Posts Tagged ‘Housing Trends’

FOMC Meeting Minutes: Why Fed’s Rate Policy Reversed Course

February 22, 2019

FOMC Meeting Minutes: Why Fed’s Rate Policy Reversed CourseAfter raising the target range for the federal funds rate in 2018, the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee did not raise the Central Bank’s key interest rate at its meeting of January 29 and 30. While Committee members did not raise the Fed’s key rate, members were divided on the interest rate decision.

FOMC Members Divided On Interest Rate Decision

Minutes of January’s FOMC meeting indicated that member viewpoints varied about how the Fed should deal with the Fed’s target interest rate range. One group said that interest rate increases may be necessary if inflation increases above the Federal Reserve’s baseline forecast.

Other FOMC members supported raising the Fed’s interest rate range later in 2019 if economic conditions move as expected. Overall, FOMC members said that there were “few risks” in the Committee’s current position of patience, but they were open to reassessing that position according to how economic conditions change.

FOMC Cites Reasons For Halting Rate Increases

Committee members provided several reasons for reversing their 2018 policy of consistent rate hikes including declining economic conditions since early 2018. Global and domestic economic conditions slowed; deteriorating conditions were supported by lower readings on consumer and business sentiment. Federal government policies including the partial government shutdown and then-current trade policy contributed to the deteriorating economic outlook in late 2018.

Ongoing influences driving FOMC monetary policy decisions include the Fed’s mandate for achieving maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates. Because short-term data change frequently, Fed monetary policy reflects long-term goals, medium-term outlook and the Committee’s risk assessments in multiple financial and economic sectors. The Committee said that long-term inflation of two percent indicates stable pricing as required by federal mandate; any prolonged deviation above or below the two percent reading would concern Committee members.

FOMC indicated progress with its maximum employment mandate by changing its long-run unemployment outlook from 4.60 percent to 4.40 percent, which suggests a strong outlook for job markets. Fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product was described as “solid”. The meeting minutes indicated that some data typically used by Committee members was limited by the government shutdown.

 

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Lower in November

January 31, 2019

Case-Shiller Home Prices Lower in NovemberHome price growth continued to struggle in November, with Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index moving from October’s reading of 5.30 percent annual growth to 5.20 percent growth in November. This was the lowest reading since January 2015.

Las Vegas, Nevada remained first in home price growth rate with a year-over-year home prices growth of 12 percent. Phoenix, Arizona’s year-over-year home price growth rate was 8.10 percent and Seattle, Washington held third place with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 6.30 percent.

Las Vegas’ large year-over-year growth in home prices was attributed to the city’s ongoing recovery from the recession when home prices tanked in southern Nevada. Cities including Denver, Colorado, San Francisco California and Seattle, Washington saw steep declines in home price growth rates as compared to past peak home price growth fueled by post-recession recovery.

Challenges to home price appreciation were no surprise as slim supplies of available homes and high buyer demand created buyer competition and fewer choices of available homes. Affordability continued to discourage first-time and moderate income buyers.

David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices said, “The pace of price increases is being dampened by declining sales of existing homes and weaker affordability. Sales peaked in November 2017 and have drifted down through 2018. Affordability reflects higher prices and increased mortgage rates through much of last year.”

Affordable Homes Hard To Find Amid Slim Supply

First-time home buyers accounted for about 32 percent of home sales in November; their market share has not increased in recent months. First-time buyers typically look for pre-owned homes that cost less than brand new homes.

Healthy job growth and record unemployment rates could encourage potential buyers, but buyers were sidelined by short supplies of available homes and concerns about mortgage rates and overall economic trends. Analysts said that recently falling mortgage rates may not have been enough to encourage buyers who continued to face high demand for fewer homes and strict criteria for mortgage approval.

Positive indicators for housing markets included stable inflation and the Fed’s decision not to rise its target interest rate range; this was expected to help slow rate increases on consumer credit including mortgage loans.

If you are in the market for a new home, please be sure to consult with your trusted real estate agent and your trusted home mortgage professional.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Grows After Lowest Level in 3 Years

January 17, 2019

NAHB Home Builder Confidence Grows After Lowest Level in 3 YearsAfter two months of declining builder confidence, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index gained two points in January with a reading of 58. Component readings of the HMI were also higher with builder confidence in current market conditions rose two points to an index reading of 63. Builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months rose three points to 64.

The index for buyer traffic in new housing developments rose one point to 44. While index readings above 50 indicate positive market conditions, the index reading for buyer traffic is typically lower than 50.

Lower Mortgage Rates Compel Home Buyers to Act

Falling mortgage rates contributed to the uptick in home builder confidence, but affordability continued to impact first-time and moderate-income home buyers. Robert Dietz, NAHB chief economist, said: “Builders need to continue to manage rising construction costs to keep home prices affordable, particularly for young buyers at the entry level of the market.”

Analysts suggested that builders could consider offering deeper discounts and incentives to buyers to increase sales of new homes. Homes not sold during November and December added to current inventories of new homes available, which provides home buyers with more choices and less competition for homes.

Home Builders Expect More Buyer Traffic

Lennar Corporation, a major home builder said that increased buyer traffic indicated that 2019 home sales would increase and that improving economic conditions were expected to improve housing market conditions and home sales in 2019.

Builders expect to face continued headwinds in 2019; affordability tops the list, but relatively low inventories of homes in some areas dampen buyer enthusiasm. Single-family housing starts are also expected to be lower than the long-term yearly average. As economic conditions improve for would-be home buyers, a slim supply of homes and high home prices present obstacles to buyers.

Your trusted home mortgage professional is one of your best partners in your next home buying or refinancing transaction. Be sure to contact them to discuss market conditions in your area.

Big Cities vs. Secondary Markets: Where to Buy?

December 21, 2018

Big Cities vs. Secondary Markets Where to BuyAtlanta, Charlotte, New York and Los Angeles are always on the real estate radar because of big ticket sales and good media coverage. The secondary markets – those markets without the celebrity undertones – may actually be better deals. With the price of borrowing money rising and occupation rates dropping in primary markets, places like Nashville and Birmingham are looking better to investors.

Where Are the Secondary Markets?

A secondary market is generally defined as a mid size or large city that has recorded an uptick in growth in the immediate past. They do not have quite the economic clout or media presence of a primary market, although they may rival each other in terms of population.

Generally, the influx of new attention for a secondary market will be from young professionals. These are people who are upwardly mobile and seeking new forms of skilled employment. This is what has driven the markets of cities like San Antonio, San Jose, San Diego, Phoenix and Philadelphia to new heights in recent years.

What Do Experts Think?

Experts believe that primary markets have topped out for the time being. With occupancy rates dropping from highs in the lower 90 percentiles, primary markets are just too saturated for their own good. Landlords in these areas are more unwilling to lower rents in these areas, because there are usually more high income earners established there who want to stay in the area to keep a legacy job or maintain a family.

Rising real estate prices and interest rates also put the primary housing market out of the reach of many outsiders. Researchers have found that doing real estate business in a secondary market can provide an investor with a 16% premium. The cost of real estate itself is around 38% lower. So are the costs of maintaining a property (energy costs 22% lower; labor costs 14% lower).

The New Primary Markets?

With respect to income, secondary market housing prices are up to 45% more affordable. Individuals notice this, and so do commercial investors and developers. This is why the mad rush to cities like Phoenix and San Diego will be red hot for the next few years, say investors, even in relation to established cities like Los Angeles and New York.

No matter where you are looking to purchase your new home, it is essential that you rely on your trusted mortgage professional to explore your financing options. Finding out how much you can afford can be a key element in deciding which market could be the best fit for you. 

NAHB Reports Lowest Builder Confidence Reading Since 2014

November 29, 2018

NAHB Reports Lowest Builder Confidence Reading Since 2014Obstacles facing home builders have caught up with high builder confidence according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for November. Builder confidence dropped eight points to an index reading of 60, which was the largest month-to-month drop in builder confidence since 2014. November’s decline in builder confidence was greater than the largest month-to-month decline during the housing crisis.

Housing Market Index readings over 50 are considered positive, but analysts said that long-standing headwinds caught up with home builders’ outlook on housing market conditions and sub-categories used to comprise the overall Housing Market Index reading.

Obstacles Impacted November Home Builder Confidence in Housing Market

Builders have long cited shortages of buildable lots, rising materials costs and labor shortages, but builder sentiment appeared strong until November. Recent tariffs on building materials and rising mortgage rates further added to builder concerns. Buyer traffic indicated that would-be home buyers may be waiting for home prices and mortgage rates to fall. Less demand for homes would increase inventories of homes for sale and potentially reduce extreme buyer competition that caused rapid price gains in high-demand metro areas.

Components of November’s NAHB HMI also declined in November. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell seven points to an index reading of 67. Builder confidence in housing market conditions within the next six months dropped ten points to 65. The reading for buyer traffic in housing developments dropped eight points to 45. Readings for buyer traffic seldom exceed the HMI index reading of 50.

NAHB Housing Market Index: Things to Know

Housing and mortgage industry pros view the HMI as an early indicator of construction pace and for measuring supplies of homes for sale. The National Association of Home Builders HMI is based on survey of NAHB members; the sample size varies according to the number of responses received from builders each month. Analysts noted that November’s reading was impacted by fewer builder responses in November; 315 responses were received in November as compared to 360 builder responses in October. Fewer responses increase the volatility of index readings.

Approaching winter weather typically reduces home construction and plans for new construction; 2018 has seen natural disasters and catastrophic wildfires that destroyed many homes. While these factors did not impact November’s home builder confidence, readings they will likely affect home builder confidence readings in the coming months.

If you are looking to buy or refinance, your trusted mortgage professional is ready to help you identify your best financing options.

5 Trends Shaping Green Homes

November 9, 2018

5 Trends Shaping Green HomesThink green home design is a fad? Well, think again. Sustainable home designs are gaining popularity at a breakneck speed. In 2017, green homes accounted for more than 60 percent of family home builder’s portfolios, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders. 

But what is really driving green home designs? In this post, we explore five trends shaping sustainable homes. 

1. Energy Efficiency 

Home designs that cater to consumers’ need to reduce utility bills continue taking center stage. From net-zero energy homes to energy conserving products, home buyers want to save money. Moving forward, industry experts predict that ultra-efficient building designs like net-zero-energy or passive home designs will continue dominating the industry. 

2. Health 

Most home buyers are more aware of the dangers of chemicals than before. As such, most of them are seeking non-toxic interior products. The manufacturing industry trend is leaning towards healthier materials. As the demand rises and prices stabilize, these products are more likely to be game changers. Most home designs will probably focus on eliminating troublesome chemicals such as VOC paints and phthalate free flooring. 

3. Home Performance And Monitoring 

Home energy audits are major factors considered by consumers, and home performance is key. Some cities like Austin expect new homes to undergo performance tests before recommendation for resale. 

Energy software programs allow home builders and remodelers to monitor how slight changes in home designs can save thousands of dollars in utility bills. Homeowners are also benefiting from energy monitoring devices to track their household energy consumption. 

4. Water Efficiency 

80 percent of American states anticipate water shortages in a few years, says a Government Accountability Office survey. Therefore, wise water usage is becoming crucial as consumers demand for water efficient homes. Most builders are already getting their homes HERS Rated as consumers look for ways to save dollars from rising water prices. 

5. Biophilic Home Designs 

Nature is beneficial to us biologically, physically and psychologically. However, in the last century, home designs separated us from nature. Today, biophilic designs (connected to nature) strive to reverse that by integrating nature into homes. Modern building can capture the sun’s movement using windows, architectural details and patterns, connecting us to the season, time of day and our inner biorhythms. 

If you are in the market for a green home, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional for a financing pre-approval!

 

3 Millennial Home-Buying Trends Sellers Should Know

November 7, 2018

3 Millennial Home-Buying Trends Sellers Should KnowAfter five consecutive years of Millennials outpacing all other home-buying demographics, sellers would be wise to wrap their thinking around what makes this generation tick.

According to a 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends research study, Millennials purchased more than one-third of all homes in 2017. With home purchases totaling approximately 36 percent of the market in 2018, this class of buyer has increased its market share from 34 percent in 2017.

Taken as a whole, the previously formidable Baby Boomers ranging from 52-70 years old enjoyed only a 32-percent market share. GenXers declined from 28 percent in 2017 to 26 percent in 2018.

With the relatively young Millennials still not fully engaged in the real estate market, expectations are that this group could set the tone for decades.

Millennials Have Improved Buying Power

If you accept the Pew Research Centre definition of Millennials, then they were born between 1981 and 1996. That means the entire population is currently at or past the age of college graduation.

Other research indicates that they enjoy an average annual income that has trended up from $82,000 in 2017 to $88,000 in 2018. That means their overall income outran the estimated inflation rate of about 2.1 percent. Not every group can boast that claim.

With the older end of the group now over 30 years old and the younger swath advancing into careers, sellers may want to plan for spare-no-expense Millennial buyers. The average home they purchased in 2017 was $205,000. In 2018, the average rose to $220,000. They apparently are not shy about spending more on a house they like.

Single Millennial Women Are Buying More Homes

Young single females are making a run at home-buying supremacy. According to recent data, single women purchased approximately 18 percent of all homes in 2017. The figure is more than double that of single males, although married couples remain in the top spot.

The average age of single female buyers stands at 28 years old, and their home loans exceeded $175,000. Appraised values reportedly topped $210,000. Sellers may want to consider a more single female-oriented aesthetic moving forward.

Millennials Willing To Pay For More Space

There are two telling reasons why many Millennials are inclined to bypass traditional starter homes and pay for larger ones.

The first reason goes to the age of the older Millennials. At about 36 years old, they entered into adulthood during a painful economic period. High unemployment and a sluggish economy persuaded older Millennials to either wait or hunker down in a small starter home. That group now has equity in the property or money in the bank. With a hot economy and rising wages, larger homes make affordable sense.

Younger Millennials, by contrast, are entering the workforce during a full-blown economic revival. Jobs are plentiful, and employers are competing with wages to secure workers. The robust economic landscape allows many young professionals to afford larger homes. With that in mind, sellers may want to upgrade outdoor patios and consider taking down a wall or two to create an open floor plan.  

If you are a homeowner interested in listing a property, speak with a real estate professional about what Millennials in your area want in a home. Millennial home buyers are changing the industry. If you are a Millennial in the market for a property, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional for a pre-approval!

What Are The Housing Market Projections For 3rd Qtr 2018 — And Beyond?

October 2, 2018

What Are The Housing Market Projections For 3rd Qtr 2018 -- And BeyondThe National Association of Realtors (NAR), in its ongoing analysis of home sales statistics, believes that prices will continue to rise during the third quarter, but that uncertainty over elections could be a factor during the second half of the year.

However, NAR’s report noted that in July, a typically lackluster month, home prices rose by about nine percent, and days on market decreased significantly, perhaps signaling a strong start for the third quarter.

National statistics don’t necessarily tell the whole story, however. In addition, what will happen in the fourth quarter is, at this point, a bit more difficult to predict. Assessments about how home prices and real estate will end the year differ from one part of the country to another.

Looking Ahead

In 381 of 500 markets that were tracked, homes stayed on the market for fewer days in July 2018 than the median time on market the previous year, even in the highest price markets, typically a sign that demand is still outpacing supply.

Dallas-Fort Worth area mortgage lenders report a noticeable slowdown over the past several months, and the inventory of homes on the market has grown. But another Texas town, Midland, ranked as the nation’s hottest market for the second month in a row in July, based on continued high demand and the speed at which homes have been selling.

The list of fast-moving markets, compiled by by Realtor.com, also places Columbus, Ohio, Boston and Fort Wayne, Ind., at the top; Dallas-Fort Worth, interestingly, ranked 17th of 20 hot markets in the Realtor.com survey.

Potential Benefits

Some housing analysts note that even slight slowdowns in select markets, coupled with rising mortgage rates, may signal a wider downturn in sales nationally, adding that it is not entirely unexpected. Many real estate and mortgage professionals, however, view any potential “adjustment” as a good thing, with the explanation that the double-digit appreciation is unsustainable over the long term.

Prevailing wisdom is to take a wait and see approach leading up to midterm elections. Pollsters and pundits have widely variant opinions and, to date, trends are not sufficiently clear. In addition, the housing industry is seemingly healthy at this point and, barring unexpected major interest rate increases, demand for housing is likely to remain strong.

As one researcher at Texas A&M University explains, even a modest slowdown will likely only bring the real estate market down to 2016 levels and, in retrospect, that was a very good year! Other analysts are more positive, saying that an expected slowdown is positive and will prevent “a new bubble.”

As always, contact your trusted real estate and mortgage professionals to discuss the current situation in your local market.

3 Key Advantages Of Listing Your House This Fall

September 18, 2018

3 Key Advantages Of Listing Your House This FallHomeowners looking to maximize their return on investment often want to know what season best achieves that goal. Getting near or full asking price can be influenced by a wide range of factors, including market trends, inventory and interest rates to name a few.

It will come as good news to know there are strong indicators that this fall has unique listing advantages. That means listing a home this fall could help sellers get the price they want.

1: Inventory Remains Very Tight

The rules of supply and demand apply equally to the housing market and there are not enough homes to go around.

The single-family housing shortage has been driven by multiple factors. A large population of Millennials have entered the real estate market at a time when new home construction had been stifled for years. Simply put, the supply of new homes has significantly fallen behind the demand.

Although builders are starting to ramp up construction, the economic boom continues to position first-time buyers more quickly than the lagging supply. The real estate wild card may be how quickly construction outfits put more homes in play.

Should the building sector pivot to take advantage of higher prices, inventory could loosen in 2019. That makes this fall a prime time to maximize profitability and avoid the risk of improving supply.

2: Fall Looks Like A Seller’s Market

Although summer was once again a popular time to sell, it appears home sales did not satisfy the high demand. With fewer listings available and plenty of active buyers jumping on properties, listing this fall could put sellers in the driver’s seat.

One interesting caveat is a recent study that says buying a home is currently less expensive than renting in 35 percent of American counties. Talk about motivated buyers. By listing a property now, the odds are on the seller’s side that the home will close at a desirable price.

3: Homes Move Quickly

Market data shows that homes are selling at a fast clip across the country. According to a report by realtor.com, the median days on the market rate continues to decline.

From 2012 to 2017, the number of days a home spent on the market declined by nearly one-third in some comparable months. This year, homes are selling at a staggering rate in traditionally high-priced metropolitan markets. According to research, homes in San Jose, California, were only on the market an average of 28.6 days. In Seattle, Washington, homes sold at an average rate of 34.1 days and Nashville, Tennessee, saw a short 40.6 window. While these areas may be considered hot, they show that homes are moving quickly even in high-end areas.

Sellers may find the elixir they are looking for by listing this fall. Economic and market indicators point to a vibrant seller’s market flush with motivated buyers.

One of the key aspects of listing your home is figuring out where you are going to live when your home sells. Be sure to contact your mortgage professional to learn about all of the financing options available for your next home purchase.