Rising home prices have been in the news a lot lately and much of the focus has been on whether home prices are accelerating too quickly, as well as how sustainable the growth in prices really is. One of the often-overlooked benefits of rising prices, however, is the impact that they have on a homeowner’s equity position. Home equity is defined as the difference between the home’s fair market value and the outstanding balance of all liens (loans) on the property. While homeowners pay down their mortgages, the amount of equity they have in their homes climbs each time the value of their homes go up! According to the latest Equity Report from ATTOM Data Solutions, “13.9 million U.S. properties in Q2 2018 were equity rich — where the combined estimated balance of loans secured by the property was 50 percent or less of the property’s estimated market value — representing 24.9% of all U.S. properties with a mortgage.” This means that nearly a quarter of Americans who have a mortgage would be able to sell their homes and have a significant down payment toward their next home. Many who sell could also use their new-found equity to pay off high-interest credit cards or help children with tuition costs. The map below shows the percentage of properties with a mortgage in each state that were equity rich in Q2 2018.
Bottom LineIf you are a homeowner looking to take advantage of your home equity by moving up to your dream home, contact an agent in your area to discuss your options!
For the last several years, buyer demand has far exceeded the housing supply available for sale. This low supply and high demand have led to home prices appreciating by an average of 6.2% annually since 2012. With this being said, three of the four major reports used to measure buyer activity have revealed that purchasing demand may be softening. Here are the four indices, how they measure demand (methodology), what their latest reports said, and a quick synopsis of the report.
The Foot Traffic Report by the National Association of RealtorsMethodology: Every month SentriLock, LLC provides NAR Research with data on the number of properties shown by a REALTOR®. Lockboxes made by SentriLock, LLC are used in roughly a third of home showings across the nation. Foot traffic has a strong correlation with future contracts and home sales, so it can be viewed as a peek ahead at sales trends two to three months into the future. Latest Report: “Foot Traffic climbed 3.2 points to 55.8 mid-summer in July. Additionally, the diffusion index is higher than last year by 13.5 points. Despite a healthy economy and labor market, supply and new construction remains unable to keep up with buyer demand.” Synopsis: Buyer demand remains strong.
The Showing Index by ShowingTimeMethodology: The ShowingTime Showing Index® tracks the average number of buyer showings on active residential properties on a monthly basis, a highly reliable leading indicator of current and future demand trends. Latest Report: “Showing activity throughout the country increased by 0.3 percent year over year in July, the third consecutive month that the U.S. ShowingTime Showing Index recorded buyer interest deceleration compared to the previous year. The June 2018 figures revealed a 0.0 percent change in showing traffic from 2017, while May showed a 1.2 percent year-over-year increase. The 12-month average year-over-year increase was 4.6 percent.” Synopsis: Buyer demand is softening
Realtors Confidence Index by the National Association of RealtorsMethodology: The REALTORS Confidence Index is a key indicator of housing market strength based on a monthly survey sent to over 50,000 real estate practitioners. Practitioners are asked about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions. Latest Report: “REALTORS reported slower homebuying activity in July 2018…The REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index registered at 62, down from the same month one year ago (69). This is the fifth straight month (since March 2018) that Realtors reported a decline in buyer activity compared to conditions one year ago.” Synopsis: Buyer demand is softening
The Real Estate Broker Survey in the ‘Z’ Report by Zelman and Associates (subscription needed)Methodology: Proprietary survey results of real estate executives. Latest Report: “While we continue to expect a resumption of growth in resale transactions on the back of easing inventory in 2019 and 2020, our real-time view into the market through our Real Estate Broker Survey does suggest that buyers have grown more discerning of late and a level of “pause” has taken hold in many large housing markets. Indicative of this, our broker contacts rated buyer demand at 69 on a 0-100 scale, still above average but down from 74 last year and representing the largest year-over-year decline in the two-year history of our survey.” Synopsis: Buyer demand is softening
Bottom LineAgain, three of the four most reliable measures of buyer activity are reporting that demand is softening. We had a strong buyers’ market directly after the housing crash which was immediately followed by a strong sellers’ market over the last six years. If demand continues to soften and supply begins to grow (as is projected to happen), we will return to a more neutral market which will favor neither buyers nor sellers. This “more normal” market will be better for real estate in the long term.
We all realize that the best time to sell anything is when the demand for that item 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 right now continues to be a great time to sell your house. Let’s look at the data covered in the latest Pending Home Sales Report and Existing Home Sales Report.
THE PENDING HOME SALES REPORTThe report announced that pending home sales (homes going into contract) are down 2.3% from last year and have continued to fall on an annual basis for seven straight months. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist, had this to say:
“The reason sales are falling off last year’s pace is that multiple years of inadequate supply in markets with strong job growth have finally driven up home prices to a point where an increasing number of prospective buyers are unable to afford it.”Takeaway: Demand for housing is strong and will continue to grow in 2019. Without an influx of new listings for sale, pending home sales will continue to decline. Listing now means you will be able to take advantage of the demand currently in the market.
THE EXISTING HOME SALES REPORTThe most important data point revealed in the report was not sales-based, but was instead the inventory of homes for sale (supply). The report explained:
- Total housing inventory decreased 0.7% to 5.34 million homes available for sale in July
- This represents a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace
- Sales are now 1.5% below a year ago
“Led by a notable decrease in closings in the Northeast, existing home sales trailed off again last month, sliding to their slowest pace since February 2016 at 5.21 million.”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; and 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 and prices will continue to increase unless more listings come to the market.
“Listings continue to go under contract in under a month, which highlights the feedback from Realtors® that buyers are swiftly snatching up moderately-priced properties. Existing supply is still not at a healthy level, and new home construction is not keeping up to meet demand.”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 LineIf 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.
Some are attempting to compare the current housing market to the market leading up to the “boom and bust” that we experienced a decade ago. They look at price appreciation and conclude that we are on a similar trajectory, speeding toward another housing crisis. However, there is a major difference between the two markets. Last decade, while demand was being artificially created by extremely loose lending standards, a tremendous amount of inventory was coming to the market to satisfy that demand. Below is a graph of the inventory of homes available for sale leading up to the 2008 crash. A normal market should have approximately 6 months supply of housing inventory. As we can see, that number jumped to over 11 months supply leading up to the housing crisis. When questionable mortgage practices ceased, and demand dried up, there was a glut of inventory on the market which caused prices to drop as there was too much supply and not enough demand.
Today is radically different!There are those who believe that low mortgage rates have created an artificial demand in the current market. They fear that if mortgage rates continue to rise, some of the current demand will dry up (which is a possibility). However, if we look at supply again, we can see that the current supply of homes is well below the norm of 6 months.
Bottom LineWe will not have a glut of inventory like we did back in 2008 and home values won’t come tumbling down. Instead, if demand weakens, we will return to a normal market (approximately a 6-month supply) with historic levels of appreciation (3.6% annually).
In a CNBC article, self-made millionaire David Bach explained that: “Buying a home is the escalator to wealth in America. Homeownership can also help you retire early, that is, if you pay your mortgage off.” Bach suggests that homebuyers should, “Take out a 30-year mortgage, but with the intention of paying it off in 25, 20 or ideally, 15 years.” How does he suggest you do this? Here’s the secret:
“…If you were paying $1,000 a month, now you’re going to make $1,100 payments every month. Inform the bank that you are doing this and that you want the extra $100 a month to be applied to the principal (not the interest).”
What will happen to your mortgage?Bach explains that, “If you keep this up, you’ll wind up paying off your 30-year mortgage in about 25 years. Increase your monthly payment by 20 percent, and you’ll have that mortgage retired in about 22 years.”
Bottom LineWhenever a well-respected millionaire gives investment advice, people usually clamor to hear it. This millionaire gave simple advice – buy a home and pay off your mortgage early so that you can retire sooner with the money you will have saved!
Who is David Bach?Bach is a self-made millionaire who has written nine consecutive New York Times bestsellers. His book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” spent 31 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. He is one of the only business authors in history to have four books simultaneously on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and USA Today bestseller lists. He has been a contributor to NBC’s Today Show, appearing more than 100 times, as well as a regular on ABC, CBS, Fox, CNBC, CNN, Yahoo, The View, and PBS. He has also been profiled in many major publications, including the New York Times, BusinessWeek, USA Today, People, Reader’s Digest, Time, Financial Times, Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Working Woman, Glamour, Family Circle, Redbook, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Investors’ Business Daily, and Forbes.
Every homeowner wants to make sure that they maximize their financial reward when selling their home, but how do you guarantee that you receive the maximum value for your house? Here are two ways to ensure that you get the highest price possible.
1. Price it a Little LowThis may seem counterintuitive, but let’s take a look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their homes a little OVER market value will leave them with room for negotiation when, in actuality, it just dramatically lessens the demand for their houses (see chart below). Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price their house so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing so, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price but will instead have multiple buyers fightingwith each other over the house. Realtor.com gives this advice:
“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”
2. Use a Real Estate ProfessionalThis, too, may seem counterintuitive as the seller may think that he or she will make more money by avoiding a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by real estate professionals. A study by Collateral Analytics, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save any money, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent. The data showed that:
“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”The results of the study showed that the differential in selling prices for FSBOs, when compared to MLS sales of similar properties, is about 5.5%. Sales in 2017 suggest the average sales price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.
Bottom LinePrice your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the price you get for your house.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) keeps historical data on many aspects of homeownership. One of their data points, which has changed dramatically, is the median tenure of a family in a home, meaning how long a family stays in a home prior to moving. As the graph below shows, over the last twenty years (1985-2008), the median tenure averaged exactly six years. However, since 2014, that average is almost ten years – an increase of almost 50%.
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, 95.3% of homes with a mortgage are now in a positive equity situation, 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 by NAR in their 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report. According to the report,
“Sellers 37 years and younger stayed in their home for six years…”These homeowners, who are either looking for more space to accommodate their growing families or for better school districts to do the same, are likely to move more often (compared to typical sellers who stayed in their homes for 10 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 circumstance; they could be baby boomers living in an empty, four-bedroom colonial, or a millennial couple living in a one-bedroom condo planning to start a family. These homeowners are ready to make a move, and since a lack of housing inventory is still a major challenge in the current housing market, this could be great news.
Economists and analysts know that the country has experienced economic growth for almost a decade. They also know that a recession can’t be too far off. A recent report by Zillow Research shed light on a survey conducted by Pulsenomics in which they asked economists, investment strategists and market analysts how they felt about the current housing market. That report revealed the possible timing of the next recession:
“Experts largely expect the next recession to begin in 2020.”That timing concurs with a recent survey of economists by the Wall Street Journal:
“The economic expansion that began in mid-2009 and already ranks as the second-longest in American history most likely will end in 2020 as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to cool off an overheating economy, according to forecasters surveyed.”Here is a graph comparing the opinions of those surveyed by both the Wall Street Journal and Pulsenomics:
Recession DOES NOT Equal Housing CrisisAccording to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a recession is defined as follows:
“A period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.”A recession means the economy has slowed down markedly. It does not mean we are experiencing another housing crisis. Obviously, the housing crash of 2008 caused the last recession. However, during the previous five recessions home values appreciated. According to the experts surveyed by Pulsenomics, the top three probable triggers for the next recession are:
- Monetary policy
- Trade policy
- A stock market correction
“If a recession is to occur, it is unlikely to be caused by housing-related activity, and therefore the housing sector should be one of the leading sources to come out of the recession.”And U.S. News and World Report agreed:
“Fortunately – and hopefully – the history of recessions and current issues that could harm the economy don’t lead many to believe the housing market crash will repeat itself in an upcoming decline.”