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In a market where current inventory is low, it’s normal to think buyers might be willing to give up a few desirable features in their home search in order to make finding a house a little easier. Don’t be fooled, though – there’s still an interest in the market for some key upgrades. Here’s a look at the two surprising things buyers seem to be searching for in today’s market, and how they’re impacting new home builds.

Homebuyers Are Not Giving Up Their Garages

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recently released an article showing the percentage of new single-family homes completed in 2018. The data reveals,

  • 64% of new homes offer a 2-car garage
  • 21% have a garage large enough to hold 3 or more cars
  • 7% have a 1-car garage
  • 7% do not include a garage or carport
  • 1% have a carport
The 2 Surprising Things Homebuyers Really Want | Keeping Current Matters

The following map represents this breakdown by region:Evidently, a garage is something homebuyers are looking for in their searches, but that’s not all.

Homebuyers Are Not Giving Up Their Patios

Patios are on the radar for buyers as well. Community areas are often common amenities in new neighborhoods, but as it turns out, private outdoor spaces are quite desirable too. NAHB also found that,

“Of the roughly 876,000 single-family homes started in 2018, 59.4% came with patios…This is the highest the number has been since NAHB began tracking the series in 2005.”

The 2 Surprising Things Homebuyers Really Want | Keeping Current Matters

As shown in the graph below, the number of new homes built with patios has been increasing for the past 9 years. Clearly, they’re a desirable feature for new homeowners too.

Bottom Line

Homebuyers are looking for garage space and outdoor patio living. If you’re a homeowner thinking of selling a house with these amenities, it appears buyers are willing to spring for those key features. To find out the current value and demand for your home, contact a local real estate professional today.


Where Homebuyers Are Heading By Generation [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters


Some Highlights:

  • Whether capitalizing on job opportunities, affordability, or warm-weather places to retire, Americans are making moves to these top cities to take advantage of the strength in the current housing market.
  • A strong economy and lower mortgage rates have made it easier for many would-be buyers to get into the market. According to realtor.com, it just depends on which market.
  • To find the top market in your area, contact a local real estate professional.
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The real estate market is expected to do very well this year as mortgage rates remain at historic lows. One challenge to the housing industry is the lack of homes available for sale. Last week, move.com released a report showing that 2020 is beginning with the lowest available housing inventory in two years. The report explains:

“Last month saw the largest year-over-year decline of housing inventory in almost three years with a dramatic 12 percent decline, pushing the number of homes for sale in the U.S. to the lowest level since January 2018.”

Housing Inventory Vanishing: What Is the Impact on You? | Keeping Current Matters

The report also revealed that the decline in inventory stretches across all price points, as shown in the following graph:George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, explains how this drop in available homes for sale comes at a time when more buyers are expected to enter the market:

“The market is struggling with a large housing undersupply just as 4.8 million millennials are reaching 30-years of age in 2020, a prime age for many to purchase their first home. The significant inventory drop…is a harbinger of the continuing imbalance expected to plague this year’s markets, as the number of homes for sale are poised to reach historically low levels.”

The question is: What does this mean to you?

If You’re a Buyer…

Be patient during your home search. It may take time to find a home you love. Once you do, however, be ready to move forward quickly. Get pre-approved for a mortgage, be ready to make a competitive offer from the start, and understand that a shortage in inventory could lead to the resurgence of bidding wars. Calculate just how far you’re willing to go to secure a home, if you truly love it.

If You’re a Seller…

Realize that, in some ways, you’re in the driver’s seat. When there is a shortage of an item at the same time there is a strong demand for that item, the seller of that item is in a good position to negotiate. Whether it is price, moving date, possible repairs, or anything else, you’ll be able to demand more from a potential purchaser at a time like this – especially if you have multiple interested buyers. Don’t be unreasonable, but understand you probably have the upper hand.

Bottom Line

The housing market will remain strong throughout 2020. Understand what that means to you, whether you’re buying, selling, or doing both.

Agents: Join us today for our FREE webinar on 3 Steps to Becoming a Listing Machine at 1PM ET | 10AM PT. We’ll be joined by KCM Founder, Steve Harney, to give you the tools and insights to win all the new listings coming to the market this January.

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There’s a current narrative that owning a home today is less affordable than it has been in the past. The reason some are making this claim is because house prices have substantially increased over the last several years.

It’s not, however, just the price of a home that matters.

Homes, in most cases, are purchased with a mortgage. The current mortgage rate is a major component of the affordability equation. Mortgage rates have fallen by over a full percentage point since December 2018. Another major piece of the affordability equation is a buyer’s income. The median family income has risen by approximately 3% over the last year.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) releases a monthly Housing Affordability Index. The latest index shows that home affordability is better today than at almost any point over the last 30 years. The index determines how affordable homes are based on the following:

“A Home Affordability Index value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index of 120 signifies that a family earning the median income has 20 percent more than the level of income needed pay the mortgage on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment so that the monthly payment and interest will not exceed 25 percent of this level of income (qualifying income).”

Homes Are More Affordable Today, Not Less Affordable | Keeping Current Matters

The higher the index, therefore, the more affordable homes are. Here is a graph showing the index since 1990:Obviously, affordability was better during the housing crash when distressed properties – foreclosures and short sales – sold at major discounts (2009-2015). Outside of that period, however, homes are more affordable today than any other year since 1990, except for 2016.

Homes Are More Affordable Today, Not Less Affordable | Keeping Current Matters

The report on the index also includes a section that calculates the mortgage payment on a median priced home as a percentage of the median national income. Historically, that percentage is just above 21%. Here are the percentages since June of 2018:Again, we can see that affordability is much better today than the historical average and has been getting better over the last year and a half.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re thinking about buying your first home or moving up to the home of your dreams, don’t let the false narrative about affordability prevent you from moving forward. From an affordability standpoint, this is one of the best times to buy in the last 30 years.

By the end of last year, many homeowners found themselves with more equity than they realized, and at the same time their wages were increasing. When those two factors unite, it can spark homeowners to think about making a move to a larger or more expensive home in the luxury space. That said, now is a perfect opportunity to take a look at the forecast for the 2020 luxury market.

Three Things to Think About in the 2020 Luxury Housing Market

1. Prices

The U.S. economy is strong today, with buying opportunities throughout the luxury end of the market. Thomas Veraguth, Strategist at UBS Global Wealth Management, says in Barrons.com,

“There’s a good link between luxury real estate prices and [economic] growth.”

Available inventory is a key element that can impact home prices. At the upper range, the inventory is greater in comparison to the entry-level market, making moving up to a luxury home a growing reality for many buyers right now.

2. Activity in the Market

With more buying opportunities at the higher end, we should start to see an increase in activity. The same article states,

“Affluent homebuyers will start to come out of the woodwork as they find rising luxury rents less appealing and sellers get even more negotiable on price.”

Buyers looking in the luxury market are taking the opportunity to negotiate on price in a segment where there are more choices, too. According to the Luxury Market Report, homes sold for an average of 96.94% of the list price in December.

Buyers are also getting more for their money with greater purchasing power due to the current low interest rates.

3. Buyers Are Coming Back

Keep in mind, buyers are often sellers too, especially those looking to move up. Homeowners with an entry-level home can take advantage of the inventory shortage at the lower end of the market, thus driving higher sales prices for their current homes. Combined with growing equity in the homes they’re listing, it’s a great time for those who are ready to make a luxury move.

The extra equity and greater purchasing power are bringing many buyers back to the market. The same article mentioned that,

“We’ve already seen buyers who’ve been on the sidelines for two years tread back into the market.”

Bottom Line

If you’re considering entering the luxury market, 2020 is shaping up to be a great year for those who are ready to make that move. Contact your local real estate professional to set your real estate plan for the year.

National Cut Your Energy Costs Day [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • On January 10th of each year, “National Cut Your Energy Costs Day” encourages consumers to reduce their overall energy costs by improving home efficiency.
  • According to Freddie Mac, a typical U.S. family spends $2,200 per year on energy bills. By making energy efficient upgrades, you could reduce your energy bills by up to 30%.
  • To assess the energy efficiency of your home and see how it measures up, take a moment to check out Home Energy Yardstick to calculate your estimated opportunity. Don’t forget to have your energy bills nearby!

If you’re following what’s happening in the housing market right now, you know that many people believe the winter months aren’t a good time to sell a home. As realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu recently noted,

“Sellers tend to be more reluctant to list during the colder time of year when the market typically makes a seasonal slowdown.”

However, a recent report by ShowingTime reveals how this year is different. Buyer activity is way up compared to the same time last year. The report explains,

“The nation’s 12.6% growth in home showings compared to 2018 was the most significant jump in buyer traffic during the current four-month streak of year-over-year increases. The West Region saw the greatest growth in activity, with a 23.1% jump – the region’s greatest in the history of the Showing Index.”

There’s a Long Line of Buyers Waiting for Your House | Keeping Current Matters

The increase has spread across all four regions of the country, as the graph below shows:

Bottom Line

Waiting for the “spring buyers’ market” may be a mistake this year. It seems the purchasers are already out and looking to buy.

Which month do you think most people who are considering buying a home actually start their search? If you’re like most of us, you probably think the surge happens in the spring, likely in April. Not anymore. According to new research, January 2019 was only 1% behind February for the most monthly views per listing on realtor.com.

So, what does that mean? The busiest season in real estate has just begun.

The same research indicates,

“Historically, April launched the kickoff of the home shopping season as buyers would come out of their winter hibernation looking for their new home. However, the spring shopping season now starts in January for many of the nation’s largest markets.”

With the reality of fewer homes on the market in the winter, and that supply naturally increases as we head to the spring market, waiting for more competition to list in your neighborhood this year might put you behind the curve. Perhaps now is the time to jump into the market.

George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com says,

“As shoppers modify their strategies for navigating a housing market that has become more competitive due to rising prices and low inventory, the search for a home is beginning earlier and earlier.”

There is a lot of speculation in the market about why the search for a home is shifting to an earlier start. The one thing we do know is if you’re thinking about buying or selling a home this year, the earlier you get started, the better.

Reminder: When should you sell something? When there is less of that item for sale and the greatest number of buyers are in the market. That’s exactly what is happening in real estate right now.

Bottom Line

The new spring market for real estate is underway. If you’re considering buying or selling, reach out to a local real estate professional, so you have the advantage in this competitive market.

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Movies, tv shows, and celebrities often have us dreaming of owning large homes, but the reality for most people is quite different.

Since 2015, the square footage of newly built houses has been shrinking, according to Yahoo Finances. This is not projected to change as we continue into the beginning of the year.

“We expect this downsizing trend to continue in 2020, driven by a confluence of economic and demographic trends.”

Why are smaller homes trending now?

As noted in the article, there are a few main reasons for this demand:

  • “Many of today’s younger, millennial home buyers have expressed a preference for denser, more urban homes that are more walkable to shared amenities.”
  • “Today’s older homeowners are expressing a desire for smaller, less maintenance-heavy and more accessible (read: less stairs) homes as they age and move into newer homes.”

With these two demographic groups surging through the market, the demand for this type of home is rising. If you’re a homeowner with a smaller-scale house, now may be a great time to sell, as the demand for this end of the market is surely on the rise.

Bottom Line

The demand for smaller houses will continue to rise throughout 2020. Contact a local real estate professional to discuss what the housing inventory looks like in your neighborhood. It might be time for you to take advantage of this trend!

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Outside of a strong economy, low unemployment, and higher wages, there are three more great reasons why you may want to consider buying your dream home this year instead of waiting.

1. Buying a Home is a Great Investment

Several reports indicate that real estate is a good investment, topping other options such as gold, stocks, bonds, and savings. Why? Real estate helps build equity, a form of investing for you and your family. According to CoreLogic’s Equity Report,

“U.S. homeowners with mortgages (roughly 64% of all properties) have seen their equity increase by a total of nearly $457 billion since the third quarter 2018, an increase of 5.1%, year over year.”

This means the average homeowner gained approximately $5,300 in equity over the past year. If you want to start building your equity, put your housing costs to work for you through homeownership this year.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Low

The Primary Mortgage Market Survey from Freddie Mac indicates that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have fallen since November 2018 when they hit 4.94%. In their latest forecastFreddie Mac expects rates to remain low, leveling out to a yearly average of 3.8% in 2020.

When you purchase a home at a low mortgage rate, it will impact your monthly mortgage payment, giving you the opportunity to buy more house for your money.

3. Investing in Your Family is a Win

There are some renters who haven’t purchased a home yet because they’re uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you’re living rent-free with your parents, you’re paying a mortgage – either yours or that of your landlord.

Today, rental prices continue to increase, and when you’re paying your landlord’s mortgage instead of your own, you’re not the one earning the equity. As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ you can use later in life to reinvest in your family. You can use it for a variety of opportunities, such as saving for your children’s education, moving up to a bigger home, or starting your own business. As a renter, it can be more challenging to achieve those types of dreams without home equity working for you.

Bottom Line

Buying a home sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings and long-term financial growth for you and your family. Reach out to a local real estate professional to determine if homeownership is the right choice for you this year.

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