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Real Estate Tops Best Investment Poll for 7th Year Running

Posted by on Jun 17, 2020 in Real Estate Investments | 0 comments

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...

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Home Prices: It’s All About Supply and Demand

Posted by on Jun 10, 2020 in Home Ownership | 0 comments

As we enter the summer months and work through the challenges associated with the current health crisis, many are wondering what impact the economic slowdown will have on home prices. Looking at the big picture, supply and demand will give us the clearest idea of what’s to come. Making our way through the month of June and entering the second half of the year, we face an undersupply of homes on the market. Keep in mind, this undersupply is going to vary by location and by price point. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), across the country, we currently have a 4.1 months supply of homes on the market. Historically, 6 months of supply is considered a balanced market. Anything over 6 months is a buyer’s market, meaning prices will depreciate. Anything below 6 months is a seller’s market, where prices appreciate. The graph below shows inventory across the country since 2010 in months supply of homes for sale.Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for the National Home Builders Association (NAHB) says: “As the economy begins a recovery later in 2020, we expect housing to play a leading role. Housing enters this recession underbuilt, not overbuilt. Estimates vary, but based on demographics and current vacancy rates, the U.S. may have a housing deficit of up to one million units.” Given the undersupply of homes on the market today, there is upward pressure on prices. Looking at simple economics, when there is less of an item for sale and the demand is high, consumers are willing to pay more for that item. The undersupply is also prompting bidding wars, which can drive price points higher in the home sale process. According to a recent MarketWatch article:  “As buyers return to the market as the country rebounds from the pandemic, a limited inventory of homes for sale could fuel bidding wars and push prices higher.” In addition, experts forecasting home prices have updated their projections given the impact of the pandemic. The major institutions expect home prices to appreciate through 2022. The chart below, updated as of earlier this week, notes these forecasts. As the year progresses, we may see these projections revised in a continued upward trend, given the lack of homes on the market. This could drive home prices even higher. Bottom Line Many may think home prices will depreciate due to the economic slowdown from the coronavirus, but experts disagree. As we approach the second half of this year, we may actually see home prices rise even higher given the lack of homes for...

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Why This Summer Is the 2020 Real Estate Season

Posted by on Jun 3, 2020 in Real Estate Market | 0 comments

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. In 2020, summer is the new spring for real estate. Joel Kan, Economist 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 percent, 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 putting their houses up 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 to stand out from the crowd. Trusted real estate professionals can help you list safely and effectively, keeping your family’s needs top of mind. Buyers are looking, and your house may be at the top of their list. 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...

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Why the Housing Market Is a Powerful Economic Driver

Posted by on May 13, 2020 in Real Estate Market | 0 comments

With businesses starting to slowly open back up again in some parts of the country, it’s important to understand how housing can have a major impact on the recovery of the U.S. economy. As we’ve mentioned before, buying a home is a driving financial force in this process. Today, many analysts believe one of the first things we’ll be able to safely bring back is the home building sector, creating more jobs and impacting local neighborhoods in a big way. According to Robert Dietz in The Eye on Housing:  “The pace of new home sales will post significant declines during the second quarter due to the impacts of higher unemployment and shutdown effects of much of the U.S. economy, including elements of the real estate sector in certain markets. However, given the momentum housing construction held at the start of 2020, the housing industry will help lead the economy in the eventual recovery.” The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes the impact new construction can have on the job market: “Building 1,000 average single-family homes creates 2,900 full-time jobs and generates $110.96 million in taxes and fees for all levels of government to support police, firefighters and schools, according to NAHB’s National Impact of Home Building and Remodeling report.” These employment opportunities, along with the home purchase, drive the economy in a major way. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently shared a report that notes the full economic impact of home sales. This report summarizes: “The total economic impact of real estate related industries on the state economy, as well as the expenditures that result from a single home sale, including aspects like home construction costs, real estate brokerage, mortgage lending and title insurance.” Here’s the breakdown of how the average home sale boosts the economy:As noted above in the circle on the right, the impact is almost double when you purchase new construction, given the sheer number of workers it requires to design, build, equip, and finalize the sale of the home. The NAHB paints a clear picture of these roles: “The NAHB model shows that job creation through housing is broad-based. Building new homes and apartments generates jobs in industries that produce lumber, concrete, lighting fixtures, heating equipment and other products that go into a home remodeling project. Other jobs are generated in the process of transporting, storing and selling these products. Additional jobs are generated for professionals such as architects, engineers, real estate agents, lawyers and accountants who provide services to home builders, home buyers and remodelers.” The same NAR report also breaks down the average economic impact by state:On an emotional level, what’s most important for today’s consumers to feel confident about is the safety component that goes into the process. Mitigating the risk of essential personnel at this moment in time is more crucial than ever as we all aim to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Fortunately, the NAHB has put immense effort into a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of home builders and contractors: “This is why NAHB and construction industry partners have developed a Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Plan specifically tailored to construction job sites. The plan is customizable and covers areas that include manager and worker responsibilities, job site protective measures, cleaning and disinfecting, responding to exposure incidents, and OSHA record-keeping requirements.” Bottom Line Buying...

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U.S. Homeownership Rate Rises to Highest Point in 8 Years

Posted by on May 6, 2020 in Home Ownership | 0 comments

For nearly two months, most of us have been following strict stay-at-home orders from our state and local governments. It is a whole new way of life that has put our daily lives on pause. On the other hand, many of us have also found a sense of comfort by slowing down and spending time at home, highlighting the feeling of security that comes with having a much-needed safe place for our families to live. The latest results of the Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS) provided by the U.S. Census Bureau shows how Americans place immense value in homeownership, and it is continuing to grow in the United States. The results indicate that the homeownership rate increased to 65.3% for the first quarter of 2020, a number that has been rising since 2016 and is the highest we’ve seen in eight years (see graph below):Why is the rate increasing? The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) explained: “Strong owner household formation with around 2.7 million homeowners added in the first quarter has driven up the homeownership rate, especially under the decreasing mortgage interest rates and strong new home sales and existing home sales in the first two months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the economy.” The NAHB also emphasizes the year-over-year increase in each generational group: “The homeownership rates among all age groups increased in the first quarter 2020. Households under 35, mostly first-time homebuyers, registered the largest gains, with the homeownership rate up 1.9 percentage points from a year ago. Households ages 35-44 experienced a 1.2 percentage points gain, followed by the 55-64 age group (a 0.9 percentage point increase), the 45-54 age group (a 0.8 percentage point gain), and the 65+ group age (up by 0.2 percentage point).” (See chart below): Homeownership is an important part of the American dream, especially in moments like this when many are feeling incredibly grateful for the home they have to shelter in place with their families. COVID-19 may be slowing our lives down, but it is showing us the emotional value of homeownership too. Bottom Line If you’re considering buying a home this year, let’s connect to set a plan that will help you get one step closer to achieving your...

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What Impact Might COVID-19 Have on Home Values?

Posted by on Apr 29, 2020 in Real Estate Market | 0 comments

A big challenge facing the housing industry is determining what impact the current pandemic may have on home values. Some buyers are hoping for major price reductions because the health crisis is straining the economy. The price of any item, however, is determined by supply and demand, which is how many items are available in relation to how many consumers want to buy that item. In residential real estate, the measurement used to decipher that ratio is called months supply of inventory. A normal market would have 6-7 months of inventory. Anything over seven months would be considered a buyers’ market, with downward pressure on prices. Anything under six months would indicate a sellers’ market, which would put upward pressure on prices. Going into March of this year, the supply stood at three months – a strong seller’s market. While buyer demand has decreased rather dramatically during the pandemic, the number of homes on the market has also decreased. The recently released Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed we currently have 3.4 months of inventory. This means homes should maintain their value during the pandemic. This information is consistent with the research completed by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, which recently reported: “Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices).” What are the experts saying? Here’s a look at what some experts recently reported on the matter: Ivy Zelman, President, Zelman & Associates “Supported by our analysis of home price dynamics through cycles and other periods of economic and housing disruption, we expect home price appreciation to decelerate from current levels in 2020, though easily remain in positive territory year over year given the beneficial factors of record-low inventories & a historically-low interest rate environment.” Freddie Mac “The fiscal stimulus provided by the CARES Act will mute the impact that the economic shock has on house prices. Additionally, forbearance and foreclosure mitigation programs will limit the fire sale contagion effect on house prices. We forecast house prices to fall 0.5 percentage points over the next four quarters. Two forces prevent a collapse in house prices. First, as we indicated in our earlier research report, U.S. housing markets face a large supply deficit. Second, population growth and pent up household formations provide a tailwind to housing demand. Price growth accelerates back towards a long-run trend of between 2 and 3% per year.” Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American “The housing supply remains at historically low levels, so house price growth is likely to slow, but it’s unlikely to go negative.” Bottom Line Even though the economy has been placed on pause, it appears home prices will remain steady throughout the...

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Today’s Homebuyers Want Lower Prices. Sellers Disagree.

Posted by on Apr 22, 2020 in Home Ownership | 0 comments

The uncertainty the world faces today due to the COVID-19 pandemic is causing so many things to change. The way we interact, the way we do business, even the way we buy and sell real estate is changing. This is a moment in time that’s even sparking some buyers to search for a better deal on a home. Sellers, however, aren’t offering a discount these days; they’re holding steady on price. According to the most recent NAR Flash Survey (a survey of real estate agents from across the country), agents were asked the following two questions: 1. “Have any of your sellers recently reduced their price to attract buyers?” Their answer: 72% said their sellers have not lowered prices to attract buyers during this health crisis.  2. “Are home buyers expecting lower prices now?” Their answer: 63% of agents said their buyers were looking for a price reduction of at least 5%. What We Do Know   In today’s market, with everything changing and ongoing questions around when the economy will bounce back, it’s interesting to note that some buyers see this time as an opportunity to win big in the housing market. On the other hand, sellers are much more confident that they will not need to reduce their prices in order to sell their homes. Clearly, there are two different perspectives at play. Bottom Line If you’re a buyer in today’s market, you might not see many sellers lowering their prices. If you’re a seller and don’t want to lower your price, you’re not alone. If you have questions on how to price your home, let’s connect today to discuss your real estate needs and next...

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Will Surging Unemployment Crush Home Sales?

Posted by on Apr 17, 2020 in Real Estate Market | 0 comments

Ten million Americans lost their jobs over the last two weeks. The next announced unemployment rate on May 8th is expected to be in the double digits. Because the health crisis brought the economy to a screeching halt, many are feeling a personal financial crisis. James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, explained that the government is trying to find ways to assist those who have lost their jobs and the companies which were forced to close (think: your neighborhood restaurant). In a recent interview he said: “This is a planned, organized partial shutdown of the U.S. economy in the second quarter. The overall goal is to keep everyone, households and businesses, whole.” That’s promising, but we’re still uncertain as to when the recently unemployed will be able to return to work. Another concern: how badly will the U.S. economy be damaged if people can’t buy homes? A new concern is whether the high number of unemployed Americans will cause the residential real estate market to crash, putting a greater strain on the economy and leading to even more job losses. The housing industry is a major piece of the overall economy in this country. Chris Herbert, Managing Director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, in a post titled Responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic, addressed the toll this crisis will have on our nation, explaining: “Housing is a foundational element of every person’s well-being. And with nearly a fifth of US gross domestic product rooted in housing-related expenditures, it is also critical to the well-being of our broader economy.” How has the unemployment rate affected home sales in the past? It’s logical to think there would be a direct correlation between the unemployment rate and home sales: as the unemployment rate went up, home sales would go down, and when the unemployment rate went down, home sales would go up. However, research reviewing the last thirty years doesn’t show that direct relationship, as noted in the graph below. The blue and grey bars represent home sales, while the yellow line is the unemployment rate. Take a look at numbers 1 through 4: The unemployment rate was rising between 1992-1993, yet home sales increased. The unemployment rate was rising between 2001-2003, and home sales increased. The unemployment rate was rising between 2007-2010, and home sales significantly decreased. The unemployment rate was falling continuously between 2015-2019, and home sales remained relatively flat. The impact of the unemployment rate on home sales doesn’t seem to be as strong as we may have thought. Isn’t this time different? Yes. There is no doubt the country hasn’t seen job losses this quickly in almost one hundred years. How bad could it get? Goldman Sachs projects the unemployment rate to be 15% in the third quarter of 2020, flattening to single digits by the fourth quarter of this year, and then just over 6% percent by the fourth quarter of 2021. Not ideal for the housing industry, but manageable. How does this compare to the other financial crises? Some believe this is going to be reminiscent of The Great Depression. From the standpoint of unemployment rates alone (the only thing this article addresses), it does not compare. Here are the unemployment rates during the Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the projected rates moving forward: Bottom Line We’ve given you the facts as we...

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How Your Tax Refund Can Move You Toward Homeownership This Year

Posted by on Mar 25, 2020 in Home Ownership | 0 comments

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. Bottom Line 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...

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The Many Benefits of Aging in a Community

Posted by on Mar 18, 2020 in Neighborhoods | 0 comments

There’s comfort in being around people who share common interests, goals, and challenges. That comfort in a community doesn’t wane with age – it actually deepens. Whether it’s proudly talking about grandchildren or lamenting the fact that our eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, it helps to be around people who not only understand what we’re saying but actually feel the same joys and concerns as well. That’s why many boomers are deciding to move into an active adult community. In the latest 55places National Housing Survey, they were described by one out of three seniors as an “outgoing, social community of likeminded people.” Bill Ness, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of 55places.com, explains: “Baby boomers are now reaching the age when moving to an active adult community is the ideal opportunity for them…Many boomers now want to downsize, experience a maintenance-free lifestyle, and pursue more social opportunities. It’s exciting that there are so many choices for baby boomers.” There’s still a desire, however, among many seniors to “age-in-place.” According to the Senior Resource Guide, aging-in-place means: “…that you will be remaining in your own home for the later years of your life; not moving into a smaller home, assisted living, or a retirement community etcetera.” The challenge is, many seniors live in suburban or rural areas, and that often necessitates driving significant distances to see friends or attend other social engagements. A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) titled Housing America’s Older Adults addressed this exact concern: “The growing concentration of older households in outlying communities presents major challenges for residents and service providers alike. Single-family homes make up most of the housing stock in low-density areas, and residents typically need to be able to drive to do errands, see doctors, and socialize.” The Kiplinger report also chimed in on this subject: “While most seniors say they want to age in place, a much smaller percentage of them actually manage to accomplish it, studies show. Transportation is often a problem; when you can no longer drive, you can’t get to medical appointments or to other outings.” Driving may not be a challenge right now, but think about what it may be like to drive 10, 20, or 30 years down the road. There are also health challenges brought on by a possible lack of socialization when living at home versus a community of seniors. Sarah J. Stevenson is an author who writes about seniors. In a recent blog post for A Place for Mom, she explains: “Social contacts tend to decrease as we age for reasons such as retirement, the death of friends and family, or lack of mobility.” Thankfully, research from the same article suggests if you’re spending time with others in a community, thus reducing the impact of loneliness and isolation, there’s less of a risk of developing high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, a weakened immune system, depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and early death. Though the familiarity of our current home may bring a feeling of warmth, comfort, and convenience, it’s important to understand that staying there may mean missing out on crucial socialization opportunities. Living with adult children, joining a retirement community, or moving to an assisted living facility can help us continue to be with people we enjoy every day. Bottom Line “Aging-in-place” definitely has its...

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