• Buyer demand continues to outpace the supply of homes for sale which means that buyers are often competing with one another for the few listings that are available!
  • Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed to sustain a normal housing market.
  • Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.
Homes are More Affordable in 44 out of 50 States | Keeping Current Matters
With both home prices and mortgage rates increasing this year, many are concerned about a family’s ability to purchase a major part of the American Dream – its own home. However, if we compare housing affordability today to the average affordability prior to the housing boom and bust, we are in much better shape than most believe. In Black Knight’s latest monthly Mortgage Monitor, they revealed that in the vast majority of the country, it is actually more affordable to purchase a home today than it was between 1995 to 2003 when looking at mortgage payments (determined by price and interest rate) as compared to incomes. Home prices are up compared to 1995-2003, but mortgage rates are still much lower now than at that time. Today, they stand at about 4.5%. Here are the average mortgage rates for each of the years mentioned:
  • 1995 – 7.93%
  • 1996 – 7.81%
  • 1997 – 7.6%
  • 1998 – 6.94%
  • 1999 – 7.44%
  • 2000 – 8.05%
  • 2001 – 6.97%
  • 2002 – 6.54%
  • 2003 – 5.83%
On the other hand, wages have risen over the last twenty years. Black Knight’s research revealed that, when comparing “the share of median income required to buy the median-priced home” today, to the average between 1995 to 2003, it is currently more affordable to purchase a home in 44 of 50 states. Here is a state map of the percentage change in the price-to-payment ratio. Positive numbers indicate that it is less affordable to buy while negative numbers indicate that it is more affordable. Homes are More Affordable in 44 out of 50 States | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Whether you are moving up to the home of your dreams or purchasing your first house, it is a great time to buy when looking at historic affordability data.    
With home values appreciating at record rates, some are concerned that we may be heading for another housing bubble like the one we experienced a decade ago. One of the major culprits of that housing boom and bust was the loosening of standards for mortgage credit. In a study done at the University of North Carolina immediately after the crisis, it was revealed that:
“Lenders began originating large numbers of high risk mortgages from around 2004 to 2007, and loans from those vintage years exhibited higher default rates than loans made either before or after.”
A study by John V Duca, John Muellbauer, and Anthony Murphy concluded that those risky mortgages caused the housing crisis:
“Our findings indicate that swings in credit standards played a major, if not the major, role in driving the recent boom and bust in US house prices.”

How do today’s mortgage standards compare to those from 2004 to 2007?

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association tracts mortgage standards in their Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). A decline in the MCAI indicates that lending standards are tightening, while increases in the index are indicative of loosening credit. While the chart below shows the index going back to that period between 2004 and 2007 when loose standards caused the housing bubble, we can see that, though the index has risen slightly over the last several years, we are nowhere near the standards that precipitated the housing crisis. Are Lending Standards Too Loose…or Too Tight? | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If anything, standards today are too tight and are preventing some qualified buyers from getting the mortgage credit they deserve.
Parents Say Kids’ Opinions Matter Big When Buying a Home | Keeping Current Matters
A recent survey conducted by Harris Poll and released by SunTrust Mortgage found that “55% of homeowners with a child under the age of 18 at the time when they purchased their home said that the opinion of their offspring played a major role in their home buying decision.” When the results were broken down by the parent’s age, millennials (those 18-36) led the way with 74% of homeowners saying that their child’s opinion was a factor in choosing which home to buy. Eighty-three percent of renters believe that their child’s opinion would be a deciding factor when looking to purchase a home.

So what features in a home are most important to kids?

Parents Say Kids’ Opinions Matter Big When Buying a Home | Keeping Current Matters Coming in at 57%, it should come as no surprise that gaining their own bedrooms was the top most-desirable feature of any home for kids, followed by a large back yard to play in at 34%. Todd Chamberlain, Head of Mortgage Banking at SunTrust explained the reasoning behind the survey,
“As a parent of two kids, I know from experience that including children in the home buying process is not only fun for the whole family, but also educational for our homebuyers of tomorrow.”

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your home this year, make sure to highlight all the kid-friendly features your home has to offer so that you can sway the real decision makers.
When Is a Good Time to Rent? Not Now! | Keeping Current Matters
People often ask if now is a good time to buy a home, but nobody ever asks whether or not it’s a good time to rent. Regardless, we want to make certain that everyone understands that now is NOT a good time to rent. The Census Bureau recently released their 2018 first quarter median rent numbers. According to their report, here is a graph showing rent increases from 1988 until today: When Is a Good Time to Rent? Not Now! | Keeping Current Matters As you can see, rents have steadily increased and are showing no signs of slowing down. If you are faced with making the decision of whether or not you should renew your lease, you might be pleasantly surprised at your ability to buy a home of your own instead.

Bottom Line

One way to protect yourself from rising rents is to lock in your housing expense by buying a home. If you are ready and willing to buy, meet with a local real estate professional who can help determine if you are able to today!
Days on The Market Drops to New Low in April | Keeping Current Matters
According to recently released data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median number of days that a home spent on the market hit a new low of 26 days in April, as 57% of homes were on the market for under a month. NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, had this to say,
“What is available for sale is going under contract at a rapid pace. Since NAR began tracking this data in May 2011, the median days a listing was on the market was at an all-time low in April, and the share of homes sold in less than a month was at an all-time high.”
Strong buyer demand, a good economy, and a low inventory of new and existing homes for sale created the perfect storm to accelerate the time between listing and signing a contract. The chart below shows the median days on the market from April 2017 to April 2018: Days on The Market Drops to New Low in April | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If you are a homeowner who is debating whether or not to list your home for sale, know that national market conditions are primed for a quick turnaround! Meet with a local real estate agent who can explain to you exactly what’s going on in your area, today!
The Cost of Renting vs. Buying [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a tough decision.
  • Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (28.8%) vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (17.1%), the choice becomes obvious.
  • Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you can put your housing costs to work by buying this year!
Did Tax Reform Kill the Luxury Market? NOT SO FAR! | Keeping Current Matters
The new tax code limits the deduction of state and local property taxes, as well as income or sales taxes, to a total of $10,000. When the tax reform legislation was put into law at the beginning of the year, some experts felt that it could have a negative impact on the luxury housing market.

Capital Economics:

“The impact on expensive homes could be detrimental, with a limit on the MID raising taxes for those that itemize.”

Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics:

“The impact on house prices is much greater for higher-priced homes, especially in parts of the country where incomes are higher and there are thus a disproportionate number of itemizers, and where homeowners have big mortgages and property tax bills.”
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) predicted price declines in “high cost, higher tax areas” because of the tax changes. They forecasted a depreciation of 6.2% in New Jersey and 4.8% in Washington D.C. and New York.

What has actually happened?

Here are a few metrics to consider before we write-off the luxury market: 1. According to NAR’s latest Existing Home Sales Report, here is the percent change in sales from last year:
  • Homes sales between $500,000 – $750,000 are up 11.9%
  • Homes sales between $750,000 – $1M are up 16.8%
  • Homes sales over $1,000,000 are up 26.7%
2. In a report from Trulia, it was revealed that searches for “premium” homes as a percentage of all searches increased from 38.4% in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 41.4% in the first quarter of 2018. 3. According to an article from Bloomberg:
“Median home values nationally rose 8 percent in March compared with a year earlier, while neighborhoods of San Francisco and San Jose, California, have increased more than 25 percent. Prices in affluent areas in Delaware and New York, such as the Hamptons, also surged more than 20 percent.”

Bottom Line

Aaron Terrazas, Zillow’s Senior Economist, probably summed up real estate’s luxury market the best:
“We are seeing the opposite of what was expected. We have certainly not seen the doomsday predictions play out.”
In today’s housing market, where supply is very low and demand is very high, home values are increasing rapidly. Many experts are projecting that home values could appreciate by another 5% (or more) over the next twelve months. One major challenge in such a market is the bank appraisal. When prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the same neighborhood that recently closed) to defend the selling price when performing the appraisal for the bank. Every month in their Home Price Perception Index (HPPI), Quicken Loans measures the disparity between what a homeowner who is seeking to refinance their home believes their house is worth and what an appraiser’s evaluation of that same home is. March 2015 marked the first month of a three-year gap between what an appraiser and a homeowner believed a home was worth. That gap widened to 2.65% in September 2015 and had consistently hovered between 1.0% and 2.0% through November 2017. The chart below illustrates the changes in home price estimates over the last three years: Homeowners & Appraisers See the Most Eye-to-Eye on Price in 3 Years | Keeping Current Matters In the latest release, the disparity was the narrowest it has been since March 2015, as the gap between appraisers and homeowners was only -0.33%. This is important for homeowners to note as even a .33% difference in appraisal could equate to thousands of dollars that a buyer or seller has to come up with at closing (depending on the price of the home). Bill Banfield, Executive VP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans urges homeowners to find out how their local markets have been impacted by supply and demand: 
“The appraisal is one of the most important, although sometimes least predictable, parts of the mortgage process. The Home Price Perception Index is a way to illustrate the differences of opinion, and these differences affect everything from the type of mortgage a borrower can get to the expectations a seller has about the proceeds available upon sale of their home.”

Bottom Line

Every house on the market must be sold twice; once to a prospective buyer and then again to the bank (through the bank’s appraisal). With escalating prices, the second sale may be even more difficult than the first. If you are planning on entering the housing market this year, meet with an experienced professional who can guide you through this and any other obstacles that may arise.
4 Steps to Follow When Presenting an Offer in Today’s Market! | Keeping Current Matters
So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you’ve finally found it! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure that you make a great offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true! Below are 4 steps provided by Freddie Mac to help buyers make offers, along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Determine Your Price

“You’ve found the perfect home and you’re ready to buy. Now what? Your real estate agent will be by your side, helping you determine an offer price that is fair.”
Based on your agent’s experience and key considerations (like similar homes recently sold in the same neighborhood or the condition of the house and what you can afford), your agent will help you to determine the offer that you are going to present. Getting pre-approved will not only show home-sellers that you are serious about buying, but it will also allow you to make your offer with confidence because you’ll know that you have already been approved for a mortgage in that amount.

2. Submit an Offer

“Once you’ve determined your price, your agent will draw up an offer, or purchase agreement, to submit to the seller’s real estate agent. This offer will include the purchase price and terms and conditions of the purchase.”
Talk with your agent to find out if there are any ways in which you can make your offer stand out in this competitive market! A licensed real estate agent who is active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer.

3. Negotiate the Offer

“Oftentimes, the seller will counter the offer, typically asking for a higher purchase price or to adjust the closing date. In these cases, the seller’s agent will submit a counteroffer to your agent, detailing their desired changes, at this time, you can either accept the offer or decide if you want to counter. Each time changes are made through a counteroffer, you or the seller have the option to accept, reject or counter it again. The contract is considered final when both parties sign the written offer.”
If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home.” If the inspector uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller or even cancel the contract altogether.

4. Act Fast

The inventory of homes listed for sale has remained well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes. Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as quickly as possible.

Bottom Line 

Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, having a local professional on your side who is an expert in his or her market is your best bet in making sure the process goes smoothly. Happy house hunting!
Leisure Village Homes by Sharron Parker