Homes Are More Affordable Today, Not Less Affordable

Homes Are More Affordable Today, Not Less Affordable | Simplifying The Market

There’s a current narrative that owning a home today is less affordable than it has been in the past. The reason some are making this claim is because house prices have substantially increased over the last several years.

It’s not, however, just the price of a home that matters.

Homes, in most cases, are purchased with a mortgage. The current mortgage rate is a major component of the affordability equation. Mortgage rates have fallen by over a full percentage point since December 2018. Another major piece of the affordability equation is a buyer’s income. The median family income has risen by approximately 3% over the last year.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) releases a monthly Housing Affordability Index. The latest index shows that home affordability is better today than at almost any point over the last 30 years. The index determines how affordable homes are based on the following:

“A Home Affordability Index 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 of 120 signifies that a family earning the median income has 20 percent more than the level of income needed pay the mortgage on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment so that the monthly payment and interest will not exceed 25 percent of this level of income (qualifying income).”

The higher the index, therefore, the more affordable homes are. Here is a graph showing the index since 1990:Homes Are More Affordable Today, Not Less Affordable | Simplifying The MarketObviously, affordability was better during the housing crash when distressed properties – foreclosures and short sales – sold at major discounts (2009-2015). Outside of that period, however, homes are more affordable today than any other year since 1990, except for 2016.

The report on the index also includes a section that calculates the mortgage payment on a median priced home as a percentage of the median national income. Historically, that percentage is just above 21%. Here are the percentages since June of 2018:Homes Are More Affordable Today, Not Less Affordable | Simplifying The MarketAgain, we can see that affordability is much better today than the historical average and has been getting better over the last year and a half.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re thinking about buying your first home or moving up to the home of your dreams, don’t let the false narrative about affordability prevent you from moving forward. From an affordability standpoint, this is one of the best times to buy in the last 30 years.

2020 Luxury Market Forecast

2020 Luxury Market Forecast | Simplifying The Market

By the end of last year, many homeowners found themselves with more equity than they realized, and at the same time their wages were increasing. When those two factors unite, it can spark homeowners to think about making a move to a larger or more expensive home in the luxury space. That said, now is a perfect opportunity to take a look at the forecast for the 2020 luxury market.

Three Things to Think About in the 2020 Luxury Housing Market

1. Prices

The U.S. economy is strong today, with buying opportunities throughout the luxury end of the market. Thomas Veraguth, Strategist at UBS Global Wealth Management, says in Barrons.com,

“There’s a good link between luxury real estate prices and [economic] growth.”

Available inventory is a key element that can impact home prices. At the upper range, the inventory is greater in comparison to the entry-level market, making moving up to a luxury home a growing reality for many buyers right now.

2. Activity in the Market

With more buying opportunities at the higher end, we should start to see an increase in activity. The same article states,

“Affluent homebuyers will start to come out of the woodwork as they find rising luxury rents less appealing and sellers get even more negotiable on price.”

Buyers looking in the luxury market are taking the opportunity to negotiate on price in a segment where there are more choices, too. According to the Luxury Market Report, homes sold for an average of 96.94% of the list price in December.

Buyers are also getting more for their money with greater purchasing power due to the current low interest rates.

3. Buyers Are Coming Back

Keep in mind, buyers are often sellers too, especially those looking to move up. Homeowners with an entry-level home can take advantage of the inventory shortage at the lower end of the market, thus driving higher sales prices for their current homes. Combined with growing equity in the homes they’re listing, it’s a great time for those who are ready to make a luxury move.

The extra equity and greater purchasing power are bringing many buyers back to the market. The same article mentioned that,

“We’ve already seen buyers who’ve been on the sidelines for two years tread back into the market.”

Bottom Line

If you’re considering entering the luxury market, 2020 is shaping up to be a great year for those who are ready to make that move. Let’s get together to set your real estate plan for the year.

There’s a Long Line of Buyers Waiting for Your House

There’s a Long Line of Buyers Waiting for Your House | Simplifying The Market

If you’re following what’s happening in the housing market right now, you know that many people believe the winter months aren’t a good time to sell a home.

As realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu recently noted,

“Sellers tend to be more reluctant to list during the colder time of year when the market typically makes a seasonal slowdown.”

However, a recent report by ShowingTime reveals how this year is different. Buyer activity is way up compared to the same time last year. The report explains,

“The nation’s 12.6% growth in home showings compared to 2018 was the most significant jump in buyer traffic during the current four-month streak of year-over-year increases. The West Region saw the greatest growth in activity, with a 23.1% jump – the region’s greatest in the history of the Showing Index.”

The increase has spread across all four regions of the country, as the graph below shows:There’s a Long Line of Buyers Waiting for Your House | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Waiting for the “spring buyers’ market” may be a mistake this year. It seems the purchasers are already out and looking to buy.

Big Demand for Small Homes

Big Demand for Small Homes | Simplifying The Market

Movies, tv shows, and celebrities often have us dreaming of owning large homes, but the reality for most people is quite different.

Since 2015, the square footage of newly built houses has been shrinking, according to Yahoo Finances. This is not projected to change as we continue into the beginning of the year.

“We expect this downsizing trend to continue in 2020, driven by a confluence of economic and demographic trends.”

Why are smaller homes trending now?

As noted in the article, there are a few main reasons for this demand:

  • “Many of today’s younger, millennial home buyers have expressed a preference for denser, more urban homes that are more walkable to shared amenities.”
  • “Today’s older homeowners are expressing a desire for smaller, less maintenance-heavy and more accessible (read: less stairs) homes as they age and move into newer homes.”

With these two demographic groups surging through the market, the demand for this type of home is rising. If you’re a homeowner with a smaller-scale house, now may be a great time to sell, as the demand for this end of the market is surely on the rise.

Bottom Line

The demand for smaller houses will continue to rise throughout 2020. Let’s get together to discuss what the housing inventory looks like in your neighborhood. It might be time for you to take advantage of this trend!

Top Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC]

Top Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Top Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • If you’re planning on selling your house in 2020, these are the top renovations that will give you the highest Return on your Investment.
  • Regardless of how long you’re planning on staying in your current home, it’s smart to be aware of which home renovations add the most value.
  • The exterior of a house is the first thing buyers see when searching for a home. Upgrading your roof or siding will ensure your home leaves a great first impression!

Why You Shouldn’t “For Sale By Owner”

Why You Shouldn’t "For Sale By Owner" | Simplifying The Market

Rising home prices coupled with the current inventory in today’s market may cause some homeowners to consider selling their homes on their own (known in the industry as a For Sale By Owner). However, a FSBO might be hard to execute well for the vast majority of sellers.

Here are the top 5 reasons not to FSBO:

1. Online Strategy for Prospective Purchasers

Studies have shown that 93% of buyers search online for a home. That’s a pretty staggering number! Most real estate agents have an Internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

2. Results Come from the Internet

According to NAR, here’s where buyers found the homes they actually purchased:

  • 55% on the Internet
  • 28% from a Real Estate Agent
  • 10% Other
  • 6% from a Yard Sign
  • 1% from Newspapers

The days of selling your house by putting up a sign in your yard or placing an ad in the paper are long gone. Having a strong Internet strategy is crucial.

3. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here’s a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to FSBO:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent, who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The appraiser, if there is a question of value

4. FSBOing Has Become Increasingly Difficult

The paperwork involved in buying or selling a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

5. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe they’ll save the real estate commission by selling on their own, but the seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

A report by Zillow revealed that FSBOs are inclined to do so because they believe it will save money (46 percent cite this among their top three reasons), but they don’t actually save anything, and eventually end up listing with an agent.

The same report revealed that,

“While 36% of sellers that (at first) attempted to sell their homes on their own, only 11 percent of sellers—in other words, less than a third…actually sold without an agent.”

It appears working with a real estate professional is the best answer.

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, let’s get together to discuss your needs.