Home values have been increasing for 93 consecutive months, according to the National Association of Realtors. If you’re a homeowner, particularly one looking to downsize your living space, that’s great news, as you’ve likely built significant equity in your home. Here’s some more good news: mortgage rates are expected to remain low throughout 2020 at an average of 3.8% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan. The combination of leveraging your growing equity and capitalizing on low rates could make a big difference in your housing plans this year.
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 GaragesThe 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
Homebuyers Are Not Giving Up Their PatiosPatios 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.”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 LineHomebuyers 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. Let’s get together today to determine the current value and demand for your home.
In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. led and inspired a powerful movement with his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Through his passion and determination, he sparked interest, ambition, and courage in his audience. Today, reflecting on his message encourages many of us to think about our own dreams, goals, beliefs, and aspirations. For many Americans, one of those common goals is owning a home: a piece of land, a roof over our heads, and a place where our families can grow and flourish. If you’re dreaming of buying a home this year, the best way to start the process is to connect with a Real Estate professional to understand what goes into buying a home. Once you have that covered, then you can answer the questions below to make the best decision for you and your family.
1. How Can I Better Understand the Process, and How Much Can I Afford?The process of buying a home is not one to enter into lightly. You need to decide on key things like how long you plan on living in an area, school districts you prefer, what kind of commute works for you, and how much you can afford to spend. Keep in mind, before you start the process to purchase a home, you’ll also need to apply for a mortgage. Lenders will evaluate several factors connected to your financial track record, one of which is your credit history. They’ll want to see how well you’ve been able to minimize past debts, so make sure you’ve been paying your student loans, credit cards, and car loans on time. Most agents have loan officers they trust that they can refer you to. According to ConsumerReports.org,
“Financial planners recommend limiting the amount you spend on housing to 25 percent of your monthly budget.”
2. How Much Do I Need for a Down Payment?In addition to knowing how much you can afford on a monthly mortgage payment, understanding how much you’ll need for a down payment is another critical step. Thankfully, there are many different options and resources in the market to potentially reduce the amount you may think you need to put down upfront. If you’re concerned about saving for a down payment, start small and be consistent. A little bit each month goes a long way. Jumpstart your savings by automatically adding a portion of your monthly paycheck into a separate savings account or house fund. AmericaSaves.org says,
“Over time, these automatic deposits add up. For example, $50 a month accumulates to $600 a year and $3,000 after five years, plus interest that has compounded.”Before you know it, you’ll have enough for a down payment if you’re disciplined and thoughtful about your process.
3. Saving Takes Time: Practice Living on a BudgetAs tempting as it is to settle in each morning with a fancy cup of coffee from your favorite local shop, putting that daily spend toward your down payment will help accelerate your path to homeownership. It’s the little things that count, so start trying to live on a slightly tighter budget if you aren’t doing so already. A budget will allow you to save more for your down payment and help you pay down other debts to improve your credit score. A survey of Millennial spending shows,
“70 percent of would-be first-time homebuyers will cut spending on spa days, shopping and going to the movies in exchange for purchasing a home within the next year.”While you don’t need to cut all of the fun out of your current lifestyle, making smarter choices and limiting your spending in areas where you can slim down will make a big difference.
Bottom LineIf homeownership is on your dream list this year, take a good look at what you can prioritize to help you get there. Let’s get together today to discuss the best steps you can take to start the process.
- 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 our area, let’s get together.
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.”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 LineThe housing market will remain strong throughout 2020. Understand what that means to you, whether you’re buying, selling, or doing both.
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).”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. 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.