Thinking of Moving Up or Listing Your Home?

March 10, 2017

NEW YORK – March 9, 2017 – Borrowers are getting spooked by rising mortgage rates and, as a result, rushing to lock in rates before any further increases. That, in turn, is pushing mortgage application volume higher – increasing a seasonally adjusted 3.3 percent week over week, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday.

More buyers are also turning to adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) to try to get more savings in their monthly payments too.

“Mortgage rates increased last week as remarks by several key Federal Reserve officials strongly signaled a March rate increase,” says Joel Kan, an MBA economist. “This was further supported by a few solid economic data releases, including GDP, inflation and manufacturing gauges.”

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 4.36 percent from 4.30 percent the previous week, the MBA reports; and the share of ARMs reached its highest level of mortgage applications since 2014. The average loan size for purchase applications also reached a survey high of $313,000.

Refinance volume was up 5 percent last week. Applications for home purchases rose 2 percent higher for the week and, and they’re about 4 percent higher than a year ago.

The MBA says mortgage volume remains 18 percent lower compared to the same week a year ago. Volume is mostly lower from a year ago due to a significant decrease in refinance applications from a year ago when interest rates were lower. Refinance volume is down 34 percent annually.

Source: “Borrowers Rush to Beat Rising Rates, Pushing Mortgage Volume 3.3% Higher,” CNBC (March 8, 2017)

© Copyright 2017 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD


Five fixes that can raise a home’s value

September 9, 2016

STAMFORD, Conn. – Sept. 8, 2016 – For homeowners looking to spruce up their home before listing it, there’s plenty they can do to attract more buyers and potentially boost the value of their home too.

Veteran real estate professionals recently weighed in at This Old House on some of the best home improvement projects they believe can help a home show better. Here are a few of their ideas:

1. Open up the space.

Create more space, whether that’s even removing a kitchen island or knocking out a non-structural wall. “Right now buyers want a wide open floor plan, the living room right off the kitchen.

2. Light it up.

Keep the home bright: Have windows open to let the natural light flow in, consider lights that use motion detectors to turn themselves off, or install sun tubes, a reflective material that funnels natural light from a hole cut in a rooftop down through a ceiling fixture in a room.

3. Enhance the front door.

“Don’t underestimate the power of a front door,” Willens says. “People make up their minds in the first seven seconds of entering a house.”

Remember to follow the guidelines of your HOA!

4. Pay attention to the floors.

Spend some money on the floors, suggests the real estate professionals surveyed by This Old House. Get a carpenter or handyman to eliminate distracting squeaks from floors, repair any broken tiles, patch damaged floorboards, and remove wall-to-wall carpeting, they suggest.

5. Tackle easy bathroom upgrades.

Bathroom upgrades can quickly get pricey but a few upgrades can still make a big difference. For example, swap frosted glass for clear glass, remove any rust stains, apply fresh caulk, update doorknobs and cabinet pulls, replace faucets, buy a new toilet seat, or install a low-flush toilet.

Source: “Brokers Tell All: 10 Ways to Boost Home Value,” This Old House (September 2016)

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD


Real Estate better than stocks

September 7, 2016

NORWALK, Conn. – Sept. 6, 2016 – Despite recent gains in the stock market, Americans have more confidence investing in real estate. About a quarter of Americans surveyed said real estate was their top choice for long-term investing, according to a new national survey released by Bankrate.

Consumers selected real estate as the top pick to invest money they wouldn’t need for more than 10 years, followed by cash investments (e.g. certificates of deposit and savings accounts). Then, coming in a distant third was the stock market.

 

Americans are feeling more bullish about their sense of financial well-being, according to the Bankrate Financial Security Index, which is based on survey questions of how consumers feel about their debt, savings, net worth and job security.

Source: “Real Estate Top Investing Choice, Survey Finds,” RISMedia (July 24, 2016)

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD


Existing-Home Sales Stumble in July

August 25, 2016
Call today to get more information on the market in Celebration. 321-939-1300. Kathy can do a free market analysis of your home if you are thinking of selling.
Slowed by frustratingly low inventory levels in many parts of the country, existing-home sales lost momentum in July and decreased year-over-year for the first time since November 2015, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Only the West region saw a monthly increase in closings in July.
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 3.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million in July from 5.57 million in June. For only the second time in the last 21 months, sales are now below (1.6 percent) a year ago (5.48 million).
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says existing sales fell off track in July after steadily climbing the last four months. “Severely restrained inventory and the tightening grip it’s putting on affordability is the primary culprit for the considerable sales slump throughout much of the country last month,” he says. “Realtors® are reporting diminished buyer traffic because of the scarce number of affordable homes on the market, and the lack of supply is stifling the efforts of many prospective buyers attempting to purchase while mortgage rates hover at historical lows.”
 
Home sales are still expected to finish the year at their strongest pace since the downturn, thanks to a very strong spring,
 
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage dropped from 3.57 percent in June to 3.44 percent in July. Mortgage rates have now fallen five straight months and in July were the lowest since January 2013 (3.41 percent). The average commitment rate for all of 2015 was 3.85 percent.

Baby boomers chart new direction in housing

August 23, 2016

NEW YORK – Aug. 22, 2016 – Economists are having a tough time figuring out what housing market moves baby boomers will make next. Americans over the age of 55 are veering from previous generations, opting not to retire but instead launching second or even third careers. They are shunning the traditional patterns of retirement, and that could have a big impact on their housing choices, according to a Freddie Mac Insight report.

Baby boomers are a critical piece to the housing market puzzle. Americans over the age of 55 make up a quarter of the population and control about two-thirds of the single-family home equity in the nation. Sixty-five-year olds who, on average purchased a home 35 years ago now tend to have a home value that is likely 3.7 times the purchase price.

Nearly a quarter of baby boomers recently surveyed by Freddie Mac say they need major renovations in their current home in order to stay there as they age – and many say they face financial constraints to take on those remodels. And some of the baby boomers may be underestimating the financial costs of outfitting their home with age-in-place features, says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

As a result, about 18 million homeowners over the age of 55 may be shopping for another house in the next few years, according to the Insights Report.

Unlike earlier generations, however, baby boomers’ main reasons to move aren’t due to downsizing. Instead, the survey showed the key influences making these generations move are: Affordability of the community, the need for retirement amenities and a home with less maintenance.

Bottom line, the authors note: The 55-plus population is likely to be an active part of the housing economy for years to come still.

Source: “Boomers Ignoring Conventional Housing Wisdom,” Mortgage News Daily (July 19, 2016)

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD


2016 International Profile

August 23, 2016

International Homebuyers


What do you do if floodwater rises unexpectedly?

August 19, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. – Aug. 17, 2016 – Due to recent flooding in Louisiana, FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is offering the following tips on what to do after a flood to ensure that local residents are aware of hazards as they re-enter flooded areas and guidance on filing flood insurance claims for those who have coverage through the NFIP.

“We encourage area residents who are not insured for flooding to protect themselves from the financial costs of future floods by obtaining flood insurance through the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program),” FEMA adds. “You can learn about the NFIP and FloodSmart, the marketing and education campaign of the NFIP, by visitingFloodSmart.gov.

During a flood

  • Move to high ground. When it floods, go to higher ground. Avoid areas subject to flooding. Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood so you’re not cut off from your evacuation routes.
  • Watch out for water. Don’t walk across flowing streams or drive on flooded roads. Moving water just six inches deep can knock you off your feet and cause an injury. Even two feet of water is enough to sweep a car off the road.
  • Listen for updates. Listen to the radio or TV for information. Be sure to follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • Turn off power. Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if advised to do so. Don’t touch any electrical devices if you’re wet or in standing water.

After a flood

  • Check for damage. Check for structural damage before re-entering your home. If you suspect damage to water, gas, electric or sewer lines, contact authorities.
  • Remove wet items. Immediately remove wet carpeting, furniture and bedding. Any item holding moisture can develop mold within 24 to 48 hours. Clean and disinfect everything touched by floodwaters. Get cleanup tips at the Center for Disease and Control’s website.
  • Plan before you repair. The rebuilding decisions you make now to lower your risk and insurance costs can result in big benefits over the long term. Contact your local building inspection or planning office or your county clerk’s office to get more information.
  • File your flood insurance claim. To file your claim, you’ll need your insurance company’s name, your policy number and a phone number where you can be reached. Take photos of any water in the house and anything damaged in your home. Make a detailed list of all damaged or lost items.
  • Ask about disaster assistance. Federal disaster assistance might be available if the president has declared a federal disaster. When available, this assistance typically comes in the form of a loan and must be paid back with interest.

Rebuilding

  • Understand your flood insurance claim and policy. If you have questions, call 800-621-3362 and use Option 2.
  • Get a repair permit from your local building official. A substantial damage determination is required for building repairs in the Special Flood Hazard Area. A building that is damaged to 50 percent of its market value or greater is considered a substantially damaged building, which requires that all repairs meet local flood damage prevention ordinances. That determination is a factor in future premium rating for a flood insurance policy and is needed for Increased Cost of Compliance claims.
  • Learn more about ICC (Increased Cost of Compliance Coverage). You may be able to obtain up to an additional $30,000 toward elevating, relocating, or demolishing your home to comply with the local floodplain management requirements. Ask your adjustor about opening an ICC claim.
  • Ask about mitigation grants. Grants for elevating homes may become available because of the flood event. Ask officials about applying to the State of Louisiana on your behalf for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding.

For more information

  • Contact your local building inspections or planning office or county clerk’s office to get more information on local building requirements before repairing your structure. If you can’t find a local contact, call your state NFIP coordinator.
  • For more information about flood insurance, visit FloodSmart.gov. To financially protect your property with a flood insurance policy, call your insurance agent or call 800-427-2419 to find an agent near you.

© 2016 Florida Realtors®


Home sales and taxes: How much will you owe?

June 22, 2016

NEW YORK – June 21, 2016 – One of the questions readers ask most often is how much of their gain will go to Uncle Sam if they sell their home. Tax rules are highly favorable for homeowners. Most sellers wind up owing no capital-gains tax on their profits, according to a spokesman for the National Association of Realtors.

However, there are important exceptions, such as for those with exceptionally large gains who live in high-tax areas.

Married couples filing jointly typically can exclude as much as $500,000 of the gain on the sale of their primary residence. Singles can exclude up to $250,000. In most cases, they can qualify for the maximum exclusion amount if they have owned their home – and used it as their main home – for at least two of the five years before the sale date.

Sellers who do not qualify for the maximum exclusion still may be eligible for major relief depending on several factors, such as why they sold – like a work-related move, health reason or unforeseeable events.

Source: Wall Street Journal (06/12/16) Herman, Tom

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD


Americans Are Feeling Wealthier, More Upbeat

June 17, 2016

Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index zoomed to an all-time high in May as consumers get more upbeat about their paychecks and home selling. In May, the index reached a reading of 85.3, which follows an 18-month low reached in March.

Three of six components the index measures registered increases last month, led by a 7 percentage point increase in the number of consumers reporting significantly higher income than a year ago. Also, the number of consumers who expect home prices to increase over the next 12 months rose 5 percentage points. Consumers were also upbeat that mortgage rates would decrease over the next year as well.

That said, the index indicator on whether it’s a “good time to buy” dropped 1 percentage point to an all-time survey low in May.

“Continued home price appreciation has been squeezing housing affordability, driving a two-year downward trend in the share of consumers who think it’s a good time to buy a home,” says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “The current low mortgage rate environment has helped ease this pressure, and fewer than half of consumers expect rates to go up in the next year. While the May increase in income growth perceptions could provide further support to prospective home buyers as the spring/summer homebuying season gains momentum, the effect may be muted by May’s discouraging jobs report.”

Here’s a closer look at additional findings from Fannie Mae’s latest index reading:

  • 29 percent of Americans say now is a good time to buy a home, a drop of 1 percentage point from March and an all-time survey low for the second consecutive month.
  • 52 percent of consumers believe now is a good time to sell a home – an all-time survey high.
  • 42 percent of Americans believe that home prices will go up.
  • 72 percent of Americans say they are not concerned with losing their job, a drop of 2 percentage points from March.
  • 18 percent of Americans say their household income is significantly higher than it was a year ago, up 7 percentage points from March and at an all-time survey high.

Source: Fannie Mae


Fla.’s recent housing success

June 7, 2016

NEW YORK – June 6, 2016 – Clear Capital’s Home Data Index (HDI) Market Report releases recent and granular data each month. The HDI Market Report provides insights into housing price trends and other leading indices for the real estate market at the national and local levels.

Florida’s markets continue to recover from the devastating lows of the housing market crash, and an increase in baby boomers provides key insight into the market’s future, according to Clear Capital.

Survey results

  • Regionally, the West continues to dominate quarterly growth as it hovers around a 1.1 percent quarter-over-quarter price increase, though that’s a downtick of 0.1 percent from last month. Growth rates in the South remain unchanged at 0.7 percent quarter-to-quarter growth, while Northeast and Midwest regional growth continues to lag behind the rest of the nation at 0.1 percent.
  • Nationally, quarterly market performance remains fixed at 0.6 percent with no change month-to-month.
  • The Seattle and Tampa MSAs tied for the top spot on the Highest Performing Major Metro Markets for June, each reporting a quarter-to-quarter price increase of 2.0 percent.
  • Tampa isn’t the only Sunshine State metro area to make the high-performers list. It also includes Orlando (1.7 percent quarterly price growth), Jacksonville (1.7 percent quarterly price growth), and Miami (1.4 percent quarterly price growth).

The most recent quarterly growth figures for the Floridian markets fit into a longer-term pattern of growth and recovery for the state, according to Clear Capital, and each major MSA has “experienced incredible gains since the market lows of 2011, recovering at least 30 percent or more of the individual market value.”

Jacksonville and Orlando home prices have increased 33 percent and 44 percent respectively; Tampa and Miami home prices have skyrocketed by almost 56 percent and 57 percent, respectively.

The baby boomer influence

Clear Capital compared Census Bureau data on baby boomer moves to the price increase from its index, calling the growth in both an “interesting phenomenon that may be contributing to the stellar price growth in the region.”

The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that this segment of the market – homeowners aged 55 to 74 – has increased more than 2.5X the overall population of homeowners in each of the top four Florida markets since 2011. In Miami and Jacksonville, the increase in homeowners of this generation is more than 500 percent greater than the overall increase in the total population of homeowners.

“It’s evident that the baby boomer demand for housing in the (price growth metro areas) is a significant contributing factor in the market’s overall success,” the report concludes. “In Orlando, the trend is quite similar as the ratio of baby boomer homeownership growth to overall homeownership growth is over 400 percent.”

“Florida has traditionally been regarded as prime real estate by those retirees who may be looking to migrate from colder areas of the nation such as the Northeast to a warmer and sunnier alternative for their golden years,” says Alex Villacorta, Ph.D., vice president of research and analytics at Clear Capital.

“As the top Floridian housing markets continue to grow and return impressive price gains – Tampa is currently reporting 12.2 percent annual price growth – it’s no surprise that this generation continues to invest in real estate in the region,” he adds. “The baby boomer share of homeowners is clearly on the rise here, and as more and more of this generation nears retirement age, Florida markets may be in for a boost in performance if tradition continues and retirees demand homes in the region.”

© 2016 Florida Realtors®