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4 Big Incentives for Homeowners to Sell Now

The housing market keeps sailing along. The only headwind that could take it off course is the lack of inventory for sale. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that there were 410,000 fewer single-family homes for sale this March than in March of 2020. The key to continued success in the residential housing market is for more listings to come on the market. However, many homeowners are concerned that selling their homes could be challenging for several reasons.

Recently, Homes.com released the findings of a survey that identified these concerns, as well as what it will take for homeowners to feel comfortable selling their houses. Here are the four major homeowner concerns and a quick explanation of what’s actually happening in the housing market today.

1. Homeowners don’t know if they’ll be able to secure their next home before selling.

In negotiations, leverage is the power that one side may have to influence the other side while moving closer to their negotiating position. A party’s leverage is based on the ability to award benefits or eliminate costs on the other side.

In today’s market, buyers have compelling reasons to purchase a home now:

  • To own a home of their own
  • To buy before prices continue to appreciate
  • To secure a mortgage at a historically low rate, while they last

These buyer needs give the seller tremendous leverage. Most already realize this leverage enables the homeowner to sell at a good price. However, this leverage may also be used to negotiate time to find their next home. The homeowner could sell their home to the buyer at today’s price, which will enable the purchaser to take advantage of current mortgage rates. In return, the buyer might lease the house back to the seller for a pre-determined length of time while the seller finds a new home or has one built.

This gives the buyer what they want while also giving the seller what they need. It’s a true win-win negotiation.

2. Homeowners don’t know if their current home will sell for the asking price or top market price.

This is the perfect time to maximize profits while selling a house. NAR just released a study showing that bidding wars are at an all-time high. The study reveals that when comparing the first quarter of last year to the first quarter of this year, the number of offers on homes for sale doubled from an average of 2.4 to 4.8 offers.

Whenever there’s a bidding war, the price of the item for sale escalates. Bloomberg recently reported:

“For the first time ever, the average U.S. home is selling for above its list price.”

If a seller is looking for a top-dollar sale, there’s no better time to sell than right now.

3. Homeowners don’t know if they will get an offer without their home requiring work or updates.

Again, leverage is the greatest strength a seller has in this market. Due to the lack of homes for sale, many buyers are more willing to take on home improvement projects themselves in order to get the home they’re after.

A recent post on whether or not to renovate before selling notes:

“It may be wise to let future homeowners remodel the bathroom or the kitchen to make design decisions that are best for their specific taste and lifestyle. As a seller, your dollars and time might be better spent working on small cosmetic updates, like refreshing some paint and power washing the exterior. Instead of over-investing in your home with upgrades that the buyers may change anyway, work with a real estate professional to determine the key projects that will maximize your listing, without overdoing it.”

If a seller is worried about doing work or updates on their home, they must realize that today’s historically low inventory likely renders these projects less critical to the sale of the house.

4. Homeowners don’t know if they can have a quick closing process.

When speed is important, there are two points sellers should look at:

  • The time it takes to find a buyer for the home
  • The time it takes to close the transaction

In the latest Existing Home Sales Report, NAR explains:

“Properties typically remained on the market for 18 days in March, down from 20 days in February and from 29 days in March 2020. Eighty-three percent of the homes sold in March 2021 were on the market for less than a month.”

Eighteen days is fast, and it’s a new record. Here are the days the average house is on the market in each state:4 Big Incentives for Homeowners to Sell Now | Simplifying The MarketRegarding the time it will take to close the transaction, all-cash sales accounted for 23% of all home purchase transactions in March. All-cash sales can usually be closed in thirty days.

If a mortgage is necessary, the most recent Origination Insight Report from Ellie Mae shows:

“Time to close all loans decreased in March. The average time to close a purchase fell to 51 days, down from 53 the month prior.”

If you’re looking for a quick closing process, there’s never been a market in which the two-step process (finding a buyer and closing the deal) has taken less time.

Bottom Line

Selling your house can be daunting, especially in a fast-paced market. However, the fact that we’re in such a strong sellers’ market clearly eliminates many common concerns. Let’s connect today so you can learn more about the opportunities for homeowners who are ready to sell.

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Is Home Price Appreciation Accelerating Again?

At the beginning of the year, industry forecasts called for home price appreciation to slow to about half of the double-digit increase we saw last year. The thinking was that inventory would increase from record-low levels and put an end to the bidding wars that have driven home prices up over the past twelve months. However, that increase in inventory has yet to materialize. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that there are currently 410,000 fewer single-family homes available for sale than there were at this time last year.

This has forced those who made appreciation forecasts this past January to amend those projections. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the National Association of Realtors, and Zelman & Associates have all adjusted their numbers upward after reviewing first quarter housing data. Here are their original forecasts and their newly updated projections:Is Home Price Appreciation Accelerating Again? | Simplifying The MarketEven with the increases, the updated projections still don’t reach the above 10% appreciation levels of 2020. However, a jump in the average projection from 5.3% to 7.7% after just one quarter is substantial. Demand will remain strong, so future appreciation will be determined by how quickly listing inventory makes its way to the market.

Bottom Line

Entering 2021, there was some speculation that we might see price appreciation slow dramatically this year. Today, experts believe that won’t be the case. Home values will remain strong throughout the year.

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Patience Is the Key to Buying a Home This Year

The question many homebuyers are facing this year is, “Why is it so hard to find a house?” We’re in the ultimate sellers’ market, which means real estate is ultra-competitive for buyers right now. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes homes are getting an average of 4.8 offers per sale, and that number keeps rising. Why? It’s because there are so few houses for sale.

Low inventory in the housing market isn’t new, but it’s becoming more challenging to navigate. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:

The housing market is still relatively under supplied, and buyers can’t buy what’s not for sale. Relative to what we saw in 2017 to 2019, March 2021 was still roughly 117,000 new listings lower, adding to the pre-existing early-year gap of more than 200,000 fresh listings that would typically have come to market in January or February. Despite this week’s gain from a year ago, we’re 19 percent below the new seller activity that we saw in the same week in 2019.

While many homeowners paused their plans to sell during the height of the pandemic, this isn’t the main cause of today’s huge gap between supply and demand. Sam Khater, Vice President and Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, Economic Housing and Research Division, shares:

The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes . . . That decline has resulted in the decrease in supply of entry-level single-family homes or, ’starter homes.’”

When you consider the number of homes built in the U.S. by decade, the serious lack of new construction is clear (See graph below):Patience Is the Key to Buying a Home This Year | Simplifying The MarketThe number of newly built homes is disproportionately lower than the rate of household formation, which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, has continued to increase. Khater also explains:

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and current recession, the housing market was facing a substantial supply shortage and that deficit has grown. In 2018, we estimated that there was a housing supply shortage of approximately 2.5 million units, meaning that the U.S. economy was about 2.5 million units below what was needed to match long-term demand. Using the same methodology, we estimate that the housing shortage increased to 3.8 million units by the end of 2020. A continued increase in a housing shortage is extremely unusual; typically in a recession, housing demand declines and supply rises, causing inventory to rise above the long-term trend.”

To catch up to current demand, Freddie Mac estimates we need to build almost four million homes. The good news is builders are working hard to get us there. The U.S. Census Bureau also states:

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,766,000. This is 2.7 percent (±1.7 percent) above the revised February rate of 1,720,000 . . . Privately-owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,739,000. This is 19.4 percent (±13.7 percent) above the revised February estimate of 1,457,000. . . .”

What does this mean? Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, clarifies:

The March figure of 1.74 million housing starts is the highest in 14 years. Both single-family units and multifamily units ramped up. After 13 straight years of underproduction – the chief cause for today’s inventory shortage – this construction boom needs to last for at least three years to make up for the part shortfall. As trade-up buyers purchase newly constructed homes, their prior homes will show up in MLSs, and hence, more choices for consumers. Housing starts to housing completion could be 4 to 8 months, so be patient with the improvement to inventory. In the meantime, construction workers deserve cheers.

Bottom Line

If you’re planning to buy this year, the key to success will be patience, given today’s low inventory environment. Let’s connect today to talk more about what’s happening in our area.

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Will the Housing Market Maintain Its Momentum?

Last week’s Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows sales have dropped by 3.7% compared to the month before. This is the second consecutive month that sales have slumped. Some see this as evidence that the red-hot real estate market may be cooling. However, there could also be a simple explanation as to why existing home sales have slowed – there aren’t enough homes to buy. There are currently 410,000 fewer single-family homes available for sale than there were at this time last year.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, explains in the report:

“The sales for March would have been measurably higher, had there been more inventory. Days-on-market are swift, multiple offers are prevalent, and buyer confidence is rising.”

Yun’s insight was supported the next day when the Census Bureau released its Monthly New Residential Sales Report. It shows that newly constructed home sales are up 20.7% over the previous month.

Buyer demand remains strong. With more of the adult population becoming vaccinated and job creation data showing encouraging signs, existing-home inventory is expected to grow in the coming months.

What will this mean for home sales going forward?

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) have all forecasted that total home sales (existing homes and new construction) will continue their momentum both this year and next. Here’s a graph showing those projections:Will the Housing Market Maintain Its Momentum? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Living through a pandemic has caused many to re-evaluate the importance of a home and the value of homeownership. The residential real estate market will benefit from both as we move forward.

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This Isn’t a Bubble. It’s Simply Lack of Supply. [INFOGRAPHIC]

This Isn’t a Bubble. It’s Simply Lack of Supply. [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • In a recent article, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), discussed the state of today’s housing market.
  • When addressing whether or not today’s high buyer competition and rising home prices are evidence of a housing bubble, Yun said that this “is not a bubble. It is simply lack of supply.”
  • Today’s housing market is healthy, and rising prices are driven by real buyer demand. Let’s connect to talk about the best ways to navigate such an energetic market.
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Don’t Be Fooled by Remarkable Real Estate Headlines

Don’t be impressed by the headlines reporting year-over-year housing numbers for the next several months (data covering March, April, May, and June). The data will most likely show eye-popping one-year increases.

While the year-over-year jumps will certainly be striking, consumers should take these numbers with a grain of salt, as the situation highlights a short-term quirk in the reporting of this data. Essentially, the increases will reflect a combination of two things: sharply lower housing numbers during last year’s virus-related market collapse and the subsequent strong rebound. This will result in what will appear to be unbelievable growth.

Let’s use single-family home sales as an example:Don’t Be Fooled by Remarkable Real Estate Headlines | Simplifying The MarketAs the graph reveals, last spring’s buying market was anything but typical. Instead of sales increasing, they fell sharply as a result of stay-at-home orders that virtually shut the real estate industry down.

This spring’s real estate market will bounce back with more normal seasonal sales increases. The percentage increase in sales will be astronomical – not because sales have skyrocketed, but instead because they will be compared to last year’s low numbers.

Bottom Line

There are likely to be some sensational headlines about real estate over the coming months. However, don’t be fooled. The actual story is that the real estate market is finally back to normal.

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82,338 Great Reasons to Buy a Home Today

The financial benefits of buying a home as compared to renting one are always up for debate. However, one element of the equation is often ignored – the ability to build wealth as a homeowner.

Most experts are calling for home prices to continue appreciating over the next several years. The most recent Home Price Expectation Survey, a survey of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists, expects home appreciation to increase as follows:

  • 2021: 6%
  • 2022: 4.5%
  • 2023: 4%
  • 2024: 3.6%
  • 2025: 3.5%

Using their annual projections, the graph below shows the equity build-up a purchaser could earn, using a $350,000 home as an example:82,338 Great Reasons to Buy a Home Today | Simplifying The MarketA homeowner could increase their net worth by over $80,000 in five years. That’s an average of $16,000 annually. That number should be in any equation determining the financial benefits of owning a home compared to renting.

Bottom Line

Homeowners are going to make a substantial amount of money in home equity over the next five years. If you’re ready to buy a home, let’s connect so you can enjoy this great benefit as well.

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Why This Is a Great Year to Sell Your Vacation Home

As vaccines are administered and travel resumes, many of us are beginning to plan for those long-awaited vacations we missed out on over the past year. Some households are focusing their efforts on buying a vacation home rather than staying in a hotel, too. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports:

Second homes (i.e., homes sold to buyers who are not going to occupy the home year-round, but use it as a vacation home, investment property, etc.) account for 15 percent of new single-family home sales.”

It’s not surprising that there’s an increase in demand for vacation homes. The majority of Americans are realizing they prefer to be around small groups, as shown in a recent survey from The Harris Poll:

“Social distancing taught consumers new things about how they like to socialize; (75%) said, ‘during COVID social distancing I realized I preferred smaller social gatherings at home or at friends’ place.’”

Not only are vacation homes seen as a potentially more pandemic-friendly way to travel and socialize, but they can also serve as an extended home-away-from-home. With more Americans being given the option to continue working remotely or retire earlier than expected, vacation homes can be used year-round. The NAHB explains:

“Remote work arrangements have made it possible for some wealthier Americans to move to alternate locations that are not just small, suburban shifts from within their current metro area.  More fundamentally, second home demand may also be benefitting by an acceleration of retirement plans, as well as stock market gains.”

Bottom Line

The demand for vacation homes has increased and will continue to rise as we head into summer. If you own a house in a destination area and have thought about selling, now is a great time to take advantage of today’s high buyer interest. Let’s connect to discuss your opportunities in our local market.

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4 Major Reasons Households in Forbearance Won’t Lose Their Homes to Foreclosure

There has been a lot of discussion as to what will happen once the 2.3 million households currently in forbearance no longer have the protection of the program. Some assume there could potentially be millions of foreclosures ready to hit the market. However, there are four reasons that won’t happen.

1. Almost 50% Leave Forbearance Already Caught Up on Payments

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), data through March 28 show that 48.9% of homeowners who have already left the program were current on their mortgage payments when they exited.

  • 6% made their monthly payments during their forbearance period
  • 7% brought past due payments current
  • 6% paid off their loan in full

This doesn’t mean that the over two million still in the plan will exit exactly the same way. It does, however, give us some insight into the possibilities.

2. The Banks Don’t Want the Houses Back

Banks have learned lessons from the crash of 2008. Lending institutions don’t want the headaches of managing foreclosed properties. This time, they’re working with homeowners to help them stay in their homes.

As an example, about 50% of all mortgages are backed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). In 2008, the FHFA offered 208,000 homeowners some form of Home Retention Action, which are options offered to a borrower who has the financial ability to enter a workout option and wants to stay in their home. Home retention options include temporary forbearances, repayment plans, loan modifications, or partial loan deferrals. These helped delinquent borrowers stay in their homes. Over the past year, the FHFA has offered that same protection to over one million homeowners.

Today, almost all lending institutions are working with their borrowers. The report from the MBA reveals that of those homeowners who have left forbearance,

  • 5% have worked out a repayment plan with their lender
  • 5% were granted a loan deferral where a borrower does not have to pay the lender interest or principal on a loan for an agreed-to period of time
  • 9% were given a loan modification

3. There Is No Political Will to Foreclose on These Households

The government also seems determined not to let individuals or families lose their homes. Bloomberg recently reported:

“Mortgage companies could face penalties if they don’t take steps to prevent a deluge of foreclosures that threatens to hit the housing market later this year, a U.S. regulator said. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) warning is tied to forbearance relief that’s allowed millions of borrowers to delay their mortgage payments due to the pandemic…mortgage servicers should start reaching out to affected homeowners now to advise them on ways they can modify their loans.”

The CFPB is proposing a new set of guidelines to ensure people will be able to retain their homes. Here are the major points in the proposal:

  • The proposed rule would provide a special pre-foreclosure review period that would generally prohibit servicers from starting foreclosure until after December 31, 2021.
  • The proposed rule would permit servicers to offer certain streamlined loan modification options to borrowers with COVID-19-related hardships based on the evaluation of an incomplete application.
  • The proposal rule wants temporary changes to certain required servicer communications to make sure borrowers receive key information about their options at the appropriate time.

A final decision is yet to be made, and some do question whether the CFPB has the power to delay foreclosures. The entire report can be found here: Protections for Borrowers Affected by the COVID-19 Emergency Under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), Regulation X.

4. If All Else Fails, Homeowners Will Sell Their Homes Before a Foreclosure

Homeowners have record levels of equity today. According to the latest CoreLogic Home Equity Report, the average equity of mortgaged homes is currently $204,000. In addition, 38% of homes do not have a mortgage, so the level of equity available to today’s homeowners is significant.

Just like the banks, homeowners learned a lesson from the housing crash too.

“In the same way that grandparents and great grandparents were shaped by the Great Depression, much of the public today remembers the 2006 mortgage meltdown and the foreclosures, unemployment, and bank failures it created. No one with any sense wants to repeat that experience…and it may explain why so much real estate equity remains mortgage-free.”

What does that mean to the forbearance situation? According to Black Knight:

“Just one in ten homeowners in forbearance has less than 10% equity in their home, typically the minimum necessary to be able to sell through traditional real estate channels to avoid foreclosure.”

Bottom Line

The reports of massive foreclosures about to come to the market are highly exaggerated. As Ivy Zelman, Chief Executive Officer of Zelman & Associates with roughly 30 years of experience covering housing and housing-related industries, recently proclaimed:

“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”

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Multigenerational Housing Is Gaining Momentum [INFOGRAPHIC]

Multigenerational Housing Is Gaining Momentum [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • If your house is feeling a little cramped with the addition of adult children or aging parents, it might be time to consider a move-up into a multigenerational home that better suits your changing needs.
  • With benefits that include a combined homebuying budget and shared caregiving duties, an increasing number of households are discovering the value of a multigenerational home.
  • With such high demand for houses today, now is a great time to sell so you can upgrade to a multigenerational home that may better suit your evolving needs.