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The housing market has started off much stronger this year than it did last year. Lower mortgage interest rates have been a driving factor in that change. The average 30-year rate in 2019, according to Freddie Mac, was 3.94%. Today that rate is closer to 3.5%.

The Census Bureau also just reported the highest homeownership rate since 2014 for people under 35. This is evidence that owning their own home is becoming more important to Millennials as they reach the age where marriage and children are part of their lives.

Thinking of Selling? Now May Be the Time. | Keeping Current Matters

According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index Survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer demand across the country is strong. That’s not the case, however, with seller demand, which remains weak throughout most of the nation. Here’s a breakdown by state:Demand for housing is high, but supply is extremely low. NAR also just reported that the actual number of homes currently for sale stands at 1.42 million, which is one of the lowest totals in almost three decades. Additionally, the ratio of homes for sale to the number purchased currently stands at 3.1 months of inventory. In a normal market, that number would be nearly double that at 6.0 months of inventory.

What does this mean for buyers and sellers?

Buyers need to remain patient in the search process. At the same time, buyers must be ready to act immediately once they find the right home.

Sellers may not want to wait until spring to put their houses on the market. With demand so high and supply so low, now is the perfect time to sell your house for the greatest dollar value and the least hassle.

Bottom Line

The real estate market is entering the year like a lion. There’s no indication it will lose that roar, assuming inventory continues to come to market.

Mother and daughter gardening together

One thing helping homeowners right now is price appreciation, especially in the entry-level market. In the latest Home Price Insights report, CoreLogic reveals how home prices increased by 4% year-over-year and projects prices will rise 5.2% by December 2020.

Why is this good news for the homeowners?

When prices appreciate, homeowners gain equity. In addition, those planning to sell this year, especially in the entry-level market, can potentially earn a substantial profit.

Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, says:

“Moderately priced homes are in high demand and short supply, pushing up values…Homes that sold for 25% or more below the local median price experienced a 5.9% price gain in 2019, compared with a 3.7% gain for homes that sold for 25% or more above the median.”

As Dr. Nothaft indicates, the lack of inventory continues to drive home price growth. This means there’s a high demand for homes in this tier of the market, making it a great time to consider using your equity to move up to a bigger or more premium home.

When you upgrade your home, you may be able to find the amenities or features you’ve dreamed of – such as a yard to plant or garden in with your family this spring, or more outdoor space for entertaining this summer. Maybe it’s the master bath you’ve always hoped for, or a garage to finally park your car inside.

Whatever you choose, if you’re moving out of an entry-level house, you’re likely going to be in the driver’s seat as a seller.

Bottom Line

If you’d like to own a bigger home, sit down with a local real estate professional to discuss your situation. You may be surprised by the current value of your home and the equity you’ve gained.

Luxury classic interior of living room and dining room with white furniture and metal chandeliers. 3d illustration

Homes priced in the top 25% of a price range for a particular area of the country are considered “premium homes.” At the start of last year, many of the more expensive homes listed for sale hadn’t seen as much interest, since much of the demand for housing over the past few years has come from first-time buyers looking for starter homes. It looks like buyer activity, however, is starting to show a shift in this segment.

According to the January Luxury Report from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing (ILHM):

“In a snapshot of 2019, despite pessimism at the start of the year, the last quarter showcased a strengthening, with an upswing in the luxury market for sales in both the single family and condo markets.”

Momentum is growing, and those looking to enter the luxury market are poised for success in 2020 as well. With more inventory available at the upper-end, historically low interest rates, and increasing average wages, the stage is set for buyers with an interest in this tier to embrace the perfect move-up opportunity.

The report highlights the increase in buyer activity in this segment, resulting in growing sales toward the end of 2019:

“According to reports from many luxury real estate professionals, the significant increase in number of properties bought at the end of 2019 versus 2018 is reflective of an early 2019 holding pattern.

Many of early 2019’s prospective luxury buyers held off while waiting to see how prices would react to new tax regulations and other policy changes. Buyer confidence returned in late spring and compared to 2018, above average sales were reported in the final quarter of 2019.”

With evidence of strong buyer confidence, this is great news, as more homeowners are building equity and growing their net worth throughout the country:

“Many homeowners are now diversifying their wealth, owning several properties rather than a single mega mansion. In addition, there have been an increase number of home purchases taking place in smaller cities, reflecting the rising number of people relocating from major metropolises. Their property equity wealth or ability to pay high rental costs have afforded them the opportunity to purchase luxury properties in…secondary cities throughout North America.”

With a strong economy and a backdrop set for moving up this year, it’s a great time to explore the luxury market. Keep in mind, luxury can mean different things to different people, too. To one person, luxury is a secluded home with plenty of property and privacy. To another, it is a penthouse at the center of a bustling city. Knowing what characteristics mean luxury to you will help your agent understand what you’re after as you define the scope and location for the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about upgrading your current house to a luxury home, or adding an additional property to your portfolio, reach out to a local real estate professional to determine if you’re ready to make your move.

Financial goals,saving money

After over a year of moderating home prices, it appears home value appreciation is about to reaccelerate. Skylar Olsen, Director of Economic Research at Zillow, explained in a recent article:

 “A year ago, a combination of a government shutdown, stock market slump and mortgage rate spike caused a long-anticipated inventory rise. That supposed boom turned out to be a short-lived mirage as buyers came back into the market and more than erased the inventory gains. As a natural reaction, the recent slowdown in home values looks like it’s set to reverse back.”

CoreLogic, in their January 2020 Market Pulse Report, agrees with Olsen, projecting home value appreciation in all fifty states this year. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 21 states appreciating 5% or more
  • 26 states appreciating between 3-5%
  • Only 3 states appreciating less than 3%

The Misconception

Many believe when real estate values are increasing, owning a home becomes less affordable. That misconception is not necessarily true.

In most cases, homes are purchased with a mortgage. The current mortgage rate is a major component of the affordability equation. Mortgage rates have fallen by almost a full percentage point since this time last year.

Another major piece of the equation is a buyer’s income. The median family income has risen by 5% over the last year, contributing to the affordability factor.

Black Knight, in their latest Mortgage Monitor, addressed this exact issue:

 “Despite the average home price increasing by nearly $13,000 from just over a year ago, the monthly mortgage payment required to buy that same home has actually dropped by 10% over that same span due to falling interest rates…

Put another way, prospective homebuyers can now purchase a $48K more expensive home than a year ago while still paying the same in principal and interest, a 16% increase in buying power.”

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home, realize that homes are still affordable even though prices are increasing. As the Black Knight report concluded:

“Even with home price growth accelerating, today’s low-interest-rate environment has made home affordability the best it’s been since early 2018.”

A group of four multi-ethnic seniors sitting together on patio furniture outdoors, talking and laughing. They are in retirement, relaxed and enjoying spending time with friends.

There’s comfort in being around people who share common interests, goals, and challenges. That comfort in a community doesn’t wane with age – it actually deepens. Whether it’s proudly talking about grandchildren or lamenting the fact that our eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, it helps to be around people who not only understand what we’re saying but actually feel the same joys and concerns as well.

That’s why many boomers are deciding to move into an active adult community. In the latest 55places National Housing Survey, they were described by one out of three seniors as an “outgoing, social community of likeminded people.”

Bill Ness, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of 55places.com, explains:

“Baby boomers are now reaching the age when moving to an active adult community is the ideal opportunity for them…Many boomers now want to downsize, experience a maintenance-free lifestyle, and pursue more social opportunities. It’s exciting that there are so many choices for baby boomers.”

There’s still a desire, however, among many seniors to “age-in-place.” According to the Senior Resource Guide, aging-in-place means:

“…that you will be remaining in your own home for the later years of your life; not moving into a smaller home, assisted living, or a retirement community etcetera.”

The challenge is, many seniors live in suburban or rural areas, and that often necessitates driving significant distances to see friends or attend other social engagements. A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) titled Housing America’s Older Adults addressed this exact concern:

“The growing concentration of older households in outlying communities presents major challenges for residents and service providers alike. Single-family homes make up most of the housing stock in low-density areas, and residents typically need to be able to drive to do errands, see doctors, and socialize.”

The Kiplinger report also chimed in on this subject:

“While most seniors say they want to age in place, a much smaller percentage of them actually manage to accomplish it, studies show. Transportation is often a problem; when you can no longer drive, you can’t get to medical appointments or to other outings.”

Driving may not be a challenge right now, but think about what it may be like to drive 10, 20, or 30 years down the road.

There are also health challenges brought on by a possible lack of socialization when living at home versus a community of seniors. Sarah J. Stevenson is an author who writes about seniors. In a recent blog post for A Place for Mom, she explains:

“Social contacts tend to decrease as we age for reasons such as retirement, the death of friends and family, or lack of mobility.”

Thankfully, research from the same article suggests if you’re spending time with others in a community, thus reducing the impact of loneliness and isolation, there’s less of a risk of developing high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, a weakened immune system, depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and early death.

Though the familiarity of our current home may bring a feeling of warmth, comfort, and convenience, it’s important to understand that staying there may mean missing out on crucial socialization opportunities. Living with adult children, joining a retirement community, or moving to an assisted living facility can help us continue to be with people we enjoy every day.

Bottom Line

“Aging-in-place” definitely has its advantages, but it could mean getting “stuck-in-place” too. There are many health benefits derived from socialization with a community of people that shares common interests. It’s important to take the need for human interaction into consideration when making a decision about where to spend the later years in life.

Photo of a young mixed-race family admiring a home – possibly their first home, or the home they hope to own.

There are many clear financial benefits to owning a home: increasing equity, building net worth, growing appreciation, and more. If you’re a renter, it’s never too early to make a plan for how homeownership can propel you toward a stronger future. Here’s a dive into three often-overlooked financial benefits of homeownership and how preparing for them now can steer you in the direction of greater stability, savings, and predictability.

1. You Won’t Always Have a Monthly Housing Payment

According to a recent article by the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“If you’ve been a lifelong renter, this may sound like a foreign concept, but believe it or not, one day you won’t have a monthly housing payment. Unlike renting, you will eventually pay off your mortgage and your monthly payments will be funding other (possibly more fun) things.”

As a homeowner, someday you can eliminate the monthly payment you make on your house. That’s a huge win and a big factor in how homeownership can drive stability and savings in your life. As soon as you buy a home, your monthly housing costs will begin to work for you as forced savings, coming in the form of equity. As you build equity and grow your net worth, you can continue to reinvest those savings into your future, maybe even by buying that next dream home. The possibilities are truly endless.

2. Homeownership Is a Tax Break

One thing people who have never owned a home don’t always think about are the tax advantages of homeownership. The same piece states:

“Both the interest and property tax portion of your mortgage is a tax deduction. As long as the balance of your mortgage is less than the total price of your home, the interest is 100% deductible on your tax return.”

Whether you’re living in your first home or your fifth, it’s a huge financial advantage to have some tax relief tied to the interest you pay each year. It’s one thing you definitely don’t get when you’re renting. Be sure to work with a tax professional to get the best possible benefits on your annual return.

3. Monthly Housing Costs Are Predictable

A third item noted in the article is how monthly costs become more predictable with homeownership:

“As a homeowner, your monthly costs are most likely based on a fixed-rate mortgage, which allows you to budget your finances over a long period of time, unlike the unpredictability of renting.”

With a mortgage, you can keep your monthly housing costs steady and predictable. Rental prices have been skyrocketing since 2012, and with today’s low mortgage rates, it’s a great time to get more for your money when purchasing a home. If you want to lock-in your monthly payment at a low rate and have a solid understanding of what you’re going to spend in your mortgage payment each month, buying a home may be your best bet.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to start feeling the benefits of stability, savings, and predictability that come with owning a home, reach out to a local real estate professional to determine if buying a home sooner rather than later is right for you.

Top Reasons to Love Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • There are many benefits to love about homeownership, and they’re not all financial.
  • Being a part of a neighborhood, driving academic achievement, and improving mental health are just a few of these advantages.
  • Reach out to a local real estate professional today to determine if you’re ready to embrace the rewards of owning your own home.

It’s hard to listen to today’s news without hearing about the uncertainty surrounding global markets, the spread of the coronavirus, and tensions in the Middle East, just to name a few. These concerns have caused some to question their investment plans going forward. As an example, in Vanguard’s Global Outlook for 2020, the fund explains,

“Slowing global growth and elevated uncertainty create a fragile backdrop for markets in 2020 and beyond.”

Is there a silver lining to this cloud of doubt?

Some worry this could cause concern for the U.S. housing market. The uncertainty, however, may actually mean good news for real estate.

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, discussed the situation in a recent report,

“Global events and uncertainty…impact the U.S. economy, and more specifically, the U.S. housing market…U.S. bonds, backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, are widely considered the safest investments in the world. When global investors sense increased uncertainty, there is a ‘flight to safety’ in U.S. Treasury bonds, which causes their price to go up, and their yield to go down.”

Last week, in a HousingWire article, Kathleen Howley reaffirmed Fleming’s point,

“The death toll from the coronavirus already has passed Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, that bruised the world’s economy in 2003…That’s making investors around the world anxious, and when they get anxious, they tend to sell off stocks and seek the safe haven of U.S. bonds. An increase in competition for bonds means investors, including the people who buy mortgage-backed bonds, have to take lower yields. That translates into lower mortgage rates.”

Popular Perspective Delivers Gift to U.S. Housing Market | Keeping Current Matters

The yield from treasury bonds is the rate investors receive when they purchase the bond. Historically, when the treasury rate moves up or down, the 30-year mortgage rate follows. Here’s a powerful graph showing the relationship between the two over the last 48 years:How might concerns about global challenges impact the housing market in 2020? Fleming explains,

“Even a small change in the 10-year Treasury due to increased uncertainty, let’s say a slight drop to 1.6 percent, would imply a 30-year, fixed mortgage rate as low as 3.3 percent. Assuming no change in household income, that would mean a house-buying power gain of $21,000, a five percent increase.”

Bottom Line

For a multitude of reasons, 2020 could be a challenging year. It seems, however, real estate will do just fine. As Fleming concluded in his report:

“Amid uncertainty, the house-buying power of U.S. consumers can benefit significantly.”

Open front door to classic style home.

The success of the U.S. residential real estate market, like any other market, is determined by supply and demand. This means we need to look at how many potential purchasers are in the market versus the number of houses that are available to buy. With early 2020 housing data now rolling in, it’s quite evident there are two big stories impacting this year’s residential real estate market:

1. Buyer demand is already extremely strong
2. Housing supply is at a historically low level

Demand

ShowingTime is a firm that compiles data from property showings scheduled across the country. The latest ShowingTime Showing Index reveals how showings have increased in each of the country’s four regions for five months in a row.

Supply

Move.com also just released information indicating that the number of homes currently for sale has declined rapidly and now sits at the lowest level in almost a decade. They explained,

“National housing inventory declined 13.6 percent in January, the steepest year-over-year decrease in more than 4 years, pushing the supply of for sale homes in the U.S. to its lowest level since realtor.com began tracking the data in 2012.”

In response to these numbers, Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, said,

“Homebuyers took advantage of low mortgage rates and stable listing prices to drive sales higher at the end of 2019, further depleting the already limited inventory of homes for sale. With fewer homes coming up for sale, we’ve hit another new low of for sale-listings in January.”

The #1 Reason to List Your House Right Now | Keeping Current Matters

The decrease in inventory impacted every price range, too. Here’s a graph showing the data released by move.com:

Bottom Line

Since there’s a historic shortage of homes for sale, putting your home on the market today could drive an excellent price and give you additional negotiating leverage when selling your house. Reach out to a local real estate professional to determine if listing your house now is your best move.

Spain, Barcelona
Homeownership Rate on the Rise to a 6-Year High | Keeping Current Matters

Regardless of the lack of inventory on the market, the U.S. homeownership rate has climbed to a 6-year high. The United States Census Bureau reported that it increased to 65.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019, representing the highest level in the past six years. See the graph below:This increase does not come as a surprise. According to realtor.com,

“The largest cohort of the millennial generation turns 30-years-old in 2020 and they are hitting the housing market in full force. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2019, millennials made up the largest generational segment of homebuyers, growing their share of home purchase mortgages to 48 percent.”

With so many Millennials entering a homebuying phase of life and getting into the market, the Millennial Report also explains,

“Homeownership is an even bigger goal for younger generations. Of those with savings, 41 percent of Gen Z and 40 percent of younger millennials are saving to buy a home.”

Today’s low interest rates are providing a break to new homeowners too, regardless of generation, making homeownership more desirable and achievable at the same time. Freddie Mac explains,

“The combination of very low mortgage rates, a strong economy and more positive financial market sentiment all point to home purchase demand continuing to rise over the next few months.”

The increase in homeownership rate was also represented by race and ethnicity of the householders. HousingWire explains,

“The homeownership rate for black Americans in 2019’s fourth quarter rose to 44%, a seven-year high, increasing from the record low it reached in 2019’s second quarter. The rate for Hispanic Americans was 48.1%, a two-year high, the Census data showed…The rate for white Americans was 73.7%, an eight-year high.”

Homeownership Rate on the Rise to a 6-Year High | Keeping Current Matters

See the graph below:

Bottom Line

If you’re considering buying a home this year, reach out to a local real estate professional to set a plan that will help you get one step closer to achieving your dream.

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