What is the Best Investment for Americans?

What is the Best Investment for Americans? | Simplifying The Market

Some are reporting that there is trepidation regarding the real estate market in the United States. Apparently, the American people are quite comfortable.

Porch.com, a major network helping homeowners with their renovation projects, recently conducted a survey which asked Americans:

“What do you believe is the safest investment over the next 10 years?”

U.S. housing came in at number one, beating out other investments such as gold, stocks, bonds, and savings.

Here is a graph showing the top five investments Americans selected:What is the Best Investment for Americans? | Simplifying The MarketThe findings of the Porch.com survey also coincide with two previous surveys done earlier this year:

  1. The Federal Reserve Bank’s 2019 Consumer Expectations Housing Survey reported that 65% of Americans believe homeownership is a good financial investment, and that the percentage has increased in each of the last four years.
  2. The Gallup survey showed that Americans have picked real estate as the “best” investment for six straight years.

Bottom Line

Based on all three surveys done this year, we can see that Americans still believe in homeownership as a great investment, and that feeling continues to grow.

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Buyers Are Looking For Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

Buyers Are Looking For Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Buyers Are Looking For Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • Existing Home Sales are currently at an annual pace of 5.46 million.
  • The inventory of existing homes for sale remains below the 6 months needed for a normal market and is now at a 3.9-month supply.
  • Inventory remains low due to high demand from buyers who are still looking for a house to buy!

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How Long Can This Economic Recovery Last?

How Long Can This Economic Recovery Last? | Simplifying The Market

The economy is currently experiencing the longest recovery in our nation’s history. The stock market has hit record highs, while unemployment rates are at record lows. Home price appreciation is beginning to reaccelerate. This begs the question: How long can this economic recovery last?

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Survey of Economists recently called for an economic slowdown (recession) in the near future. The most recent survey, however, now shows the economists are pushing that timetable back. When asked when they expect a recession to start, 42.5% of the economists in the previous survey projected between now and the end of 2020. The most recent survey showed that percentage drop to 34.2%. Here are the most current results:How Long Can This Economic Recovery Last? | Simplifying The MarketLike the economists surveyed by the WSJ, most experts are still predicting a recession will likely occur sometime in the next few years. However, many are pushing back the date for the economic slowdown.

Bottom Line

Real estate is impacted by the economy (and the consumer’s belief in the strength of the economy). The fact that most economic experts are calling for the recovery to continue through 2020 means the housing market will also remain strong for the foreseeable future.

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The Cost of Renting vs. Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Cost of Renting vs. Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

The Cost of Renting vs. Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • Historically, the choice between renting and buying a home has been a tough decision.
  • Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (27.7%) vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (17.5%), the choice is clear.
  • Every market is different. Before you renew your lease, find out if you can put your housing costs to work by buying a home this year.

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This is Not 2008 All Over Again: The Mortgage Lending Factor

This is Not 2008 All Over Again: The Mortgage Lending Factor | Simplifying The Market

Some are afraid the real estate market may be looking a lot like it did prior to the housing crash in 2008. One of the factors they’re pointing at is the availability of mortgage money.

Recent articles about the availability of low-down payment loans and down payment assistance programs are causing concern that we’re returning to the bad habits of a decade ago. Let’s alleviate the fears about the current mortgage market.

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association releases an index several times a year titled: The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to their website:

“The MCAI provides the only standardized quantitative index that is solely focused on mortgage credit. The MCAI is…a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.”

Basically, the index determines how easy it is to get a mortgage. The higher the index, the more available the mortgage credit.

Here is a graph of the MCAI dating back to 2004, when the data first became available:This is Not 2008 All Over Again: The Mortgage Lending Factor | Simplifying The Market As we can see, the index stood at about 400 in 2004. Mortgage credit became more available as the housing market heated up, and then the index passed 850 in 2006. When the real estate market crashed, so did the MCAI (to below 100), as mortgage money became almost impossible to secure.

Thankfully, lending standards have eased since. The index, however, is still below 200, which is half of what it was before things got out of control.

Bottom Line

It is easier to get a mortgage today than it was immediately after the market crash, but it is still difficult. The difference in 2006? At that time, it was difficult not to get a mortgage.

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Buyer Demand Growing in Every Region

Buyer Demand Growing in Every Region | Simplifying The Market

Buyers are out in full force this fall, increasing the demand for homebuying in all four regions of the country.

According to the latest ShowingTime Showing Index,

“Home showing activity was up again nationwide with a 4.6 percent rise in traffic, as the traditionally slow fall season began with a marked boost in buyer interest.”

Buyers clearly have the right idea, as mortgage rates have dropped over a full percentage point since the fall of 2018. They’ve hovered in a historically low range since this summer, making the overall cost of homeownership significantly more attractive and affordable.

Here’s the breakdown of how ShowingTime reports current buyer traffic patterns across the country:

“The West Region, which until August had experienced 18 consecutive months of flagging home buyer traffic, lead the four regions in year-over-year improvement with an 8.9 percent increase in buyer activity.

The South followed with a 6.4 percent increase, the largest such improvement in the region since April 2018, with the Northeast Region’s 5.6 percent increase the next largest among the four regions.

The Midwest’s more modest 0.8 percent year-over-year growth rounded out the nation’s promising month.”

Buyer Demand Growing in Every Region | Simplifying The MarketWith ShowingTime reporting “nationwide growth for the second consecutive month, a first since December 2017 – January 2018”, it’s one more reason why selling your house this winter is the way to go. List while buyers are on the market, before competition with other sellers pops up in your neighborhood.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of waiting until spring to sell, think again! Let’s get together to discuss listing your house now while buyer traffic is actively surging throughout the country.

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Homeownership Rate Remains on the Rise

Homeownership Rate Remains on the Rise | Simplifying The Market

In the third quarter of 2019, the U.S. homeownership rate rose again, signaling another strong indicator of the current housing market.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced,

“The homeownership rate of 64.8 percent was not statistically different from the rate in the third quarter 2018 (64.4 percent), but was 0.7 percentage points higher than the rate in the second quarter 2019 (64.1 percent).”

Homeownership Rate Remains on the Rise | Simplifying The MarketToday there is still a lack of inventory, particularly at the entry and middle-level segments of the market, but that is not stopping buyers from making every effort to pursue homeownership. The many financial and non-financial benefits continue to drive the American Dream and will likely do so for generations to come.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying a home, let’s get together to make your dream a reality.

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Forget the Price of the Home. The Cost is What Matters.

Forget the Price of the Home. The Cost is What Matters. | Simplifying The Market

Home buying activity (demand) is up, and the number of available listings (supply) is down. When demand outpaces supply, prices appreciate. That’s why firms are beginning to increase their projections for home price appreciation going forward. As an example, CoreLogic increased their 12-month projection for home values from 4.5% to 5.6% over the last few months.

The reacceleration of home values will cause some to again voice concerns about affordability. Just last week, however, First American came out with a data analysis that explains how price is not the only market factor that impacts affordability. They studied prices, mortgage rates, and wages from January through August of this year. Here are their findings:

Home Prices

“In January 2019, a family with the median household income in the U.S. could afford to buy a $373,900 house. By August, that home had appreciated to $395,000, an increase of $21,100.”

Mortgage Interest Rates

“The 0.85 percentage point drop in mortgage rates from January 2019 through August 2019 increased affordability by 9.7%. That translates to a $40,200 improvement in house-buying power in just eight months.”

Wage Growth

“As rates have fallen in 2019, the economy has continued to perform well also, resulting in a tight labor market and wage growth. Wage growth pushes household incomes upward, which were 1.5% higher in August compared with January. The growth in household income increased consumer house-buying power by 1.5%, pushing house-buying power up an additional $5,600.”

When all three market factors are combined, purchasing power increased by $24,500, thus making home buying more affordable, not less affordable. Here is a table that simply shows the data:Forget the Price of the Home. The Cost is What Matters. | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

In the article, Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explained it best:

“Focusing on nominal house price changes alone as an indication of changing affordability, or even the relationship between nominal house price growth and income growth, overlooks what matters more to potential buyers – surging house-buying power driven by the dynamic duo of mortgage rates and income growth. And, we all know from experience, you buy what you can afford to pay per month.”

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Thinking of Selling Your Home? The Waiting Is The Hardest Part.

Thinking of Selling Your Home? The Waiting Is The Hardest Part. | Simplifying The Market

Tom Petty famously penned the words, “the waiting is the hardest part” in his early 80’s hit song The Waiting, and his thought process can surprisingly also be applied to individuals considering selling their homes today. Traditional thinking would suggest it may be best to wait until the spring to sell when there is a flood of buyers in the market, but right now may in fact be an even better time to list your home.

We can see the overall economy is good: wages are rising, there are near record-low unemployment rates, and mortgage interest rates are still very low too. Over the past 10+ years the housing market has stabilized, so what (if anything) is the biggest challenge in the housing market today?

The answer is simple: it’s inventory.

According to the Existing Home Sales Report by the National Association of Realtors,

“Total housing inventory at the end of September sat at 1.83 million, approximately equal to the amount of existing-homes available for sale in August, but a 2.7% decrease from 1.88 million one year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.1-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.0 months in August and down from the 4.4-month figure recorded in September 2018.”

What does this mean?

While homes are coming to the market, they aren’t coming fast enough! Right now, across the country there is less than 6 months of overall inventory of homes for sale, putting us in a seller’s market. The challenge is that there are not enough homes for sale to increase the supply needed for the number of people who want to buy, especially in the starter and middle-level markets.

To be in a balanced market (meaning we have enough inventory for the number of buyers in the market), we need to have 6 months of inventory available. Today we are nowhere near that number, and as a matter of fact, the last time we reached that height was August 2012 (as shown in the graph below):Thinking of Selling Your Home? The Waiting Is The Hardest Part. | Simplifying The MarketWhen we look at the inventory challenge today, we can see that now is a great time to sell your house. Truthfully, waiting may end up being the hardest part in the long run. This landscape is a great place for sellers who own homes in the starter and middle-level markets to take the opportunity to sell in a sellers’ market, before inventory catches up with demand. Serious buyers are actively in the market and ready to make a move at this time of year. When inventory is limited at the lower end, like it is today, selling before more homes are listed could mean a significant seller’s advantage to those who are ready to move up. The upper level of the market has much more inventory available to move into, so it’s a win across the board.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering selling your home, don’t wait – now is the time to make your move! Take advantage of the high housing demand and the low inventory of homes for sale at the lower end of the market and use your purchasing power while mortgage rates are low to go after the move-up home of your dreams. Let’s get together to decide if now is the right time for you.

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