity is defined as the difference between a home’s fair market value and the outstanding balance of all liens on the property. While homeowners pay down their mortgages, the amount of equity they have in their homes climbs each time the value increases.
Today, the number of homeowners that currently have significant equity in their homes is growing. According to the Census Bureau, 38% of all homes in the country are mortgage-free. In a home equity study, ATTOM Data Solutions revealed that of the 54.5 million homes with a mortgage, 26.7% of them have at least 50% equity. That number has been increasing over the last eight years.
CoreLogic also notes:
“…the average homeowner gained approximately $5,300 in equity during the past year.”
The map below shows a breakdown of the increasing equity gain across the country, painting a clear picture that home equity is growing in nearly every state.
This may be the year to take advantage of your home equity by applying it forward, either as you downsize or as you move up to a new home.
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The number of building permits issued for single-family homes is the best indicator of how many newly built homes will begin to come to market over the next few months. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Residential Construction Report, the number of building permits issued in January was 1,551,000. This is a 9.2% increase from December.
How will this impact buyers?
New inventory means more options. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explained how this is good news for the housing market – especially for those looking to buy:
“More construction will mean more housing inventory for consumers in the later months of this year…Spring months could still be quite tough for buyers since it takes time to convert housing starts into actual housing completions.”
How will this impact sellers?
More inventory means more competition. Yun continues to say:
“As trade-up buyers move into these newly completed homes in the near future, their existing homes will be released onto the market.”
Today, because of the tremendous lack of inventory, a seller can potentially anticipate:
If you’re considering selling your house, you’ll want to list sooner rather than later. This way, you’ll get ahead of this new competition coming to market and ensure the most attention toward your listing and the best price for your house.
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The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused massive global uncertainty, including a U.S. stock market correction no one could have seen coming. While much of the news has been about the effect on various markets, let’s also acknowledge the true impact it continues to have on lives and families around the world.
With all this uncertainty, how do you make powerful and confident decisions in regard to your real estate plans?
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) anticipates:
“At the very least, the coronavirus could cause some people to put home sales on hold.”
While this is an understandable approach, it is important to balance that with how it may end up costing you in the long run. If you’re considering buying or selling a home, it is key to educate yourself so that you can take thoughtful and intentional next steps for your future.
For example, when there’s fear in the world, we see lower mortgage interest rates as investors flee stocks for the safety of U.S. bonds. This connection should be considered when making real estate decisions.
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):
“The Fed’s action was expected but perhaps not to this degree and timing. And the policy change was consistent with recent declines for interest rates in the bond market. These declines should push mortgage interest rates closer to a low 3% average for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage.”
This is exactly what we’re experiencing right now as mortgage interest rates hover at the lowest levels in the history of the housing market.
The full impact of the Coronavirus is still not yet known. It is in times like these that working with an informed and educated real estate professional can make all the difference in the world.
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Unlike last year, the residential real estate market kicked off 2020 with a bang! In their latest Monthly Mortgage Monitor, Black Knight proclaimed:
“The housing market is heating entering 2020 and recent rate declines could continue that trend, a sharp contrast to the strong cooling that was seen at this same time last year.”
Zillow revealed they’re also seeing a robust beginning to the year. Jeff Tucker, Zillow Economist, said:
“Our first look at 2020 data suggests that we could see the most competitive home shopping season in years, as buyers are already competing over…homes for sale.”
Buying demand is very strong. The latest Showing Index from ShowingTime reported a 20.2% year-over-year increase in purchaser traffic across the country, the sixth consecutive month of nationwide growth, and the largest increase in the history of the index.
The even better news is that buyers are not just looking. The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed that closed sales increased 9.6% from a year ago.
This increase in overall activity has caused Zelman & Associates to increase their projection for home price appreciation in 2020 from 3.7% to 4.7%.
Are we headed for another housing crash like we had last decade?
Whenever price appreciation begins to accelerate, the fear of the last housing boom and bust creeps into the minds of the American population. The pain felt during the last housing crash scarred us deeply, and understandably so. The crash led us into the Great Recession of 2008.
If we take a closer look, however, we can see the current situation is nothing like it was in the last decade. As an example, let’s look at price appreciation for the six years prior to the last boom (2006) and compare it to the last six years:
There’s a stark difference between these two periods of time. Normal appreciation is 3.6%, so while current appreciation is higher than the historic norm, it’s certainly not accelerating beyond control as it did leading up to the housing crash.
Today, the strength of the housing market is actually helping prevent a setback in the overall economy. In a recent post, Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist for First American explained:
“While the housing crisis is still fresh on the minds of many, and was the catalyst of the Great Recession, the U.S. housing market has weathered all other recessions since 1980. With the exception of the Great Recession, house price appreciation hardly skipped a beat and year-over-year existing-home sales growth barely declined in all the other previous recessions in the last 40 years…In 2020, we argue the housing market is more likely poised to help stave off recession than fall victim to it.”
The year has started off very nicely for the residential housing market. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, now may be the time to meet with a real estate professional to discuss your options.
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Spring is right around the corner, so flowers are starting to bloom, and many potential homebuyers are getting ready to step into the market. If you’re thinking of buying this season, here’s how mortgage interest rates are working in your favor.
Freddie Mac explains:
“If you’re in the market to buy a home, today’s average mortgage rates are something to celebrate compared to almost any year since 1971…
Mortgage rates change frequently. Over the last 45 years, they have ranged from a high of 18.63% (1981) to a low of 3.31% (2012). While it’s not likely that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate will return to its record low, the current average rate of 3.45% is pretty close — all to your advantage.”
To put this in perspective, the following chart from the same article shows how average mortgage rates by decade have impacted the approximate monthly payment of a $200,000 home over time:
Clearly, when rates are low – like they are today – qualified buyers can benefit significantly over time.
Keep in mind, if interest rates go up, this can push many potential homebuyers out of the market. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes:
“Prospective home buyers are also adversely affected when interest rates rise. NAHB’s priced-out estimates show that, depending on the starting rate, a quarter-point increase in the rate of 3.75% on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage can price over 1.3 million U.S. households out of the market for the median-priced new home.”
You certainly don’t want to be priced out of the market this year, and waiting may mean a significant change in your potential mortgage payment should rates start to rise. If your financial situation allows, now may be a great time to lock in at a low mortgage rate to benefit greatly over the lifetime of your loan.
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If you’re looking to buy a home in 2020, have you thought about putting your tax refund toward a down payment? Homeownership may be one step closer than you think if you spend your dollars wisely this year.
Based on data released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Americans can expect an estimated average refund of $2,962 when filing their taxes this year.
The map below shows the average tax refund Americans received last year by state:
According to programs from the Federal Housing Authority, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae, many first-time buyers can purchase a home with as little as 3% down. Truth be told, a 20% down payment is not always required to buy a home, even though that’s a common misconception about homebuying. Veterans Affairs Loans allow many veterans to purchase a home with 0% down.
How can my tax refund help?
If you’re a first-time buyer, your tax refund may cover more of a down payment than you ever thought possible.
If you take into account the median home sale price by state, the map below shows the percentage of a 3% down payment that’s covered by the average tax refund:
The darker the blue, the closer your tax refund gets you to homeownership in one of these programs. Maybe this is the year to plan ahead and put your tax refund toward a down payment on a home.
Saving for a down payment can seem like a daunting task, but the more you know about what’s required, the more prepared you’ll be to make the best decision for you and your family. This tax season, your refund could be your key to homeownership.
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