All about Real Estate

Thinking about selling or buying but you're not sure where to start? Here you have all the facts and hacks!

June 26, 2017

The Importance of Home Equity in Retirement Planning

The Importance of Home Equity in Retirement Planning | Keeping Current Matters

We often discuss the difference in family wealth between homeowner households and renter households. Much of that difference is the result of the equity buildup that homeowners experience over the time that they own their home. In a report recently released by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), they reveal how valuable equity can be in retirement planning.

Craig Copeland, Senior Research Associate at EBRI, recently authored a report, Importance of Individual Account Retirement Plans and Home Equity in Family Total Wealth, in which he reveals:

“Individual account retirement plan assets, plus home equity, represent almost all of what families have to use for retirement expenses outside of Social Security and traditional pensions. Those families without individual account assets typically have very low overall assets, so they have almost nothing to draw from for retirement expenses.”

The report echoed the findings of a working paper, Home Equity Patterns among Older American Households, authored by Barbara Butrica and Stipica Mudrazija of Urban Institute. Fannie Mae highlighted these findings for their blog The Home Story this past winter, quoting Butrica and Mudrazija:

 “For most adults near traditional retirement age, a home is their most valuable asset — dwarfing retirement accounts, other financial assets, and other nonfinancial assets. Although relatively few retirees tap into their home equity, having it provides financial security… In fact, many retirement security experts argue that the conventional three-legged stool of retirement resources — Social Security, pensions, and savings — is incomplete because it ignores the home.”

USAToday interviewed two area experts to comment on the EBRI report. Randy Bruns, a private wealth adviser with HighPoint Planning Partners, agreed with the findings:

“Social Security and home equity are major pieces of the retirement puzzle.”

Wade Pfau, Professor of Retirement Income at The American College of Financial Services and author of Reverse Mortgages: How to use Reverse Mortgages to Secure Your Retirement, said having the equity without a plan to use it won’t help:

“Home equity is a very important asset for American retirees, and so it is important to think about how to make best use of home equity in retirement planning.”

Bottom Line

Whether you use the equity in your home through a reverse mortgage or by selling and downsizing to a less expensive home, it should be a crucial piece of your retirement planning.

Posted in For Buyers, For Sellers
June 20, 2017

Buying Is Now 33.1% Cheaper Than Renting in the US

Buying Is Now 33.1% Cheaper Than Renting in the US | Keeping Current Matters

The results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia show that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers actually show that the range is an average of 3.5% less expensive in San Jose (CA), all the way up to 50.1% less expensive in Baton Rouge (LA), and 33.1% nationwide!

Other interesting findings in the report include:

  • Interest rates have remained low and, even though home prices have appreciated around the country, they haven’t greatly outpaced rental appreciation.
  • With rents & home values moving in tandem, shifts in the ‘rent vs. buy’ decision are largely driven by changes in mortgage interest rates.
  • Nationally, rates would have to reach 9.1%, a 128% increase over today’s average of 4.0%, for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven’t been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. If you are one of the many renters out there who would like to evaluate your ability to buy this year, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you find your dream home.

June 13, 2017

Homeownership Is a Good Financial Investment!

Homeownership Is a Good Financial Investment! | Keeping Current Matters

According to a recent report by Trulia“buying is cheaper than renting in 100 of the largest metro areas by an average of 33.1%.” The report may have some people thinking about buying a home instead of signing another lease extension, but does that make sense from a financial perspective?

Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia’s Chief Economist explains:

“Owning a home is one of the most common ways households build long-term wealth, as it acts like a forced savings account. Instead of paying your landlord, you can pay yourself in the long run through paying down a mortgage on a house.”

The article listed five reasons why owning a home makes financial sense:

  1. Mortgage payments can be fixed while rents go up.
  2. Equity in your home can be a financial resource later.
  3. You can build wealth without paying capital gains.
  4. A mortgage can act as a forced savings account.
  5. Overall, homeowners can enjoy greater wealth growth than renters.

Bottom Line

Before you sign another lease, perhaps you should sit with a real estate professional in your area to better understand all your options.

June 8, 2017

69% of Buyers are Wrong About Down Payment Needs

69% of Buyers are Wrong About Down Payment Needs | Keeping Current Matters

According to a recent survey conducted by Genworth Financial Inc. at the Annual Mortgage Bankers’ Association Secondary Market Conference, mortgage professionals say that first-time buyers still believe a 20% down payment is necessary to buy in today’s market.

Nearly 40% of mortgage industry professionals surveyed believe that a lack of knowledge about the home-buying process is keeping potential buyers on the sidelines. Saving for a down payment is often cited as a huge barrier for first-time homebuyers to make the leap into homeownership.

If homeowners believe that they need a 20% down payment to enter the market, they also believe that they will have to wait years (in some markets) to come up with the necessary funds to buy their dream homes.

The greatest source of confusion cited in the survey results centered around down payments. The results are broken down in the chart below:

69% of Buyers are Wrong About Down Payment Needs | Keeping Current Matters

Rohit Gupta, CEO of Genworth Mortgage Insurance had this to say,

"While first-time homebuyers continue to drive the purchase market, we believe many are staying on the sidelines due to the misconception that a 20 percent down payment is required to secure a mortgage.

There are various low down payment options available today that allow prospective homebuyers to reach their dreams of homeownership sooner. It is crucial that, as an industry, we proactively educate eligible borrowers about solutions that will enable them to buy a home when they're ready."

Bottom Line

Don’t let a lack of understanding of the home-buying process keep you and your family out of the housing market. Meet with a local real estate professional who can show you your options today!

 

June 4, 2017

Can Your Real Estate Agent Answer These Important Questions?

Can Your Real Estate Agent Answer These Important Questions? | Keeping Current Matters

Whether you are selling or buying a home, the real estate agent you hire is critical to guaranteeing your family makes the right decision. Most agents can walk you through the process and explain the industry 'lingo,' but you should expect so much more than that.

The housing crisis made everyone aware that truly understanding the real estate market is more complicated than it seems. Today, there are many questions your real estate agent must be able to answer to ensure your family is making the right decision. Here are just a few:

  • What impact does the movement in mortgage interest rates have on buyer demand? 
  • With home prices increasing rapidly, are we headed toward another housing bubble?
  • Do you need a 20% down payment to purchase a home?
  • Why can't we list at a higher price and drop it later if necessary?

When you are interviewing an agent to represent your family in your next real estate transaction, make sure they can intelligently answer all your questions, while simply and effectively explaining what is happening in the current housing market.

May 30, 2017

Providence Journal: House of the week!

French mansard-style home offers spacious living

EAST GREENWICH, R.I. — A love of sailing brought Manhattan native Hank Jonas to hode Island, and he lived in Newport before buying his French mansard-style home at 80 Howland Rd., 23 years ago.

Jonas said the house had been built for someone else who never moved in, so he was the first owner. But Jonas said that now, he and his wife Rebecca are selling as part of their plan to downsize. He said they already spend most of their summer months on a boat, traveling and visiting with friends.

The four-bedroom house has 3,164 square feet of living space on two levels. There is also an unfinished walkout basement. The house is on a lot of a little more than three-quarters of an acre, surrounded by evergreens.

 

Stone posts with lights frame the entrance to the driveway, which leads to the integral two-car garage at the side of the house. The lot is professionally landscaped. Hedges border the stone walkway leading up rising ground to the front door, which has a decorative glass insert and is framed by sidelights.

The foyer opens to a formal living room on the left. There are two stairways to the second floor, including the main one in the front hallway. A closet and a powder room are located in a small hallway off the foyer.

Tall ceilings and floor-to-ceiling arched windows in living and dining rooms provide lots of light and add to the home’s spacious feeling. The living room opens to the formal dining room, then the family room and the newly updated kitchen. The kitchen has white painted cabinets, new granite counters, and black appliances, including a built-in electric cooktop in the center island. The kitchen overlooks the family room, which has a fireplace, and sliding glass doors connect to the rear deck.

A back stairway behind the kitchen leads upstairs to a second fireplaced family room, which Jonas is using as his home office. This room has two closets, including a walk-in.

The master bedroom suite is also spacious. The door to the suite opens to several steps leading down to the bedroom, which also includes an office alcove. The private suite includes a large walk-in closet and an opulent ensuite bath will a soaking bathtub and separate glass shower.

Howland Road is located near downtown East Greenwich and the shops and restaurants on Main Street, but it is also just a short drive away from routes 4 and 95.

The house has a new furnace, and a new duct system for the central air conditioning system was installed last September, Jonas said.

For full property details, click here.  

CHECK OUT THE FULL ARTICLE BY CHRISTINE DUNN HERE.

 

 

 

May 25, 2017

More Americans Chose to Own a Home Than Rent in Q1

More Americans Chose to Own a Home Than Rent in Q1 | Keeping Current Matters

According to the latest report from the US Census Bureau, more Americans chose purchasing a home over signing a lease to rent in the first quarter of 2017. This marks the first time since 2006 that the number of new homeowner households outpaced the number of new renter households.

Of the 1.22 million new households that were formed in the first quarter, 854,000 were new-owner households making the jump straight to homeownership rather than renting first.

That means that the homeownership rate amongst new households was 70%!

This is huge news as the national homeownership rate is currently 63.6% and has only ever come close to this figure in the second quarter of 2004 when the homeownership rate reached an all-time high of 69.2%.

A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed to the uptick in first-time homebuyers coming to market as a reason for the jump:

“The return of first-time buyers is accelerating. In all they have accounted for 42% of buyers this year, up from 38% in 2015 and 31% at the lowest point during the recent housing cycle in 2011, according to Fannie Mae, which defines first-time buyers as anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the past three years.”

Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia’s Chief Economist, had this to say about what a bump in new homeowner households could mean for the housing market:

“Strong renter household formation is one of the reasons why the homeownership rate has continued to drop since the onset of the housing crisis, so any sign this trend is reversing is something to take note of. We look forward to future releases of these data to determine whether this is a statistical blip or a trend.”

Bottom Line

As more and more potential first-time buyers realize their ability to buy a home without having to rent first, not only will the homeownership rate benefit, but so will the overall economy.

May 19, 2017

#1 Answer to the Housing Shortage: New Construction

#1 Answer to the Housing Shortage: New Construction | Keeping Current Matters

The biggest challenge to today’s housing market is the shortage of housing inventory for sale. A normal market would see a six-month supply of homes for sale. Currently, that number is below four months. This is the major reason home prices have continued to appreciate at higher levels than historic averages.

The good news is that builders are now starting to build more homes in lower price ranges.

Builder Confidence is Up

The Housing Market Index from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)reveals that builder confidence increased last month. HousingWire quoted NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz about the reason for the increase in confidence amongst builders.

“The HMI measure of future sales conditions reached its highest level since June 2005, a sign of growing consumer confidence in the new home market. Especially as existing home inventory remains tight, we can expect increased demand for new construction moving forward.”

Builders are Meeting the Needs of Today’s Purchaser

Builders are not only jumping into the market – they are doing a better job of matching current demand. The Wall Street Journal recently reported:

“In a shift, new households are overwhelmingly choosing to buy rather than rent. Some 854,000 new-owner households were formed during the first three months of the year, more than double the 365,000 new-renter households formed during the period, according to Census Bureau data.”

The WSJ article went on to say:

“Home builders are beginning to shift their focus away from luxury homes and toward homes at lower price points to cater to this burgeoning millennial clientele.”

The graph below compares 2016 to 2017 new construction sales by price point. As we can see, builders are slowly beginning to shift to prices more favorable to the first-time and non-luxury buyer.

#1 Answer to the Housing Shortage: New Construction | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

There is a drastic need for a larger supply of home inventory to meet the skyrocketing demand. Builders are finally doing their part to help rectify this situation.

 

May 15, 2017

Do You Know the Cost of NOT Owning Your Home?

Do You Know the Cost of NOT Owning Your Home? | Keeping Current Matters

Owning a home has great financial benefits, yet many continue renting! Today, let’s look at the financial reasons why owning a home of your own has been a part of the American Dream for as long as America has existed.

Zillow recently reported that:

“With Rents continuing to climb and interest rates staying low, many renters find themselves gazing over the homeownership fence and wondering if the grass really is greener. Leaving aside, for the moment, the difficulties of saving for a down payment, let’s focus on the monthly expenses of owning a home: it turns out that renters currently paying the median rent in many markets could afford to buy a higher-quality property than the typical (read: median-valued) home without increasing their monthly expenses.”

What proof exists that owning is financially better than renting?

1. The latest Rent Vs. Buy Report from Trulia pointed out the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership:

  • Mortgage payments can be fixed while rents go up.
  • Equity in your home can be a financial resource later.
  • You can build wealth without paying capital gain.
  • A mortgage can act as a forced savings account
  • Overall, homeowners can enjoy greater wealth growth than renters.

2. Studies have shown that a homeowner’s net worth is 45x greater than that of a renter.

3. Just a few months ago, we explained that a family buying an average priced home at the beginning of 2017 could build more than $42,000 in family wealth over the next five years.

4. Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of taxes and home repairs, but every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs are already baked into the rent payment –along with a profit margin!!

Bottom Line

Owning a home has always been, and will always be, better from a financial standpoint than renting.

May 10, 2017

Inventory Shortages Are Slowing Down the Market

Inventory Shortages Are Slowing Down the Market | Keeping Current Matters

The real estate market is moving more and more into a complete recovery. Home values are up. Home sales are up. Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen dramatically. It seems that 2017 will be the year that the housing market races forward again.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. While buyer demand looks like it will remain strong throughout the summer, supply is not keeping up.

Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject:

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR:

"Sellers are in the driver's seat this spring as the intense competition for the few homes for sale is forcing many buyers to be aggressive in their offers. Buyers are showing resiliency given the challenging conditions. However, at some point — and the sooner the better — price growth must ease to a healthier rate. Otherwise sales could slow if affordability conditions worsen."

Tom O’Grady, Pro Teck CEO

“The lack of inventory is very real and could have a severe impact on home sales in the months to come. Traditionally, a balanced market would have an MRI (Months Remaining Inventory) between six and 10 months.

This month, only eight metros we track have MRIs over 10, compared to 27 last year and 48 two years ago—illustrating that this lack of inventory is not being driven by traditionally ‘hot’ markets, but is rather a broad-based, national phenomenon.”

Ralph McLaughlin, Chief Economist at Trulia

“Nationally, housing inventory dropped to its lowest level on record in 2017 Q1. The number of homes on the market dropped for the eighth consecutive quarter, falling 5.1% over the past year.”

Freddie Mac

“Tight housing inventory has been an important feature of the housing market at least since 2016. For-sale housing inventory, especially of starter homes, is currently at its lowest level in over ten years. If inventory continues to remain tight, home sales will likely decline from their 2016 levels. …all eyes are on housing inventory and whether or not it will meet the high demand.”

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strongest at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price.