A new survey shows that homeownership among millennials between the ages of 28 and 31 jumped from 27 percent to 47 percent in just two years. Additionally, ownership among people aged 32 to 36 was up 11 percent. That home buying has surged among younger Americans is an encouraging sign for the housing market – especially since homeownership levels haven’t yet fully recovered from the housing crash. But, like anything, there’s another side to the story. That’s because, increasing demand from first-time home buyers could also put pressure on home prices if available inventory can’t keep up with the level of interest. According to one projection, millennials will purchase 10 million homes over the next decade. Whether new home construction and existing supply can meet the demand from those buyers will be a key driver of the real estate market in the years to come. If supply continues to lag behind, home prices will keep rising, which will build equity among current homeowners but cause affordability issues. On the other hand, if supply increases, prices should moderate and lead to booming home sales. Either way, first-time home buyers will have a significant effect on housing market conditions in the coming years. More here.
When shopping for something, having more to choose from is generally a good thing. And, when the thing you’re shopping for is a house, that’s especially true. That’s because, in addition to giving buyers options, more homes for sale typically helps keep prices in check. When there are enough homes to meet demand from interested buyers, prices moderate. But, over the past few years, available inventory has been lower than normal in most markets. In fact, last year at this time, inventory was down 9.1 percent on an annual basis. Because of this, home values have been increasing. That may be starting to change, however. According to new data, the number of homes for sale has now increased year-over-year for three consecutive months. And, though the most recent improvement was only 0.4 percent, it’s still a good sign for buyers. After all, if inventory continues to gain, even small increases could help lead to more favorable affordability conditions. More here.
Paying rent each month can make it difficult to save money for a down payment. But, according to new research, renters who hope to one day buy a home may be finding it a little bit easier. That’s because, though rent is up about 3 percent from last year, it isn’t increasing quite as rapidly as it was before. And there may be evidence that the slowdown is helping aspiring home buyers save money to buy a house – especially millennials, who make up half of all renters. For one, the number of renters is falling. In fact, there were 43.2 million renter households across the country in 2018, which is about 100,000 fewer than in 2017. Combine that with the fact that millennials are currently buying more homes than any other generation, and it appears slower rent appreciation may be helping more renters make the leap to homeownership. Of course, the rate of rent increases isn’t the same across all markets. For example, while the New York metro area has seen rent rise just 1 percent over the past year, in Las Vegas rent is up 6.5 percent year-over-year. Still, if the overall trend holds, conditions may be getting easier for renters who hope to buy a home in the near future. More here.
The real estate market is typically slower in the fall and winter. So, it’s not that surprising to see homes for sale are staying on the market longer than they were a few months ago. But according to the National Association of Realtors’ most recent existing home sales report, not only was the typical listing on the market for 42 days in November, home price increases are beginning to moderate as well. In other words, the market’s slowed down and it’s good news for potential home buyers. The report shows buyers have already begun to take notice. Sales of previously owned homes were up nearly 2 percent in November and it was the second consecutive month of gains. “The market conditions in November were mixed, with good signs of stabilizing home sales compared to recent months, though down significantly from one year ago,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said. “Rising inventory is clearly taming home price appreciation.” In short, the balance between available homes and the number of interested buyers is beginning to even out, which is leading to more favorable conditions. If the trend continues, better prices and more choices will make the winter housing market a good deal for house shoppers.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, average mortgage rates fell last week across all loan categories, including 30-year fixed-rate loans with both conforming and jumbo balances, loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. The decline brought rates to their lowest level since September and continued a trend downward that began last month. But though rates dropped, demand for mortgage applications did as well. Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, says economic uncertainty outweighed the effects of favorable mortgage rates. “Despite mortgage rates falling across the board last week to their lowest levels in three months, mortgage applications also declined, as more potential borrowers likely stayed away because of ongoing financial market volatility and economic uncertainty,” Kan said. Demand for loans to buy homes remained above last year’s levels, however. In fact, purchase loan activity was up 2 percent from where it was at the same time last year. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications. More here.
The end of the year is typically the time when experts and prognosticators make predictions for the year ahead. And while it’s not easy to see into the future, year-end forecasts can give us an idea of which scenarios are likely to play out. Take Fannie Mae’s most recent forecast from their Economic and Strategic Research Group. Its experts say economic growth will begin to slow in 2019 but the real estate market may actually be well positioned. And that could be good news for home buyers. Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, says mortgage rates and home sales will stabilize next year. “We maintain our call that the Fed will hike rates once more in December and two more times in 2019, despite rising market expectations of fewer hikes amid stock market volatility,” Duncan said. “If mortgage rates trend sideways next year, as we anticipate, and home price appreciation continues to moderate, improving affordability should breath some life into the housing market.” In other words, though conditions may still be challenging, home buyers should see a calmer market next year and the beginning of some relief. More here.
In some ways, builders are good predictors of where the housing market is headed. Since their business is dependent on knowing whether or not consumers are interested in buying homes, they are among the first to see changes in buyer traffic and interest. Because of this, the National Association of Home Builders tracks builder confidence as part of their monthly Housing Market Index. In December, the index fell to 56 on a scale where any number above 50 indicates more builders view conditions as good than poor. And, while that means builders still see market conditions as favorable, the four-point decline is an indication that builders are seeing some changes in buyers’ attitudes. Robert Dietz, NAHB’s chief economist, says the issue is affordability. “The fact that builder confidence dropped significantly in areas of the country with high home prices shows how the growing housing affordability crisis is hurting the market,” Dietz said. “This housing slowdown is an early indicator of economic softening, and it is important that builders manage supply-side costs to keep home prices competitive for buyers at different price points.”
There’s a fairly common misconception among prospective home buyers that they’ll need a 20 percent down payment before they can buy a house. This, of course, isn’t true. It’s recommended since it’ll help you avoid paying mortgage insurance, reduce your monthly payment, and get you a lower mortgage rate. But, depending on the terms of your loan, how much money you put down is flexible. So what do most home buyers put down and how do they get it? Well, according to one recent report, just 43 percent of buyers nationally put down 20 percent or more, which means more than half of all home buyers opt for a smaller down payment. Seventy percent of buyers said they used savings as part of their down payment. But proceeds from a home sale and gifts from family or friends were also popular sources for down payment funds. Other sources included investments and retirement accounts. In short, the amount and source of a buyer’s down payment will be unique to their financial situation and the home they’re hoping to buy. However, it’s important to go over how much you can afford to put down and what costs will be associated with a smaller investment, as it could have a long-term effect on your financial future. More here.
Traditionally, homeownership has been seen as part of settling down. Getting married and starting a family went hand-in-hand with buying a home and planting roots in a community. But though they’re still common motivating factors, marriage and children aren’t the only reasons someone might want to become a homeowner. And so there are an increasing number of single home buyers active in the housing market. Among them, women are outpacing men. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors’ most recent numbers, 65 percent of home buyers in 2017 were married couples but 18 percent were single women. And while that may not seem like a lot, the percentage has risen in each of the last three years and has nearly doubled over the past 35 years. Additionally, single women home buyers outpace single men by a wide margin. One recent study found that in the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, single women own more than 70,000 more homes than single men, with cities like New Orleans, Miami, and Birmingham, Ala., showing more than a quarter of households owned and occupied by single women. More here.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, average mortgage rates fell last week across all loan categories, including 30-year fixed-rate loans with both conforming and jumbo balances, loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, and 15-year fixed-rate loans. The decline was the largest single-week drop since last year. Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said trade worries drove rates down. “Mortgage rates fell across the board last week, driven by a similar slide in Treasuries,” Kan said. “Trade fears dominated investors’ concerns, and this was amplified by data released by the U.S. Commerce Department showing a widening trade deficit.” Lower rates helped boost demand for mortgage applications, which were up over the previous week. In fact, purchase application demand rose 3 percent and was 4 percent higher than at the same time last year. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications. More here.