With rental costs and home prices both increasing, it’s become more challenging for renters to save for a down payment. How much so? Well, according to one recent analysis, the typical renter will have to save for nearly six and a half years to come up with a 20 percent down payment on a median-priced home. And, since the median home value is currently $216,000, depending on your prospective neighborhood, it could take even longer to save up for a house. Renters who aspire to homeownership shouldn’t get discouraged, though. Despite the fact that a 20 percent down payment is the standard amount recommended by financial experts, it is not a requirement in order to buy a house. In fact, depending on the particular terms of your mortgage, you can put down as little as 3 percent. In 2017, for example, 29 percent of first-time buyers had a down payment between 3 and 9 percent. That’s why it’s important to explore your options before deciding homeownership is out of reach. More here.
Home prices can be intimidating. Without some guidance and understanding, it’s easy to get confused about what a particular price will mean when all is said and done. Mortgage rates, taxes, insurance, and your income all play a role in how much house you can afford. So a simple price tag won’t always accurately reflect what that number means in terms of your monthly bills, the overall costs of homeownership, and how it all fits into your plans and goals. A price that is out of reach when mortgage rates are up becomes affordable when they fall. Naturally, the same is true for incomes. When wages grow, so does buying power. That’s why this year’s housing market is, in many ways, a race between prices, rates, and wages. If continued economic growth and job market gains boost buyers’ incomes and confidence in their employment status, it’ll help alleviate concerns about rising home prices. According to Freddie Mac’s most recent monthly outlook, it should be close. Though they expect affordability conditions to affect buyers, they also expect continued economic gains and job market improvement. All in all, they estimate there will be 5.9 million home sales this year, down only slightly from 6 million in 2016. In other words, prices and rates may have an effect but only a small one. More here.
Home prices were up 5.6 percent year-over-year, according to the latest results from the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Indices. Considered the leading measure of U.S. home values, the index found prices relatively flat month-over-month but up on an annual basis. Seattle, Portland, and Denver reported the sharpest increases but, in total, eight of the 20 included cities saw greater gains than they did over the same period one year earlier. David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, says home prices have fully recovered after years of volatility. “With the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index rising at about 5.5 percent annual rate over the last two-and-a-half years and having reached a new all-time high recently, one can argue that housing has recovered from the boom-bust cycle that began a dozen years ago,” Blitzer said in a press release. “The recovery has been supported by a few economic factors: low interest rates, falling unemployment, and consistent gains in per-capita disposable personal income.” Blitzer added that continued personal income and employment gains could boost demand for housing even further this year. More here.
Among the many different indexes tracking home prices across the country, the S&P Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Indices is considered the leading measure. Its nearly three decades of historical data make it a trusted source for gauging home price trends. According to the most recent release, the national index – which covers all nine U.S. census divisions – found home prices up 5.6 percent from where they were last year at the same time. But despite the annual gains, month-over-month results show values relatively flat from one month earlier. In fact, compared to the month before, national home prices rose less than 1 percent in October. That suggests home price increases are beginning to slow, which could be good news for buyers who are concerned about the recent upswing in mortgage rates. But, though prices may be showing signs of slowing, David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, says they’re still rising faster than incomes. “Home prices and the economy are both enjoying robust numbers,” Blitzer says. “However, mortgage interest rates rose in November and are expected to rise further as home prices continue to outpace gains in wages and personal incomes.” More here.