June 2022Keeping Current Matters June 14, 2022

Is the Housing Market Correcting?

If you’re following the news, all of the headlines about conditions in the current housing market may leave you with more questions than answers. Is the boom over? Is the market crashing or correcting? Here’s what you need to know.

The housing market is moderating compared to the last two years, but what everyone needs to remember is that the past two years were record-breaking in nearly every way. Record-low mortgage rates and millennials reaching peak homebuying years led to an influx of buyer demand. At the same time, there weren’t enough homes available to purchase thanks to many years of underbuilding and sellers who held off on listing their homes due to the health crisis.

This combination led to record-high demand and record-low supply, and that wasn’t going to be sustainable for the long term. The latest data shows early signs of a shift back to the market pace seen in the years leading up to the pandemic – not a crash nor a correction. As realtor.com says:

The housing market is at a turning point. . . . We’re starting to see signs of a new direction, . . .”

Home Showings Then and Now

The ShowingTime Showing Index tracks the traffic of home showings according to agents and brokers. It’s a good indication of buyer demand. Here’s a look at that data going back to 2019 (see graph below):

Is the Housing Market Correcting? | Keeping Current Matters

The 2019 numbers give a good baseline of pre-pandemic demand (shown in gray). As the graph indicates, home showings skyrocketed during the pandemic (shown in blue). And while current buyer demand has begun to moderate slightly based on the latest data (shown in green), showings are still above 2019 levels.

And since 2019 was such a strong year for the housing market, this helps show that the market isn’t crashing – it’s just at a turning point that’s moving back toward more pre-pandemic levels.

Existing Home Sales Then and Now

Headlines are also talking about how existing home sales are declining, but perspective matters. Here’s a look at existing home sales going all the way back to 2019 using data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) (see graph below):

Is the Housing Market Correcting? | Keeping Current Matters

Again, a similar story emerges. The pandemic numbers (shown in blue) beat the more typical year of 2019 home sales (shown in gray). And according to the latest projections for 2022 (shown in green), the market is on pace to close this year with more home sales than 2019 as well.

It’s important to compare today not to the abnormal pandemic years, but to the most recent normal year to show the current housing market is still strong. First American sums it up like this:

“. . . today’s housing market looks a lot like the 2019 housing market, which was the strongest housing market in a decade at the time.”

Bottom Line

If recent headlines are generating any concerns, look at a more typical year for perspective. The current market is not a crash or correction. It’s just a turning point toward more typical, pre-pandemic levels. Reach out to a trusted real estate professional if you have any questions about our local market and what it means for you when you buy or sell this year.

June 2022Keeping Current Matters June 13, 2022

More Americans Choose Real Estate as the Best Investment Than Ever Before

Americans’ opinion on the value of real estate as an investment is climbing. That’s according to an annual survey from Gallup. Not only is real estate viewed as the best investment for the ninth year in a row, but more Americans selected it than ever before.

The graph below shows the results of the survey since Gallup began asking the question in 2011. As the trend lines indicate, real estate has been gaining ground as the clear favorite for almost a decade now:

More Americans Choose Real Estate as the Best Investment Than Ever Before | Keeping Current Matters

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home, let this poll reassure you. Even when inflation is high like today, Americans recognize owning a home is a powerful financial decision.

How an Investment in Real Estate Can Benefit You During High Inflation

Because inflation reached its highest level in 40 years recently, it’s more important than ever to understand the financial benefits of homeownership. Rising inflation means prices are increasing across the board, and that includes goods, services, housing costs, and more. When you purchase your home, you lock in your monthly housing payments, effectively shielding yourself from increases on one of your biggest budgetary items each month.

If you’re a renter, you don’t have that same benefit, and you aren’t protected from these increases, especially as rents rise. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, notes:

“Rising rents, which continue to climb at double-digit pace . . . and the prospect of locking in a monthly housing cost in a market with widespread inflation are motivating today’s first-time homebuyers.”

When Inflation Has Risen in the Past, Home Prices Have Too

Your house is also an asset that typically increases in value over time, even during inflation. That‘s because as prices rise, the value of your home does too. Mark Cussen, Financial Writer for Investopedia, puts it like this:

“There are many advantages to investing in real estate. . . . It often acts as a good inflation hedge since there will always be a demand for homes, regardless of the economic climate, and because as inflation rises, so do property values. . . .”

And since rising home values help increase your equity, and by extension your net worth, homeownership is historically a good hedge against inflation.

Bottom Line

Buying a home is a powerful decision. It’s no wonder why so many people view it as the best long-term investment, even when inflation is high. When you buy, you help shield yourself from increases in your housing costs and you own an asset that typically gains value with time. If you want to better understand how buying a home could be a great investment for you, connect with a local real estate advisor today.

June 2022Keeping Current Matters June 10, 2022

The Top Reasons To Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Top Reasons To Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

June 2022Keeping Current Matters June 9, 2022

Luxury Homes Are in High Demand

As people realize their needs are changing, some are turning to luxury housing to find their dream home. Investopedia helps define what pushes a home into this category. In a recent article, they point out that a luxury home isn’t only defined by its price. Location is also an important factor. It could be a condo at a desirable city address, a spacious home on the water, or one with access to luxury activities like arts and entertainment, high-end shopping and dining, and more. The home itself will also boast some of the finest features available.

According to the Luxury Market Report from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketingthere’s been a substantial increase in how many buyers are purchasing luxury homes over the past two years. It says:

“. . . North America recorded the fastest growth of demand during the first year of the pandemic. Also, demand has . . . consistently increased, and even in April 2022, we saw a higher volume of sales compared to 2021.

If you own a luxury home, it could be a great time to list your house today while demand is so high. But first, let’s understand where the demand is coming from.

What’s Driving the Heightened Buyer Demand for High-End Homes?

The same report says more people have reached a certain net-worth threshold, and that’s contributing to the increased interest in luxury housing:

“In 2020, we saw a 2.2% growth in the number of individuals with wealth of over $5 million in net value, but in 2021 that number grew by an outstanding 19.8%.

This total increase has resulted in the introduction of over 660,000 new individuals into the high net-worth bracket, which, combined with the existing affluent looking to both diversify and add new properties to their portfolio, provides a true insight into why the demand for luxury properties skyrocketed during 2021 and into 2022.”

So, if you’re looking to make changes to your real estate portfolio or are looking to sell your current house, it may be a great time to list and benefit from the high demand for luxury homes today.

Bottom Line

If you own a luxury home and want to know how strong demand is in your area, reach out to your trusted real estate advisor today. They can help you capitalize on current market conditions while buyer demand for upscale homes is so high.

June 2022Keeping Current Matters June 8, 2022

What Are the Best Options for Today’s First-Time Homebuyers?

If you’re looking to buy your first home, you’re likely balancing several factors. Because both mortgage rates and home prices have risen this year, it costs more to buy a home than it did even just a few months ago. But that doesn’t mean you have to put your plans on hold.

If you partner with a trusted real estate advisor and hone your strategy, you can navigate today’s market and find the home you’re looking for. Here are two tips to help you get started.

Work with a Professional To Prioritize Your Wish List

If you’re having trouble finding a home in your budget that checks all the boxes, it may be worth taking another look at your lists of what you want and what you really need. According to the latest First-Time Homebuyer Metro Affordability Report from NerdWallet, your wish list can have as much impact on your search as your finances:

“Your budget isn’t all that you need to be concerned about; your wish list and desired location may carry just as much weight.”

It’s all about prioritization. If you’re serious about purchasing your first home soon, be flexible in what you’re looking for to open up your pool of options. Partner with a local real estate professional to better understand what’s available in today’s market and reprioritize your wish list. Remember, making a concession now doesn’t mean you’ll never have everything on your list. After you’ve moved in, you can always add certain features to make the home your own.

Increase Your Search Radius To Consider More Locations

Some areas may have more homes within your target price range than others, but it may require you to be flexible on your location. For example, if you’re a remote worker, you may be able to expand your search radius. As Fannie Mae explains:

“. . . continued remote work flexibility is likely giving many the ability to live farther away in more affordable areas.”

The decision to search in places with a lower cost of living could help you find a home that fits your budget and checks the most boxes off your wish list.

Bottom Line

If you’re serious about purchasing your first home this year, revisiting your wish list and desired location can help. Work with a trusted real estate advisor to explore all the options in your local market – and beyond – so you can achieve your homeownership dreams.

June 2022Keeping Current Matters June 7, 2022

Why the Growing Number of Homes for Sale Is Good for Your Move Up

Are you thinking about selling your current home? If so, the biggest question on your mind may be: if I sell now, where will I go? If this resonates with you, there’s something you should know. The number of homes coming onto the market is increasing and that could make it easier for you to move up this summer.

According to the latest data from realtor.com, the number of homes being listed for sale, known as new listings, has increased consistently this year (see graph below):

Why the Growing Number of Homes for Sale Is Good for Your Move Up | Keeping Current Matters

While this news has clear benefits for buyers who are craving more options for their home search, what does that mean for current homeowners like you? It gives you two distinct opportunities in today’s housing market.

Opportunity #1: Take Advantage of More Options for Your Move Up

If your current house no longer meets your needs or lacks the space and features you want, this gives you even more opportunity to sell and move up into the home of your dreams. As more options come to market, you’ll have more to choose from when you search for your next home.

Partnering with a local real estate professional can help make sure you see these listings as soon as they come onto the market. And when you do find the one, that professional can advise you on how to write a winning offer to seal the deal.

Opportunity #2: Sell Before You Have More Competition

Just know that, in order to make sure your house shines above the rest, it may make sense to put your home up for sale before your neighbors do the same, creating more competition in your area. The increase in the number of homes being listed for sale is expected to continue, and a recent study from realtor.com says two-thirds of homeowners looking to sell say they’ll do so by August.

A real estate professional can advise you on what you need to tackle to get your house ready to list so they can put that for sale sign up in your yard sooner rather than later. That’s because the process of getting a home ready to sell isn’t taking as long as you may think. As a result, you can capitalize on today’s sellers’ market and get ahead of the competition.

Bottom Line

If you’re a current homeowner looking to sell, reach out to a local real estate professional to begin the process. You have a unique opportunity to benefit from the additional homes being listed today and sell before your house has more competition.

June 2022Keeping Current Matters June 6, 2022

Why You Need an Expert To Determine the Right Price for Your House

If your lifestyle has changed recently and you’re ready to make a move, taking advantage of today’s sellers’ market might be just the answer for your summer plans. With homes continuing to get multiple offers, this could be your moment to get the contract you’re looking for on your house if you’re ready to sell.

And here’s the thing – you need an expert on your side to ensure you make all the right moves when you do, especially when it comes to pricing your house. Even in this competitive market, you can’t stick just any price tag on your home and get the deal you want. A key piece of the puzzle is setting the right asking price so you can help buyers notice your home (and get excited about it) from the very first time they view the listing. That’s where a real estate professional comes in.

Why Pricing Your House Right Is Important

The price you set for your house sends a message to potential buyers. Price it too low and you might raise questions about your home’s condition or lead buyers to assume something is wrong with the property. Not to mention, if you undervalue your house, you could leave money on the table which decreases your future buying power.

On the other hand, price it too high, and you run the risk of deterring buyers. When that happens, you may have to do a price drop to try to re-ignite interest in your house when it sits on the market for a while. But be aware that a price drop can be seen as a red flag for some buyers who will wonder why the price was reduced and what that means about the home.

In other words, think of pricing your home as a target. Your goal is to aim directly for the center – not too high, not too low, but right at market value. Pricing your house fairly based on market conditions increases the chance you’ll have more buyers who are interested in purchasing it. That makes it more likely you’ll see multiple offers, too. And if a bidding war happens, you’ll likely get an even higher final sale price. Plus, when homes are priced right, they tend to sell quickly.

To get a look into the potential downsides of over or underpricing your house and the perks that come with pricing it at market value, see the chart below:

Why You Need an Expert To Determine the Right Price for Your House | Keeping Current Matters

Lean on a Professional’s Expertise

There are several factors that go into pricing your house, and balancing them is the key. That’s why it’s important to lean on an expert real estate advisor when you’re ready to move. A local real estate advisor is knowledgeable about:

  • The value of homes in your neighborhood
  • The current demand for houses in today’s market
  • The condition of your house and how it affects the value

A real estate professional will balance these factors to make sure the price of your house makes the best first impression and gives you the greatest return on your investment in the end.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling, pricing your house appropriately is key. Work with a trusted real estate advisor to make sure your house is priced right for the local market, your home’s condition, and to stand out from the competition.

June 2022Keeping Current Matters June 3, 2022

History Proves Recession Doesn’t Equal a Housing Crisis [INFOGRAPHIC]

History Proves Recession Doesn’t Equal a Housing Crisis [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

June 2022Keeping Current Matters June 2, 2022

How Homeownership Impacts You

June is National Homeownership Month, and it’s the perfect time to reflect on how impactful owning a home can truly be. When you purchase a house, it becomes more than just a space you occupy. It’s your stake in the community, an investment, and a place you can put your stamp on.

If you’re thinking about buying a home this year, here are some of the benefits you’ll experience when you do.

The Emotional Benefits of Homeownership

Because it’s a place that’s uniquely yours, owning a home can give you a sense of pride and happiness in several ways.

Your Home Can Reflect Your Tastes and Personality

Investopedia puts it like this:

“One often-cited benefit of homeownership is the knowledge that you own your little corner of the world.

That knowledge can lead to a powerful, emotional connection to the place where you live. But so can the realization that your home will grow with you. Because it’s yours, you have the freedom to make updates to it as your needs and tastes change. As Logan Mohtashami, Lead Analyst for HousingWiresays:

“The psychology is that this is yours and you’re going to make it as good as possible because you’re in for a long time, . . . “

And that can create a greater sense of ownership, pride, and connection with your home and your community.

It Can Enhance Your Neighborhood and Civic Engagement

Homeownership can lead you to get even more involved with your local area. After all, you’re putting your roots down in a location and will want to do what you can to help improve it, much like your home. In a recent report, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

Living in one place for a longer amount of time creates and [sic] obvious sense of community pride, which may lead to more investment in said community.”

The Financial Benefits of Homeownership

When you choose to become a homeowner, you’re making a financial decision as well. That’s because your home is also an investment.

It Can Help You Feel Financially Stable

Homeownership is truly one of the best ways to improve your long-term financial position. Not only will you have a predictable monthly housing expense that can benefit your budget in the short term, but you’ll also gain equity as your home appreciates in value and you make your monthly mortgage payment. As Freddie Mac says:

“Building equity through your monthly principal payments and appreciation is a critical part of homeownership that can help you create financial stability.”

It Can Grow Your Wealth

Because of your growing equity, you can build your net worth as a homeowner. And when you compare the difference in net worth between a renter and a homeowner, it’s clear that owning a home truly offers a great way to build your long-term financial position.

According to the latest data from NAR, the median household net worth of a homeowner is roughly $300,000, while the median net worth of renters is only about $8,000. That means a homeowner’s net worth is nearly 40 times that of a renter.

Bottom Line

Homeownership is truly a way to find greater satisfaction and happiness and to build financial freedom. If National Homeownership Month has you dreaming about purchasing a home, contact a local real estate professional to begin the process today.

June 2022Keeping Current Matters June 1, 2022

Why Home Loans Today Aren’t What They Were in the Past

In today’s housing market, many are beginning to wonder if we’re returning to the riskier lending habits and borrowing options that led to the housing crash 15 years ago. Let’s ease those concerns.

Several times a year, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) releases an index titled the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to their website:

“The MCAI provides the only standardized quantitative index that is solely focused on mortgage credit. The MCAI is . . . a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.”

Basically, the index determines how easy it is to get a mortgage. The higher the index, the more available mortgage credit becomes. Here’s a graph of the MCAI dating back to 2004, when the data first became available:

Why Home Loans Today Aren’t What They Were in the Past | Keeping Current MattersAs the graph shows, the index stood at about 400 in 2004. Mortgage credit became more available as the housing market heated up, and then the index passed 850 in 2006. When the real estate market crashed, so did the MCAI as mortgage money became almost impossible to secure. Thankfully, lending standards have eased somewhat since then, but the index is still low. In April, the index was at 121, which is about one-seventh of what it was in 2006.

Why Did the Index Get out of Control During the Housing Bubble?

The main reason was the availability of loans with extremely weak lending standards. To keep up with demand in 2006, many mortgage lenders offered loans that put little emphasis on the eligibility of the borrower. Lenders were approving loans without always going through a verification process to confirm if the borrower would likely be able to repay the loan.

An example of the relaxed lending standards leading up to the housing crash is the FICO® credit score associated with a loan. What’s a FICO® score? The website myFICO explains:

“A credit score tells lenders about your creditworthiness (how likely you are to pay back a loan based on your credit history). It is calculated using the information in your credit reports. FICO® Scores are the standard for credit scores—used by 90% of top lenders.”

During the housing boom, many mortgages were written for borrowers with a FICO score under 620. While there are still some loan programs that allow for a 620 score, today’s lending standards are much tighter. Lending institutions overall are much more attentive about measuring risk when approving loans. According to the latest Household Debt and Credit Report from the New York Federal Reservethe median credit score on all mortgage loans originated in the first quarter of 2022 was 776.

The graph below shows the billions of dollars in mortgage money given annually to borrowers with a credit score under 620.

Why Home Loans Today Aren’t What They Were in the Past | Keeping Current MattersIn 2006, buyers with a score under 620 received $376 billion dollars in loans. In 2021, that number was only $80 billion, and it’s only $20 billion in the first quarter of 2022.

Bottom Line

In 2006, lending standards were much more relaxed with little evaluation done to measure a borrower’s potential to repay their loan. Today, standards are tighter, and the risk is reduced for both lenders and borrowers. These are two very different housing markets, and today is nothing like the last time.