Lack of Homes for Sale Slowing Down 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. 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.

No Matter What the Groundhog Says, Here are 5 Reasons to Sell Before Spring!

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Is spring closer than we think? Depending on which groundhog you listen to today, you may have less time than you think to get your home on the market before the busy spring season.

Many sellers feel that the spring is the best time to place their homes on the market as buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year. However, the next six weeks before spring hits also have their own advantages.

Here are five reasons to sell now.

1. Demand is Strong

Foot traffic refers to the number of people who are out, physically looking at homes right now. The latest foot traffic numbers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show that the number of buyers out looking for their dream homes in December reached the highest mark since February 2016.

These buyers are ready, willing and able to buy…and are in the market right now! Take advantage of the strong buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory just dropped to a 3.6-month supply, which is well under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means, in many areas, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices; however, additional inventory is about to come to market.

There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last four years. Many of these homes will be coming to market soon.

Also, new construction of single-family homes is again beginning to increase. A study by Harris Poll revealed that 41% of buyers would prefer to buy a new home, while only 21% prefer an existing home (38% had no preference).

The choices buyers have will increase in the spring. Don’t wait for this other inventory to come to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. There is less overall business done in the winter. Therefore, the process will be less onerous than it will be in the spring. Getting your house sold and closed before the spring delays begin will lend to a smoother transaction.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.7% over the next 12 months according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate around 4% right now. Rates are projected to rise by half a percentage point by the end of 2017.

5. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take back control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps, the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

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.

Selling in the Winter Attracts Serious Buyers

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A recent study of more than 7 million home sales over the past four years revealed that the season in which a home is listed may be able to shed some light on the likelihood that the home will sell for more than asking price, as well as how quickly the sale will close.

It’s no surprise that listing a home for sale during the spring saw the largest return, as the spring is traditionally the busiest month for real estate. What is surprising, though, is that listing during the winter came in second!

“Among spring listings, 18.7 percent of homes fetched above asking, with winter listings not far behind at 17.5 percent. While 48.0 percent of homes listed in spring sold within 30 days, 46.2 percent of homes in winter did the same.”

The study goes on to say that:

“Buyers [in the winter] often need to move, so they’re much less likely to make a lowball offer and they’ll often want to close quickly — two things that can make the sale much smoother.” 

Bottom Line

If you are debating listing your home for sale within the next 6 months, keep in mind that the spring is when most other homeowners will decide to list their homes as well. Listing your home this winter will ensure that you have the best exposure to the serious buyers who are out looking now!

The study used the astronomical seasons to determine which season the listing date fell into (Winter: Dec. 21 – Mar. 20; Spring: Mar. 21 – June 20; Summer: June 21 – Sept 21; Autumn: Sept 21 – Dec. 20).

A Lack of Listings Remains ‘Huge’ Challenge in the Market

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The housing crisis is finally in the rearview 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 & short sales) are at their lowest mark in over 8 years. This has been, and will continue to be, a great year for real estate.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer traffic and demand continues to be the strongest it has been in years. The supply of homes for sale has not kept up with this demand and has driven prices up in many areas as buyers compete for their dream home.

Traditionally, the winter months create a natural slowdown in the market. Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com, points to low interest rates as one of the many reasons why buyers are still out in force looking for a home of their own.

“Overall, the fundamental trends we have been seeing all year remain solidly in place as we enter the traditionally slower sales season, and pent-up demand remains substantial as buyers seek to get a home under contract while rates remain so low.”

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, points out that the inventory shortage we are currently experiencing isn’t a new challenge by any means:

“Inventory has been extremely tight all year and is unlikely to improve now that the seasonal decline in listings is about to kick in. Unfortunately, there won’t be much relief from new home construction, which continues to be grossly inadequate in relation to demand.”

Bottom Line

Healthy labor markets and job growth have created more and more buyers who are not just ready and willing to buy but are also able to. If you are debating whether or not to put your home on the market this year, now is the time to take advantage of the demand in the market.

NAR Reports Show Now Is a Great Time to Sell!

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We all realize that the best time to sell anything is when demand is high and the supply of that item is limited. The last two major reports issued by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed information that suggests that now continues to be a great time to sell your house.

Let’s look at the data covered by the latest Pending Home Sales Report and Existing Home Sales Report.

THE PENDING HOME SALES REPORT

The report announced that pending home sales (homes going into contract) are up 2.4% over last year, and have increased year-over-year now for 22 of the last 25 consecutive months.

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

“The one major predicament in the housing market is without a doubt the painfully low levels of housing inventory in much of the country. It’s leading to home prices outpacing wages, properties selling a lot quicker than a year ago and the home search for many prospective buyers being highly competitive and drawn out because of a shortage of listings at affordable prices.”

Takeaway: Demand for housing will continue throughout the end of 2016 and into 2017. The seasonal slowdown often felt in the winter months did not occur last winter and shows no signs of returning this year.

THE EXISTING HOME SALES REPORT

The most important data point revealed in the report was not sales, but was instead the inventory of homes for sale (supply). The report explained:

  • Total housing inventory rose 1.5% to 2.04 million homes available for sale
  • That represents a 4.5-month supply at the current sales pace
  • Unsold inventory is 6.8% lower than a year ago, marking the 16th consecutive month with year-over-year declines

There were two more interesting comments made by Yun in the report:

“Inventory has been extremely tight all year and is unlikely to improve now that the seasonal decline in listings is about to kick in. Unfortunately, there won’t be much relief from new home construction, which continues to be grossly inadequate in relation to demand.”

In real estate, there is a guideline that often applies; when there is less than a 6-month supply of inventory available, we are in a seller’s market and we will see appreciation. Between 6-7 months is a neutral market, where prices will increase at the rate of inflation. More than a 7-month supply means we are in a buyer’s market and should expect depreciation in home values. As Yun notes, we are, and will remain, in a seller’s market with prices still increasing unless more listings come to the market.

“There’s hope the leap in sales to first-time buyers can stick through the rest of the year and into next spring. The market fundamentals — primarily consistent job gains and affordable mortgage rates — are there for the steady rise in first-timers needed to finally reverse the decline in the homeownership rate.”

Takeaway: Inventory of homes for sale is still well below the 6-month supply needed for a normal market. Prices will continue to rise if a ‘sizable’ supply does not enter the market.

Bottom Line

If you are going to sell, now may be the time to take advantage of the ready, willing, and able buyers that are still out looking for your house.

The ‘Great News’ About Rising Prices

Recently there has been a lot of talk about home prices and if they are accelerating too quickly. In some areas of the country, seller supply (homes for sale) cannot keep up with the number of buyers out looking for a home, which has caused prices to rise.
The great news about rising prices, however, is that according to CoreLogic’s latest US Economic Outlook, the average American household gained over $11,000 in equity over the course of the last year, largely due to home value increases.
The map below was created from CoreLogic’s report and shows the average equity gain per mortgaged home from June 2015 to June 2016 (the latest data available).


For those that are worried that we are doomed to repeat 2006 all over again, it is important to note that homeowners are investing their new found equity in their homes and themselves, not in depreciating assets.
The added equity is helping families put their children through college, and even invest in starting small businesses, allowing them to pay of their mortgage sooner or move up to the home that will better suit their needs now.
Bottom Line
CoreLogic predicts that home prices will appreciate by another 5% by this time next year. If you are a homeowner looking to take advantage of your home equity by moving up to your dream home, let’s get together to discuss your options!