Buyers are out in full force this fall, increasing the demand for homebuying in all four regions of the country.

According to the latest ShowingTime Showing Index,

“Home showing activity was up again nationwide with a 4.6 percent rise in traffic, as the traditionally slow fall season began with a marked boost in buyer interest.”

Buyers clearly have the right idea, as mortgage rates have dropped over a full percentage point since the fall of 2018. They’ve hovered in a historically low range since this summer, making the overall cost of homeownership significantly more attractive and affordable.

Here’s the breakdown of how ShowingTime reports current buyer traffic patterns across the country:

“The West Region, which until August had experienced 18 consecutive months of flagging home buyer traffic, lead the four regions in year-over-year improvement with an 8.9 percent increase in buyer activity.

The South followed with a 6.4 percent increase, the largest such improvement in the region since April 2018, with the Northeast Region’s 5.6 percent increase the next largest among the four regions.

The Midwest’s more modest 0.8 percent year-over-year growth rounded out the nation’s promising month.”

Buyer Demand Growing in Every Region | Keeping Current Matters

With ShowingTime reporting “nationwide growth for the second consecutive month, a first since December 2017 – January 2018”, it’s one more reason why selling your house this winter is the way to go. List while buyers are on the market, before competition with other sellers pops up in your neighborhood.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of waiting until spring to sell, think again! Reach out to a local real estate professional to discuss listing your house now while buyer traffic is actively surging throughout the country.

In the third quarter of 2019, the U.S. homeownership rate rose again, signaling another strong indicator of the current housing market.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced,

“The homeownership rate of 64.8 percent was not statistically different from the rate in the third quarter 2018 (64.4 percent), but was 0.7 percentage points higher than the rate in the second quarter 2019 (64.1 percent).”

Homeownership Rate Remains on the Rise | Keeping Current Matters

Today there is still a lack of inventory, particularly at the entry and middle-level segments of the market, but that is not stopping buyers from making every effort to pursue homeownership. The many financial and non-financial benefits continue to drive the American Dream and will likely do so for generations to come.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying a home, contact a local real estate professional to make your dream a reality.

A mother and her son are hugging in their living room. The mother is wearing a military uniform.

Today, on Veterans Day, we salute those who have served our country in war or peace, and we thank them for their sacrifice.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of VA Home Loan Benefit offerings through the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, also known as the GI Bill. Since 1944, this law has created opportunities for those who have served our country, ranging from vocational training to home loans.

Facts About VA Home Loans:

  • Nearly 24 million home loans have been guaranteed by the Veterans Administration.
  • Nearly 82% of VA home loans are made with no down payment.
  • The VA also provides grants to help seriously disabled Veterans purchase, modify, or construct a home to meet their needs. Last year the VA provided 2,000 grants totaling $104 million.

Benefits of a VA Home Loan:

  1. No down payment
  2. No Private Mortgage Insurance*
  3. Lower credit score requirements
  4. Limitation on closing costs
  5. Lower average interest rates

*More information on VA Home Loan Fees

Bottom Line

The best thing you can do today to celebrate Veterans Day is to share this information with those who can benefit from these opportunities. For more information, or to find out how to qualify to use a VA Home Loan Benefit, contact a local real estate professional who can help you through the process. Thank you for your service!

VA Home Loans by the Numbers [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • The Veterans Administration (VA) Home Loan is a benefit that is available to more than 22 million veterans and 2 million active duty service members to help them achieve the dream of homeownership.
  • In 2018, $161 billion was loaned to veterans and their families through the program.
  • In the same year, the average loan amount was $264,197 and 610,513 loans were guaranteed.
selling home and shopping,money

Home buying activity (demand) is up, and the number of available listings (supply) is down. When demand outpaces supply, prices appreciate. That’s why firms are beginning to increase their projections for home price appreciation going forward. As an example, CoreLogic increased their 12-month projection for home values from 4.5% to 5.6% over the last few months.

The reacceleration of home values will cause some to again voice concerns about affordability. Just last week, however, First American came out with a data analysis that explains how price is not the only market factor that impacts affordability. They studied prices, mortgage rates, and wages from January through August of this year. Here are their findings:

Home Prices

“In January 2019, a family with the median household income in the U.S. could afford to buy a $373,900 house. By August, that home had appreciated to $395,000, an increase of $21,100.”

Mortgage Interest Rates

“The 0.85 percentage point drop in mortgage rates from January 2019 through August 2019 increased affordability by 9.7%. That translates to a $40,200 improvement in house-buying power in just eight months.”

Wage Growth

“As rates have fallen in 2019, the economy has continued to perform well also, resulting in a tight labor market and wage growth. Wage growth pushes household incomes upward, which were 1.5% higher in August compared with January. The growth in household income increased consumer house-buying power by 1.5%, pushing house-buying power up an additional $5,600.”

Forget the Price of the Home. The Cost is What Matters. | Keeping Current Matters

When all three market factors are combined, purchasing power increased by $24,500, thus making home buying more affordable, not less affordable. Here is a table that simply shows the data:

Bottom Line

In the article, Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explained it best:

“Focusing on nominal house price changes alone as an indication of changing affordability, or even the relationship between nominal house price growth and income growth, overlooks what matters more to potential buyers – surging house-buying power driven by the dynamic duo of mortgage rates and income growth. And, we all know from experience, you buy what you can afford to pay per month.”

A Millennial Japanese Woman Depositing Checks with Mobile

Millennials have waited longer than any other generation to become homeowners, but the wait for this cohort is just about over. According to National Mortgage News,

“Millennials, those young adults now aged 23 to 38, are now entering their peak household formation and homebuying years.

If you’re a Millennial, you’re already well aware that you’re among a generation of those who favor fast-paced, real-time answers – and results. When you’re ready to make a decision, it’s go-time, and you probably want the latest technology at your fingertips to make it happen.

National Mortgage News agrees, stating,

“Millennials are different than previous generations—not only in their delayed homebuying but also in how they approach interactions with financial institutions, including mortgage lenders. Taking a picture of a check on their phone and depositing it without visiting a branch is not novel, it’s the way Millennials learned to do banking. They expect real-time access to account and transaction data and are frustrated when it’s not available.”

Here’s the catch – the overall speed of the homebuying process can take some time, and it might feel like it is slowing you down. When you’re ready to buy, you can make an offer and go under contract quickly, but the rest of the process might take a little longer. The same article explains why:

“When Millennials apply for a loan, the mortgage lender must qualify the borrower and determine who owns the property, how much the property is worth, and the property’s risk profile. Traditionally, this has been one of the most time-consuming and fragmented parts of the mortgage process…There are many moving pieces, each data point being sourced from a different provider, which can ultimately lead to a lengthy or delayed process.

What has historically been accepted as the process norm does not align with the expectations of the most prominent generation in the home buying market today. Millennials have come to expect rapid, digital workflows in their daily purchase decisions, and in their mind, the home buying process shouldn’t be any different.”

So, where do you go from here?

If you’re pre-approved for a mortgage, that will help speed things up. But the steps it takes and the time to finalize a loan with most traditional lenders may feel like an eternity to you and your generational peers. Don’t worry, though – it’s well worth the wait when you finally get the keys to your new castle!

The financial benefits of homeownership, like increasing your net worth by building equity, and the non-financial benefits, like being able to customize and improve your space, will ultimately set you on the course to happiness, success, overall satisfaction, and much, much more.

Bottom Line

If you’re feeling like it’s go-time, reach out to a local real estate professional and get the process moving to determine if homeownership is your next best step.

Tom Petty famously penned the words, “the waiting is the hardest part” in his early 80’s hit song The Waiting, and his thought process can surprisingly also be applied to individuals considering selling their homes today. Traditional thinking would suggest it may be best to wait until the spring to sell when there is a flood of buyers in the market, but right now may in fact be an even better time to list your home.

We can see the overall economy is good: wages are rising, there are near record-low unemployment rates, and mortgage interest rates are still very low too. Over the past 10+ years the housing market has stabilized, so what (if anything) is the biggest challenge in the housing market today?

The answer is simple: it’s inventory.

According to the Existing Home Sales Report by the National Association of Realtors,

“Total housing inventory at the end of September sat at 1.83 million, approximately equal to the amount of existing-homes available for sale in August, but a 2.7% decrease from 1.88 million one year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.1-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.0 months in August and down from the 4.4-month figure recorded in September 2018.”

What does this mean?

While homes are coming to the market, they aren’t coming fast enough! Right now, across the country there is less than 6 months of overall inventory of homes for sale, putting us in a seller’s market. The challenge is that there are not enough homes for sale to increase the supply needed for the number of people who want to buy, especially in the starter and middle-level markets.

Thinking of Selling Your Home? The Waiting Is The Hardest Part. | Keeping Current Matters

To be in a balanced market (meaning we have enough inventory for the number of buyers in the market), we need to have 6 months of inventory available. Today we are nowhere near that number, and as a matter of fact, the last time we reached that height was August 2012 (as shown in the graph below):When we look at the inventory challenge today, we can see that now is a great time to sell your house. Truthfully, waiting may end up being the hardest part in the long run. This landscape is a great place for sellers who own homes in the starter and middle-level markets to take the opportunity to sell in a sellers’ market, before inventory catches up with demand. Serious buyers are actively in the market and ready to make a move at this time of year. When inventory is limited at the lower end, like it is today, selling before more homes are listed could mean a significant seller’s advantage to those who are ready to move up. The upper level of the market has much more inventory available to move into, so it’s a win across the board.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering selling your home, don’t wait – now is the time to make your move! Take advantage of the high housing demand and the low inventory of homes for sale at the lower end of the market and use your purchasing power while mortgage rates are low to go after the move-up home of your dreams. The best thing you can do is connect with a local real estate professional and decide if now is the right time for you.

Buying a home can be SCARY…Until you know the FACTS [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

Many potential homebuyers believe they need a 20% down payment and a 780 FICO® score to qualify to buy a home. This stops many people from even trying to jump into homeownership! Here are some facts to help take the fear out of the process:

  • 71% of buyers who purchased homes have put down less than 20%.
  • 78.1% of loan applications were approved last month.
  • In September, the average credit score for approved loans was 737.
Sunset in the fall over the suburban neighborhood

To understand today’s complex real estate market, it is critical to have a local, trusted advisor on your side – for more reasons than you may think.

In real estate today, there are essentially three different price points in the market: the starter-home market, the middle-home market, and the premium or luxury market. Each one is unique, and depending on the city, the price point in these categories will vary. For example, a starter or lower-end home in San Francisco, California is much more expensive than almost any other part of the country. Let’s explore what you need to know about each of these tiers.

Starter-Home Market: This market varies by price, and these homes are typically purchased by first-time home buyers or investors looking to flip them for a profit. Across the country, homes in this space currently have less than 6 months of inventory for sale. That means there aren’t enough homes on the lower end of the market for the number of people who want to buy them. A low supply like this generally increases competition, drives bidding wars, and sets up an environment where homes sell above the listing price. According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) on realtor.com,

“The desire for affordability continues to push down the inventory for homes listed for less than $200,000.00.”

Middle-Home Market: This segment is often thought of as the move-up market. Typically, the buyer in this market is moving up to a larger, more custom home with more features, all coming at a higher price. Across the country, this market is looking more balanced than the lower end of the market, meaning it has closer to a 6-month supply of inventory for sale. This market is more neutral, but leaning towards a seller’s market.

Premium & Luxury Home Market: This is the top end of the market with larger homes that have even more custom features and upgrades. Nationwide, this market is growing in the number of homes for sale. In the same realtor.com article, we can see that year-over-year inventory of homes in this tier has grown by 4.7%. Today, there are more homes available in the premium and luxury space, leading to more of a buyer’s market at this end.

Bottom Line

Depending on the segment of the market and the price point you’re looking at, you’re going to need the advice of a true local market expert to help you successfully navigate the home-buying or selling process.

Some Highlights:

  • The National Association of REALTORS® surveyed their members for the release of their Confidence Index.
  • 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.
  • Homes across the country are selling quickly, in an average of just 31 days.
  • 49% of homes sold in less than a month.
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