Buying a house is a major financial transaction. So, it makes sense that you’d want to take your time and not rush into anything. Unfortunately, though, buying a house also requires you to act fast, especially in a competitive market. If you spend too much time deliberating, you may lose the house to a buyer who’s quicker than you and makes an offer while you’re still thinking it over. In other words, the home buying process can sometimes make you feel like you have to rush. This is particularly true for buyers who haven’t been through the experience before and don’t know exactly what to expect. That’s what a recent survey of homeowners found, anyway, The survey – which asked homeowners for their views on homeownership and their regrets and expectations – found that the vast majority of young homeowners (between 18 and 34 years old) had at least one regret about their home. And, among those regrets, feeling like they rushed their decision and didn’t have a chance to consider all the options earned the top spot. In fact, 29 percent of young homeowners said they regret rushing the process. By comparison, just 12 percent of older buyers said they felt rushed. More here.
There are a lot of numbers to keep in mind when considering how much house you can afford. For starters, there’s the home’s price, your potential down payment, current mortgage rates, and the monthly payment. From just those numbers alone, you can get an idea of what is within your reach and what will bust your budget. Fortunately for today’s home buyers, new data shows that, if you’re a potential buyer currently calculating what you might be able to buy, you’re likely to find affordability conditions are more favorable than they’ve been in more than a year. In fact, Black Knight’s latest Mortgage Monitor Reports shows that, not only is home price growth now below its 25-year average, the monthly payment required for an average-priced house with 20 percent down is $1,173. That’s a six percent decline from where it was just six months ago. In other words, there are a number of positive trends that have made buying a home as affordable as it’s been in over a year and, in most markets, home buyers can expect to find improved conditions as we enter the summer sales season. More here.
Americans consistently rank proximity to family among the factors they consider when choosing a home to buy. After all, it’s only natural that we want to live near the people we love. But, according to one new survey, though we want to live close to our family, we don’t want to be too close. In fact, the vast majority of respondents said that there should be some driving distance between where they live and where their parents do. More specifically, participants said they’d prefer somewhere between 15 and 45 minutes of driving distance between them and their family members. In other words, close enough to visit regularly but not close enough for unannounced pop-ins. But whether you’d prefer your family to be right down the street or an hour away, it is something to consider. While it’s easy to get caught up in the specs and details of the home you’re thinking of buying, considering how its location works with your life and lifestyle can be just as important to making a good choice as getting the right number of bedrooms. More here.
The number of signed contracts to buy homes fell 1.5 percent in April, according to new numbers from the National Association of Realtors. The decline follows a nearly 4 percent increase in March. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says home sales numbers have yet to reflect favorable trends, such as lower mortgage rates and growing consumer confidence. That may soon change. “Though the latest monthly figure shows a mild decline in contract signings, mortgage applications and consumer confidence have been steadily rising,” Yun said. “It’s inevitable for sales to turn higher in a few months.” So why haven’t home sales risen yet, if buying conditions have become more favorable? Well, one reason is the fact that there are fewer homes available for sale in affordable price ranges than there are on the high end of the market. In fact, according to Yun, there are now nearly three times the number of homes available for sale over $1 million as there are homes $250,000 and below. As the market becomes more balanced, home prices will moderate further and provide more Americans an opportunity to buy. More here.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, average mortgage rates were mostly flat last week after four weeks of consecutive declines. In fact, rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances were unchanged from the week before, while rates for jumbo loans, loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, and 15-year mortgages all fell slightly. But despite favorable mortgage rates, demand for loans declined 3.3 percent. Joel Kan, MBA’s vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said demand may have stalled due to economic uncertainty. “Purchase applications decreased for the third straight week, but remained more than 7 percent higher than a year ago,” Kan said. “It is possible that the trade dispute is causing potential homeowners to hold off on buying, with the fear that further escalation – or the lack of resolution – may have adverse impacts on the economy and housing market.” The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications. More here.
When selling a house, there are a number of things you can do to make your listing more attractive to prospective buyers. Some obvious examples include staging and getting good photos. But the number one thing you can do to make sure your home gets a good response from buyers is to price it right. After all, even a perfectly staged house with professional photos isn’t going to sell quickly if it’s priced way too high. And, according to a recent analysis, lowering your price after your home’s been on the market a while isn’t necessarily as effective as setting the price correctly the first time. In fact, when comparing the number of online views a home gets the day it’s listed to the day of a price drop, the initial listing gets almost three and a half times the number of views. In other words, you’ll never get another chance to make a first impression. And the longer your home has been listed without selling, the more likely buyers will assume there’s a reason no one’s bought it yet. The good news is there’s an easy way to avoid falling into this trap. Simply follow the guidance of the pros you’ve hired to help sell your house. They’ll be able to give you an accurate assessment of your home’s current market value and help you avoid pricing it too high for interested buyers. More here.
At the end of last year, the housing market looked like it might stall. Higher home prices and rising mortgage rates were making affordability conditions more challenging for buyers, especially first-time buyers and those looking for a suitable starter home. Since then, though, things have taken a turn for the better. The number of homes available to buyers has risen, which has caused prices to moderate somewhat. Additionally, mortgage rates have come back down and don’t look like they’re going to rise significantly any time soon. In fact, according to Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research Group, there is no expectation the Fed will raise rates again this year, or next. Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, says that’s one of a combination of factors helping market conditions right now. “We revised upward our 2019 purchase and refinance mortgage origination forecasts amid continued strong demand and a boost to entry-level inventory, the pullback in mortgage rates, and slowing home price appreciation,” Duncan said. In other words, things are trending in the right direction for buyers and improving the outlook for the overall market. More here.
Newly released numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development show new home sales fell nearly 7 percent in April. But the month-over-month results only tell part of the story. That’s because some of the reason sales were down from the month before is that the March estimate was revised much higher than originally reported. And, after the revision, the data showed new home sales reached their highest level since 2007 in March. Additionally, even after coming down from that high, new home sales are still up 7 percent from where they were at the same time last year. In other words, the new home sales market is trending upward and that’s good news for the housing market overall. Why? Well, when new home sales increase, builders are more likely to build more new homes. And, as more homes are built and for-sale inventory increases, home prices moderate and help affordability levels for all buyers. More here.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, average rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances fell again last week. Rates for jumbo loans, loans backed by the FHA, and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages remained mostly flat from the week before. Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said the average 30-year fixed-rate is now at its lowest point in more than a year. “Mortgage rates fell for the fourth straight week, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hitting its lowest level since January 2018, leading to a rebound in refinances,” Kan said. And while it’s true that there was an 8 percent increase in refinance activity last week due to decreasing rates, purchase activity was actually down from the week before. Kan says home buyers may be delaying their search due to economic uncertainty. But though demand for loans to buy homes was down from the week before, it remains 7 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.
The National Association of Realtors most recent existing-home sales report shows sales were essentially flat in April, falling 0.4 percent from the month before. But though flat sales to begin the spring selling season may seem like trouble, a closer look at the data shows conditions are gradually improving for home buyers and may lead to more activity. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says he believes the improvements will soon help spur more sales. “First, we are seeing historically low mortgage rates combined with a pent-up demand to buy, so buyers will look to take advantage of these conditions,” Yun said. “Also, job creation is improving, causing wage growth to align with home price growth, which helps affordability and will help spur more home sales.” Additionally, inventory continues to improve, with the number of homes available for sale up nearly 2 percent from last year at the same time. However, though the market is becoming more favorable for buyers, it’s still competitive. In fact, 53 percent of homes sold in April were on the market for less than a month. More here.