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Keeping Current Matters

Vacation Home Sales: Sales Down, Prices Up

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The National Association of Realtors recently released their 2016 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey. The survey revealed many characteristics of both vacation home purchasers and investors. Today, we want to concentrate on the vacation real estate market. The survey found that vacation-home sales last year declined to an estimated 920,000, down 18.5% from their most recent peak level of 1.13 million in 2014. However, this is still the second highest number of vacation sales since 2006:

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Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist explained:

“The expanding pool of buyers amidst a dwindling number of bargain-priced properties led to tighter supply and fewer sales and caused the price of vacation homes to rise. Furthermore, the turbulence that hit the financial markets the second half of the year likely seized some would-be buyers’ available cash.” 

As Yun mentioned, the sales price of vacation homes rose in 2015:

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Keeping Current Matters

The Top Reasons Why Americans Buy Homes

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Last week, the inaugural “Homebuyer Insights Report” was released by the Bank of America. The report revealed the reasons why consumers purchase homes and what their feelings are regarding homeownership. Consumer Lending Executive, D. Steve Boland, explained:

“Homebuyers today are motivated by both emotional and practical reasons. Nearly all want more space, but a majority of homebuyers, especially those purchasing their first home, are also looking for a place to call their own, put down roots and make memories. They value the emotional benefits of owning a home as much as the financial ones.”

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Boland went on to say:

“The path to homeownership is a journey and can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. For many people, this is the single most significant financial transaction they will ever make.”

This was evidenced in the report when they asked today’s homebuyers to define homeownership. Their answers tell the whole story.

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Bottom Line

Homeownership has always been a part of the American Dream and survey after survey confirms this will always be the case.

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Over Half of Americans Planning on Buying in the Next 5 Years

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According to the BMO Harris Bank Home Buying Report, 52% of Americans say they are likely to buy a home in the next five years. Americans surveyed for the report said that they would be willing to pay an average of $296,000 for a home and would average a 21% down payment. The report also included other interesting revelations.

Those Looking to Buy

  • 74% of those looking to buy a new home will consult with a real estate agent
  • 59% said they will visit online real estate websites
  • 37% will seek recommendations from friends and family
  • 78% plan to get pre-approved before seriously searching for a home

Those Who Already Own

  • 75% of current homeowners set a budget before looking for a home, and 16% ended up spending less while 13% went over their budget.
  • 63% of American homeowners spent under six months looking for a new home before they made a purchase.
  • 8% bought their home without participating in an active real estate search – or even any plan to buy at all – because a specific property caught their attention.

The last point is very interesting: Of those who purchased a home, 8% bought “without any plan to buy at all”. A property caught their attention and they acted on it.

Why Are More People Not Planning Their Next Move?

Why are people that are considering a move not putting their home search to a plan, and instead, buying only when a property catches their attention? An article by Fannie Maereveals evidence that a large number of homeowners are dramatically underestimating the equity they have in their current home. The report explains that:

“Homeowners may be underestimating their home equity. In particular, if homeowners believe that large down payments are now required to purchase a home, then widespread, large underestimates of their home equity could be deterring them from applying for mortgages, selling their homes, and buying different homes.”

Bottom Line

Perhaps it is time to sit with a real estate professional to determine the actual equity you have in your house and to take a look at the opportunities that currently exist in the real estate market. This may be the perfect time to move-up, move-down or buy that vacation home your family has always wanted.

You Can Save for a Down Payment Faster Than You Think

unnamedIn a study conducted by Builder.com, researchers determined that nationwide, it would take “nearly eight years” for a first-time buyer to save enough for a down payment on their dream home. Depending on where you live, median rents, incomes and home prices all vary. By determining the percentage of income a renter spends on housing in each state, and the amount needed for a 10% down payment, they were able to establish how long (in years) it would take for an average resident to save. According to the study, residents in South Dakota are able to save for a down payment the quickest in just under 3.5 years.

Below is a map created using the data for each state:

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What if you only needed to save 3%?

What if you were able to take advantage of one of the Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae 3% down programs? Suddenly saving for a down payment no longer takes 5 or 10 years, but becomes attainable in under two years in many states as shown in the map below:

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Bottom Line

Whether you have just started to save for a down payment, or have been for years, you may be closer to your dream home than you think! Meet with a local real estate professional who can help you evaluate your ability to buy today.

 

 

 

 

Building Wealth: First Rung on the Ladder is Housing

Posted: 07 Apr 2016 04:00 AM PDT

unnamedHow Housing Matters is a joint project of the Urban Land Institute and the MacArthur Foundation. It is “an online resource for the most rigorous research and practical information on how a quality, stable, affordable home in a vibrant community contributes to individual and community success”. A recent story they published, The First Rung on the Ladder to Economic Opportunity Is Housing, discussed the importance of having affordable housing available to as many families as possible because:

“The ladder to economic success can stretch only so high without the asset-building power of homeownership. Home equity provides Americans with the ability to send their children to college with less student loan debt and is the primary source of funds for retirement. Half of the assets of Americans over age 55 are in their home.”

Bottom Line

We have often posted that the net worth of a family owning a home is 45 times greater than that of a family that rents. That is not a coincidence.

 

Real Estate: 2016 Will Be the Best Year in a Decade

Posted: 06 Apr 2016 04:00 AM PDT

 

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A few weeks ago, Jonathan Smoke, the Chief Economist at realtor.com, exclaimed: “All indicators point to this spring being the busiest since 2006.” Now, Freddie Mac has doubled down on that claim and is saying that 2016 will be the best year that the real estate industry has seen in a decade. In their March Housing Outlook Report, Freddie Mac explained:

“Despite the challenges facing the housing market, we expect this to be the best year for housing  in a decade. Home sales, housing starts, and house prices will reach their highest level since 2006 according to our latest forecast…Challenges remain, with low housing supply and declining affordability being a key concern in many markets, but on balance, the housing markets in the U.S. are poised for the best year since 2006.”

The key indicators that have given Freddie Mac such a positive outlook are:

  • Low interest rates
  • A resilient labor market
  • An increase in household formations
  • A projected increase in newly constructed homes

Bottom Line

2016 looks to be shaping up as a great year for residential real estate. Whether you are thinking of buying or selling, now may be the time to sit down with a real estate professional to discuss the new opportunities that are arising.

Rent or Buy: Either Way You’re Paying A Mortgage

Posted: 05 Apr 2016 04:00 AM PDT

unnamed (2)There are some renters that have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent free, you are paying a mortgage – either your mortgage or your landlord’s. As The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return.   That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

Christina Boyle, a Senior Vice President, Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity. The graph below shows the widening gap in net worth between a homeowner and a renter:

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Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, owning might make more sense than renting with home values and interest rates projected to climb.

Don’t Wait! Move Up To Your Dream Home Now!

Posted: 04 Apr 2016 04:00 AM PDT

unnamed (1)Now that the housing market has stabilized, more and more homeowners are considering moving up to the home they have always dreamed of. Prices are still below those of a few years ago and interest rates have stayed near historic lows. Sellers should realize that waiting to make the move when mortgage rates are projected to increase probably doesn’t make sense. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain budget for your monthly housing costs. 

Here is a chart detailing this point:

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According to Freddie Mac, the current 30-year fixed rate iscurrently around 3.75%. With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5% (in this example, by $10,000). Freddie Mac predicts that mortgage rates will be closer to 4.7% by this time next year.

Act now to get the most house for your hard-earned money.

2016 Home Sales Doing Just Fine!!

Posted: 31 Mar 2016 04:00 AM PDT

unnamed Some of the housing headlines are causing concern for some consumers who are in the process of either buying or selling a home. Pundits are concerned over the lack of new construction or the month-over-month sales numbers. Let’s set the record straight; 2015 was a good year for residential real estate in the United States and 2016 is starting out stronger. Here is a graph of total homes sold (new construction and existing homes) in the first two months in 2016 compared to last year:

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Will this momentum continue?

If we look at foot traffic (the number of purchasers currently out looking at homes), we can see that the spring buying market has started early and all indicators point to the fact that we may have the best spring in over a decade.

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Bottom Line

The 2016 housing market started out well and looks to be gaining steam. If you are thinking of buying or selling a home, now may be a great time.