Home Buying Strategies 2020

home buying strategies
Home Buyers (infograpic from nar.realtor)

Experts’ home sale inventory forecasts for the spring echo expectations from recent years. And in some regions, it could be a very competitive home buyer market.  Affordability is likely to be a major issue according to CoreLogic’s chief economist Frank Nothaft (Peering into the Housing and Mortgage Outlook with 20/20 Vision; corelogic.com; December 5,2019).  The CoreLogic Home Price Index predicts that 2020 home prices will increase more than they did during 2019.  Lower priced homes will likely appreciate at a much higher rate than upper bracket and luxury homes.  Buyers should have their home buying strategies in mind when looking for homes.

Many first-time home buyers may become discouraged and decide to continue renting.  However, renting is expected to be less affordable in 2020.  CoreLogic’s Single-Family Rent Index indicates that rents are increasing at double the rate of inflation.  So, although renting may seem like the default fallback, it may be the more expensive option.  A combination of increasing rent, a continuing good economy, and historically low mortgage rates are expected to be the catalyst for home buyers to get into the market.

If you’re a home buyer, the 2020 housing market outlook may sound daunting. Although you may be anticipating something akin to the Game of Thrones this spring, take heart because planning and having home buying strategies can help your home buying success.

Talk to a mortgage lender.  One of the worst feelings is finding out a seller took another offer because your offer didn’t have a financing letter.  Not identifying a lender and securing an approval letter before looking at homes is a strategic error, especially if you need to move fast on making an offer. Having awesome credit scores, a good income, and savings in the bank, means nothing to a home seller unless a mortgage professional confirms this with a mortgage approval letter. 

Work out a home buying budget.  Consult financial professionals, such as your financial planner or CPA to review income, assets, and debts to determine a realistic housing budget.  In deciding on your housing budget, consider monthly mortgage payments, HOA or condo fees, property tax, insurance, utilities, maintenance, etc.  Your loan officer can help determine a home price range based on your monthly housing budget.  Although, your home buying budget may be less than the maximum mortgage amount for which you qualify, don’t be tempted to go beyond your budget.  Sticking to your budget can help you avoid “buyer’s remorse.”  

Although the national housing market is portrayed as very competitive for home buyers, CoreLogic’s Nothaft suggests that local neighborhood markets can differ widely.  As a home buyer, keep an open mind and consider a wider home search area.  Consider all your home buying options, including new construction, and the possibility of doing an FHA 203k renovation

One of the most important home buying strategies is to choose your Realtor carefully, as not all agents are the same.  Hookup with an experienced full-time real estate agent.  Empirical research studies indicate that a seasoned, veteran agent can make a positive impact on your home purchase.  Experienced agents understand the nuances of negotiating and can make your home buying experience more efficient.  Full-time agents know the market, which is an asset during your home search.  Don’t just rely on the first agent you meet at an open house, or finding an agent on the internet.  Talk to several (or more) Realtors to determine if they’re a good fit for your goals.  Make sure the agent you hire has your best interests in mind when searching homes and negotiating. 

Original article is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2020/01/10/home-buying-strategies-2020/

By Dan Krell
Copyright© 2019

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

More Homes for Buyers?

more homes for buyers
Strength of the housing market

If you’ve been following the housing market, you know that housing experts have been declaring a home sale inventory shortage since 2013.  In NAR’s November 27th Pending Home Sales Index release, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun partly blamed October’s 1.7 percent decline to “inadequate levels of inventory across the country.”  He stated “There is no shortage of buyers seeking homes, but a lack of available units continues to drag down the nation’s housing market and overall economy.” Essentially, there needs to be more homes for buyers.

However, if reporting holds true, the home sale shortage may be ending soon.  The most recent housing permits report indicates that more new homes will be built, while media attention to a “silver tsunami” suggest more homes for buyers will hit the market.

October’s increased housing permits suggest an increase in new homes to be built next year.  According to a recent report, housing permits reached a post-recession high (Housing Permits Surge to Postrecession High; magazine.realtor; November 20, 2019).  Although permits are just an estimate for future construction, it is nonetheless relevant because, like pending home sales, it gives a hint of the potential for future home sales.  Single family permits reached 1.46 million units during October, which is an increase of about 5 percent.  October was the second-best month for housing starts this year.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, stated, “At 1.46 million units on an annualized basis, housing permits are nearly to the level needed for the country over the long haul.  Since new-home construction kicks off the chain reaction of people trading up and trading down by buying new and selling their existing homes, more housing inventory will surely show up in the market next year.” 

Robert Dietz, the National Association of Homebuilders chief economist, commented about demand for new homes, “The increase in buyer demand is also being driven by lower mortgage rates, which has been helping to lift the pace of single-family permits since April. Solid wage growth, healthy employment gains, and an increase in household formations are also contributing to the steady rise in home production.”

What about existing homes?  According to Zillow Research, there will be about twenty million additional existing homes that will be for sale through the mid-2030’s (The Silver Tsunami: Which Areas will be Flooded with Homes once Boomers Start Leaving Them; Zillow.com; Nov. 22, 2019).  These home owners are 60 years-old or older, and will eventually sell their home because of health, retirement, relocation, and death.  There will be regional differences depending on the number of senior home owners.  Zillow indicates that the Tampa and Tucson markets are likely to be affected most.

The “silver tsunami” is not a new concept.  It was postulated in a 2012 NAR article The Boomer Effect.  The article surmised that since Baby Boomers began turning 65 on January 1, 2011, there would more homes for buyers and that the inventory would overwhelm the market.  However, we are still waiting for the tsunami. As it turned out, the post-recession economy significantly changed, as did attitudes toward housing.  Multi-generational households increased, and seniors are aging in place.

Will the anticipated increased number of new and existing homes to be sold provide the boost to home sales numbers?  Maybe, if the added inventory is attractive to home buyers.  It has been clear that home buyers will opt for value in a turn-key home.  Home sellers need to keep in mind that home buyers are looking for affordable quality homes.

Original article is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/12/20/more-homes-for-buyers/

By Dan Krell
Copyright© 2019

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

New Home or Resale for You?

new home or resale
First time home buyers (infographic from nar.realtor)

No matter what items a home buyer has on their wish list, they are typically constrained by the home price.  As a result, the buyer is often limited in their choices.  Accordingly, buyers prioritize home features and benefits when comparing homes. Deciding between a new home or resale becomes a part of the buying process.

Nonetheless, home buyers often have a choice between a new home or resale.  Besides the allure of contemporary design and modern building materials, the benefit of new construction is the minimal maintenance during the first year of ownership.  Although many home buyers desire to buy new construction, the combination of their budget and criteria lead them to a resale home. 

A resale refers to a home that is being sold by a home owner, rather than the builder.  The average age of a resale home can vary depending on the location.  It’s not uncommon to find a resale in a new home development.  However, when resale comes to mind, most think of homes where they grew up.

Although the home buying budget is a main consideration, there are other reasons why home buyers decide to purchase a resale rather than new construction.  One of the main reasons, as stated above, is that the resale fits their criteria for price, location, size, etc.  It’s typical to get more house and yard when purchasing an older home, when compared to a new home of similar price.  Resale homes tend to be located in established neighborhoods, whereas new home developments’ amenities are often not yet completed. 

Regardless, some home buyers are attracted to older homes.  It seems as if there is a correlation between a home’s age and the charm it exudes.  The older the home, the more likely a home buyer is captivated by its charm.  When explaining a home’s “charm,” buyers usually describe a combination of style and craftsmanship.  They often refer to the saying “they don’t build them the way they used to.” 

Although most home buyers want a turn-key home, some buyers find opportunity in older homes that are in need of repair or updating.  These buyers feel they can create a home that meets their needs and lifestyle without breaking their budget. 

When buying a resale, don’t expect the home to be perfect, even if the home is relatively new or has been renovated.  There is no getting around the fact that living in a home promotes wear-and-tear.  Consider that a home is made of many components each having a limited life span.  Regular maintenance can prolong a home’s life.  However, you will eventually have to replace components and systems. 

Resale homes are not maintenance free, and deferring maintenance creates costlier repairs.  Experts recommend that you have a repair budget.  You shouldn’t just budget for regular maintenance and repairs, you should also budget for future updating.  Ask your agent about a home warranty that can help you with repairs on a fixed service-call fee.  Get a thorough home inspection.  Home building has changed dramatically over the last one-hundred years, so make sure you hire a licensed inspector that is knowledgeable with the engineering and materials in your home.  (Keep in mind that home inspectors are not perfect, so there may be a chance of finding conditions that eluded the inspection.)  Even if the home appears to be in good condition, the inspection is likely to find items in need of repair.  You and your agent can decide on the best negotiating strategy of inspection repairs. 

Original article is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/12/15/new-home-or-resale-for-you/

By Dan Krell
Copyright© 2019

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Home Prices and Safety

home prices and safety
home sales snapshot (infographic from nar.realtor).

Home buyers have various criteria when searching for a home.  Some are concerned with schools, while others may be interested in a house’s proximity to mass transit.  However, one of the top items home buyers consider when buying a home is neighborhood safety. Which begs the question, Is there a correlation between home prices and safety?

Home buyers don’t have to justify their preference for a safe neighborhood.  However, concern for neighborhood safety go beyond protecting their families, it is also a consideration to protect the financial investment in their homes.  And a rich body of research validates home owners and buyers concern for neighborhood safety by documenting correlations of crime and home values. 

Research about home prices and safety

An early influential study connecting home prices and safety was conducted by Sheila Little in 1988, which investigated the effect of crime on property values (Effects of Violent Crimes on Residential Property Values; Appraisal Journal; 1988, Vol. 56 No. 3, p341-343).  Little discussed an appraiser’s duty to consider violent crime when determining property value.  Because property disclosure has is onerous, material facts such as violent crime must be considered in the valuation process.  She stated; “It is part of appraisers’ responsibilities to make an effort to ascertain the effects of violent crimes on market value of properties.” 

Another study looking at home prices and safety was published by Allen K. Lynch and David W. Rasmussen (Measuring the impact of crime on house prices; Applied Economics, 2001, 33, p1981-1989). They found that when weighted over a large metro area, crime per-se doesn’t have a significant impact on the average metro home sale price.  However, they did find that “house values decline dramatically in high crime areas.”  Besides being identified through statistical means, high crime areas may also be perceived as such because of relative juxtaposing of neighborhoods.  The authors suggest that localities can reduce loss of tax base by “reducing the probability of neighborhoods crossing the high crime threshold.”

A 2010 study by Keith Ihlanfeldt &Tom Mayock looked at seven types of crime and the effects on home prices (Panel data estimates of the effects of different types of crime on housing prices; Regional Science and Urban Economics, 40; 2–3, May 2010, p 161-172).  They concluded that robbery and aggravated assault had “meaningful influence” on property values.

A 2009 study concluded that home owners respond to crime by moving (Hipp, Tita & Greenbaum; Drive-Bys and Trade-Ups: Examining the Directionality of the Crime and Residential Instability Relationship; Social Forces; 2009, Vol. 87, No. 4, pp.1777-1812).  Besides discovering that violent crime significantly increases home sales the following year, the authors also found evidence of a downward trend of home sale prices for the same time period.

Not all home owners decide to move, as remaining residents can stabilize their neighborhood.  Galster, Cutsinger, and Lim concluded that communities are self-regulating and can adjust over a long period of time (Are Neighbourhoods Self-stabilising? Exploring Endogenous Dynamics; Urban Studies; 2007, Vol 44, No.1, pp. 167-185).  Stabilization takes “considerably longer” if the shock to the community is substantial. They concluded there are social, economic, and/or political reactions to neighborhood crime.

If you’re buying a home, it’s unlikely that your real estate agent will provide answers about neighborhood safety (because it may be construed as steering and a violation of fair housing laws).  However, you should contact the local police precinct and ask questions to make your own determination of neighborhood safety.  It’s also a good idea to talk to your potential neighbors. You can also view additional metro crime data compiled by the FBI (fbi.gov).

Original article is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/12/10/home-prices-and-safety/

By Dan Krell
Copyright© 2019

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Real Estate Transparency

real estate transparency
10 Steps to Home Buying

Ten years ago, I reported on the growing demand of transparency in real estate.  As you can imagine, mistrust of real estate agents was at an all-time high after the housing market crash.  At that time, home buyers and sellers felt betrayed by an industry that was perceived as keeping their cards close to their chest.  However, times were changing and consumers demanded real estate transparency, especially from their agents.  Home buyers and sellers not only want their agents to act in good faith, but also want more information and communication during the transaction. 

Since then, the National Association of Realtors (nar.realtor) has been trying to mend their reputation.  The 2015 DANGER Report was intended to identify issues affecting the industry as well as provide a roadmap to the future.  One of the major issues identified was agent competency and ethics.  However, it was obvious that ethical Realtor behavior didn’t guarantee competency. And vice-versa.  The upshot of the Report was that many of the identified concerns were already known.  Ironically, the identified issues and answers only prompted more questions.  It was not known if and how the industry would provide real estate transparency.

Fast forward to 2019, when the real estate industry is at a crossroads.  Earlier this year a class-action law suit was filed that challenges how agent commissions are paid.  Also, earlier this year, the Consumer Federation of America (consumerfed.org) published the first in a series of reports focused on “the lack of real estate agent transparency on representation, compensation, and service.”  The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is described as an association of non-profit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.

The class-action suit filed in March, if successful, has the potential to force a major change to the industry.  Besides having the potential to change how agents are paid, it may force increased real estate transparency in agent compensation.  Nevertheless, similar past challenges to the NAR and the real estate industry resulted in minimal (if any) change to how business is conducted. 

Serendipitously (or not), Stephen Brobeck’s most recent CFA series report, “Hidden Real Estate Commissions: Consumer Costs and Improved Transparency”was published this month (consumerfed.org).  The report confirms consumers’ “lack of understanding” of commissions.  It also points out how “concealment of commissions” does harm to consumers.  The report indicated that 70 percent of the agents surveyed charge six-percent commission.  Commissions are mostly uniform, more so for buyer agent commissions.  The report also indicates that there was a general rationale that buyer agents would not show property if the buyer agent compensation was below the average for the area.  Of the agents surveyed, 73 percent indicated they won’t negotiate their commission.  It also calls attention to administrative fees of several hundred dollars, which is typically charged in addition to commission. 

The report concludes that the real estate industry must change its attitude about agent compensation, or risk eroding consumer trust.  Home buyers and sellers are savvy, and are increasingly sensitive to the role that commissions play in housing costs.  Home seller costs could be reduced if consumers compare commission rates and ask if they are negotiable.  Home buyers can also be helped if they are aware how their agent is paid, as well as knowing the offered buyer agent compensation on homes listed in the MLS. 

Original article is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/11/23/real-estate-transparency/

By Dan Krell
Copyright© 2019

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.