Heading into the spring buying market, there are strong trends starting to emerge.
The inventory of homes for sale has increased on a year-over-year basis for eight months in a row. Home price appreciation has continued to grow, although at a slower rate. The homeownership rate has reached heights last seen in 2014, with millennials and Generation X leading the way!
Let’s dive a little deeper into some of the recent reports that have been released and what they mean for the spring buying season!
1. National Association of Realtor’s Existing Home Sales Report
Sales of existing homes were down for the third consecutive month in January. Some of this can be explained by the natural seasonality that the real estate market experiences every year, and some can be explained even further by a lack of homes available for sale on the market.
For the last eight months, the inventory of homes for sale has been higher when compared to the same month the year before. The challenge in the market is the mismatch of the type of home that is available for sale. First-time homebuyers looking for a starter home are often competing with other buyers to stand out, often outbidding each other.
Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist, agrees that the market is still experiencing an inventory shortage.
“In particular, the lower end of the market is experiencing a greater shortage, and more home construction is needed.”
The median home price for homes sold in January was $247,500. This is up 2.8% from January 2018 and marks the 83rd consecutive month of year-over-year gains. The 2.8% growth in home prices represents the smallest year-over-year change since February 2012 but is a welcome change for buyers who had feared being priced out of the market.
Properties that sold in January were on the market for an average of 49 days with 38% of homes on the market for less than a month.
Yun is positive about how today’s market conditions will help buyers this spring,
“Existing home sales in January were weak compared to historical norms; however, they are likely to have reached a cyclical low. Moderating home prices combined with gains in household income will boost housing affordability, bringing more buyers to the market in the coming months.”
2. NAR’s Pending Home Sales Report
The national Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) rose 4.6% to 103.2 in January from 98.7 in December. An index score of 100 is considered normal. All four major regions of the country experienced gains in January, with the largest increase coming in the South.
“The PHSI is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.”
Increases in the PHSI often predict increases in the level of home sales in the coming months, which is great news for the housing market leading in to spring! Yun had this to say,
“Homebuyers are now returning and taking advantage of lower interest rates, while a boost in inventory is also providing more choices for consumers.”
The housing market in 2019 will require homeowners to list their house at the right price to attract buyers. If interest rates continue to stay low while wages increase, and more inventory comes to market, 2019 could be one of the best years for home sales in recent history.
The largest obstacle renters face when planning to buy a home is saving for a down payment. This challenge is amplified by rising rents, which has eaten into the amount of money renters have leftover for savings each month after paying expenses.
In combination with higher rents, survey after survey has shown that non-homeowners (renters and those living rent-free with family or friends) believe they need to save upwards of 20% for their down payment!
According to the “Barriers to Accessing Homeownership” study commissioned in partnership between the Urban Institute, Down Payment Resource, and Freddie Mac, 39% of non-homeowners and 30% of those who already own a home believe they need more than a 20% down payment.
The percentage of those who are aware of low down payment programs (those under 5%) is surprisingly low at 12% for non-homeowners and 13% for homeowners.
In a recent Convergys Analytics report, they found that 49% of renters believe they need at least a 20% down payment.
The median down payment on loans approved in 2018 was only 5%! Those waiting until they have over 20% may already have enough saved to buy now!
There are over 45 million millennials (33%) who are mortgage ready right now, meaning their income, debt, and credit scores would all allow them to qualify for a mortgage today!
If your five-year plan includes buying a home, let’s get together to determine what it will take to make that plan a reality. You may be closer to your dream than you realize!
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