Monthly Archives: March 2018

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More Home Buyers Sign Contracts In February

If you want to get a feel for how many home buyers there are currently active in the housing market, the National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index is a good place to start. It tracks the number of contracts to buy homes signed during the month and, because it measures contract signings and not closings, it’s a good future indicator of where home sales will be a month or so down the road. In short, if there are a lot of pending sales, there will likely be a lot of final sales. Which is why, February’s results are a pretty good indication that the spring season is ramping up. Contract signings were up 3.1 percent in February and rebounded in all four regions of the country. The largest increase was in the Northeast, though pending sales also saw significant improvement in the South. Still, despite the gains, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says the pace falls short of last year’s level. “Contract signings rebounded in most areas in February but the gains were not enough to keep up with last February’s level, which was the second highest in over a decade,” Yun said.


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Homeowners Say They’re Optimistic About Buying

Asking Americans whether or not they think this is a good time to buy a house can be an imprecise way of measuring interest in the housing market. That’s because there are a number of personal factors that are weighed when deciding whether or not it’s time to make a move. Which is why survey results can sometimes show one group of people who are pessimistic about their options, while another group expresses optimism. For example, a recent survey from the National Association of Realtors found optimism about buying a house is running high among current homeowners but not as much with renters. That’s due to recent equity gains. In short, as home prices have increased, homeowners have benefited and now see an opportunity to turn their gains into a new house. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says this may be good for the overall market. “There’s no question that a majority of homeowners have amassed considerable equity gains since the downturn,” Yun said. “Supply conditions would improve measurably, and ultimately lead to more sales, if a growing number of homeowners finally decide that this spring is the time to list their home for sale.”


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What Strategies Are Buyers Using This Spring?

From all accounts, this spring’s housing market is going to be a busy one. High buyer demand has carried over from last year and so have inventory concerns in many markets. In other words, anyone hoping to find and buy a house this spring should be prepared for competition from other interested buyers. What does that mean? Well, in short, it means moving quickly and saving up some extra money to sweeten the pot, if necessary. In fact, according to a recent survey, home buyers say they are checking online listings every day and 40 percent say they’re planning to put more than 20 percent down. Other strategies buyers say they’re employing this spring to beat the competition include setting price alerts and offering above asking price. Overall, home buyers are aware of current conditions and are preparing themselves for the possibility of having to win over a home seller with an offer that exceeds all others. As evidence of this, just six percent of survey respondents said they are doing nothing to prepare for competition from other buyers.


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Sales of Existing Homes Rebound In February

Sales of previously owned homes declined in both December and January. But that isn’t all that surprising. Cold weather in much of the country, combined with the end of the year and the holidays often causes home sales to slow down. This year, however, with current inventory levels and affordability conditions, some worried that the slow sales pace may mean something more significant and could even lead to a disappointing spring season. But new numbers from the National Association of Realtors provide some relief, showing February sales rebounding 3 percent from the month before, with single-family home sales up 4.2 percent. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says increases in the South and West made up for slumping sales in colder areas like the Midwest and Northeast. “A big jump in existing sales in the South and West last month helped the housing market recover from a two-month sales slump,” Yun says. “The very healthy U.S. economy and labor market are creating a sizable interest in buying a home in early 2018.” More here


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Homes Stay On The Market For Fewer Days

These days, there are a lot of people interested in buying a house. A stronger economy, more jobs, and years of pent-up demand have led to a rising number of Americans who are eager to make a move. But while that’s positive, more buyers active in the market also means homes sell faster. In fact, according to Nationwide’s recent Health of Housing Markets Report, the average home was on the market for just 67 days in 2017 – with houses in some market going in half that time. That means, buyers need to do their homework, cause they may not have the luxury of being able to take their time debating each home’s pros and cons. It also means good news for sellers. “As we head into spring and the traditional season when sales heat up, buyers will find that desirable homes won’t be on the market for long,” says David Berson, Nationwide’s senior vice president and chief economist. “Today, the average home is on the market almost half the length of time that it was six years ago. Of course, that is good news for people looking to sell their home.” More here.


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Are More New Houses On The Way?

Generally speaking, there are fewer homes available to buy right now than is considered normal. And though conditions will differ from one market to the next, when inventory is an issue, it leads to competition and higher prices. That’s because, there are too many buyers vying for the number of homes currently available. But when there are more buyers than there are homes for sale, conditions are also ripe for builders. And typically, they’ll take notice and build more homes to accommodate those buyers. Based on recent readings of the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index – which measures builders’ confidence in the market for new homes – that may be where the market is right now. For example, builders confidence has been at or above 70 for four consecutive months, on a scale where any number above 50 indicates more builders see conditions as good than poor. And most of their optimism is based on market conditions and their expectations for future sales, rather than current traffic. Which means, builders see an opportunity in this year’s market and may begin ramping up construction of new homes. If that happens, it’ll provide more choices for buyers and help slow spiking price increases. More here.


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The Neighborhood Feature Buyers Want At Any Age

The factors that influence a home buyer’s decision to buy a particular house in a particular neighborhood are very similar across demographic groups. After all, our lives are more similar than they are different. We all want to live in a safe neighborhood with access to things we want and need, like recreation and health care providers. However, depending on the age of the buyer, there are some are other neighborhood features, like schools, that may appeal more to a younger home buyer than an older one. For that reason, the National Association of Realtors’ Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study takes an annual look at who’s buying homes, what kind of homes, and for what reasons. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says the results show there is one factor that appeals to buyers of all ages. “The sense of community and wanting friends and family nearby is a major factor for many home buyers of all ages,” Yun said. “Similar to Gen X buyers who have their parents living at home, millennial buyers with kids may seek the convenience of having family nearby to help raise their family.” In short, proximity to family and friends was important to buyers of all ages, whether they were millennials or baby boomers. More here


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Homeowner Equity Continues To Increase

When you buy a house, you’re not just purchasing a place to live. You’re also making an investment in the real estate market. Which means, as your home’s value grows, so does your equity. Equity, of course, refers to the amount a property is worth minus the amount still owed on the mortgage. Put simply, if your equity is growing, that’s good news. Which is why new numbers from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System are encouraging. That’s because they show homeowner equity on the rise. In fact, the total value of homeowner equity has increased $1.2 trillion over the past year and reached $14.4 trillion in the fourth quarter of last year. In short, that means homeowners are seeing the value of their homes, and their investment, grow. Whether you’re a current homeowner or are about to become one, this is a positive sign – as it indicates that the real estate market is strengthening and offering Americans a good opportunity to find a place they can, not only call home, but also a good financial decision. More here.


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The Best Markets For First-Time Home Buyers

Buying a house in a competitive market can be challenging, even for buyers that have been through it before. Getting into a bidding war with another buyer means possibly pushing your budget, or worse, losing the house you set your sights on. But finding and buying a house in a competitive market is especially intimidating for a first-time buyer, who may already be a little overwhelmed by the process. The good news is that, though there are generally fewer homes available to buy across the country, not all markets are equally competitive. For example, a recent analysis of housing markets looked for those that have available homes, smaller down payments, and a strong home appreciation forecast – in other words, areas that would be favorable for first-time buyers. According to the rankings, cities like Tampa, Orlando, Houston, Atlanta, and Las Vegas have more opportunities to buy an affordable, entry-level home than in other markets where inventory is tighter and there is higher demand. In short, there are still opportunities for buyers, so it’s a good idea to look into the dynamics of your desired neighborhood before talking yourself out of buying this year. More here.


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Income Has Risen But Will It Lead To Home Sales?

A rising number of Americans surveyed for Fannie Mae’s monthly Home Purchase Sentiment Index say their income is higher than it was last year at this time. But has more money made them more likely to buy or sell a house? Well, according to February’s survey results, it’s hard to say. That’s because, after an increase in January, housing sentiment fell in February – with respondents expressing less confidence in a number of categories. In fact, the number of participants who said it’s a good time to buy a house was down, as was the percentage of participants who said it was a good time to sell. But if January saw increases in housing confidence, why the drop in February? Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist, says some of the uncertainty has to do with changing economic headlines. “Volatility in consumer housing sentiment continued in February, with the new tax law beginning to impact respondents’ take-home pay and the stock market creating negative headlines due to early-month turbulence,” Duncan said. In short, people have more money but they’re still a bit unsure of what lies ahead for the market. More here.


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