"One thing seems certain: we aren't likely to see average 30-year fixed mortgage rates return to the historic lows experienced in 2012."
– Freddie Mac, March 24, 2014
There are those that hope that 30-year mortgage interest rates will head back under 4%. Obviously, for any prospective home purchaser that would be great news. However, there is probably a greater chance that interest rates will return to the greater than 6% rate of the last decade before they would return to the less than 3.5% rate of 2012.
Freddie Mac, in one of four original posts on their new blog, explained that current rates are still extremely low compared to historic averages:
"The all-time record low – since Freddie Mac began tracking mortgage rates in 1971 – was 3.31% in November 2012. Conversely, the all-time record high occurred in October of 1981, hitting 18.63%. That's more than four times higher than today's average 30-year fixed rate of 4.32% as of March 20…rates hovering around 4.5% may be high relative to last year, but something to celebrate compared to almost any year since 1971."
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their latest Existing Homes Sales Report last Friday. The year-over-year comparison of overall sales did not paint a pretty picture. NAR itself called the sales numbers “subdued”. Other media sources used stronger terminology.
There is no doubt that home sales were lower this February (4.60 million) than last February (4.95 million). However, a closer look at the report gives us some evidence as to why that is. Last year, of the 4.95M homes sold, 25% were distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales). This February, only 16% of sales were made up of distressed properties.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Well, if we do the math, we can see that the annualized number of non-distressed properties sold which was revealed in the latest report (3,864,000) was actually greater than the annualized number of non-distressed properties sold that was reported last year (3,712,500). As we sell-off the ‘shadow inventory’ of distressed properties, there will be less homes from which a potential buyer can choose. That will impact sales.
As proof of this point, we can look at the months’ supply of housing inventory available for purchase. In a normal market, a six month supply would be optimum. However, we haven’t reached a six month supply once in over 18 months. This shortage of inventory is the main reason sales are down.
THE GOOD NEWS
As prices continue to rise, more and more homeowners will be freed from the shackles of negative or limited equity. This combined with an improving economy will allow homeowners to again feel confident that they can sell their homes and move on with their future plans. We are already starting to see increases in listings coming onto the market (unsold inventory is 5.3 percent above a year ago). Once housing inventory reaches normal levels (a 6 months’ supply) we will again see home sales begin to increase.
Many sellers are still hesitant about putting their house up for sale. Where are prices headed? Where are interest rates headed? Can buyers qualify for a mortgage? These are all valid questions. However, there are several reasons to sell your home sooner rather than later. Here are five of those reasons.
1. The Most Serious Buyers Are Out Now
Most people realize that the housing market is hottest from April through June. The most serious buyers are well aware of this and, for that reason, come out in early spring in order to beat the heavy competition. These buyers are ready, willing and able to buy…and are in the market right now!
2. There Is Less Competition Now
Housing supply always grows from the spring through the early summer. The choices buyers have will continue to increase over the next few months. Don’t wait until all the other potential sellers in your market put their homes up for sale.
3. The Process Will Be Quicker
One of the biggest challenges of the 2014 housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing timelines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker and simpler.
4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up
If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 19% from now to 2018. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30 year housing expense with an interest rate at about 4.5% right now. Rates are projected to be well over 5% by this time next year.
5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life
Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and decide whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?
You already know the answers to the questions we just asked. You have the power to take back control of the situation by pricing your home to guarantee it sells. The time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.
That is what is truly important.
There has been a lot of chatter about the last few Existing Home Sales Reports from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Year-over-year sales have been down four of the last five months. Experts are asking whether or not the housing recovery is beginning to stall. Let’s take a closer look at the data.
It is true that last month’s annualized sales rate of 4.62M was less than the 4.87M reported last January. However, after further scrutiny, the report reveals an interesting situation: sales of non-distressed properties are actually up. In January 2013, 23% of the 4.87M sales were distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) meaning 3.75M non-distressed properties were sold. In January 2014, 15% of the 4.62M sales were distressed properties. That means 3.93M non-distressed properties sold – an increase of 180,000 sales.
When we dig deeper into NAR’s research, we also see that homes at the higher price points are selling at greater increases than the lower price points.
This deeper look at the report shows evidence that the housing market is still doing quite well when we removed distressed sales (which are in many cases lower end properties) from the equation
A recent study has concluded that 39% of buyers prefer to rent out their last residence rather than sell it when purchasing their next home.
The study cites that many homeowners were able to refinance and “locked in a very low mortgage rate in recent years. That low rate, combined with a strong rental market, means they can charge more in rent than they pay in mortgage each month, so they are going for it.”
This logic makes sense in some cases. We at KCM believe strongly that residential real estate is a great investment right now. However, if you have no desire to actually become an educated investor in this sector, you may be headed for more trouble than you were looking for. Are you ready to be a landlord?
Before renting your home, you should answer the following questions to make sure this is the right course of action for you and your family.
10 Questions to Ask BEFORE Renting Your Home
1.) How will you respond if your tenant says they can't afford to pay the rent this month because of more pressing obligations? (This happens most often during holiday season and back-to-school time when families with children have extra expenses).
2.) Because of the economy, many homeowners can no longer make their mortgage payment. What percent of tenants do you think can no longer afford to pay their rent?
3.) Have you interviewed a few experienced eviction attorneys in case a challenge does arise?
4.) Have you talked to your insurance company about a possible increase in premiums as liability is greater in a non-owner occupied home?
5.) Will you allow pets? Cats? Dogs? How big a dog?
6.) How will you actually collect the rent? By mail? In person?
7.) Repairs are part of being a landlord. Who will take tenant calls when necessary repairs arise?
8.) Do you have a list of craftspeople readily available to handle these repairs?
9.) How often will you do a physical inspection of the property?
10.) Will you alert your current neighbors that you are renting the house?
Again, renting out residential real estate historically is a great investment. However, it is not without its challenges. Make sure you have decided to rent the house because you want to be an investor, not because you are hoping to get a few extra dollars by postponing a sale.
Today, many real estate conversations center on housing prices and where they may be headed. That is why we like the Home Price Expectation Survey. Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.
The results of their latest survey
The latest survey was released last week. Here are the results:
- Home values will appreciate by 4.5% in 2014.
- The average annual appreciation will be 3.94% over the next 5 years
- The cumulative appreciation will be 19.7% by 2018.
- Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of almost 11% by 2018.
Individual opinions make headlines. We believe the survey is a fairer depiction of future values.