As Skittish Investors Back Off, First-Time Buyers Step In

May 28, 2020
RE investors base a purchase price on future expectations, but the pandemic created market confusion. As a result, first-timers face less competition for starter homes.

CHICAGO – The mix of homebuyers has been shifting since the pandemic began: Investor numbers are shrinking, as the number of first-time homebuyers is on the rise. First-timers don’t have to sell one home before purchasing another, and many have a newly boosted appreciation for homeownership after weeks of isolation.

In April 2020, the share of first-time buyers rose to 36%, a year-to-year increase from 32%, according to the National Association of Realtors®’ April 2020 Realtors Confidence Index Survey.

“Homebuyers are facing less competition from investors, and they are also benefiting from low mortgage rates,” says Scholastica “Gay” Cororaton, a, NAR researcher on the Economists’ Outlook blog. With fewer investors, cash sales dropped to 15% of existing-home sales in April, down from 20% a year earlier.

Record low mortgage rates also entice some first-time buyers. The estimated monthly mortgage payment on a home purchased at the median price of $286,800 with a 10% down payment on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was $1,131 – $90 less than the median rent of $1,041 in the first quarter of 2020.

Meanwhile, as first-time buyers increase in the marketplace, investors retreat. Those who plan to rent out a home to fix up and rent may perceive greater financial risk associated with renters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cororaton thinks investors are unlikely to purchase single-family properties at the rate they did during the Great Recession, which had sparked a wave of discounted foreclosures.

“In the current health and economic crisis, properties are not being foreclosed,” Cororaton notes. Also, so far, home prices are standing firm.

Source: “5 Housing Market Trends as Of April 2020,” National Association of REALTORS® Economists’ Outlook blog (May 22, 2020)

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New-home sales rise as Americans freed from lockdowns go house-hunting

May 27, 2020

Demand is being boosted by mortgage rates near record lows, says NAHB’s chief economist

New-home sales rose in April as Americans went on a buying spree as soon as state lockdowns were lifted.

Builders sold 623,000 houses at an annualized and seasonally adjusted pace, a gain of 0.6% from the revised March rate of 619,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday in a report that records signed contracts as sales. Economists had expected sales would drop for a third consecutive month in April because of the economic shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was among the group expecting to see a decline in sales, but instead we’re seeing the stabilization of the housing market in April,” said Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders. “March may have been the low point.”

New-home sales are being boosted by mortgage rates near the lowest levels ever recorded, said Dietz. It’s helping to overcome “headwinds” such as a spike in the jobless rate and a tightening in requirements to get a mortgage, he said.

“Housing demand is responding to the low interest rates,” Dietz said. “There’s a pent-up demand as states begin to reopen, and it’s showing us that housing really is going to be a sector that helps to lead the economy into recovery mode.”

Three of four U.S. regions posted gains in April, compared to March, led by an 8.7% increase in the Northeast and gains of 2.4% in the South and Midwest. The West region that includes California, the nation’s most populous state, dropped 6.3%, the report said.

The average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.24% last week, within one basis point of an all-time low set two weeks earlier, according to Freddie Mac.

The Federal Reserve began buying mortgage-backed securities in mid-March to keep credit flowing amid the economic jolt caused by the pandemic, which boosted competition for the bonds and put downward pressure on rates.

The average 30-year fixed rate probably will continue dropping through the rest of 2020, Fannie Mae said in a forecast earlier this month. It likely will average 3.2% in the current quarter, 3.1% in the third quarter, and 3% in the final three months of the year, Fannie Mae said.

 

Call Imagination Realty (Kathleen Carlson, Owner/Broker)  to start your search!            321-939-1300


Celebration is a Walkable Town

January 4, 2018

Millennials are not the only generation preferring proximity to restaurants and retail.

Americans born between the mid-1920s up until 1945—the “Silent Generation”—are also on the lookout for walkability. Fifty-five percent of members of the Silent Generation recently surveyed by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) favor neighborhoods close for commuting and/or walkability—not far off from the 62 percent of millennials surveyed who prefer the same. Both generations would live in an apartment or townhouse if it meant a closer commute and/or walkability, according to findings from the survey. Fifty-one percent of all of the adults surveyed, regardless of generation, believe quality of life is impacted by walkability.

The generations between millennials and the Silent Generation, however—baby boomers and Generation X—are partial to the suburbs. Fifty-five percent of both boomers and Gen Xers are okay with the trade-off: driving to establishments, recreation and work for a single-family home.

There are age- and gender-based interests, as well. When buying a home, younger women look for public transit and walkability more so than younger men, but both younger men and younger women seek short commute times, according to the survey.

All told, 60 percent of all of the adults surveyed would rather reside in a single-family home. Another 60 percent, though, would spend more to live in an area with greater walkability. The majority of adults with children (another 60 percent, still) are interested in the acreage and square footage of the suburbs.

Infrastructure plays a role, according to the survey. Eighty-six percent of all of the adults surveyed perceive sidewalks positively, and 73 percent believe road maintenance and repair is important.

“REALTORS® understand that when people buy a home, they are not just looking at the house; they are looking at the neighborhood and the community,” says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall. “While the idea of the ‘perfect neighborhood’ is different for every homeowner, more Americans are expressing a desire to live in communities with access to public transit, shorter commutes and greater walkability.”

Helping the movement are real estate professionals, Mendenhall says.

“REALTORS® work tirelessly at improving their communities through smart growth initiatives that help transform public spaces into these walkable community centers.”