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Are Homeowners Renovating to Sell or to Stay?

Homeowners Painting Exterior of Home

Over the past few years, two trends have emerged in the housing market:

1. Home renovations have shot up
2. Inventory of homes available for sale on the market has dropped

A ‘normal’ housing market is defined by having a 6-month supply of homes for sale. According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors, we are currently at a 4.4-month supply.

This low inventory environment has many current homeowners worried that they would be unable to find a home to buy if they were to list and sell their current houses, which is causing many homeowners to instead renovate their homes in an attempt to fit their needs.

According to Home Advisor, homeowners spent an average of $6,649 on home improvements over the last 12 months. If that number seems high, it also includes homeowners who recently bought fixer-uppers.

A new study from Zillow asked the question, “Given a choice between spending a fixed amount of money on a down payment for a new home or fixing up their current home, what would you do?”

Seventy-six percent of those surveyed said that they would rather renovate their current homes than move. The results are broken down by generation below.

More and more studies are coming out about the intention that many Americans have to ‘age in place’ (or retire in the area in which they live). Among retirees, 91% would prefer to renovate than spend their available funds on a down payment on a new home.

If their current house fits their needs as far as space and accessibility are concerned, then a renovation could make sense. But if renovations will end up changing the identity of the home and impacting resale value, then the renovations may end up costing them more in the long run.

With home prices increasing steadily for the last 6.5 years, homeowners have naturally gained equity that they may not even be aware of. Listing your house for sale in this low-competition environment could net you more money than your renovations otherwise would.

Bottom Line
If you are one of the many homeowners who is thinking about remodeling instead of selling, let’s get together to help you make the right decision for you based on the demand for your house in today’s market.

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Why Housing Supply Increased as Sales Have Slowed?

Housing Market

 

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the inventory of homes for sale this year compared to last year has increased for the last four months, all while sales of existing homes have slowed compared to last year’s numbers.

For over three years leading up to this point, the exact opposite was true; Inventory dropped as sales soared.

NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun shed some light on what could be contributing to this shift, “This is the lowest existing home sales level since November 2015. A decade’s high mortgage rates are preventing consumers from making quick decisions on home purchases. All the while, affordable home listings remain low, continuing to spur underperforming sales activity across the country.”

Let’s take a deeper look:

Interest Rates
Since January, 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates have increased nearly a full percentage point (from 3.95% to 4.9%). Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the National Association of Realtors, and the Mortgage Bankers Association are all in agreement that rates will continue to increase to about 5.2% over the next 12 months.

“The rise in [mortgage] rates paired with this very strong price appreciation absolutely is slowing housing,” said Fannie Mae’s Chief Economist Doug Duncan.
Even though rates are higher than they’ve been in a decade, they still remain below the average for the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s!

Mismatch of Inventory
Elizabeth Mendenhall, President of NAR, said it best, “Despite small month over month increases, the share of first-time buyers in the market continues to underwhelm because there are simply not enough listings in their price range.”

Prices of starter and trade-up homes have appreciated faster than their higher-priced counterparts. Over the last 5 years, the lowest-priced homes have appreciated by 47% while the highest-priced homes have appreciated by only 24%.

According to the Institute of Luxury Home Market’s Luxury Market Report, the $1M-and-up price range is now experiencing a buyer’s market. This means that supply (inventory) has finally caught up with demand and buyers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to negotiations. Additionally, many listings in this price range have experienced price cuts in order to entice buyers to put in offers.

Natural Disasters
Although not fully to blame for the national shortage in sales and inventory, natural disasters like Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael, and the wildfires on the West Coast have certainly had an impact.

Bottom Line
Additional inventory coming to market could help normalize the housing market and allow incomes to catch up to home prices. For more information about sales and inventory in our area, let’s get together so we can help you make the best decision for you and your family.

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When to Get Excited About the Housing Market

Real Estate Agent meeting with clients

Real estate professionals get that consumers, by and large, ignore housing statistics and the market until they become involved in the purchase or sale of a home. It's only natural then that what impacts the market is a bit of a mystery to many. What determines a buyers' or sellers' market? What factors influence home prices?

Of course the answers to these questions and more may be multi-faceted, but it's important to pay attention to them if you hope to keep more of your money when it's time to buy or sell real estate.

Believe it or not, even in what seems like the gloomiest of real estate markets, there will be a glimmer of light for some.

Pay Attention to Interest Rates

It certainly is no secret that obtaining a lower interest rate for a mortgage typically allows for a lower payment. Naturally then, low interest rates make home-buying an attractive venture—and, even whispers of a rate hike can spur folks to get out into the market.

For instance, by the end of 2015, the U.S. saw 5.26 million home sales, which was the most robust housing market since 2006. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), attributed the robust market, in part, to the mere “prospect of higher mortgage rates in coming months.”

And, rise they did, throughout the following year. In fact, late in 2016, mortgage interest rates rose eight times in nine weeks, according to bankrate.com. Sounds rather gloomy until one recognizes that, post-hike, rates were still at historic lows.

The bottom line is that if you're in the market for a home and interest rates decrease or remain attractively low, it's time to get excited about the housing market.

The Economy

The current economy is a key factor affecting the real estate market. “Broadly speaking, when the economy is sluggish, so is real estate,” claims Joseph Nguyen at Investopedia. Rather than look at the glass half-full, however, we choose to take the opposite tack—when the economy is humming along, the housing market is at its most attractive.

When job growth is robust, consumer confidence rises and we're more apt to spend money on high-ticket items, such as cars, appliances, vacations and, yes, homes.

Exciting Markets for Sellers

There's an old saying in the real estate industry that counsels homeowners that the best time to sell a home is when you need to sell your home. Yes, we understand that isn't very helpful. If you're one of the fortunate who has no compelling reason to sell (such as a job offer in a different town or divorce), you have the luxury of choosing when to put the home on the market.

Get excited if real estate professionals mention the words “sellers' market.” This is a period in which there are few homes for sale but buyer demand is high. During sellers' markets prices typically increase rapidly and homes sell at or above list price.

One of the biggest mistakes we see in sellers' markets is the homeowner who feels that the market itself will bring top dollar for the home, regardless of condition. Be aware that it's the homes in good condition that sell the quickest and for the most amount of money. Regardless if market conditions favor sellers, if your home isn't in move-in condition, it may be passed over by home buyers.

Buying a Home This Year?

A buyers' market—when there is a large selection of homes for sale and few other buyers in the market—is a great time to purchase a home. Unlike a sellers' market, prices aren't rapidly escalating and you won't be competing against a slew of other buyers. These markets are more relaxed so homebuyers can take their time deciding.

In a sellers' market, however, it's more important than ever to have all your ducks in a row before making an offer on a property. Ensure you know exactly how much you can spend and that you've obtained a preapproval letter from your lender. Make your offer stand out from others by keeping it lean and mean, with the shortest time periods for contingencies as possible. Finally, come in with your highest and best offer. A sellers' market moves too quickly to assume the homeowner will negotiate over price.

While the type of market may determine when to jump in, as mentioned earlier, interest rates can also cause excitement in the housing market. Low rates and relaxed lending guidelines, such as we saw in 2015 and 2016, presented a prime opportunity for many would-be buyers who previously couldn't afford to purchase.

Lower mortgage rates mean a lower monthly payment, which means you have more purchasing power, and that additional power can "mean the difference between buying a 2-bedroom home versus a 3-bedroom one; between buying a home with large closets versus small closets; and, between buying an upgraded home versus a dated one," according to Dan Green at The Mortgage Reports.

Regardless of the media's perception of the housing market, there is always a mix of good and bad news, depending on whether you are in the market to buy or to sell. Arm yourself with a professional real estate agent who can supply you with current and local market information (too often what you read in the news is stale and based on nationwide statistics), follow his or her advice and buying or selling a home in any market will be an exciting process.

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