Equity rich may not be a phrase you’re familiar with but it refers to homeowners whose loan-to-value ratio is 50 percent or lower – meaning homeowners whose mortgage is less than half of their home’s appraised value. Simply put, a homeowner’s loan-to-value ratio refers to the amount of their home’s value that is borrowed. For example, if you were buying a house valued at $100,000 but only borrowing $50,000 to purchase it, your loan-to-value ratio would be 50 percent. Naturally, the lower a homeowner’s ratio, the more equity that homeowner has. A recent report from ATTOM Data Solutions looked at homeowners across the country and found 23.4 percent of all homeowners with a mortgage were equity rich, an increase of more than 2.6 million from the same time last year. Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM, says the combination of people living in one place for longer periods and continued home price increases have led to the improvement. “Median home prices increased on a year-over-year basis for the 18thconsecutive quarter in Q3 2016, and homeowners who sold in the third quarter had owned their home an average of 7.94 years – a new high in our data and substantially higher than the average homeownership tenure of 4.26 years pre-recession,” Blomquist said. More here.
A new analysis of 125 metropolitan areas found that Americans who sold their homes in March sold them for an average of $30,500 more than they originally paid for them. That’s the highest average price gain of any month since December 2007, according to the report from RealtyTrac. Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s senior vice president, says the numbers should be encouraging to current homeowners. “Home sellers in many markets are now seeing average price gains close to or above what home sellers experienced during the last housing boom,” Blomquist said. “That should encourage more homeowners to take advantage of the prime seller’s market and list their homes for sale this year. Banks are already taking advantage of that market as evidenced by the uptick in the distressed sales share over the last two quarters.” Though home price gains may seem like bad news for prospective buyers, the more homeowners who put their homes up for sale this year, the better the market will be for buyers. That’s because, home prices are largely driven by a lack of available homes for sale. As more homes become available, buyers will have more choices and more negotiating power – which will help moderate future price gains and balance the market. More here.
RealtyTrac’s Q1 2016 Home Affordability Index looked at median home prices and average wage data in 456 counties across the country to determine how affordable buying a home was now compared to historic norms. According to the results, just 9 percent of counties were less affordable now than previously normal. But – though that means the vast majority of markets are more affordable than they normally are – the number of counties that are now less affordable climbed to 43 from 10 at the same time last year. Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s senior vice president, says if home prices continue to rise faster than wages, that number will grow. “While the vast majority of housing markets are still affordable by their own historic standards, home prices are floating out of reach for average wage earners in a growing number of U.S. housing markets,” Blomquist said. “The recent drop in interest rates has helped to soften the blow of high-flying price appreciation in some markets, but the affordability equation could change quickly if interest rates trend higher and home prices continue to rise faster than wages.” By comparison, 99 percent of analyzed counties were less affordable than normal at the height of the housing bubble. When prices hit their low in 2012, only two of the 456 included counties exceeded historically normal affordability levels. More here.
There are nearly 85 million residential properties in the United States. How many of those properties are available to potential buyers determines, in part, whether or not home prices rise or fall. When there are a lot of homes available for sale, buyers will be able to find better deals. When there are fewer homes on the market, sellers will benefit. One way to determine where home prices might be headed is to keep an eye on inventory levels and the vacancy rate. For example, RealtyTrac recently released its Q1 2016 U.S. Residential Property Vacancy Analysis. According to their numbers, there were more than 1.3 million vacant properties at the beginning of February. That’s down 9.3 percent from their last analysis in the third quarter of 2015. But, though fewer vacant homes seems like a positive development, too few vacancies can put upward pressure on prices. RealtyTrac vice president, Daren Blomquist, says low inventory levels around the country are pushing prices higher. “With several notable exceptions, the challenge facing most U.S. real estate markets is not too many vacant homes but too few,” Blomquist said. “The razor-thin vacancy rates in many markets are placing upward pressure on home prices and rents.” More here.
In 2015, the average home seller was able to sell their house for $20,378 more than they paid for it, according to new numbers from RealtyTrac’s Year-End U.S. Home Sales Report. That represents an 11 percent increase and the largest average price gain since 2007. Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, says homeowners can once again count on real estate to be a good investment. “With some local market exceptions, the 2015 home sales data paints the picture of a properly functioning U.S. housing market where homeowners can once again count on real estate as an appreciating asset – a long-touted axiom soundly debunked as ironclad truth between 2008 and 2013,” Blomquist said. “This return to consistent home price gains for sellers should reinforce confidence in real estate in 2016 and produce another year of solid sales volume as homeowners cash out their equity gains.” But the news should be encouraging, not just to move-up buyers looking to capitalize on their home’s rising value, but to anyone considering buying a home in the near future. Because the improvement marks two consecutive years of steady price gains – following six where the average home seller saw losses – prospective buyers can feel more confident that their home purchase will be a sound financial decision. More here.
After 29 consecutive months of annual declines, all-cash home sales spiked in November, according to new data from RealtyTrac. The share of cash sales jumped to 38.1 percent, from 29.8 percent in October. The increase put cash sales at their highest level since March 2013 and 23 percent above the same time last year. Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president, said the spike may be due to a combination of newly enacted mortgage rules and global economic turmoil. “The jump in cash sales is likely a knee-jerk reaction to the new documentation and disclosure rules for mortgages that took effect in October, making it even more difficult for buyers using financing to compete with cash buyers in the already competitive housing market,” Blomquist said. “Global economic instability may also be driving more foreign cash buyers back to the relative safety of U.S. real estate.” Though all-cash sales do tend to increase during the winter months, November’s sales surge was higher than normal. Among the major metropolitan areas with the highest share of cash sales, Miami lead the list at 59.7 percent. New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Tampa, and Orlando rounded out the top five. More here.
According to a new analysis from RealtyTrac, 2016 may be a good year for renters to buy a house. That’s because the cost of renting continues to rise and – even though home prices have also been moving higher – buying is still cheaper than renting in nearly 60 percent of housing markets across the country. Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president, says now may be the time to buy for renters who are looking to make a move. “Renters in 2016 will be caught between a bit of a rock and a hard place, with rents becoming less affordable as they rise faster than wages, but home prices rising even faster than rents,” Blomquist said. “In markets where home prices are still relatively affordable, 2016 may be a good time for some renters to take the plunge into homeownership before rising prices and possibly rising interest rates make it increasingly tougher to afford to buy a home.” RealtyTrac’s analysis looked at rental data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and sales deed data in 504 counties with a population of at least 100,000. More here.
A new study released by RealtyTrac analyzed 94 major metro areas and found that 35 percent of them reached all-time home price peaks this year. The cities that saw new home price highs include Detroit, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Antonio, and Columbus, Ohio. Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president, said home price appreciation hasn’t slowed so far this fall. “Home price appreciation did not go into hibernation in October, even as the housing market entered the typically slower fall season,” Blomquist said. “More than one-third of the nation’s major housing markets have now reached new home price peaks this year, and nearly 90 percent of markets posted an annual increase in home prices in October.” Blomquist added that home sellers are making a 16 percent average profit over their original purchase price, which is the highest it’s been since 2007. Also in the report, the median sales price of U.S. single family homes and condos in October was $207,500. That’s a 10 percent increase over one year ago. More here.
The number of foreclosure starts saw its biggest monthly increase since 2011, according to recently released data from RealtyTrac’s U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for October. The 12 percent spike follows a pattern seen in previous Octobers but the size of the increase was significant. “We’ve seen a seasonal increase in foreclosure starts in October for the past five consecutive years, so it’s not too surprising to see the monthly increase this October,” Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said. “However, the 12 percent increase this October is more than double the average 5 percent monthly increase in the past five Octobers, and the even more dramatic monthly increases in some states is certainly a concern.” Despite the month-over-month spike, overall foreclosure filings – which include default notices, schedules auctions, and bank repossessions – are still down from one year ago and foreclosure starts, specifically, are down 14 percent from the same point last year. The upward trend, according to Blomquist, could be the result of a number of factors including some long-term delinquencies that are just now entering the foreclosure pipeline or, in other cases, economic uncertainty may be driving more distress. Foreclosure rates were highest in Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, Nevada, and Illinois. More here.
New estimates from RealtyTrac show that the average homeowner who sold during the third quarter of this year saw a price gain of $40,658 over the amount they paid for their home. That’s a 17 percent improvement and the highest average price gain for home sellers in eight years. According to the Q3 2015 U.S. Home Sales Report, third-quarter home sellers owned their home for an average of 6.72 years before selling. Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president, says the gains may be the result of homeowners who have waited to sell while home prices recovered over the past few years. “An increasing number of homeowners in 2015 have been cashing out the home equity they’ve gained during the housing recovery of the past three years,” Blomquist said. “That may be a good decision because the data points to a plateauing market going forward.” In fact, the report shows that home prices are up just 2.4 percent from the previous year, with an average sale price for single-family homes and condos reaching $263,976 during the quarter. That’s the slowest year-over-year improvement since the first quarter of 2012. More here.