Americans shrugged off rising mortgage rates and bought existing homes in January at the fastest pace since 2007. That has set off bidding wars that have pushed up prices as the supply of available homes has dwindled to record lows.
Home sales rose 3.3% in January from December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.69 million, the National Assn. of Realtors said Wednesday.
Steady job gains, modest pay raises and rising consumer confidence are spurring healthy home buying even though borrowing costs have risen since last fall. Some potential buyers may be accelerating their home purchases to get ahead of any further increases in mortgage rates. With few homes available for sale, buyers feel pressure to rapidly close a deal when they find a suitable property.
The typical house for sale was on the market for just 50 days last month, down from 64 days a year earlier. Strong demand is pushing up the median home price, which jumped 7.1% from a year earlier to $228,900.
The supply crunch probably will get worse during the upcoming spring buying season, economists say, because demand typically rises by more than supply during that time.
“Relative to the number of households, the number of homes for sale is well through prior historic lows,” said Ted Wieseman, an economist at Morgan Stanley. “The level of inventories could be a much bigger challenge moving into much higher sales in the spring and summer.”
That, combined with higher mortgage rates, soon could restrain sales.
The bulk of the stronger buying is occurring among higher-priced properties, the Realtors group said. Sales among homes and condominiums priced at $100,000 and below fell nearly 10% in January compared with a year earlier. They rose slightly in the $100,000 to $250,000 bracket and jumped roughly 20% in homes priced at higher levels.
Last year, low mortgage rates helped offset rising home prices. Now, both are rising.
Mortgage rates have climbed since November’s presidential election. Investors are anticipating that tax cuts, deregulation and infrastructure spending will accelerate growth and push up inflation. That has caused investors to cut back on their bond holdings, pushing up yields.
The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.15% last week, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. Although that has slipped since earlier this month, it is much higher than last year’s average rate of 3.65%.
By some measures, the housing market has fully recovered from the bust that began in 2006. Yet its newfound health is creating another set of challenges.
In high-demand areas, mostly on the West Coast, homes are being bought after less than a month on the market, according to real estate brokerage Redfin.
Denver was the fastest market last month, Redfin found, with purchase contracts signed just 23 days after listing for a typical home — far faster than the 43 days that was typical a year earlier. Seattle was the second-fastest, with 26 days on the market, followed by Oakland, at 27 days.
The strength in sales should lift growth, as new homeowners buy furniture and appliances and spend more on landscaping and outdoor equipment. Home sales also tend to spur renovations, which helps to update aging properties and generates additional construction work for the broader economy.
Quicken Loan National Home Price Perception Index (HPPI) found that the gap between homeowner evaluations and appraiser opinions has expanded for the second month in a row. The HPPI revealed that the appraiser rate is at 1.47 percent below what homeowners were expecting last month. The decrease follows a six-month trend in mending differences between homeowners and appraisers.
The value of the homeowners at the beginning of the refinance process was calculated at 1.47 below the findings of the appraisers. Although the rate has decreased, fluctuation around the country continues to vary. For example, Denver has appraisal valued at 2.98 higher rate than homeowners estimated.
Equally, some cities in the East are valued greater than appraisers first reported. Philadelphia appraisals were 2.94 lower than previous calculations. “Having a good understanding of the conditions in their local housing market can be a valuable tool for consumers as they prepare for the home buying or mortgage process,” said Quicken Loans Chief Economist Bob Walters.
The Home Value Index (HVI) found that homes values tend to level out at the end of the year during the winter months. In fact, the average appraisal dropped to 0.34 percent between December to January. The index also found that the appraisal rate tends to drop the most in the Northeastern region, the West grows at a vigorous rate, and the Midwest is firmly behind.
“This steady growth could very well lead to more availability, driving homeowners to consider cashing in on their growing equity by putting their home on the market. When this happens, it will open new opportunities for eager buyers”, said Walters.
The Quicken Loans HPPI symbolizes the difference of opinion between appraisers’ and homeowners. The index evaluates the estimate the homeowner supplies on the refinance mortgage application and the appraisal performed at the end of the mortgage process.
The Quicken Loans HVI is is based solely on the statistics from the home purchases and mortgage refinances.
According to the 2017 Best Places to Live list released by U.S. News & World Report today, Austin, Texas is the best place to live in the country.
Taking into account factors like housing affordability, quality of life, and job prospects, the Best Places to Live listing ranks the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. Though Austin took the top spot, the top five was rounded out by Denver; San Jose, California; Washington, D.C., and Fayetteville, Arkansas. Seattle; Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina; Boston; Des Moines, Iowa; and Salt Lake City, Utah took the No. 6 through 10 spots, respectively.
“When considering a move, people are concerned about finding a job in their field, earning enough to afford a home, sending their kids to good schools, and feeling like a part of their community,” said Kim Castro, Executive Editor at U.S. News & World Report. “The Best Places to Live ranking takes all of that into account; the metro areas that do well are the ones with strong job markets and high quality of life.”
Many metros made strides in this year’s rankings, including Boston, which jumped from No. 30 to No. 8, and Salt Lake City, which rose from No. 27 to No. 10. Three other metro areas—Hartford, Connecticut; Syracuse, New York; and Milwaukee—jumped more than 20 spots since their 2016 ranking.
The Best Places to Live list arrived on the back of Zillow’s recent hottest market predictions, which also listed Salt Lake City and Denver in its rankings. In fact, according to Zillow, Salt Lake City will likely grow by at least 4 percent over the course of 2017.
The Best Places to Live list is determined through public surveys; data from the U.S. Census, FBI, and Bureau of Labor Statistics; and U.S. News & World Report’s Best High Schools and Best Hospitals rankings. To view the entire list, visit RealEstate.USNews.com.
~ Ok that’s it I might just have to move to the Country of my Ancestors! Who’s with me? ~
When you think of Norway, couple of things that come to mind are fjords, blonde people and vikings…probably not fairy tale architecture.
Below, you’ll discover photographs of Norwegian architecture in the countryside that appears like it was taken straight from a fairy tale. The architectural styles range from Stave churches, which were built during the Middle Ages, to ghostly natural waterfalls and traditional wooden houses constructed in the Norwegian vernacular style (byggeskikk) during the 19th century.
Tell us which of photos you think wouldn’t be perfectly placed within a fairy tale, and as always, feel free to submit your own photos of Norway.
#1 Bridge Over Låtefossen Waterfall
#2 Borgund Stave Church
#4 Under The Aurora
#5 Barn In Valldal
#6 Natural Swimming Pool In The Forest
#7 Ancient Road Vindhellavegen
#8 At The End Of The World, Tjome
#9 Old House
#10 Lake Bondhus
#11 Kvednafossen Waterfall In Norway
#12 House In Norway
#13 Aurora Over The Small Fishing Village Bugøynes
#14 Fairy House In Hunderfossen, Lillehammer
#15 Old Farmhouses
#16 Bridge In Norway
#17 Old Village
#18 Magic Kingdom Of Bekkelaget
#19 Fantoft Stave Church, Near Bergen
#20 Rogaland, Gullingen
#21 Fjord Houses
#22 Borgund Stavkirke
#23 Vardøhus Fortress
#24 Fåvang, Gudbrandsdalen
#25 Møre Og Romsdal
#26 Fisherman Hut, Undredal
#28 King Oscar Ii Chapel, Grense Jakobselv
#29 Brandbu, Hadeland
#30 Small House In Norway
Buyers Willing to Compromise for the American Dream
A lack of affordability in the U.S. housing market is driving buyers to make big compromises in their savings plans and in what they want in a home, according to a new study by Owners.com.
Steve Udelson, president of Owners.com, said, “Market pressures are forcing consumers to take necessary action to stretch their purchasing power.”
The firm reported this week that shrinking inventories in markets around the country and the corresponding spike in prices over the past year are compelling buyers to loosen or even abandon their financial safety nets. The study of 1,000 consumers found that most value buying a home as a top financial decision, nearly 70 percent of prospective buyers are worried about their cash flow for a down payment.
The lure to buy seems strong enough for buyers to funnel money from other purposes toward saving up for that down payment. Owners.com reported that 60 percent of prospective buyers are willing to sacrifice emergency savings as well as their retirement savings for their upfront homebuying money. Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters said they would limit their contributions to other investment funds to save for a home.
Beyond compromising their financial safety nets, half of would-be buyers said they would buy a fixer-upper, even if that’s not what they were setting out for, if it meant they could buy a home, the study found. About a third reported they would buy a smaller home than they want.
Nearly another third said they would willingly take on the transaction work themselves in order to save agent fees, something Owners.com said should be reconsidered.
“These buyers may want to consider brokerage models that offer a rebate on agent commission costs,” the study stated.
The class of 2008 is the most likely to buy and mortgage a higher-priced home, according to recent data from LendEDU, a student loan debt consolidation company based in New Jersey. With the highest median credit score in the last 10 years, this group of young adults also boasts the highest median home loan debt, at $395,038.
According to the data, 2008 graduates outpace other classes in home loan debt by more than $115,000. The classes with the next-highest home loan debts are: 2013, with $279,300; 2016, with $274,384; 2009, with $260,008; and 2014, with $249,100.
Classes with the lowest home loan debt were 2010, 2011, and 2015—all of which saw a median debt of $200,000 or below. These results were unexpected, according to LendEDU.
“While we expected to see graduates of earlier class years borrowing more home loans,” the report stated, “we instead see a trend indicative of the housing market over time—a peak in 2008 followed by a large recession and tentative recovery starting in 2012.”
The report also breaks down home loan debts by college degree and, according to the data, graduates with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) have the highest median home loan debt at $445,900. This is followed by Doctor of Pharmacy ($387,625), Juris Doctor ($323,000), Doctor of Philosophy ($262,200), Masters ($260,008), Bachelors ($200,111), and Associates ($164,225).
LendEDU’s data shows all groups but Associate-degree graduates have at least a good or very good credit score. Something that could indicate the true value of a higher degree.
The report explained, “After the recession hit and a college degree no longer guaranteed a job, many began to wonder: what’s the real value of a college education? With some patience, perhaps a good credit score.”
Ultimately, it seems higher education, over time, leads to higher credit scores and therefore larger mortgage loans and higher debts. This means that while this year’s class is currently on track for the poorest credit scores in recent memory, that doesn’t indicate they’ll be unable to secure a home in the not-too-distant future.
“In general, higher degrees do equate with higher credit scores and bigger home and auto loans,” LendEDU stated. “Students who graduated longer ago have better credit scores and bigger loans than current students. The class of 2017 has the poorest scores, but if the trend holds, they’ll be back up into the ‘good’ zone soon enough.”