Hello February! We will welcome your entrance with open arms and hope you bring us sunnier days. January was filled with lots of rain, snow storms, and gloomy days and we would love to get some sunshine up here in the Pacific Northwest. As for the real estate market, we did see some positive changes compared to last month! The supply of inventory in Lynden has gone up a full month since December which means more homes are hitting the market and giving buyers more options. As for prices, the average residential property sold for just under $400,000, which is fairly level with the last few months and could foreshadow stabilizing market growth in the local area. We also want to note that borrowing money is very inexpensive right now, with 30 year fixed mortgage rates down below 3.5%! Take a look at the infographic below for the stats, and give us a call if we can offer any further advice or insights!
Should I Sell My House This Year?
If one of the questions you’re asking yourself today is, “Should I sell my house this year?” the current Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) Survey from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) should boost your confidence as it relates to the current selling sentiment in the housing market. Even with all the information overload in the media circling around talk of a possible recession, the upcoming 2020 election, and more, Americans feel good about selling a house now. That’s some news to get excited about!
As the graph below shows, as of Q4 2019, 75% of people surveyed indicate they believe now is a good time to sell a home: In the case of those with a yearly salary of $100,000 or more, the results jumped even higher, coming in at an 82% positive sentiment.
When the study divided the outcomes by region, the results still consistently showed Americans feeling good about selling:
- Northeast: 71% positive
- Midwest: 76% positive
- South: 72% positive
- West: 81% positive
In addition to looking at income and region, the report also divided the results by generation, as shown in the graph below:As you can see, many believe that, despite everything going on in the world, it is still a good time to sell a home.
According to NAR, the unsold inventory available today “sits at a 3.0-month supply at the current sales pace,” which is down from a 3.7-month supply in November. The current inventory is half of what we need for a normal or neutral housing market, which should have a 6.0-month supply of unsold inventory. This is good news for sellers, as Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, says:
“Home sellers are positioned well, but prospective buyers aren’t as fortunate. Low inventory remains a problem, with first-time buyers affected the most.”
If you’re ready to list your home, you can feel good about the current sentiment in the market. Let’s get together today to determine the best next step when it comes to selling your house this year.
The headlines in real estate today all revolve around one major point: there is a shortage of homes available for sale. Price appreciation is accelerating again because there is a shortage of homes available for sale. First-time buyers are taking longer to purchase a home because there is a shortage of homes available for sale in the lower price points. Boomers are staying in their current homes longer because there is a shortage of homes available for sale to which they would move. In certain markets, affordability is becoming more challenging because there is a shortage of homes available for sale.
What’s the major reason for this lack of housing inventory?
The issue was examined in a recent article by the National Home Builders Association (NAHB). In the article, Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for NAHB, explained:
“Home building in the 2010s was a story of the Long Recovery. After the Great Recession, the number of home builders declined significantly, and housing production was unable to meet buyer demand…Years of population and household formation growth, combined with relatively reduced levels of home building, have left the market with a critical supply shortage.”
Here are the single-family home construction starts by decade for the last six decades:Obviously, there’s a current shortage of homes for sale because not enough houses were built over the last ten years. To add to the challenge, the U.S. population expanded by more than 20 million people during the 2010s.
Below is a graph showing the number of starts per every million in population. The last decade shows that starts per population were less than half the average of the previous five decades.
There’s good news coming!
The NAHB article explains that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
How confident home builders are in the housing market is a great indicator of how much building is about to get started. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair,” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average,” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as “good” than “poor.”
Here are the HMI readings going back to 2008:The 2019 confidence reading of 76 was the highest since 1999. The January 2020 index came in one point lower at 75. These readings indicate we should see an increase in new residential construction in 2020. Just last week, NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde stated:
“Low interest rates and a healthy labor market combined with a need for additional inventory are setting the stage for further home building gains in 2020.”
The increase in housing starts has already begun. According to the January report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, single‐family housing starts were up 11.2% and attained the highest level in thirteen years.
Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seller thinking of moving up or down, 2020 could be your year with more new construction homes coming to market.
Homes today are more affordable, not less affordable!
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:Obviously, 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:Again, 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.
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.
The New Spring Real Estate Market is Here. Are You Ready?
Which month do you think most people who are considering buying a home actually start their search? If you’re like most of us, you probably think the surge happens in the spring, likely in April. Not anymore. According to new research, January 2019 was only 1% behind February for the most monthly views per listing on realtor.com.
So, what does that mean? The busiest season in real estate has just begun.
The same research indicates,
“Historically, April launched the kickoff of the home shopping season as buyers would come out of their winter hibernation looking for their new home. However, the spring shopping season now starts in January for many of the nation’s largest markets.”
With the reality of fewer homes on the market in the winter, and that supply naturally increases as we head to the spring market, waiting for more competition to list in your neighborhood this year might put you behind the curve. Perhaps now is the time to jump into the market.
George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com says,
“As shoppers modify their strategies for navigating a housing market that has become more competitive due to rising prices and low inventory, the search for a home is beginning earlier and earlier.”
There is a lot of speculation in the market about why the search for a home is shifting to an earlier start. The one thing we do know is if you’re thinking about buying or selling a home this year, the earlier you get started, the better.
Reminder: When should you sell something? When there is less of that item for sale and the greatest number of buyers are in the market. That’s exactly what is happening in real estate right now.
The new spring market for real estate is underway. If you’re considering buying or selling, let’s connect, so you have the advantage in this competitive market.
Expert Insights on the 2020 Housing Market
When closing out another year, it’s normal to wonder what’s ahead for the housing market. Though there will be future inventory issues, we expect interest rates to stay low and appreciation to continue.
Here’s what three experts are saying we’ll likely see in 2020:
“I think the biggest surprise from the forecast is how long the market is staying in this low inventory environment, especially as Millennials are in a major home-buying phase…sellers will contend with flattening price growth and slowing activity with existing home sales down 1.8%. Nationwide you can look to flat home prices with an increase of less than 1%.”
“Interest rates will, on average, remain lower…These lower rates will in turn support both purchase and refinance origination volume in 2020.”
“If current trends hold, then slower means healthier and smaller means more affordable. Yes, we expect a slower market than we’ve become accustomed to the last few years…consumers will continue to absorb available inventory and the market will remain competitive in much of the country.”
As we can see, we’re still going to have a healthy market. It is forecasted to be a more moderate (or normal) market than the last few years, but strong enough for Americans to continue to believe in homeownership and to capitalize on the opportunities that come with low interest rates.
If you’re wondering what’s happening in our local market, let’s get together today!
Working with a local real estate professional makes all the difference and choosing the right agent is one of the most impactful decisions you can make in your home buying or selling process. A real estate professional can explain current market conditions and break down what they will mean to you and your family! If you’re considering buying or selling a home in 2020, make sure to work with someone who has the experience to answer all of your questions about pricing, contracts, and negotiations.
With the winter season creeping up, change is in the air. For many families, children are growing up and moving out of the house, maybe leaving for college or taking a jump into the working world. Parents are finding themselves as empty nesters for the first time. The question inevitably arises: is it finally time to downsize?
If you’re pondering that thought, you may also be wondering if you should fix-up your house before you sell it, or go straight to the market as-is, allowing a potential buyer to do the updates and remodeling. If you’re one of the many homeowners this camp, here are a few tips to help you decide which way to go.
1. Analyze Your Market
A real estate professional can help you to understand your market and the potential level of buyer interest and demand for your home. Are you in a seller’s market or a buyer’s market? This can change based on the price range of your home, too. A professional can also give you some insight on what you can change or remodel, and how to declutter your house to make it attractive to buyers in your area.
2. Get an Inspector
Right now, the average length of time a family stays in a home is between 9-10 years. That’s a little longer than the historical average, so if you’ve been living in your home for a while, it might be time to make some significant improvements. Think: electrical system, HVAC units, roof, siding, etc. An inspector can give you a better idea of the condition of your home, if it is up to current code standards, and recommendations on how to have your house ready before you put it on the market.
3. Decide If You Need to Remodel
You may also be thinking about driving buyer appeal with something like a kitchen or a bathroom remodel. If so, first dig into the market value of your home, and compare it to the actual cost of the remodel. A local real estate professional can help you determine your home’s market value, and you’ll want to get a few quotes from contractors on the potential remodel pricing as well. Once you have those two factors narrowed down, you can to decide if a remodel will give you a return on your investment when you sell. Oftentimes, it is actually more advantageous to price your house to sell, list it competitively, and then let the buyer pick the colors they want for their bathroom tiles and the type of countertop they prefer. The 2019 Cost vs. Value Report in Remodeling Magazine compares the average cost for remodeling projects with the value those projects typically retain at resale.
Here are 4 of the top remodeling projects that provide the highest average cost recouped percentages:
Nationwide, inventory is low, meaning there is less than the 6-month housing supply needed for a normal market. This drives buyer demand, creating a perfect time to sell. If you’re considering selling your house, let’s get together to help you confidently determine what will be the best choice for you and your family.
Okay, Christmas is just two short weeks away and the New Year rings in three weeks from now! The entire county is celebrating the holiday season with decorations, parades, and festivals, and we want you to be the first to know about what’s coming up around the community these next few weeks.
Here’s a few happenings we thought might be fun to check out:
Enjoy and remember the reason for the season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
It’s ‘National Roof Over Your Head’ Day!
Did you know that each year in the United States, we celebrate “National Roof Over Your Head Day” on December 3rd?
As noted on the National Calendar, it was “created as a day to be thankful for what you have, starting with the roof over your head. There are many things that we have that we take for granted and do not stop to appreciate how fortunate we are for having them.”
From bungalows to cottages, and farmhouses to treehouses, today we show our appreciation and gratitude for the places we call home. Owning the roof that shelters us is something many renters still aspire to, knowing there are so many financial and non-financial benefits to homeownership.
According to the 2019 State of the Nation’s Housing from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University,
“Cost-burdened renters now outnumber cost-burdened homeowners by more than 3.0 million. In addition, renters make up 10.8 million of the 18.2 million severely burdened households that pay more than half their incomes for housing.”
Homeownership drives many benefits, including providing families with a place to feel secure. It also helps promote confidence that they are investing proactively in themselves and their communities. That is why there are 77.7 million owner-occupied housing units in the United States.
Many, however, fear it is too expensive to own a home. In reality, however, it’s actually more expensive to rent. Here’s the breakdown as a percentage of income necessary for both – affording median rent and owning a home:
Today we pause to appreciate the places we call home, and all of the other reasons we have to be truly thankful. For those who don’t own yet and would like to, it’s a wonderful time to start identifying the steps to take toward homeownership. Let’s connect today to begin creating your plan.