Lack of Homes for Sale Slowing Down the Housing Market

20170206-Share-STM-600x328.jpg

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. 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 winter, supply is not keeping up.

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

National Association of Realtors

“Total housing inventory at the end of December dropped 10.8%…which is the lowest level since NAR began tracking the supply of all housing types in 1999. Inventory has fallen year-over-year for 19 straight months and is at a 3.6-month supply at the current sales pace.”

Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist for Realtor.com

“More than two-thirds of the markets are seeing less inventory now compared to a year ago.” 

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR:

“The dismal number of listings in the affordable price range is squeezing prospective first-time buyers the most. As a result, young households are missing out on the wealth gains most homeowners have accrued from the 41% cumulative rise in existing home prices since 2011.”

Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic

“The lack of affordable supply is really driving up home prices.”

Peter Muoio, Chief Economist at Auction.com

“Tight housing inventory remains a constraining factor limiting stronger sales growth…

We expect further price growth to entice more homeowners to list their homes, particularly as existing homeowners have greater equity.”

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.

Why Pre-Approval Should Be Your First Step

STM-Share4-600x328.jpg

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the amount of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the My Home section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”

Freddie Mac describes the 4 Cs that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.

You Need a Professional on Your Team When Buying a Home

STM-Share2-600x328.jpg

Many people wonder whether they should hire a real estate professional to assist them in buying their dream home or if they should first try to do it on their own. In today’s market: you need an experienced professional!

You Need an Expert Guide if You Are Traveling a Dangerous Path

The field of real estate is loaded with land mines; you need a true expert to guide you through the dangerous pitfalls that currently exist. Finding a home that is priced appropriately and is ready for you to move into can be tricky. An agent listens to your wants and needs, and can sift through the homes that do not fit within the parameters of your “dream home.”

A great agent will also have relationships with mortgage professionals and other experts that you will need in securing your dream home.

You Need a Skilled Negotiator

In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

Realize that when an agent is negotiating their commission with you, they are negotiating their own salary; the salary that keeps a roof over their family’s head; the salary that puts food on their family’s table. If they are quick to take less when negotiating for themselves and their families, what makes you think they will not act the same way when negotiating for you and your family?

If they were Clark Kent when negotiating with you, they will not turn into Superman when negotiating with the buyer or seller in your deal.

Bottom Line

Famous sayings become famous because they are true. You get what you pay for. Just like a good accountant or a good attorney, a good agent will save you money…not cost you money.

Student Loans = Higher Credit Scores

20161221-Share-STM-600x328.jpg

According to a recent analysis by CoreLogic, Millennial renters (aged 20-34) who have student loan debt also have higher credit scores than those who do not have student loans.

This may come as a surprise, as there is so much talk about student loans burdening Millennials and holding them back from many milestones that previous generations have been able to achieve (i.e. homeownership, investing for retirement).

CoreLogic used the information provided on rental applications and the applicants’ credit history from credit bureaus to determine if there was a correlation between student loan debt and credit scores.

The analysis concluded that:

“Student loan debt did not prevent millennials from access to credit even though it may delay their homebuying decisions.”

In fact, those with a higher amount of debt actually had higher credit scores.

“Renters with student loan debt have higher average credit scores than those without; and those with higher debt amounts have higher average credit scores than those with lower student loan debt amounts.”

Bottom Line

Millennials are on pace to become the most educated generation in our nation’s history, with that comes a pretty big bill for education. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel:

“Despite the fact that student loan debt has grown into the nation’s second largest consumer debt, following mortgage, and has created a significant financial burden for millennials, it does not appear to prevent millennials from accessing credit.”

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

20161220-Share-STM-600x328.jpg

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.

Will Increasing Mortgage Rates Impact Home Prices?

20161208-Share-STM-600x328.jpg

There are some who are calling for a decrease in home prices should mortgage interest rates begin to rise rapidly. Intuitively, this makes sense as the cost of a home is determined by the price of the home, plus the cost of financing that home. If mortgage interest rates increase, fewer people will be able to buy, and logic says prices will fall if demand decreases.

However, history shows us that this has not been the case the last four times mortgage interest rates dramatically increased.

Here is a graph showing what actually happened:

Will Increasing Mortgage Rates Impact Home Prices? | MyKCM

Last week, in an article titled “Higher Rates Don’t Mean Lower House Prices After All, theWall Street Journal revealed that a recent study by John Burns Real Estate Consulting Inc.found that:

“[P]rices weren’t especially sensitive to rising rates, particularly in the presence of other positive economic factors, such as strong job growth, rising wages and improving consumer confidence.”

Last week’s jobs report was strong and the Conference Board just reported that the Consumer Confidence Index was back to pre-recession levels.

Bottom Line

We will have to wait and see what happens as we move forward, but a decrease in home prices should rates go up is anything but guaranteed.

FHA found financial footing – ready for more buyers

GetMedia-2.ashx.jpeg

WASHINGTON – Nov. 16, 2016 – The Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) latest actuarial report finds that it’s on firm financial footing after its reserves fell below federally mandated levels during the Great Recession. As a result, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) released a statement saying it’s on solid ground and a continued resource to help buyers secure their dream home.

Since the FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF) is on a steady financial trajectory, NAR “believes is an opportunity to make FHA’s low-downpayment mortgage option available to an even broader swath of borrowers.”

“The fund has indisputably found its footing,” says NAR President William E. Brown. “That’s good news for taxpayers, and a reflection of FHA’s sound stewardship. It’s clear from this report that FHA can continue taking responsible steps to manage their risk even as they take action to make homeownership more affordable for lower- and middle-income buyers.”

FHA’s MMIF is the pot of money that pays lenders if a homeowner defaults on his mortgage. FHA’s 2016 Annual Report Shows report found that the fund’s “seriously delinquent” rate is at a ten-year low, and the overall economic value of the fund increased by $3.8 billion.

Last year, the MMIF also achieved a capital reserve ratio higher than 2 percent, the minimum mandated reserve ratio under federal law; it now stands at 2.32 percent. It’s only the second time since 2008 that the MMIF exceeded the congressionally required threshold. FHA also reported a 3.2 percent reserve ratio for the “forward” program, which encompasses FHA’s non-Home Equity Conversion Mortgage portfolio.

NAR believes the report would have appeared even stronger if not for weaknesses in its reverse mortgage program – Home Equity Conversion Mortgage or HECM.

In light of the MMIF’s increasingly good health, NAR is encouraging FHA to reduce mortgage insurance premiums to better reflect the risk in the marketplace and fulfill its mission of serving low- and moderate-income borrowers.

According to NAR, the 50-basis-point premium cut announced in January 2015 provided an annual savings of $900 for nearly 2 million FHA homeowners. A recent Federal Reserve study also found that the January 2015 reduction in mortgage insurance premiums had a quick and significant effect on FHA mortgage volume.

However, NAR also recommends additional changes to FHA’s lending program. One major recommendation: Eliminate the “life of loan” mortgage insurance that borrowers must continue to pay until the loan is extinguished or refinanced. Conventional mortgage products traditionally require mortgage insurance only a home reaches a specific level of equity, but FHA loans have no similar mortgage-loan-insurance cutoff date.

“FHA mortgages are an important option for buyers, but high premiums and lifetime insurance requirements can take that option right off the table,” Brown says. “By lowering premiums and eliminating life of loan mortgage insurance, FHA can expand on their work to serve a broad population of homebuyers. We look forward to working with them in the months ahead to bring these changes to light.”

© 2016 Florida Realtors®