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September 2020

Homebuyer Demand Is Far Above Last Year’s Pace

Homebuyer Demand Is Far Above Last Year’s Pace | Simplifying The Market

Homebuying has been on the rise over the past few months, with record-breaking sales powering through the market in June and July. Buyers are actively purchasing homes, and the momentum is continuing into the fall. It is, however, becoming harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. If you’ve been thinking about selling your house, the coming weeks might just be the timing you’ve been waiting for.

According to the Pending Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

Pending home sales in July achieved another month of positive contract activity, marking three consecutive months of growth.

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings, rose 5.9% to 122.1 in July. Year-over-year, contract signings rose 15.5%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.”

This means that for the past several months, buyers have signed an increasing number of contracts to purchase homes – well above where the market was at this time last year. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR notes:

“We are witnessing a true V-shaped sales recovery as homebuyers continue their strong return to the housing market…Home sellers are seeing their homes go under contract in record time, with nine new contracts for every 10 new listings.”

Below is a graph that shows the impressive recovery of homes sales compared to previous years. The deep blue v marks the slowdown from this spring that turned into an exponential jump in sales that followed through the summer, skyrocketing above years past:Homebuyer Demand Is Far Above Last Year’s Pace | Simplifying The Market

What Does This Mean for Sellers?

If you were thinking about putting your house on the market in the spring, but decided to wait due to the health crisis, it may be time to make your move. Buyers are in the market right now. With so few homes available to purchase, homeowners today are experiencing more bidding wars, creating an optimal time to sell.

Is This Trend Going to Continue?

As CNBC notes, there are no signs of slowing buyer demand this fall:

The usual summer slowdown in the housing market is not happening this year. Buyers continue to show strong demand, spurred by the new stay-at-home world of the coronavirus and by record low mortgage rates.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, concurred:

“In a typical year in the housing market, buyer interest begins to wane before seller interest causing the usual seasonal slowdown as we move into the fall. Due to a delayed spring season and low mortgage rates, we could see buyer interest extend longer than usual into the typically quieter fall. Whether this means more home sales will depend on whether sellers participate or decide to stay on the sidelines.”

As Hale mentioned, homeowners who are willing to sell their houses right now will play a big role in whether the trend continues. The market needs more homes to satisfy ongoing buyer demand. Maybe it’s time to leverage your equity and move up while eager home shoppers are ready to purchase a house just like yours.

Bottom Line

If your current home doesn’t meet your family’s changing needs, let’s connect to help you sell your house and make the move you’ve been waiting for all year.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

How Will the Presidential Election Impact Real Estate?

How Will the Presidential Election Impact Real Estate? | Simplifying The Market

The year 2020 will be remembered as one of the most challenging times of our lives. A worldwide pandemic, a recession causing historic unemployment, and a level of social unrest perhaps never seen before have all changed the way we live. Only the real estate market seems to be unaffected, as a new forecast projects there may be more homes purchased this year than last year.

As we come to the end of this tumultuous year, we’re preparing for perhaps the most contentious presidential election of the century. Today, it’s important to look at the impact past presidential election years have had on the real estate market.

Is there a drop-off in home sales during a presidential election year?

BTIG, a research and analysis company, looked at new home sales from 1963 through 2019 in their report titled One House, Two House, Red House, Blue House. They noted that in non-presidential years, there is a -9.8% decrease in November compared to October. This is the normal seasonality of the market, with a slowdown in activity that’s usually seen in fall and winter.

However, it also revealed that in presidential election years, the typical drop increases to -15%. The report explains why:

“This may indicate that potential homebuyers may become more cautious in the face of national election uncertainty.”

Are those sales lost forever?

No. BTIG determined:

“This caution is temporary, and ultimately results in deferred sales, as the economy, jobs, interest rates and consumer confidence all have far more meaningful roles in the home purchase decision than a Presidential election result in the months that follow.”

In a separate study done by Meyers Research & Zonda, Ali Wolf, Chief Economist, agrees that those purchases are just delayed until after the election:

“History suggests that the slowdown is largely concentrated in the month of November. In fact, the year after a presidential election is the best of the four-year cycle. This suggests that demand for new housing is not lost because of election uncertainty, rather it gets pushed out to the following year.”

Will it matter who is elected?

To some degree, but not in the overall number of home sales. As mentioned above, consumer confidence plays a significant role in a family’s desire to buy a home. How may consumer confidence impact the housing market post-election? The BTIG report covered that as well:

“A change in administration might benefit trailing blue county housing dynamics. The re-election of President Trump could continue to propel red county outperformance.”

Again, overall sales should not be impacted in a significant way.

Bottom Line

If mortgage rates remain near all-time lows, the economy continues to recover, and unemployment continues to decrease, the real estate market should remain strong up to and past the election.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

It’s Not Just About the Price of the Home

It’s Not Just About the Price of the Home | Simplifying The Market

When most of us begin searching for a home, we naturally start by looking at the price. It’s important, however, to closely consider what else impacts the purchase. It’s not just the price of the house that matters, but the overall cost in the long run. Today, that’s largely impacted by low mortgage rates. Low rates are actually making homes more affordable now than at any time since 2016, and here’s why.

Today’s low rates are off-setting rising home prices because it’s less expensive to borrow money. In essence, purchasing a home while mortgage rates are this low may save you significantly over the life of your home loan.

Taking a look at the graph below with data sourced from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the higher the bars rise, the more affordable homes are. The orange bars represent the period of time when homes were most affordable, but that’s also reflective of when the housing bubble burst. At that time, distressed properties, like foreclosures and short sales, dominated the market. That’s a drastically different environment than what we have in the housing market now.

The green bar represents today’s market. It shows that homes truly are more affordable than they have been in years, and much more so than they were in the normal market that led up to the housing crash. Low mortgage rates are a big differentiator driving this affordability.It’s Not Just About the Price of the Home | Simplifying The Market

What are the experts saying about affordability?

Experts agree that this unique moment in time is making homes incredibly affordable for buyers.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, NAR:

“Although housing prices have consistently moved higher, when the favorable mortgage rates are factored in, an overall home purchase was more affordable in 2020’s second quarter compared to one year ago.”

Bill Banfield, EVP of Capital Markets, Quicken Loans:

“No matter what you’re looking for, this is a great time to buy since the current low interest rates can stretch your spending power.

Mortgage News Daily:

“Those shopping for a home can afford 10 percent more home than they could have one year ago while keeping their monthly payment unchanged. This translates into nearly $32,000 more buying power. 

Forbes:

Homeowners are the clear winners. Low mortgage rates mean the cost of owning is at historically low levels and who gains all the benefits of strong house price appreciation? Homeowners.”

Bottom Line

When purchasing a home, it’s important to think about the overall cost, not just the price of the house. Homes on your wish list may be more affordable today than you think. Let’s connect to discuss how affordability plays a role in our local market, and your long-term homeownership goals.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Three Ways to Win in a Bidding War

Three Ways to Win in a Bidding War | Simplifying The Market

With so few houses for sale today and low mortgage rates driving buyer activity, bidding wars are becoming more common. Multiple-offer scenarios are heating up, so it’s important to get pre-approved before you start your search. This way, you can put your best foot forward – quickly and efficiently – if you’re planning to buy a home this season.

Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research at realtor.com, explains:

“COVID-19 has accelerated earlier trends, bringing even more buyers than the market can handle. In many markets, fierce competition, bidding wars, and multiple offer scenarios may be the common theme in the weeks to come.”

Here are three things you can do to make your offer a competitive one when you’re ready to make your move.

1. Be Ready

A recent survey shows that only 52% of active homebuyers obtained a pre-approval letter before they began their home search. That means about half of active buyers missed out on this key part of the process.

Buyers who are pre-approved are definitely a step ahead when it’s time to make an offer. Having a pre-approval letter indicating you’re a qualified buyer shows sellers you’re serious. It’s often a deciding factor that can tip the scale in your direction if there’s more than one offer on a home. It’s best to contact a mortgage professional to start your pre-approval process early, so you’re in the best position right from the start of your home search.

2. Present Your Best Offer

In a highly competitive market, it’s common for sellers to pick a date and time to review all offers on a house at one time. If this is the case, you may not have an opportunity to negotiate back and forth with the sellers. As a matter of fact, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes:

“Not only are properties selling quickly, but they are also getting more offers. On average, REALTORS® reported nearly three offers per sold property in July 2020.”

Make sure the offer you’re presenting is the best one the sellers receive. A real estate professional can help you make sure your offer is a fair and highly competitive one.

3. Act Fast

With existing homes going like hotcakes, there’s no time to waste in the process. NAR reports how the speed of home sales is ramping up:

“Properties typically remained on the market for 22 days in July, seasonally down from 24 days in June and from 29 days in July 2019. Sixty-eight percent of homes sold in July 2020 were on the market for less than a month.”

In addition, NAR notes:

Total existing-home salesjumped 24.7% from June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.86 million in July. The previous record monthly increase in sales was 20.7% in June of this year. Sales as a whole rose year-over-year, up 8.7% from a year ago (5.39 million in July 2019).”

As you can see, the market is gaining steam. For two consecutive months houses have sold very quickly. Essentially, you may not have time to sleep on it or shop around when you find a home you love. Chances are, someone else loves it too. If you take your time, it may not be available when you’re ready to commit.

Bottom Line

The housing market is very strong right now, and buyers are scooping up available homes faster than they’re coming to market. If you’re planning to purchase a home this year, let’s connect to discuss the trends in our current area, so you’re ready to compete – and win.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

August 2020

The Cost of Renting Vs. Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Cost of Renting Vs. Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

The Cost of Renting Vs. Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • The percentage of income needed to afford a median-priced home today is declining, while that for renting is on the rise.
  • This is making buying a home an increasingly attractive option for many people, especially with low mortgage rates driving purchasing power.
  • Let’s connect if you’d like expert guidance on exploring your homebuying options while affordability is high.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Why Is It so Important to Be Pre-Approved in the Homebuying Process?

Why Is It so Important to Be Pre-Approved in the Homebuying Process? | Simplifying The Market

You may have heard that pre-approval is a great first step in the homebuying process. But why is it so important? When looking for a home, the temptation to fall in love with a house that’s outside your budget is very real. So, before you start shopping around, it’s helpful to know your price range, what you’re comfortable within a monthly mortgage payment, and ultimately how much money you can borrow for your loan. Pre-approval from a lender is the only way to do this.

According to a recent survey from realtor.com, many buyers are making the mistake of skipping the pre-approval step in the homebuying process:

“Of over 2,000 active home shoppers who plan to purchase a home in the next 12 months, only 52% obtained a pre-approval letter before beginning their home search, which means nearly half of home buyers are missing this crucial piece of paperwork.

This paperwork (the pre-approval letter) shows sellers you’re a qualified buyer, something that can really help you stand out from the crowd in the current ultra-competitive market.

How competitive is today’s market? Extremely – especially among buyers.

With limited inventory, there are many more buyers than sellers right now, and that’s fueling the competition. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes are receiving an average of 2.9 offers for sellers to negotiate, so bidding wars are heating up.

Pre-approval shows homeowners you’re a serious buyer. It helps you stand out from the crowd if you get into a multiple-offer scenario, and these days, it’s likely. When a seller knows you’re qualified to buy the home, you’re in a better position to potentially win the bidding war and land the home of your dreams.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com notes:

“For ‘a buyer in a competitive market, it’s typically essential to have pre-approval done in order to submit an offer, so getting it done before you even look at homes is a smart move that will enable a buyer to move fast to put an offer in on the right home.’”

In addition, today’s housing market is also changing from moment to moment. Interest rates are low, prices are going up, and lending institutions are regularly updating their standards. You’re going to need guidance to navigate these waters, so it’s important to have a team of professionals (a loan officer and a real estate agent) making sure you take the right steps along the way and can show your qualifications as a buyer at the time you find a home to purchase.

Bottom Line

In a competitive market with low inventory, a pre-approval letter is a game-changing piece of the homebuying process. If you’re ready to buy this year, let’s connect before you start searching for a home.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Should You Buy an Existing Home or New Construction?

Should You Buy an Existing Home or New Construction? | Simplifying The Market

Finding the right home to purchase today is one of the biggest challenges for potential buyers. With so few homes for sale and construction of newly built homes ramping up, you may be wondering if you should consider new construction in your search process. It’s a great question to ask, and one to look at from the pros and cons of what it means to buy a new home versus an existing one. Here are a few things to consider when making the best decision for your family.

New Construction  

When buying a new home, you can often choose more energy-efficient options. New appliances, new windows, a new roof, etc. These can all help lower your energy costs, which can add up to significant savings over time. With programs like ENERGY STAR, your home also helps protect the environment and reduces your carbon footprint.

Lower maintenance that comes with a newer home is another great benefit. When you have a new home, you likely won’t have as many little repairs to tackle, like leaky faucets, shutters to paint, and other odd jobs around the house. With new construction, you’ll also have warranty options that may cover portions of your investment for the first few years.

Another solid benefit to new construction is customization. Do you want a mudroom, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, hardwood floors, an office, or a multipurpose room to homeschool your children? These items can be customized to your specific needs during the design phase. With an existing home, you’re buying something that’s already completed, so if you want to make changes, you may need to hire a contractor to help get your home ready for your family.

Existing Home

When buying an existing home, you can negotiate with the current homeowner on price, which is something you generally don’t get to do with a builder. Builders know their material and construction costs, and they have a price set for the model you’re buying. So, if you want to negotiate, then maybe an existing home will be best.

For many families, having an established neighborhood is also important. Some buyers like to know the neighbors, if it’s family-friendly, and traffic patterns before making a commitment. When you buy new construction, you won’t have a full view of some of those details until the lots around you are sold.

Finally, timing comes into play. With an existing home, you can move in based on the timeline you agree to with the sellers. With new construction, you need to wait for the house to be built. Depending on the time of the year you’re buying and the region you’re in, the weather can also be a factor in the timeframe. This is something really important to keep in mind, especially if you need to move sooner rather than later. Over the past few months with COVID-19 and social distancing regulations, some areas for new construction have been delayed.

Bottom Line

Whether you want to buy a newly built home or one that’s already established, both are great options. They each have their pros and cons, and every family will have different circumstances driving their decision. If you have questions and want to know more about the options in our area, let’s connect today so you can feel confident making a decision about your next home.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Builders & Realtors Agree: Real Estate Is Back

Builders & Realtors Agree: Real Estate Is Back | Simplifying The Market

When shelter-in-place orders brought the economy to a screeching halt earlier this year, many believed the residential housing market would follow suit. Countless analysts predicted buyer demand would disappear and home values would depreciate for the first time in almost a decade. That, however, didn’t happen. It appears the opposite is taking place.

After the bottom fell out of the real estate market immediately following the shutdown, it has come roaring back – and seems to still be gaining steam. Here’s a look at two recent reports – one from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and one from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) – showing this growing strength.

Builder Confidence Hits All-Time High

Last week, it was reported that applications for new home purchases with home builders were 39% higher than in July of 2019. That has builder confidence soaring.

Each month, NAHB releases its Housing Market Index, a survey of NAHB members who rate market conditions for the sale of new homes at the present time and over the next six months, as well as prospective buyer traffic for new homes.

This month, they reported that builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes increased to the highest reading in the 35-year history of the series. NAHB Chairman, Chuck Fowke, explained:

“The demand for new single-family homes continues to be strong, as low interest rates and a focus on the importance of housing has stoked buyer traffic to all-time highs…Housing has clearly been a bright spot during the pandemic and the sharp rebound in builder confidence over the summer has led NAHB to upgrade its forecast for single-family starts, which are now projected to show only a slight decline for 2020.”

The number of newly constructed homes being built will be almost at the same level as last year, even though the economic shutdown crushed home building earlier in the year.

Existing Homes Are Also Selling Like Hotcakes

Last Friday, NAR released its Existing Home Sales Report. The report revealed that month-over-month sales increased by 24.7%, setting another record for the category. The Wall Street Journal reported that the increase crushed expert forecasts:

“Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 14.2% monthly increase in sales of previously-owned homes, which make up most of the housing market.”

Home sales increased by 8.7% year-over-year.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR, explained how the resale market is just as hot as the new construction market:

“The housing market is well past the recovery phase and is now booming with higher home sales compared to the pre-pandemic days. With the sizable shift in remote work, current homeowners are looking for larger homes and this will lead to a secondary level of demand even into 2021.”

In addition, the Housing Market Recovery Index, which is released monthly by realtor.com, also showed the market is recovering nicely. The latest index reading was 104.8, which means the housing market is doing better than it was in January and February of this year. As a reference, the highest point in the index was a 106.5 in early March, just prior to the health crisis setting in.

Bottom Line

Both the newly constructed and existing home sale markets are posting numbers greater than a year ago. Real estate is back. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, let’s connect so you have the expert counsel you need along the way.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

The Top Reasons People Are Moving This Year

The Top Reasons People Are Moving This Year | Simplifying The Market

Today, Americans are moving for a variety of different reasons. The current health crisis has truly re-shaped our lifestyles and our needs. Spending extra time where we currently live is enabling many families to re-evaluate what homeownership means and what they find most important in a home.

According to Zillow:

“In 2020, homes went from the place people returned to after work, school, hitting the gym or vacationing, to the place where families do all of the above. For those who now spend the majority of their hours at home, there’s a growing wish list of what they’d change about their homes, if possible.” 

With a new perspective on homeownership, here are some of the top reasons people are reconsidering where they live and making moves this year.

1. Working from Home

Remote work is becoming the new norm in 2020, and it’s continuing on longer than most initially expected. Many in the workforce today are discovering they don’t need to live close to the office anymore, and they can get more for their money if they move a little further outside the city limits. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes:

“With the sizable shift in remote work, current homeowners are looking for larger homes and this will lead to a secondary level of demand even into 2021.”

If you’ve tried to convert your guest room or your dining room into a home office with minimal success, it may be time to find a larger home. The reality is, your current house may not be optimally designed for this kind of space, making remote work and continued productivity very challenging.

2. Virtual Schooling

With school about to restart this fall, many districts are beginning the new academic year online. Education Week is tracking the reopening plans of schools across the country, and as of August 21, 21 of the 25 largest school districts are choosing remote learning as their back-to-school instructional model, affecting over 4.5 million students.

With a need for a dedicated learning space, it may be time to find a larger home to provide your children with the same kind of quiet room to focus on their schoolwork, just like you likely need for your office work.

3. A Home Gym

Staying healthy and active is a top priority for many Americans. With various levels of concern around the safety of returning to health clubs across the country, dreams of space for a home gym are growing stronger. The Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans explains:

“For many in quarantine, a significant decrease in activity is more than a vanity issue – it’s a mental health issue.”

Having room to maintain a healthy lifestyle at home – mentally and physically – may prompt you to consider a new place to live that includes space for at-home workouts.

4. Outdoor Space

Especially for those living in an apartment or a small townhouse, this is a new priority for many as well. Zillow also notes the benefits of being able to use yard space throughout the year:

“People want more space in their next home, and one way to get it is by turning part of the backyard into a functional room, ‘an outdoor space for play as well as entertaining or cooking.’”

You may, however, not have the extra square footage today to have these designated areas – indoor or out.

Moving May Be Your Best Option

If you’re clamoring for extra space to accommodate your family’s changing needs, making a move may be your best bet, especially while you can take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates. Low rates are making homes more affordable than they have been in years. According to Black Knight:

“Buying power for those shopping for a home is up 10% year over year, with home buyers able to afford nearly $32,000 more home than they could have 1 year ago while keeping their monthly payment the same.”

It’s a great time to get more home for your money, just when you need the extra space.

Bottom Line

People are moving for a variety of different reasons today, and many families’ needs have changed throughout the year. If you’ve been trying to decide if now is the time to buy a new home, let’s connect to discuss your needs.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Ask a Pro About Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

Ask a Pro About Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Ask a Pro About Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • According to trending data, searches for key real estate topics are skyrocketing online.
  • Clearly, lots of people have questions about buying a home, and other topics related to the process.
  • Working with a trusted real estate professional will help you create the most personalized and helpful experience. Let’s connect so you have the guidance you need along the way.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters