It seems you can’t find a headline with the term “housing affordability” without the word “crisis” attached to it. That’s because some only consider the fact that residential real estate prices have continued to appreciate. However, we must realize it’s not just the price of a home that matters, but the price relative to a purchaser’s buying power.
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 3.5% over the last year.
Let’s look at three different reports issued recently that reveal how homes are very affordable in comparison to historic numbers, and how they have become even more affordable over the past several months.
Here is a graph showing the index going all the way back to 1990. The higher the column, the more affordable homes are:We can see that homes are less affordable today (the green bar) than they were during the housing crash (the red bars). This was when distressed properties like foreclosures and short sales saturated the market and sold for massive discounts. However, homes are more affordable today than at any time from 1990 to 2008.
NAR’s report on the index also shows that the percentage of a family’s income needed for a mortgage payment (16.5%) is dramatically lower than last year and is well below the historic norm of 21.2%.
This report reveals that as a result of falling interest rates and slowing home price appreciation, affordability is the best it has been in 18 months. Black Knight Data & AnalyticsPresident Ben Graboske explains:
“For much of the past year and a half, affordability pressures have put a damper on home price appreciation. Indeed, the rate of annual home price growth has declined for 15 consecutive months. More recently, declining 30-year fixed interest rates have helped to ease some of those pressures, improving the affordability outlook considerably…And despite the average home price rising by more than $12K since November, today’s lower fixed interest rates have worked out to a $108 lower monthly payment…Lower rates have also increased the buying power for prospective homebuyers looking to purchase the average-priced home by the equivalent of 15%.”
While affordability has increased recently, Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist explains:
“If the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage declines just a fraction more, consumer house-buying power would reach its highest level in almost 20 years.”
Fleming goes on to say that the gains in affordability are about mortgage rates and the increase in family incomes:
“Average nominal household incomes are nearly 57 percent higher today than in January 2000. Record income levels combined with mortgage rates near historic lows mean consumer house-buying power is more than 150 percent greater today than it was in January 2000.”
If you’ve put off the purchase of a first home or a move-up home because of affordability concerns, you should take another look at your ability to purchase in today’s market. You may be pleasantly surprised!
Urban Institute recently released a report entitled, “Barriers to Accessing Homeownership: Down Payment, Credit, and Affordability,” which revealed that,
“Consumers often think they need to put more money down to purchase a home than is actually required. In a 2017 survey, 68% of renters cited saving for a down payment as an obstacle to homeownership. Thirty-nine percent of renters believe that more than 20% is needed for a down payment and many renters are unaware of low–down payment programs.”
Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”
Buyers often overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the same report:
“Most potential homebuyers are largely unaware that there are low-down payment and no-down payment assistance programs available at the local, state, and federal levels to help eligible borrowers secure an affordable down payment.”
These numbers do not differ much between non-owners and homeowners. For example, “30% of homeowners and 39% of renters believe that you need more than 20 percent for a down payment.”
While many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream homes, they do not realize that there are programs available which allow them to put down as little as 3%. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.
Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher to Buy”
Similar to the down payment, many either don’t know or are misinformed about what FICO® score is necessary to qualify.
Many Americans believe a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.
To help debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.
As you can see in the chart above, 51.7% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 600-749.
Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Your dream home may already be within your reach. To know for sure, give me a call!