Home Sales Hit Highest Level of the Year

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WASHINGTON (October 21, 2014) – After a modest decline last month, existing-home sales bounced back in September to their highest annual pace of the year, according to the National Association of Realtors®.  All major regions except for the Midwest experienced gains in September.

Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million in September from 5.05 million in August. Sales are now at their highest pace of 2014, but still remain 1.7 percent below the 5.26 million-unit level from last September.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the improved demand for buying seen since the spring has carried into the fall. “Low interest rates and price gains holding steady led to September’s healthy increase, even with investor activity remaining on par with last month’s marked decline,” he said. “Traditional buyers are entering a less competitive market with fewer investors searching for available homes, but may also face a slight decline in choices due to the fact that inventory generally falls heading into the winter.”

The median existing-home price2 for all housing types in September was $209,700, which is 5.6 percent above September 2013. This marks the 31st consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.

Total housing inventory3 at the end of September fell 1.3 percent to 2.30 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.3-month supply at the current sales pace. Despite fewer homes for sale in September, unsold inventory is still 6.0 percent higher than a year ago, when there were 2.17 million existing homes available for sale.

All-cash sales were 24 percent of transactions in September, up slightly from August (23 percent) but down from 33 percent in September of last year. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 14 percent of homes in September, up from 12 percent last month but below September 2013 (19 percent). Sixty-three percent of investors paid cash in September.

According to Freddie Mac, after falling for four consecutive months, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.16 percent in September from 4.12 percent in August. Despite the slight increase, interest rates are 33 basis points less than a year ago (4.49 percent).

“Economic instability overseas is leading to volatility in the stock market and is causing investors to seek safer bets, which will likely keep interest rates in upcoming weeks hovering near or below where they are now,” said Yun. “This is welcoming news for consumers looking to buy, although they could temporarily become more cautious by less certain economic conditions.”

The percent share of first-time buyers continues to underperform historically, remaining at 29 percent for the third consecutive month. First-time buyers have represented less than 30 percent of all buyers in 17 of the past 18 months.

Distressed homes4 – foreclosures and short sales – increased slightly in September to 10 percent from 8 percent in August, but are down from 14 percent a year ago. Seven percent of September sales were foreclosures and 3 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 14 percent below market value in September (same as in August), while short sales were discounted 14 percent (10 percent in August).

According to NAR President Steve Brown, co-owner of Irongate, Inc., Realtors® in Dayton, Ohio, fewer distressed sales is good news for appraisers, who have faced undue pressure since the downturn. “An appraisal is an important part of the home buying and selling process,” he said. “With foreclosures and short sales falling closer to average levels, appraisers will have fewer distressed sales in their list of comparables when determining home valuations.”

Properties typically stayed on the market in September longer (56 days) than last month (53 days) and a year ago (50 days). Short sales were on the market for a median of 116 days in September, while foreclosures sold in 59 days and non-distressed homes typically took 55 days. Thirty-five percent of homes sold in September were on the market for less than a month.

Single-family home sales rose 2.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.56 million in September from 4.47 million in August, but remain 1.9 percent below the 4.65 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $210,300 in September, up 5.9 percent from September 2013.

Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 5.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000 units in September from 580,000 in August, and are unchanged from the 610,000 unit pace a year ago. The median existing condo price was $205,200 in September, which is 3.2 percent higher than a year ago.

Regionally, September existing-home sales in the Northeast climbed 1.5 percent to an annual rate of 680,000, but remain 1.4 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $249,800, which is 4.8 percent higher than a year ago.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales declined 5.6 percent to an annual level of 1.17 million in September, and remain 4.9 percent below September 2013. The median price in the Midwest was $165,100, up 4.9 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South increased 5.0 percent to an annual rate of 2.12 million in September, and are now 1.4 percent above September 2013. The median price in the South was $180,900, up 5.1 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West jumped 7.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.20 million in September, but remain 4.0 percent below a year ago. The median price in the West was $294,200, which is 4.0 percent above September 2013.

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NOTE:  For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services. Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.

1Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR rebenchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.

Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample – about 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.

The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.

Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

2The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.

3Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).

The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR’s quarterly metro area price reports.

4Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, posted at Realtor.org.

Realtor.com®, NAR’s listing site, posts metro area median listing price and inventory data at: www.realtor.com/data-portal/Real-Estate-Statistics.aspx.

The Pending Home Sales Index for September will be released October 27, and existing-home sales for October is scheduled for November 20; release times are 10:00 a.m. EDT.


4 Reasons to Buy Before Winter

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It’s that time of year, the seasons are changing and with them bring thoughts of the upcoming holidays, family get togethers, and planning for a new year. Those who are on the fence about whether now is the right time to buy don’t have to look much farther to find four great reasons to consider buying a home now, instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report released recently projects appreciation in home values over the next five years to be between 11.2% (most pessimistic) and 27.8% (most optimistic).

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have softened recently, most experts predict that they will begin to rise later this year. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by the end of next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

3. Either Way You are Paying a Mortgage

As a recent paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains: “Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise. But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait? Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe it is time to buy.

Bottom Line

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.


Still a Great Time to Buy a Home…but HURRY!!

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Kevin Kelly, Chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), recently explained that:

“With interest rates near historically low levels and strengthening job growth, now continues to be a great opportunity to buy a home.”

We couldn’t agree more. However, we must realize that, with prices and interest rates both projected to increase, waiting could cost us.

There are two organizations that look at the affordability of purchasing and actually measure it over time. The National Association of Home Builders has their Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) and the National Association of Realtors’ has the Housing Affordability Index .

Both indexes are reporting the same thing. The cost of buying a home is beginning to increase leading the affordability indexes to dip.

Both indexes say we passed the bottom of the housing market

According to NAHB’s HOI housing affordability dipped slightly in the second quarter of 2014. NAHB’s Chief Economist David Crowe explains:

“The second quarter HOI reflects the slow but steady march toward the historic levels of price appreciation and interest rates that result in affordability levels we experienced before the mid-2000s boom.”

According to NAR in a recent Economists’ Outlook post, home affordability is down from both one month ago and one year ago in all regions.

Michael Hyman, Research Assistant at NAR said:

“At the national level, housing affordability is down for the month of June due to higher prices and qualifying income levels despite the lowest mortgage rates of the year.”

In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal also revealed that the cost of home ownership is higher than any time in over five years:

“Housing affordability hit its lowest level in nearly six years in June as home prices continued to climb.”

 

Bottom Line

If you were waiting for the bottom of the market, you missed it. Yet, with prices below values of seven years ago in most parts of the country and interest rates near historic lows, it is still a great time to buy a home…but hurry!


14,109 Houses Sold Yesterday! Did Yours?

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There are some homeowners that have been waiting for months to get a price they hoped for when they originally listed their house for sale. The only thing they might want to consider is… If it hasn’t sold over the summer, maybe it’s not priced properly.

After all 14,109 houses sold yesterday, 14,109 will sell today and 14,109 will sell tomorrow. 14,109!

That is the average number of homes that sell each and every day in this country according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Existing Home Sales Report. NAR reported that sales are at an annual rate of 5.15 million. Divide that number by 365 (days in a year) and we can see that, on average, over 14,000 homes sell every day. Sales are at the highest pace of 2014 and have risen for four consecutive months.

We realize that you want to get the fair market value for your home. However, if it hasn’t sold in today’s active real estate market, perhaps you should reconsider your current asking price.


Don’t Get Caught in the ‘Renter’s Trap’

In a recent press release, Zillow stated that the affordability of the nation’s rental inventory is currently much worse than affordability of the country’s home sale inventory. The release revealed two things:

  1. Nationally, renters signing a lease at the end of the second quarter paid 29.5% of their income to rent
  2. U.S. home buyers at the end of the second quarter could expect to pay 15.3% of their incomes to a mortgage on the typical home

Furthermore, renters pay more than the average of 24.9% that was paid in the pre-bubble period while buyers actually pay far less than the 22.1% share homeowners devoted to mortgages in the pre-bubble days.

Don’t Become Trapped

If you are currently renting you could get caught up in a cycle where increasing rents continue to make it impossible for you to save for a necessary down payment. Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries explains:

“The affordability of for-sale homes remains strong, which is encouraging for those buyers that can save for a down payment and capitalize on low mortgage interest rates… As rents keep rising, along with interest rates and home values, saving for a down payment and attaining homeownership becomes that much more difficult for millions of current renters.”

Know Your Options

Perhaps you already have saved enough to buy your first home. HousingWire recently reported that analysts at Nomura believe:

“It’s not that Millennials and other potential homebuyers aren’t qualified in terms of their credit scores or in how much they have saved for their down payment.

It’s that they think they’re not qualified or they think that they don’t have a big enough down payment.” (emphasis added)

Freddie Mac came out with some comments on this exact issue:

  1. A person “can get a conforming, conventional mortgage with a down payment of as little as 5 percent (sometimes with as little as 3 percent coming out of their own pockets)”.
  2. Freddie Mac’s purchase of mortgages with down payments under 10 percent more than quadrupled between 2009 and 2013.
  3. More than one in five borrowers who took out conforming, conventional mortgages in 2014 put down 10 percent or less.

Bottom Line

Don’t get caught in the trap so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Have a professional help you determine if you are eligible to get a mortgage.


5 Reasons You Shouldn’t For Sale by Owner

5 Reasons You Should Not For Sale By Owner
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Some homeowners consider trying to sell their home on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). We think there are several reasons this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

Here are five of our reasons:

1. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is 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
  • Your bank in the case of a short sale

2. Exposure to Prospective Purchasers

Recent studies have shown that 92% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 28% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an extensive internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

3.  Actual Results also come from the Internet

Where do buyers find the home they actually purchased?

  • 43% on the internet
  • 9% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspapers

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

4. FSBOing has Become More and More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 9% over the last 20+ years.

5. You Net More Money when Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the same commission.

Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $184,000 while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $230,000.   This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $46,000 more for your home as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with a real estate professional in your marketplace and see what they have to offer.


3 Companies Announce Relocation to Allen

3 Companies Announce Relocation to Allen

With increased business moves to North Texas, Allen a city of more than 90,000, is appearing more often on corporate radar screens.   In fact three businesses have announced relocations to the city – coming from California, New Jersey and Illinois – all looking for lower taxes and a can-do business climate in Texas.

·        CVE Technology Group Inc., a New Jersey-based electronics company, has just announced relocation of its headquarters to Allen’s Enterprise Business Park.    By next year, CVE plans to have 1,200 workers in Allen, making it the city’s largest employer. 

·        Kone Americas’ is consolidating its regional operations in Allen.   Work is starting on a new office and research facility for Kone on the east side of U.S. 75. The company will be lead tenant in a 102,000-square-foot office building.   As part of the new project in Allen, a seven-story test facility will be built.

·        MonkeySports, Inc in Corona, Caifornia announced in May that it was relocating to Allen.    The online retailer of hockey equipment also plans to open a sporting goods superstore. MonkeySports said it’s trading California for Texas in a search for a more favorable business climate.  The sporting goods firm plans to hire an additional 150 workers in Allen this year.

–          Dallas Morning News

DFW Home Prices Up 5.2%

Dallas-Fort Worth home prices were up 5.2 percent in the second quarter from a year ago, according to the latest Realtor survey.   Nationwide, prices were up 4.4 percent, the smallest increase since 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors.  Analysts have been forecasting a slower rate of home price growth this year.  DFW home prices have cooled dramatically from the 9 percent rise in the first quarter.

          Dallas Morning News