The Ultimate Truth about Housing Affordability

There have been many headlines decrying an “affordability crisis” in the residential real estate market. While it is true that buying a home is less affordable than it had been over the last ten years, we need to understand why and what that means.

On a monthly basis, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), produces a Housing Affordability Index. According to NAR, the index…

“…measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national and regional levels based on the most recent price and income data.”

Their methodology states:

“To interpret the indices, a value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index above 100 signifies that family earning the median income has more than enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment.”

So, the higher the index, the more affordable it is to purchase a home. Here is a graph of the index going back to 1990:

Housing Affordability Index 1990 to Today

It is true that the index is lower today than any year from 2009 to 2017. However, we must realize the main reason homes were more affordable. That period of time immediately followed a housing crash and there were large numbers of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales). Those properties were sold at large discounts.

Today, the index is higher than any year from 1990 to 2008. Based on historic home affordability data, that means homes are more affordable right now than any other time besides the time following the housing crisis.

With mortgage rates remaining low and wages finally increasing, we can see that it is MORE AFFORDABLE to purchase a home today than it was last year!

Bottom Line

With wages increasing, price appreciation moderating, and mortgage rates remaining near all-time lows, purchasing a home is a great move based on historic affordability numbers.

Multigenerational Homes Are on the Rise

As loved ones start to get older, we start to wonder: how long will they be able to live alone? Will they need someone there to help them with daily life? There’s a reason to ask those questions now more than ever, as the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78 years old! As a result, 41% of Americans in the market are searching for a home that can accommodate a multigenerational family.

The graph below shows the number of people by generation that purchased a multigenerational home because they will either be taking care of an aging parent or they just want to spend time together.

Top Reasons to Buy a Multi-Generational Home

Of those buyers, 26% indicated they will be taking care of an aging parent, and 14% said they want to spend time with an aging parent. These numbers do not come as a surprise. According to Pew Research Center, 64 million Americans (20% of the population) lived in a multigenerational household in 2016 (Last numbers available).

Population in Multi-Generational Households

An increasing number of studies affirm the benefits of being part of a multigenerational household. These benefits aren’t just for the grandchildren, but for the grandparents as well. According to these two resources:

The University of Oxford

“Children who are close to their grandparents have fewer emotional and behavioral problems and are better able to cope with traumatic life events, like a divorce or bullying at school”.

Boston College

“Researchers found that emotionally close ties between grandparents and adult grandchildren reduced depressive symptoms in both groups”.

This research gives helpful insight into why 41% of Americans are in the market to buy a multigenerational home.

Bottom Line

If you have a home that could accommodate a multigenerational family and are thinking about selling, now is the perfect time to put it on the market! The number of buyers looking for this type of home will only continue to increase.

2 Things You Need to Know to Properly Price Your Home

In today’s housing market, home prices are increasing at a slower pace (3.7%) than they have over the last eight years (6-7%). However, they are still are above historical norms. Low supply of listed homes and high demand from buyers has pushed prices to rise rapidly.

In the mind of the homeowner, annual home price appreciation over 6% has become the new normal. This becomes a challenge when a homeowner looks to refinance or sell their home, as the expectation of what the homeowner believes the home should be worth does not always line up with the bank’s appraisal.

Every month, the Home Price Perception Index (HPPI) measures the disparity between what a homeowner seeking to refinance their home believes their house is worth and what an appraiser’s evaluation of that same home is.

Over the last five months, the gap between the homeowner’s opinion and the bank’s appraisal has widened to -0.78%. This is important for homeowners to note, as even a 0.78% difference in appraisal can mean thousands of dollars that a buyer or seller would have to come up with at closing (depending on the price of the home).

The chart below illustrates the changes in home price estimates over the last 12 months.

While the appraisal gap widens, another trend is also becoming more common.

According to realtor.com“the share of homes which had their prices cut increased by 2% compared to last year”. Thirty-seven out of the 50 largest US housing markets saw an increase in overall price reductions.

In today’s market, you need an expert agent who can help price your house right from the start. Homeowners who make the mistake of overpricing their homes will eventually have to drop the price. This leaves buyers wondering if the price drop was caused by something wrong with the house. In reality, nothing is wrong- the price was just too high!

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your house in today’s market, let’s get together to set your listing price properly from the start!

The Impact Staging Your Home Has On Your Sale Price [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • The National Association of Realtors surveyed their members & released the findings of their Profile of Home Staging.
  • 62% of seller’s agents say that staging a home decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market.
  • 50% of staged homes saw a 1-10% increase in dollar-value offers from buyers.
  • 77% of buyer’s agents said staging made it easier for buyers to visualize the home as their own.
  • The top rooms to stage in order to attract more buyers are the living room, master bedroom, kitchen, and dining room.

Starting the Search for Your Dream Home? Here Are 5 Tips!

In today’s real estate market, low inventory dominates the conversation in many areas of the country. It can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared.

In a realtor.com article entitled, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind,” the author highlights some steps that first-time homebuyers can take to help carry their excitement of buying a home throughout the whole process.

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search

One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach.

This step will also help you narrow your search based on your budget and won’t leave you disappointed if the home you tour, and love, ends up being outside your budget!

2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?

Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like and then qualify them as ‘must-haves’‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help keep you focusedon what’s most important.

3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood You Want to Live In

Every neighborhood has its own charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, the article suggests test-driving the area. Make sure that the area meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”

4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It

Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that would best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code, doesn’t mean that you need to tour every listing in that zip code.

An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”

5. Document Your Home Visits

Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy to document what you love and don’t love about each property you visit.

Making notes on the listing sheet as you tour the property will also help you remember what the photos mean, or what you were feeling while touring the home.

Bottom Line

In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home.

Top Days to List Your Home for Sale [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • ATTOM Data Solutions conducted an analysis of more than 29 million single family home and condo sales over the past eight years to determine the top days to list your home for sale.
  • The top five days to list your home brought in a 10% premium over market value and are all in either May or June!
  • “Families start their home search when they know their kids will be out of school and when the weather is ideal for home viewing and moving, giving home sellers an upper hand in price negotiations.”
  • There is still time to list your home before these dates pass you by!

New Research Shows Housing Is Affordable For First-Time Buyers

Home prices have been on the rise for the last seven years, leading many housing market analysts to conclude that first-time homebuyers are being shut out of the market due to affordability concerns.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports on the percentage of First-Time Home Buyers (FTHB) on a monthly and yearly basis. Their latest report shows that FTHB’s made up 33% of buyers in March, which matches their reported share in 2018.

NAR uses survey data from their members to come up with this statistic, so their results do not include every transaction completed. Rather, they only show the transactions reported by members who complete the survey.

The other entity that reports on FTHB share is the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The AEI uses data from mortgage applications that define an FTHB as “any borrower who did not have a mortgage for the preceding three years.”

This means the AEI measurement also includes former homeowners who transitioned out of a home they previously owned and re-entered the market after at least 3 years. The latest FTHB share data from AEI shows that first-time buyers made up 57.5% of all mortgages in August 2018. NAR’s data shows a 31% share for the same time period.

New research from the New York Federal Reserve shows that these traditional reports on FTHB share have been unable to give an accurate depiction of this group’s involvement in the market.

The NY Fed was able to take consumer credit data and identify when a mortgage payment entered a consumer’s credit report to determine when a first-time home purchase was made. Using this data, they were able to show that AEI’s reported FTHB share was consistently 10% higher. The NAR reports were right on par with their findings until 2010, when NAR’s share dropped to the 11% gap seen today.

So, what does this all mean?

First-time home buyers have not disappeared from the market as many analysts had believed. Buying a home is very much a part of the American Dream for younger generations, just like it had been for their parents and grandparents.

This also means that rising prices have not scared buyers away from the market. Many first-time buyers are making sacrifices to save their down payment and make their dream a reality.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many renters who is scrolling through listings on your phone every night dreaming of buying your own home, there are opportunities in every market to make that dream a reality!

A Lack of Inventory Continues to Impact the Housing Market

The housing crisis is finally in the rear-view mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up and distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen to their lowest point in years. The market will continue to strengthen in 2019.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory! Buyer demand naturally increases during the summer months, but supply has not kept up.

Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject:

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at National Association of Realtors

“Further increases in inventory are highly desirable to keep home prices in check, the sustained steady gains in home sales can occur when home price appreciation grows at roughly the same pace as wage growth.”

Jessica Lautz, Vice President of NAR

“There’s a supply-demand mismatch… More inventory is needed at the lower end and a price reduction may be needed at the upper end.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist of Realtor.com

“Heading into spring, U.S. prices are expected to continue to rise and inventory is expected to continue to increase, but at a slower pace than we’ve seen the last few months as fewer sellers want to contend with this year’s more challenging conditions… A buyer’s experience will vary notably depending on the market and price point they’re targeting.”

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time! Demand for your house will be strong at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price!

A Tale of Two Markets [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • An emerging trend for some time now has been the difference between available inventory and demand in the premium and luxury markets and that in the starter and trade-up markets and what those differences are doing to prices!
  • Inventory continues to rise in the luxury and premium home markets which is causing prices to cool.
  • Demand continues to rise with lower-than-normal inventory levels in the starter and trade-up home markets, causing prices to rise on a year-over-year basis for 85 consecutive months.