Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

July 5, 2018

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000 | MyKCM

Rising home prices have many concerned that the average family will no longer be able to afford the most precious piece of the American Dream – their own home.

However, it is not just the price of a home that determines its affordability. The monthly cost of a home is determined by the price and the interest rate on the mortgage used to purchase it.

Today, mortgage interest rates stand at about 4.5%. The average annual mortgage interest rate from 1985 to 2000 was almost double that number, at 8.92%. When comparing affordability of homeownership over the decades, we must also realize that incomes have increased.

This is why most indexes use the percentage of median income required to make monthly mortgage payments on a typical home as the point of comparison.

Zillow recently released a report comparing home affordability over the decades using this formula. The report revealed that, though homes are less affordable this year than last year, they are more affordable today (17.1%) than they were between 1985-2000 (21%). Additionally, homes are more affordable now than at the peak of the housing bubble in 2006 (25.4%). Here is a chart of these findings:

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000 | MyKCM

What will happen when mortgage interest rates rise?

Most experts think that the mortgage interest rate will increase to about 5% by year’s end. How will that impact affordability? Zillow also covered this in their report:

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000 | MyKCM

Rates would need to approach 6% before homes became less affordable than they had been historically.

Bottom Line

Though homes are less affordable today than they were last year, they are still a great purchase while interest rates are below the 6% mark.

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July 2, 2018

Buying This Summer? Be Prepared for Bidding Wars

Well kind of not really....summer usually slows down a bit (especially at the end) and look what towns didn't make the Top 10?  Not a single Bay Area town!

Buying This Summer? Be Prepared for Bidding Wars | MyKCM

Summer is traditionally a busy season for real estate. Buyers come out in force and homeowners list their houses for sale hoping to capitalize on those buyers who are looking to purchase before the new school year. This year will be no different!

Buyers have already been out in force looking for their dream homes and more are on their way. The challenge is that the inventory of homes for sale has not kept up with demand, which has led to A LOT of competition for the homes that are available.

A recent article by the National Association of Realtors touched on the current market conditions:

“Realtors® in areas with strong job markets report that consumer frustration is rising. Home shoppers are increasingly struggling to find an affordable property to buy, and the prevalence of multiple bids is pushing prices further out of reach.”

Realtor.com went on to explain why buyers are flocking to the market in such big numbers:

“A booming economy and stable employment in most parts of the country have created a new generation of eager home buyers – and led to fevered price battles spilling over into some unexpected, smaller markets.”

Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for Realtor.com had this to say about competition:

Multiple-offer scenarios are no longer reserved to the usual big, fast-moving markets…demand for homes has spilled outward into secondary, smaller markets, and more buyers are gearing up to face fierce competition in more places around the country.”

Realtor.com looked at the number of homes that were selling above asking price to determine which markets were heating up. Below are the Top 10:

  • Akron, OH
  • Worcester, MA
  • Lexington, KY
  • Irvine, CA
  • Greensboro, NC
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Madison, WI
  • Louisville, KY
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Little Rock, AR

Bottom Line

Let’s get together to discuss our exact market conditions so that we can help you create a strategy to secure your new home in this competitive atmosphere!

June 24, 2018

New Prop 13 Tweak Could Save Homeowners Thousands

The SF Business Times reports that changes may be afoot for California's Prop 13.  Prop 13, as you may recall, essentially freezes a property owner's tax bill to approximately the level it was when the property was purchased.  It was put in place to assure people that as property values soared, they would not be forced to move.

 

The problems this creates is that adjacent homeowners pay for the same government services, but some homeowners pay 15 to 20 times what their neighbors do.  Indeed, those that are getting the lower tax bill are causing those that come later to pay artificially high tax bills to make up the difference.  The other consequence is more about the housing crisis - many seniors, how would like to move to lower density, smaller, cheaper housing can not afford to do so.  Some tweaks to the law have allowed some seniors to move to some counties.

 

A new ballot measure (has the signatures, but not on the ballot at this writing) would allow California homeowners 55 or older to sell their home and maintain their current tax base provided by Prop 13.  These homeowners would be allowed to do this as many times as they wish within the state.

 

The theory here is that those who retire would like to downsize and move further away from the hustle and bustle of their working lives, freeing up housing for those who need to live amongst the hustle and aforesaid bustle.

June 24, 2018

Tax Businesses to Ease Housing Crisi

The SF Business Times reported that the housing crisis in the Bay Area could well get worse.  Over 20 years, it is possible that 2 million more people will be added to our little haven, making the Bay Area larger than NYC.  None of the Bay Area counties are producing enough housing to meet this demand.

 

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments are working on the possibility of state legislation that would tax businesses to pay for housing.  Already some Bay Area cities are considering additional taxes on businesses to pay for housing as well as transportation costs.  The reasoning is that the businesses created the problem and should be a part of the solution.

 

Seattle has tried this, but abandoned the idea after some heavy-hitter businesses (Amazon, Starbucks) balked at the idea.  Rather than cities levying additional taxes, some have suggested a regional tax so that towns with no businesses but lots of residents also pay their fair share in solving this regional problem.  This would also eliminate the potential for companies to play cities off each other by threatening moves - the famous "race to the bottom" that plagues many states.

June 15, 2018

Top 4 Home Renovations for Max ROI [INFOGRAPHIC]

I get asked these questions often.  Note that very few actually have a positive return.  The upshot is, if you're selling right now, it may not pay to remodel (except landscaping, which really is a positive).  Despite the negative ROI, remodeling can make your home sell faster.  That said, if your kitchen was last redone when Duran Duran had a hit, you should probably consider it - all of your competition already has.

 

Top 4 Home Renovations for Max ROI [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • Whether you are selling your home, just purchased your first home or are a homeowner planning to stay put for a while, there is value in knowing which home improvement projects will net you the most Return On Investment (ROI).
  • Minor bathroom renovations can go a long way toward improving the quality of your everyday life and/or impressing potential buyers.
  • Upgrading your landscaping or curb appeal helps get buyers in the door. These upgrades rank as the 2nd and 4th renovations for returns on investment.
Posted in General News, Sellers
June 14, 2018

Are Lending Standards Too Loose…or Too Tight?

 

Are Lending Standards Too Loose…or Too Tight? | MyKCM

With home values appreciating at record rates, some are concerned that we may be heading for another housing bubble like the one we experienced a decade ago. One of the major culprits of that housing boom and bust was the loosening of standards for mortgage credit.

In a study done at the University of North Carolina immediately after the crisis, it was revealed that:

“Lenders began originating large numbers of high risk mortgages from around 2004 to 2007, and loans from those vintage years exhibited higher default rates than loans made either before or after.”

A study by John V Duca, John Muellbauer, and Anthony Murphy concluded that those risky mortgages caused the housing crisis:

“Our findings indicate that swings in credit standards played a major, if not the major, role in driving the recent boom and bust in US house prices.”

How do today’s mortgage standards compare to those from 2004 to 2007?

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association tracks mortgage standards in their Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). A decline in the MCAI indicates that lending standards are tightening, while increases in the index are indicative of loosening credit. While the chart below shows the index going back to that period between 2004 and 2007 when loose standards caused the housing bubble, we can see that, though the index has risen slightly over the last several years, we are nowhere near the standards that precipitated the housing crisis.

Are Lending Standards Too Loose…or Too Tight? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

If anything, standards today are too tight and are preventing some qualified buyers from getting the mortgage credit they deserve.

 

 

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. Keeping Current Matters, Inc. does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. Keeping Current Matters, Inc. will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.
May 31, 2018

Will Home Prices Fall as Mortgage Rates Rise?

Will Home Prices Fall as Mortgage Rates Rise? | MyKCM

Mortgage interest rates have increased by more than half of a point since the beginning of the year. They are projected to increase by an additional half of a point by year’s end. Because of this increase in rates, some are guessing that home prices will depreciate.

However, some prominent experts in the housing industry doubt that home values will be negatively impacted by the rise in rates.

Mark FlemingFirst American’s Chief Economist:

“Understanding the resiliency of the housing market in a rising mortgage rate environment puts the likely rise in mortgage rates into perspective – they are unlikely to materially impact the housing market…

The driving force behind the increase are healthy economic conditions…The healthy economy encourages more homeownership demand and spurs household income growth, which increases consumer house-buying power. Mortgage rates are on the rise because of a stronger economy and our housing market is well positioned to adapt.”

Terry LoebsFounder of Pulsenomics:

“Constrained home supply, persistent demand, very low unemployment, and steady economic growth have given a jolt to the near-term outlook for U.S. home prices. These conditions are overshadowing concerns that mortgage rate increases expected this year might quash the appetite of prospective home buyers.”

Laurie GoodmanCodirector of the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute:

“Higher interest rates are generally positive for home prices, despite decreasing affordability…There were only three periods of prolonged higher rates in 1994, 2000, and the ‘taper tantrum’ in 2013. In each period, home price appreciation was robust.”

Industry reports are also calling for substantial home price appreciation this year. Here are three examples:

Bottom Line

As Freddie Mac reported earlier this year in their Insights Report“Nowhere to go but up? How increasing mortgage rates could affect housing,”

Posted in Buyers, Market Updates
May 24, 2018

Selling Your House on Your Own Could Cost You

Selling Your House on Your Own Could Cost You | MyKCM

In this extremely hot real estate market, some homeowners might consider selling their homes on their own which is known as a For Sale by Owner(FSBO). They rationalize that they don’t need a real estate agent and believe that they can save the fee for the services a real estate agent offers.

However, a study by Collateral Analytics reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save anything, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.” (emphasis added)

Why would FSBOs net less money than if they had used an agent?

The study makes several suggestions:

  • “There could be systematic bias on the buyer side as well. FSBO sales might attract more strategic buyers than MLS sales, particularly buyers who rationalize lower-priced bids with the logic that the seller is “saving” a traditional commission. Such buyers might specifically search for and target sellers who are not getting representational assistance from agents.” In other words, ‘bargain lookers’ might shop FSBOs more often.
  • “Experienced agents are experts at ‘staging’ homes for sale” which could bring more money for the home.
  • “Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.” If more buyers see a home, the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war for the property.

Conclusions from the study:

  1. FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by Realtors using the MLS.
  2. The data suggests the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

As Dave Ramsey, America’s trusted voice on money, explains:

“Research has shown that, between mistakes, lack of negotiating skills, pricing errors and general exposure on the market, you’ll cost yourself more than the real estate commission…You’ll come out slightly better and with a lot less hassle if you use a top-shelf agent.”

Posted in General News, Sellers
May 23, 2018

Why Have Interest Rates Jumped to a 7-Year High?

Why Have Interest Rates Jumped to a 7-Year High? | MyKCM

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have climbed from 3.95% in the first week of January up to 4.61% last week, which marks a 7-year high according to Freddie Mac. The current pace of acceleration has been fueled by many factors.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist, had this to say:

“Healthy consumer spending and higher commodity prices spooked bond markets and led to higher mortgage rates over the past week.

Not only are buyers facing higher borrowing costs, gas prices are currently at four-year highs just as we enter the important peak home sales season.”

But what do gas prices have to do with interest rates?

Investopedia explains the relationship like this:

“The price of oil and inflation are often seen as being connected in a cause-and-effect relationship. As oil prices move up or down, inflation follows in the same direction.”

You may have noticed that filling your gas tank has become substantially more expensive in recent months. The average national gas price has climbed nearly $0.50 from the beginning of the year, leading to the highest price for Memorial Day weekend since 2014.

As rates go up, your purchasing power goes down, but don’t worry; rates are still well below the averages we’ve seen over the last four decades.

“Freddie Mac said this year’s higher rates have not yet caused much of a ripple in the strong demand levels for buying a home seen in most markets, but inflationary pressures and the prospect of rates approaching 5 percent could begin to hit the psyche of some prospective buyers.”

Buying sooner rather than later will help lock in a lower rate than waiting, as the experts believe rates will continue to climb. Even a small increase in interest rates can have a big impact on your monthly housing cost.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on buying a home this year, keep an eye on gas prices the next time you’re at the pump. If you start to feel a big jump in price, know that rates are probably on their way up too.

May 22, 2018

How Current Interest Rates Can Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power

How Current Interest Rates Can Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power | MyKCM

According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at 4.61%, which is still near record lows in comparison to recent history!

The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.

Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford to buy will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.

The chart below shows the impact that rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a home within the national median price range while keeping your principal and interest payments between $1,850-$1,900 a month.

How Current Interest Rates Can Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power | MyKCM

With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5% (in this example, $10,000). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be closer to 5% by this time next year.

Act now to get the most house for your hard-earned money.