How A Lack of Inventory Impacts the Housing Market

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The housing crisis is finally in the rear-view mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up, home sales are up, and distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen to their lowest points in years. The market will continue to strengthen in 2018.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. Buyer demand naturally increases during the summer months, but supply is not keeping up.

Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject:

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at National Association of Realtors

“The worsening inventory crunch through the first three months of the year inflicted even more upward pressure on home prices in a majority of markets. Following the same trend over the last couple of years, a strengthening job market and income gains are not being met by meaningful sales gains because of unrelenting supply and affordability headwinds.”

Sam Khater, Chief Economist for Freddie Mac

“As we head into late spring, the demand for purchase credit remains rock solid, which should set us up for another robust summer home sales season. While this year’s high rates – up 50 basic points from a year ago – have put pressure on the budgets of some home shoppers, weak inventory levels are what’s keeping the housing market from a stronger sales pace.”

Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for Realtor.com

“The dynamics of increased competition and buyer frustration are unlikely to change…In fact, the direction of the trend is pointing to a growing mismatch between the pool of prospective buyers and existing inventory.”

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strong at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price.

Home Inspections: What to Expect

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So you made an offer, it was accepted, and now your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. Oftentimes, agents make your offer contingent on a clean home inspection.

This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price you paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or even, in some cases, walk away. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

How to Choose an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. HGTV recommends that you consider the following 5 areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:

  1. Qualifications – find out what’s included in your inspection and if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
  2. Sample Reports – ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. The more detailed the report, the better in most cases.
  3. References – do your homework – ask for phone numbers and names of past clients who you can call to ask about their experiences.
  4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations often means that continued training and education are provided.
  5. Errors & Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human after all, and it is possible that they might miss something they should have seen.

Ask your inspector if it’s okay for you to tag along during the inspection, that way they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.

Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof or crawling around in the attic and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace and chimney, the foundation, and so much more!

Bottom Line

They say ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money into a home of your own. Work with a professional who you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.

Moving Up to Your Dream Home? Don’t Wait!

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Mortgage interest rates have risen by more than half of a point since the beginning of the year, and many assume that if mortgage rates rise, home values will fall. History, however, has shown this not to be true.

Where are home values today compared to the beginning of the year?

While rates have been rising, so have home values. Here are the most recent monthly price increases reported in the Home Price Insights Report from CoreLogic:

  • January: Prices were up 0.5% over the month before.
  • February: Prices were up 1% over the month before.
  • March: Prices were up 1.4% over the month before.

Not only did prices continue to appreciate, the level of appreciation accelerated over the first quarter. CoreLogic believes that home prices will increase by 5.2% over the next twelve months.

How can prices rise while mortgage rates increase?

Freddie Mac explained in a recent Insight Report:

“In the current housing market, the driving force behind the increase in prices is a low supply of both new and existing homes combined with historically low rates. As mortgage rates increase, the demand for home purchases will likely remain strong relative to the constrained supply and continue to put upward pressure on home prices.”

Bottom Line

If you are thinking about moving up to your dream home, waiting until later this year and hoping for prices to fall may not be a good strategy.

What If I Wait Until Next Year to Buy a Home?

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We recently shared that national home prices have increased by 6.7% year-over-year. Over that same time period, interest rates have remained historically low which has allowed many buyers to enter the market.

As a seller, you will likely be most concerned about ‘short-term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, however, you must not be concerned about price, but instead about the ‘long-term cost’ of the home.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by this time next year. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Report, home prices will appreciate by 5.2% over the next 12 months.

What Does This Mean as a Buyer?

If home prices appreciate by 5.2% over the next twelve months as predicted by CoreLogic, here is a simple demonstration of the impact that an increase in interest rate would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:

What If I Wait Until Next Year to Buy a Home? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

If buying a home is in your plan for this year, doing it sooner rather than later could save you thousands of dollars over the terms of your loan.

Why Home Prices Are Increasing

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There are many unsubstantiated theories as to why home values are continuing to increase. From those who are worried that lending standards are again becoming too lenient (data shows this is untrue), to those who are concerned that prices are again approaching boom peaks because of “irrational exuberance” (this is also untrue as prices are not at peak levels when they are adjusted for inflation), there seems to be no shortage of opinion.

However, the increase in prices is easily explained by the theory of supply & demand. Whenever there is a limited supply of an item that is in high demand, prices increase.

It is that simple. In real estate, it takes a six-month supply of existing salable inventory to maintain pricing stability. In most housing markets, anything less than six months will cause home values to appreciate and anything more than seven months will cause prices to depreciate (see chart below).

Why Home Prices Are Increasing | MyKCM

According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the monthly inventory of homes for sale has been below six months for the last five years (see chart below).

Why Home Prices Are Increasing | MyKCM

Bottom Line

If buyer demand continues to outpace the current supply of existing homes for sale, prices will continue to appreciate. Nothing nefarious is taking place. It is simply the theory of supply & demand working as it should.

“Short of a war or stock market crash…”

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This month, Arch Mortgage Insurance released their spring Housing and Mortgage Market Review. The report explained that an increase in mortgage rates and/or home prices would impact monthly payments this way:

  • A 5% increase in home prices increases payments by roughly 5%
  • A 1% rise in interest rates increases payments by roughly 13% or 14%

That begs the question…

What if both rates and prices increase as predicted?

The report revealed:

“If interest rates and home prices rise by year-end in the ballpark of what most analysts are forecasting, monthly mortgage payments on a new home purchase could increase another 10–15%. That would make 2018 one of the worst full-year deteriorations in affordability for the past 25 years.”

The percent increase in mortgage payments would negatively impact affordability. But, how would affordability then compare to historic norms?

Per the report:

“For the U.S. overall, even if affordability were to deteriorate as forecasted, affordability would still be reasonable by historic norms. That is because the percentage of pre-tax income needed to buy a typical home in 2019 would still be similar to the historical average during 1987–2004. Thus, nationally at least, even with higher rates and home prices, affordability will just revert to historical norms.”

What about home prices?

A decrease in affordability will cause some concern about home values. Won’t an increase in mortgage payments negatively impact the housing market? The report addressed this question:

“Even recent interest rate increases and higher taxes on some upper-income earners didn’t slow the market, as many had feared…Short of a war or stock market crash, housing markets could continue to surprise on the upside over the next few years.”

To this point, Arch Mortgage Insurance also revealed their Risk Index which estimates the probability of home prices being lower in two years. The index is based on factors such as regional unemployment rates, affordability, net migration, housing starts and the percentage of delinquent mortgages.

Below is a map depicting their projections (the darker the blue, the lower the probability of a price decrease):

“Short of a war or stock market crash…” | MyKCM

Bottom Line

If interest rates and prices continue to rise as projected, the monthly mortgage payment on a home purchased a year from now will be dramatically more expensive than it would be today.