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The Cost of a Home Is Far More Important than the Price

The Cost of a Home Is Far More Important than the Price | Simplifying The Market

Housing inventory is at an all-time low. There are 39% fewer homes for sale today than at this time last year, and buyer demand continues to set records. Zillow recently reported:

“Newly pending sales are up 25.5% compared to the same week last year, the highest year-over-year increase in the weekly Zillow database.”

Whenever there is a shortage in supply of an item that’s in high demand, the price of that item increases. That’s exactly what’s happening in the real estate market right now. CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that values have increased by 5.5% over the last year.

This is great news if you’re planning to sell your house; on the other hand, as either a first-time or repeat buyer, this may instead seem like troubling news. However, purchasers should realize that the price of a house is not as important as the cost. Let’s break it down.

There are several factors that influence the cost of a home. The two major ones are the price of the home and the interest rate at which a buyer can borrow the funds necessary to purchase the home.

Last week, Freddie Mac announced that the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 2.87%. At this time last year, the rate was 3.73%. Let’s use an example to see how that difference impacts the true cost of a home.

Assume you purchased a home last year and took out a $250,000 mortgage. As mentioned above, home values have increased by 5.5% over the last year. To buy that same home this year, you would need to take out a mortgage of $263,750.

How will your monthly mortgage payment change based on today’s lower mortgage rate?

This table calculates the difference in your monthly payment:The Cost of a Home Is Far More Important than the Price | Simplifying The MarketThat’s a savings of $61 monthly, which adds up to $732 annually and $21,960 over the life of the loan.

Bottom Line

Even though home values have appreciated, it’s a great time to buy a home because mortgage rates are at historic lows.

Is the Economic Recovery Beating All Projections?

Is the Economic Recovery Beating All Projections? | Simplifying The Market

Earlier this year, many economists and market analysts were predicting an apocalyptic financial downturn that would potentially rattle the U.S. economy for years to come. They immediately started to compare it to the Great Depression of a century ago. Six months later, the economy is still trying to stabilize, but it is evident that the country will not face the total devastation projected by some. As we continue to battle the pandemic, forecasts are now being revised upward. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) just reported:

“The U.S. economy and labor market are recovering from the coronavirus-related downturn more quickly than previously expected, economists said in a monthly survey.

Business and academic economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expect gross domestic product to increase at an annualized rate of 23.9% in the third quarter. That is up sharply from an expectation of an 18.3% growth rate in the previous survey.”

What Shape Will the Recovery Take?

Economists have historically cast economic recoveries in the form of one of four letters – V, U, W, or L.

A V-shaped recovery is all about the speed of the recovery. This quick recovery is treated as the best-case scenario for any economy that enters a recession. NOTE: Economists are now also using a new term for this type of recovery called the “Nike Swoosh.” It is a form of the V-shape that may take several months to recover, thus resembling the Nike Swoosh logo.

A U-shaped recovery is when the economy experiences a sharp fall into a recession, like the V-shaped scenario. In this case, however, the economy remains depressed for a longer period of time, possibly several years, before growth starts to pick back up again.

A W-shaped recovery can look like an economy is undergoing a V-shaped recovery until it plunges into a second, often smaller, contraction before fully recovering to pre-recession levels.

An L-shaped recovery is seen as the worst-case scenario. Although the economy returns to growth, it is at a much lower base than pre-recession levels, which means it takes significantly longer to fully recover.

Many experts predicted that this would be a dreaded L-shaped recovery, like the 2008 recession that followed the housing market collapse. Fortunately, that does not seem to be the case.

The same WSJ survey mentioned above asked the economists which letter this recovery will most resemble. Here are the results:Is the Economic Recovery Beating All Projections? | Simplifying The Market

What About the Unemployment Numbers?

It’s difficult to speak positively about a jobs report that shows millions of Americans are still out of work. However, when we compare it to many forecasts from earlier this year, the numbers are much better than most experts expected. There was talk of numbers that would rival the Great Depression when the nation suffered through four consecutive years of unemployment over 20%.

The first report after the 2020 shutdown did show a 14.7% unemployment rate, but much to the surprise of many analysts, the rate has decreased each of the last three months and is now in the single digits (8.4%).

Economist Jason Furman, Professor at Harvard University‘s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers during the previous administration, recently put it into context:

“An unemployment rate of 8.4% is much lower than most anyone would have thought it a few months ago. It is still a bad recession but not a historically unprecedented event or one we need to go back to the Great Depression for comparison.”

The economists surveyed by the WSJ also forecasted unemployment rates going forward:

  • 2021: 6.3%
  • 2022: 5.2%
  • 2023: 4.9%

The following table shows how the current employment situation compares to other major disruptions in our economy:Is the Economic Recovery Beating All Projections? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

The economic recovery still has a long way to go. So far, we are doing much better than most thought would be possible.

The Surging Real Estate Market Continues to Climb

The Surging Real Estate Market Continues to Climb | Simplifying The Market

Earlier this year, realtor.com announced the release of the Housing Recovery Index, a weekly guide showing how the pandemic has impacted the residential real estate market. The index leverages a weighted average of four key components of the housing industry by tracking each of the following:

  1. Housing Demand – Growth in online search activity
  2. Home Price – Growth in asking prices
  3. Housing Supply – Growth of new listings
  4. Pace of Sales – Difference in time-on-market

The index compares the current status “to the January 2020 market trend, as a baseline for pre-COVID market growth. The overall index is set to 100 in this baseline period. The higher a market’s index value, the higher its recovery and vice versa.”

The graph below charts the index by showing how the real estate market started out strong in early 2020, and then dropped dramatically at the beginning of March when the pandemic paused the economy. It also shows the strength of the recovery since the beginning of May.The Surging Real Estate Market Continues to Climb | Simplifying The MarketToday, the index stands at its highest point all year, including the time prior to the economic shutdown.

The Momentum Is Still Building

Though there is some evidence that the overall economic recovery may be slowing, the housing market is still gaining momentum. Zillow tracks the number of homes that are put into contract on a weekly basis. Their latest report confirms that buyer demand is continuing to dramatically outpace this same time last year, and the percent increase over last year is growing.The Surging Real Estate Market Continues to Climb | Simplifying The MarketClearly, the housing market is not only outperforming the grim forecasts from earlier this year, but it is also eclipsing the actual success of last year.

Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, explains it best:

“On an aggregated level, the housing economy remains rock solid despite the shock and awe of the pandemic.”

Bottom Line

Whether you’re considering buying or selling, staying on top of the real estate market over the coming months will be essential to your success.

Is Now a Good Time to Move?

Is Now a Good Time to Move? | Simplifying The Market

How long have you lived in your current home? If it’s been a while, you may be thinking about moving. According to the latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), in 2019, homeowners were living in their homes for an average of 10 years. That’s a long time to time to be in one place, considering the average length of time homeowners used to stay put hovered closer to 6 years.

With today’s changing homebuyer needs, especially given how the current health crisis has altered our daily lifestyles, many homeowners are reconsidering where they’re at and thinking about moving to a home with more space for their families. Here’s why it might be a great time to make that happen.

The real estate market has changed in many ways over the past 10 years, and current homeowners are earning much more equity today than they used to have. According to CoreLogic, in the first quarter of 2020 alone, the average homeowner gained approximately $9,600 in equity. If you’re considering selling your house right now, you may have accumulated more equity to put toward a move than you realize.

Dialing back 10 years, many homeowners also locked in a fairly low mortgage rate. In 2010, the average rate was only 4.09%. This motivated homeowners to stay in their houses longer than usual to keep their rate low, rather than moving. Just last Thursday, however, average mortgage rates hit a new historic low at 2.86%. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac explains:

Mortgage rates have hit another record low due to a late summer slowdown in the economic recovery…These low rates have ignited robust purchase demand activity, which is up twenty-five percent from a year ago and has been growing at double digit rates for four consecutive months.”

Ten years ago, we couldn’t have imagined a mortgage rate under 3%. Looking at the math today, making a move into a new home and locking in a significantly lower rate than you have now could save you greatly on a monthly basis, and over the life of your loan (See chart below):Is Now a Good Time to Move? | Simplifying The MarketAs the example shows, you can save a substantial amount every month if you qualify for today’s low mortgage rate, and the savings can really add up over the life of a 30-year fixed-rate loan.

Bottom Line

As a homeowner, you have a huge opportunity to move up right now. Whether you want to save more each month or get more home for your money based on your family’s changing needs, it’s a great time to connect to discuss the market in our area. Buyers are actively looking for more homes to buy, and you can win big by making a move if the time is right for you.

Two New Surveys Indicate Urban to Suburban Lean

Two New Surveys Indicate Urban to Suburban Lean | Simplifying The Market

There has been much talk around the possibility that Americans are feeling less enamored with the benefits of living in a large city and now may be longing for the open spaces that suburban and rural areas provide.

In a recent Realtor Magazine article, they discussed the issue and addressed comments made by Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“While migration trends were toward urban centers before the pandemic, real estate thought leaders have predicted a suburban resurgence as home buyers seek more space for social distancing. Now the data is supporting that theory. Coronavirus and work-from-home flexibility is sparking the trend reversal, Yun said. More first-time home buyers and minorities have also been looking to the suburbs for affordability, he added.”

NAR surveyed agents across the country asking them to best describe the locations where their clients are looking for homes (they could check multiple answers). Here are the results of the survey:

  • 47% suburban/subdivision
  • 39% rural area
  • 25% small town
  • 14% urban area/central city
  • 13% resort community/recreational area

According to real estate agents, there’s a strong preference for less populated locations such as suburban and rural areas.

Real Estate Brokers and Owners Agree

Zelman & Associates surveys brokers and owners of real estate firms for their monthly Real Estate Brokers Report. The last report revealed that 68% see either a ‘moderate’ or ‘significant’ shift to more suburban locations. Here are the results of the survey:Two New Surveys Indicate Urban to Suburban Lean | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

No one knows if this will be a short-term trend or an industry game-changer. For now, there appears to be a migration to more open environments.

The Latest Unemployment Rate Fell to 8.4%

The Latest Unemployment Rate Fell to 8.4% | Simplifying The Market

Last Friday, the Bureau for Labor Statistics released their Employment Report for August 2020. The big surprise was that the unemployment rate fell to 8.4%, a full percent lower than what many analysts had forecasted earlier in the week. Though it is tough to look at this as great news when millions of Americans are still without work, the number of unemployed is currently much lower than most experts had projected it would be just a few months ago.

Not Like the Great Depression or Even the Great Recession

Jason Furman, Professor of Practice at Harvard explained:

“An unemployment rate of 8.4% is much lower than most anyone would have thought it a few months ago. It is still a bad recession but not a historically unprecedented event or one we need to go back to the Great Depression for comparison.”

During the Great Depression, the unemployment rate was over 20% for four consecutive years (1932 – 1935). This April, the rate jumped to 14.7%, but has fallen each month since.

During and after the Great Recession (2007-2009), the unemployment rate was at 9% or greater for thirty consecutive months (April 2009 – October 2011). Most economists believe the current rate will continue to fall monthly as the economy regains its strength.

What Happens Going Forward?

The outcome will be determined by how quickly we can contain the virus. In their last Economic Forecasting Survey, the Wall Street Journal reported the economists surveyed believe the annual unemployment rates will be 6.6% in 2021 and 5.5% in 2022. Though that will still be greater than the 3.5% rate that we saw earlier this year, it is lower than the annual rate reported in 2011 (8.5%), 2012 (7.9%), and 2013 (6.7%).

Bottom Line

There are still millions of Americans struggling through this economic downturn. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. The unemployment situation did not get as bad as many had predicted, and the recovery is taking place faster than most thought would happen.

How Will the Presidential Election Impact Real Estate?

How Will the Presidential Election Impact Real Estate? | Simplifying The Market

The year 2020 will be remembered as one of the most challenging times of our lives. A worldwide pandemic, a recession causing historic unemployment, and a level of social unrest perhaps never seen before have all changed the way we live. Only the real estate market seems to be unaffected, as a new forecast projects there may be more homes purchased this year than last year.

As we come to the end of this tumultuous year, we’re preparing for perhaps the most contentious presidential election of the century. Today, it’s important to look at the impact past presidential election years have had on the real estate market.

Is there a drop-off in home sales during a presidential election year?

BTIG, a research and analysis company, looked at new home sales from 1963 through 2019 in their report titled One House, Two House, Red House, Blue House. They noted that in non-presidential years, there is a -9.8% decrease in November compared to October. This is the normal seasonality of the market, with a slowdown in activity that’s usually seen in fall and winter.

However, it also revealed that in presidential election years, the typical drop increases to -15%. The report explains why:

“This may indicate that potential homebuyers may become more cautious in the face of national election uncertainty.”

Are those sales lost forever?

No. BTIG determined:

“This caution is temporary, and ultimately results in deferred sales, as the economy, jobs, interest rates and consumer confidence all have far more meaningful roles in the home purchase decision than a Presidential election result in the months that follow.”

In a separate study done by Meyers Research & Zonda, Ali Wolf, Chief Economist, agrees that those purchases are just delayed until after the election:

“History suggests that the slowdown is largely concentrated in the month of November. In fact, the year after a presidential election is the best of the four-year cycle. This suggests that demand for new housing is not lost because of election uncertainty, rather it gets pushed out to the following year.”

Will it matter who is elected?

To some degree, but not in the overall number of home sales. As mentioned above, consumer confidence plays a significant role in a family’s desire to buy a home. How may consumer confidence impact the housing market post-election? The BTIG report covered that as well:

“A change in administration might benefit trailing blue county housing dynamics. The re-election of President Trump could continue to propel red county outperformance.”

Again, overall sales should not be impacted in a significant way.

Bottom Line

If mortgage rates remain near all-time lows, the economy continues to recover, and unemployment continues to decrease, the real estate market should remain strong up to and past the election.

Preparing to Furnish a New Home

It’s easy to get wrapped up on all the technicalities of purchasing a new home. Is it in the right location? How many bedrooms do you need? Does the property meet your aesthetic expectations? These are all important questions but there are more practical considerations that also deserve attention. 

When you move into a new property, it is time to make a house a home. You can’t do that without furnishings and any necessary electrical appliances. New homeowners often consider these needs as an afterthought. Closing the sale and securing the property takes precedent, but that is only the beginning of your journey. 

Make Furnishing Part of your Purchasing Plan

Viewing property without furnishing in mind can lead to seemingly endless headaches. The kitchen and living areas merit special attention. These are the spaces you will occupy most in your new home. If you have an idea of the home comforts and conveniences you want, make sure the property you choose is designed to accommodate those personal preferences. 

Refrigerators are a good example of a furnishing need that can become problematic. If you have a large family and need plenty of refrigeration space, take note of kitchen and garage space. It helps to bring a measuring tape when viewing properties, or ask the estate agent if there are measurements already available. This principle should apply to every functional space in the property. 

Purchasing Furnishings

It is difficult to know when to purchase furnishings and essential appliances. If you have space in your current property, store newly purchased items in a dry garage when you are nearing the final stages of a sale. Alternatively, you should pre-empt moving in by contacting your chosen retailers to ask about estimated delivery times to your new home. If you would like comprehensive advice on planning for purchasing, furnishings, and home appliances, reach out to Voila today. We Also offer Home Buyer Rebates to help cover some of the cost of purchasing a new home!

It’s Not Just About the Price of the Home

It’s Not Just About the Price of the Home | Simplifying The Market

When most of us begin searching for a home, we naturally start by looking at the price. It’s important, however, to closely consider what else impacts the purchase. It’s not just the price of the house that matters, but the overall cost in the long run. Today, that’s largely impacted by low mortgage rates. Low rates are actually making homes more affordable now than at any time since 2016, and here’s why.

Today’s low rates are off-setting rising home prices because it’s less expensive to borrow money. In essence, purchasing a home while mortgage rates are this low may save you significantly over the life of your home loan.

Taking a look at the graph below with data sourced from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the higher the bars rise, the more affordable homes are. The orange bars represent the period of time when homes were most affordable, but that’s also reflective of when the housing bubble burst. At that time, distressed properties, like foreclosures and short sales, dominated the market. That’s a drastically different environment than what we have in the housing market now.

The green bar represents today’s market. It shows that homes truly are more affordable than they have been in years, and much more so than they were in the normal market that led up to the housing crash. Low mortgage rates are a big differentiator driving this affordability.It’s Not Just About the Price of the Home | Simplifying The Market

What are the experts saying about affordability?

Experts agree that this unique moment in time is making homes incredibly affordable for buyers.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, NAR:

“Although housing prices have consistently moved higher, when the favorable mortgage rates are factored in, an overall home purchase was more affordable in 2020’s second quarter compared to one year ago.”

Bill Banfield, EVP of Capital Markets, Quicken Loans:

“No matter what you’re looking for, this is a great time to buy since the current low interest rates can stretch your spending power.

Mortgage News Daily:

“Those shopping for a home can afford 10 percent more home than they could have one year ago while keeping their monthly payment unchanged. This translates into nearly $32,000 more buying power. 

Forbes:

Homeowners are the clear winners. Low mortgage rates mean the cost of owning is at historically low levels and who gains all the benefits of strong house price appreciation? Homeowners.”

Bottom Line

When purchasing a home, it’s important to think about the overall cost, not just the price of the house. Homes on your wish list may be more affordable today than you think. Let’s connect to discuss how affordability plays a role in our local market, and your long-term homeownership goals.

Three Ways to Win in a Bidding War

Three Ways to Win in a Bidding War | Simplifying The Market

With so few houses for sale today and low mortgage rates driving buyer activity, bidding wars are becoming more common. Multiple-offer scenarios are heating up, so it’s important to get pre-approved before you start your search. This way, you can put your best foot forward – quickly and efficiently – if you’re planning to buy a home this season.

Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research at realtor.com, explains:

“COVID-19 has accelerated earlier trends, bringing even more buyers than the market can handle. In many markets, fierce competition, bidding wars, and multiple offer scenarios may be the common theme in the weeks to come.”

Here are three things you can do to make your offer a competitive one when you’re ready to make your move.

1. Be Ready

A recent survey shows that only 52% of active homebuyers obtained a pre-approval letter before they began their home search. That means about half of active buyers missed out on this key part of the process.

Buyers who are pre-approved are definitely a step ahead when it’s time to make an offer. Having a pre-approval letter indicating you’re a qualified buyer shows sellers you’re serious. It’s often a deciding factor that can tip the scale in your direction if there’s more than one offer on a home. It’s best to contact a mortgage professional to start your pre-approval process early, so you’re in the best position right from the start of your home search.

2. Present Your Best Offer

In a highly competitive market, it’s common for sellers to pick a date and time to review all offers on a house at one time. If this is the case, you may not have an opportunity to negotiate back and forth with the sellers. As a matter of fact, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes:

“Not only are properties selling quickly, but they are also getting more offers. On average, REALTORS® reported nearly three offers per sold property in July 2020.”

Make sure the offer you’re presenting is the best one the sellers receive. A real estate professional can help you make sure your offer is a fair and highly competitive one.

3. Act Fast

With existing homes going like hotcakes, there’s no time to waste in the process. NAR reports how the speed of home sales is ramping up:

“Properties typically remained on the market for 22 days in July, seasonally down from 24 days in June and from 29 days in July 2019. Sixty-eight percent of homes sold in July 2020 were on the market for less than a month.”

In addition, NAR notes:

Total existing-home salesjumped 24.7% from June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.86 million in July. The previous record monthly increase in sales was 20.7% in June of this year. Sales as a whole rose year-over-year, up 8.7% from a year ago (5.39 million in July 2019).”

As you can see, the market is gaining steam. For two consecutive months houses have sold very quickly. Essentially, you may not have time to sleep on it or shop around when you find a home you love. Chances are, someone else loves it too. If you take your time, it may not be available when you’re ready to commit.

Bottom Line

The housing market is very strong right now, and buyers are scooping up available homes faster than they’re coming to market. If you’re planning to purchase a home this year, let’s connect to discuss the trends in our current area, so you’re ready to compete – and win.