Inventory Shortages Are Slowing Down the Market

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The real estate market is moving more and more into a complete recovery. Home values are up. Home sales are up. Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen dramatically. It seems that 2017 will be the year that the housing market races forward again.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. While buyer demand looks like it will remain strong throughout the summer, supply is not keeping up.

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

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR:

“Sellers are in the driver’s seat this spring as the intense competition for the few homes for sale is forcing many buyers to be aggressive in their offers. Buyers are showing resiliency given the challenging conditions. However, at some point — and the sooner the better — price growth must ease to a healthier rate. Otherwise sales could slow if affordability conditions worsen.”

Tom O’Grady, Pro Teck CEO

“The lack of inventory is very real and could have a severe impact on home sales in the months to come. Traditionally, a balanced market would have an MRI (Months Remaining Inventory) between six and 10 months.

This month, only eight metros we track have MRIs over 10, compared to 27 last year and 48 two years ago—illustrating that this lack of inventory is not being driven by traditionally ‘hot’ markets, but is rather a broad-based, national phenomenon.”

Ralph McLaughlin, Chief Economist at Trulia

“Nationally, housing inventory dropped to its lowest level on record in 2017 Q1. The number of homes on the market dropped for the eighth consecutive quarter, falling 5.1% over the past year.”

Freddie Mac

“Tight housing inventory has been an important feature of the housing market at least since 2016. For-sale housing inventory, especially of starter homes, is currently at its lowest level in over ten years. If inventory continues to remain tight, home sales will likely decline from their 2016 levels. …all eyes are on housing inventory and whether or not it will meet the high demand.”

Bottom Line

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

How Long Do Most Families Stay in Their Home?

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) keeps historical data on many aspects of homeownership. One of the data points that has changed dramatically is the median tenure of a family in a home. As the graph below shows, for over twenty years (1985-2008), the median tenure averaged exactly six years. However, since 2008, that average is almost nine years – an increase of almost 50%.

How Long Do Most Families Stay in Their Home? | MyKCM

Why the dramatic increase?

The reasons for this change are plentiful!

The fall in home prices during the housing crisis left many homeowners in a negative equity situation (where their home was worth less than the mortgage on the property). Also, the uncertainty of the economy made some homeowners much more fiscally conservative about making a move.

With home prices rising dramatically over the last several years, 93.7% of homes with a mortgage are now in a positive equity situation with 79.1% of them having at least 20% equity, according to CoreLogic.

With the economy coming back and wages starting to increase, many homeowners are in a much better financial situation than they were just a few short years ago.

One other reason for the increase was brought to light during a recent presentation by Lawrence Yun, the Chief Economist of NAR, at the Realtor’s Summit in San Diego, CA. Yun pointed to the fact that historically, young homeowners who were either looking for more space to accommodate their growing family or looking for a better school district were more likely to move more often (every 5 years). The homeownership rate among young families, however, has still not caught up to previous generations resulting in the jump we have seen in median tenure!

What does this mean for housing?

Many believe that a large portion of homeowners are not in a house that is best for their current family circumstances. They could be baby boomers living in an empty, four-bedroom colonial, or a millennial couple planning to start a family that currently lives in a one-bedroom condo.

These homeowners are ready to make a move. Since the lack of housing inventory is a major challenge in the current housing market, this could be great news.

Daydreaming About Your Perfect Home? Know What You WANT vs. What You NEED

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In this day and age of being able to shop for anything anywhere, it is really important to know what you’re looking for when you start your home search.

If you’ve been thinking about buying a home of your own for some time now, you’ve probably come up with a list of things that you’d LOVE to have in your new home. Many new homebuyers fantasize about the amenities that they see on television or Pinterest, and start looking at the countless homes listed for sale through rose-colored glasses.

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen in order to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?

The first step in your home buying process should be to get pre-approved for your mortgage. This allows you to know your budget before you fall in love with a home that is way outside of it.

The next step is to list all the features of a home that you would like, and to qualify them as follows:

  • ‘Must Haves’ – if this property does not have these items, then it shouldn’t even be considered. (ex: distance from work or family, number of bedrooms/bathrooms)
  • ‘Should Haves’ – if the property hits all of the ‘must haves’ and some of the ‘should haves,’ it stays in contention but does not need to have all of these features.
  • ‘Absolute Wish List’ – if we find a property in our budget that has all of the ‘must haves,’ most of the ‘should haves,’ and ANY of these, it’s the winner!

Bottom Line

Having this list flushed out before starting your search will save you time and frustration, while also letting your agent (hopefully me) know what features are most important to you before starting to view houses in your desired area.

Inadequate Inventory Driving Prices Up

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The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR)revealed a direct correlation between a lack of inventory and rising prices.

We are all familiar with the concept of supply and demand. As the demand for an item increases the supply of that same item goes down, driving prices up.

Year-over-year inventory levels have dropped each of the last 18 months, as inventory now stands at a 4.0-month supply, well below the 6.0-month supply needed for a ‘normal’ market.

The median price of homes sold in November (the latest data available) was $234,900, up 6.8% from last year and marking the 57th consecutive month with year-over-year gains.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun had this to say:

“Existing housing supply at the beginning of the year was inadequate and is now even worse heading into 2017. Rental units are also seeing this shortage. As a result, both home prices and rents continue to far outstrip incomes in much of the country.”

But there is good news about rising prices. More and more homeowners are recovering from a negative equity situation and learning that they are able to sell their homes and either move up to their dream home or downsize to a property that will better suit their needs. Look for these homes to come to market soon.

Bottom Line

Buyer demand continues to outpace the supply of homes for sale. Listing your home in the winter attracts serious buyers who are looking to close the transaction quickly.

Want to speed up closings? 6 tips

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CHICAGO – Dec. 15, 2016 – Homebuyers anxious to move into their new house in a hurry may be discouraged to discover that the average time from contract to close is 50 days, according to Ellie Mae. But Realtors can help clients shorten that timeframe by encouraging a more focused home search and being proactive about paperwork, among other things.

An organized buying process is particularly important for relocation clients and customers who hope to sell one property before buying another. In both cases, buyers tend to be working against tight moving deadlines.

Tips to help buyers complete a transaction faster:

  • Get pre-approved, not just pre-qualified. A pre-qualification is just a quick conversation with a lender who may have only glanced at the borrower’s credit score. A pre-approval is a more thorough review of their credit history. A pre-approval “makes your offer look stronger,” says Adriana Mollica, a sales associate with Teles Properties in Beverly Hills, Calif. “It also minimizes any surprises that may delay or force a cancelation during escrow.”
  • Narrow down options. Buyers with have a long wish list of desired home features are rarely satisfied by the houses they see. Realtors should have a heart-to-heart talk if these buyers also hope to move in quickly and discuss whether their desires are plausible for the area and price range they’re searching in, says Michael Shaffer, broker-associate at LIV Sotheby’s International Realty in Greenwood Village, Colo. Buyers should narrow their wish list down to the top must-have features and look at only at homes that fit the criteria.
  • Look at homes that have lingered on the market. Homeowners who haven’t sold quickly enough are often the most motivated to negotiate a deal. Buyers should understand the leverage they have when making an offer on a home that has been on the market for a long time, but remember that “a long time” means different things in different various areas. “In some markets, that may be a week or two,” Shaffer says. “In others, it could be a year or more.”
  • Don’t make lowball offers. A strong offer doesn’t have to meet the full list price – but it may mean vowing to make a larger downpayment, offering up more earnest money or accepting an early closing date. Sellers who have a sense of commitment from a buyer may be more likely to accept an offer, particularly as the end of the year nears.
  • Waive contingencies – maybe. Contingency clauses notoriously spark delays, but buyers should weigh whether to give them up. Some contingencies may be worth fighting for. Clients shouldn’t suffer from buyer’s remorse later or land in financial trouble because they waived contingencies.
  • Put paperwork in order. Buyers should already have at least three months of bank statements, pay stubs and letters of explanation for any unusual expenses or financial gifts that are being applied toward a downpayment. Even with a pre-approval, buyers will need paperwork to finalize the transaction, and having it ready upfront could save time. “In most cases, things get held up because paperwork and information isn’t readily available,” says Raena Casteel of the Casteel Little Real Estate Group in Tucson, Ariz.

Source: “Got the Need for Speed? 10 Timely Tricks for Buying a Home in a Hurry,” realtor.com® (Dec. 12, 2016)

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

Whether You Rent or Buy: Either Way You’re Paying a Mortgage

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There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

Christina Boyle, Senior Vice President and Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

Bottom Line

This holiday season, why not give yourself the gift of homeownership? Lock in your housing costs for the next 30 years and guarantee you are the one building wealth.