The Howell Realty Group Real Estate News and Information

 

July 20, 2020

Thinking of Selling Your House? Now May be the Right Time

 

Thinking of Selling Your House? Now May be the Right Time | MyKCM

Inventory is arguably the biggest challenge for buyers in today’s housing market. There are simply more buyers actively looking for homes to purchase than there are sellers selling them, so the scale is tipped in favor of the sellers.

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), total housing inventory is down 18.8% from one year ago. Inventory is well below what was available last year, and the houses that do come to the market are selling very quickly.

Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac notes:

“Simply put, new housing supply is not keeping up with rising demand. We estimate that the housing market is undersupplied by 3.3 million units, and the shortage is rising by about 300,000 units a year. More than half of all states have a housing shortage.”

Why is inventory so low?

There are many reasons why it’s hard to find a home to buy today, stemming from an undersupply of newly constructed homes to sellers pressing pause on their moving plans due to the current health pandemic. One of the key factors making it even more challenging, however, is the amount of time current homeowners are staying in their homes. There has truly been a fundamental shift in the market that started about 10 years ago: people are staying put longer, and it’s contributing to the shortage of houses for sale.

In the 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, NAR explained:

“In 2019, the median tenure for sellers was 10 years…After 2008, the median tenure in the home began to increase by one year each year. By 2011, the median tenure reached nine years, where it remained for three consecutive years, and jumped up again in 2014 to 10 years.”

As shown in the graph below, historical data indicates that staying in a home for 5-7 years used to be the norm, until the housing bubble burst. Since 2010, that length of time has trended upward, toward 9-10 years, largely due to homeowners aiming to recoup their equity:Thinking of Selling Your House? Now May be the Right Time | MyKCMThankfully, with the strength the market has gained over the last 10 years, today’s homeowners are in a much better equity position. Now is a fantastic time for homeowners who are ready to make a move to break the 10-year trend and sell their houses, especially while buyer demand is so high and inventory is so low. It’s a prime time to sell.

In addition, with today’s historically low interest rates, there’s an opportunity for sellers to maintain a low monthly payment while getting more house for their money. Think: move-up opportunity, more square footage, or finding the features they’re really looking for rather than doing costly renovations. With more new homes poised to enter the market this year, homeowners ready to make a move may have a golden opportunity to do so right now.

Bottom Line

There are simply not enough houses for sale today. If you’re ready to leverage your equity and sell your house, let’s connect today. It’s a great time to move while demand for homes to buy is extremely high.

 

July 16, 2020

July 2020 Homeward Bound Newsletter

 

 

 

Posted in For Buyers
July 16, 2020

Buyers: Are You Ready for a Bidding War?

Buyers: Are You Ready for a Bidding War? | MyKCM

With businesses reopening throughout the country and some experts indicating early signs of a much-anticipated economic recovery, more homebuyers are actively entering the housing market this summer. Today, housing is truly driving the U.S. economy forward. With so many buyers looking for homes to purchase and so few houses for sale right now, there’s a disconnect between supply and demand. This imbalance is pushing home prices upward while driving more bidding wars and multiple-offer scenarios. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com explains:

“People are surprised that prices are rising, not falling, because in the last recession home prices fell, the difference this time is the severe shortage of homes for sale…We are seeing bigger price increases with [a limited] number of homes…That is likely to lead to more competition and potentially multiple offers and bidding wars.”

According to the recent Realtors Confidence Index (RCI) survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), this trend is growing:

“On average, there were about three offers on a home that closed in May, up from just about two in April 2020 and in May 2019 (2.3 offers).”

HousingWire also indicates:

“42% of homeowners who made a purchase during the January to May time period ended up in a bidding war, demonstrating the strong demand for homes amid low inventory.”

With more people returning to work we’ll continue to see the number of interested buyers increase. So, if you’re among the many people looking for a home to buy this summer, it’s important to ensure you have the right guidance from the start. This way, you make sure your offer stands out from the crowd when it really counts. Here are two tips to follow.

1. Hire a Trusted Local Expert

A trusted local real estate professional matters more than ever right now, as noted in a recent survey shared by NAR. In fact, according to respondents, 54% of buyers and 62% of sellers indicated that “Particularly during the pandemic, a real estate agent’s guidance is especially valued.”

We’re not in a normal market. We are in one of the greatest health crises our nation has ever seen. The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the journey consumers must take to purchase a home. To successfully navigate the landscape today, you need a true expert on your side.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

When there are more buyers than sellers on the market, the process to find a home becomes much more challenging. One way to show you’re serious about buying a home is to work with a lender to get pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. With a pre-approval letter, sellers will see your true desire to buy this year, potentially helping your offer rise to the top.

Bottom Line

If this is the year you’re ready to buy, let’s connect to get the process started so you can make sure your offer is a strong one when the competition heats up.

July 14, 2020

The Fire and the Flood: Home Restoration Basics

 

 

When disaster strikes, recovering from it can be a big job. Whether you experience a home fire, live in an area impacted by a flood or have some other disaster strike, restoring your home can be a big undertaking. The prospect can seem overwhelming, but things may not be as bad as they appear at first glance. Whether you’re facing this sort of disaster now or just trying to prepare in case the worst someday comes to pass, here are some things you should know about home restoration after a disaster.

 

BE PREPARED FOR A SHOCK

When you first go back into your home after a fire, flood or some other disaster, the scene can be very emotional. Even if the actual damage is minimal, furniture, furnishings and keepsakes may be scattered or damaged. There may also be smells that you’re not used to, which can seem very strong when you first enter the building. Don’t try to force yourself to get to work right away; give yourself the time necessary to accept what you’re seeing and calm down after that initial rush of emotion.

 

Talk to Your Insurance Company

Before you start trying to clear out your home or begin repairs, talk to your insurance company and find out what they need to process your claim. Take pictures of the damage, even though they may need to send someone out to take additional photos as well. Don’t move things around unless absolutely necessary, so that the photos showcase the condition that your home is in. Not only will talking to your insurance company get your claim started, but it will also help you in figuring out what limitations your coverage has. This may aid you in deciding exactly how to approach the restoration moving forward.

 

DEAL WITH THE WATER

Whether it’s from a flood or fire hoses, water in your house can be bad news. Not only can the water warp or otherwise damage wood and other materials in the home, but it also provides growth opportunities for bacteria, mildew and mold. Pumps may be needed to remove standing water, especially in your basement, and dehumidifiers will almost certainly be a requirement in rooms that had a lot of water exposure. If ceilings or walls have notable water damage, support structures may be needed to keep ceilings from collapsing or walls from buckling. To avoid possible electric shock, shut off the main breaker in the home until the water is gone and an electrician can confirm that the wiring wasn’t damaged in the disaster.

 

Repair and Replace

If the damage is largely contained to a single area, you may be able to get away with some basic repairs and no major restoration construction. If there’s heavy water damage or a large number of rooms that were affected, however, you will almost certainly have to replace some water-damaged wood or other support structures. If the damage is substantial enough, this may even require major construction to completely redo some rooms. Don’t skimp here; though things might not seem so bad, wood and other materials that are affected by mildew, mold or rot can fail in the future and require even more costly repairs then.

 

CHECK THE OUTSIDE TOO

A lot of focus goes into internal repairs when it comes to restoration, but there may be external damage as well which will set you up for problems down the road. Damage to your roof, leaks in your siding and even damaged brick or faux stone can set you up for ongoing leaks and water damage that will undermine the structure of your home over time. A thorough inspection of the exterior of your home should reveal potential issues before they can become major problems.

 

CALL THE RESTORATION PROS

There can be a lot of work required in a restoration project after a disaster, and for many people it’s more than they can DIY. Don’t be afraid to call in professionals who specialize in restorations, since they’ll know exactly what to look for and how to get your repairs done quickly. When you’re looking for restoration pros, HomeKeepr can help you find exactly who you need. Sign up for a free account to find the professionals you need.

 

July 13, 2020

Should We Be Looking at Unemployment Numbers Differently?

Should We Be Looking at Unemployment Numbers Differently? | MyKCM

The New York Times recently ran an article regarding unemployment titled: Don’t Cheer Too Soon. Keep an Eye on the Core Jobless Rate. The piece suggests we should look at unemployment numbers somewhat differently. The author of the article, Jed Kolko, is a well-respected economist who is currently the Chief Economist at Indeed, the world’s largest online jobs site. Previously, he was Chief Economist and VP of Analytics at Trulia, the online real estate site.

Kolko suggests “the coronavirus pandemic has broken most economic charts and models, and all the numbers we regularly watch need a closer look.” He goes on to explain that the decline in the unemployment number reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) earlier this month was driven by a drop in temporary layoffs. If we strip those out, we’re left with what Kolko calls the core unemployment rate. Many economists have struggled with how to deal with the vast number of temporary layoffs, as a complete shutdown of the economy has never happened before. As the article states, in the last unemployment report:

“73 percent of all unemployed people said they were temporarily unemployed, which means they had a return-to-work date or they expected to return to work in six months. Before the pandemic, temporary unemployment was never more than one-quarter of total unemployment.”

The core unemployment rate handles this issue and also deals with another concern economists have discussed for years: the exclusion of the marginally attached. These are people who are available and want to work, but count as out of the labor force rather than unemployed because they haven’t searched for work in the past four weeks.

Kolko’s core rate does three things:

  1. Takes out temporary unemployment
  2. Retains the rest of the standard unemployment definition: permanent job losers, job leavers, and people returning to or entering the labor force
  3. Adds in the marginally attached

Removing the temporarily unemployed makes sense according to the article:

“Initial pandemic relief efforts focused on money for people to manage a temporary loss of income and funds to keep businesses afloat until they could bring their workers back. The hope and the goal is for the temporarily unemployed to return to their old jobs, rather than have them lose their jobs and have to search for new ones when jobs have become scarcer.”

The Bad News and the Good News

Clearly, the adjustments Kolko makes dramatically impact the way we look at unemployment. The bad news is, using his core rate, there was an increase in unemployment from April to May. The conventional rate reported by the BLS showed a decrease in unemployment.

The good news is that the core rate compares more favorably to the last recession in 2008. Here’s the breakdown:Should We Be Looking at Unemployment Numbers Differently? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

The unemployment rate is a key indicator of how the economy is doing. Heading into a highly contested election this November, the BLS report releasing next week will be scrutinized like no other by members on both sides of the aisle. Mr. Kolko’s take is just one additional way to evaluate how unemployment is impacting American families.

July 10, 2020

Things to Consider When Buying Lake Property

 

Buying a lake house can be a great investment, regardless of whether you intend to use it as a vacation property or a year-round residence. With that said, you shouldn’t rush into buying a lakefront property just because it’s available. As with any house, there are some things that you should think about before you sign on the dotted line. Here are a few specific considerations you should keep in mind when looking at a lake property that’s for sale.

 

Higher Moisture Levels

One of the first things that you’ll notice is that there’s more moisture in the air close to the lake. Higher humidity can be unpleasant during the summer, but it also can have a negative effect on your property as a whole. Mold, mildew and other humidity-related damage can occur over time, so it’s important to make sure that properties you consider were built and furnished with this in mind.

 

High Water Table

Because the property sits close to the lake, you’re going to have a higher water table than you would with more landlocked properties. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if the property has a basement or other underground area then you need to see what effects the water table has on those areas. Keep an eye out for leaks, flooding, cracks or mold that might be a result of the water table being higher than usual.

Lake Access

Having a home close to the lake is nice, but it becomes significantly less nice if it doesn’t offer you lake access that meets your needs. If you have a boat, see if you’ll have easy lake access from your property or if you’ll have to get on the water somewhere else. Likewise, if you just want peaceful evenings to watch the sun set over the water, make sure that there isn’t a busy lake access point or marina close to your property.

 

Inspect the Water Line

There’s more to consider when buying a lakefront property than just the view. Take the time to walk along the water line and see what sort of shape the shore and the nearby water are in. Look for signs of erosion in the shoreline and yard and see whether the water itself is choked with weeds or other plant life. You should also look for signs of debris or other indicators of how high the water tends to get when the lake is swollen from rain.

 

Take a Deep Breath

A lake house can be a feast for the eyes, but those aren’t the only senses you’ll experience your lake property with. Lakes often have a distinctive smell, and in some cases, it can be pretty strong. A little bit of lake odor is usually pretty easy to overlook, especially if your house is set back from the water a bit. For some lakes, though, it can be almost overpowering, especially during the summer months when you’re most likely to want to be out on the lake. Before you buy, make sure that any odors from the lake are tolerable not only for you but also any guests that you might want to invite out.

 

Check on Your Insurance

If you’re buying a lakefront home, you may find that it costs more to insure than a property that’s more inland. In some cases, the insurance can cost substantially more. That’s not even counting flood insurance or other disaster-related policies that you’ll likely want to take out. Just make sure that the cost of insuring your new lake property isn’t going to be more than you can really afford to take out.

 

 

July 9, 2020

Are New Homes Going to Be Available to Buy This Year?

 

Are New Homes Going to Be Available to Buy This Year? | MyKCM

In today’s economy, everyone seems to be searching for signs that a recovery is coming soon. Many experts agree that it may actually already be in motion or will be starting by the 3rd quarter of this year. With the housing market positioned to lead the way out of this recession, builder confidence might be a bright spark that gets the recovery fire started. The construction of new homes coming right around the corner is a huge part of that effort, and it may drive your opportunity to make a move this year.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB): 

“New home sales jumped in May, as housing demand was supported by low interest rates, a renewed household focus on housing, and rising demand in lower-density markets. Census and HUD estimated new home sales in May at a 676,000 seasonally adjusted annual pace, a 17% gain over April.” 

In addition, builder confidence is also rising, opening up opportunity for newly constructed homes in the market. The NAHB also notes:

“In a sign that housing stands poised to lead a post-pandemic economic recovery, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes jumped 21 points to 58 in June, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). Any reading above 50 indicates a positive market.”

As noted above, this upward trend is supported by builders reporting an increase in demand for single-family homes in suburban neighborhoods with lower-density populations, a result of the COVID-19 health crisis.

Moreover, the most recent Monthly New Residential Construction Report from the U.S. Census indicates that authorized building permits for new residential construction increased by 14.4% month-over-month from April to May, and housing starts were also up 4.3% over the same time period. (See graph below):Are New Homes Going to Be Available to Buy This Year? | MyKCMAlthough housing permits and starts are both considerably lower than they were at this time last year, indicating the new construction market is still working on building its way back up, the trends are moving in the right direction when it comes to having an impact on the U.S. economy. They’re also poised to create the much-needed new homes for Americans to purchase in a time when inventory is so scarce.

Dean Mon, Chairman of the NAHB notes:

“As the nation reopens, housing is well-positioned to lead the economy forward…Inventory is tight, mortgage applications are increasing, interest rates are low and confidence is rising. And buyer traffic more than doubled in one month even as builders report growing online and phone inquiries stemming from the outbreak.”

The gap between homes to buy and the high demand from purchasers may be narrowed by new construction, and the data shows that these homes are on their way into the housing market.

So, if you’ve debated whether or not to sell your house this year because you’re not sure where to move, a newly-built home – designed to your specific liking – may be your answer.

Bottom Line

With new residential construction right around the corner, you can feel confident about selling your house and having a place to move into. Maybe it’s time to finally design the home you’ve always wanted. Let’s connect today to discuss selling your house while demand from eager buyers is high.

June 24, 2020

What Are the Experts Saying About Future Home Prices?

What Are the Experts Saying About Future Home Prices? | MyKCM

A worldwide pandemic and an economic recession have had a tremendous effect on the nation. The uncertainty brought about by both has made predicting consumer behavior nearly impossible. For that reason, forecasting home prices has become extremely difficult.

Normally, there’s a simple formula to determine the future price of any item: calculate the supply of that item in ratio to the demand for that item. In housing right now, demand far exceeds supply. Mortgage applications to buy a home just rose to the highest level in 11 years while inventory of homes for sale is at (or near) an all-time low. That would usually indicate strong appreciation for home values as we move throughout the year.

Some experts, however, are not convinced the current rush of purchasers is sustainable. Ralph McLaughlin, Chief Economist at Haus, explained in their June 2020 Hausing Market Forecast why there is concern:

“The upswing that we’ll see this summer is a result of pent-up demand from homebuyers and supply-in-progress from homebuilders that has simply been pushed off a few months. However, after this pent-up demand goes away, the true economic scarring due to the pandemic will begin to affect the housing market as the tide of pent-up demand goes out.”

The virus and other challenges currently impacting the industry have created a wide range of thoughts regarding the future of home prices. Here’s a list of analysts and their projections, from the lowest depreciation to the highest appreciation:

We can garner two important points from this list:

  1. There is no real consensus among the experts.
  2. No one projects prices to crash like they did in 2008.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re thinking of buying a home or selling your house, know that home prices will not change dramatically this year, even with all of the uncertainty we’ve faced in 2020.

June 18, 2020

Is the Economic Recovery Already Underway?

Is the Economic Recovery Already Underway? | MyKCM

The Wall Street Journal just released their latest monthly Survey of Economists. In an article on the findings, they reported:

“The U.S. economy will be in recovery by the third quarter of this year, economists said in a survey that also concluded the labor market will fare better than previously expected following the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Clearly, the latest jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed the labor market is outperforming expectations, as it revealed that 2.5 million jobs were added. Directly before the release, experts forecasted that we would lose over 8 million jobs.

A second revelation indicating the economy is already about to turn around was also somewhat unexpected. More than 9 out of 10 economists surveyed believe the recovery has already begun this quarter or will begin in the third quarter. Here are the results of the survey question asking when the recovery will begin:Is the Economic Recovery Already Underway? | MyKCMThe survey also asked what type of recovery the economists expect.

More than 8 out of 10 believe it will be a form of a ‘V’ recovery:

  • A true ‘V’ with a sharp drop and a sharp rebound
  • A ‘Nike Swoosh’ with a sharp drop and a more gradual recovery, coined after the company’s logo

Some experts, possibly concerned about a second wave of COVID-19, call for a ‘W’ recovery – a double dip recession.

Others call for a ‘U’ with a prolonged bottom.

A very small percentage project the dreaded ‘L’ recovery, which is no recovery at all for the foreseeable future (think of the Great Recession).

Here’s the breakdown:Is the Economic Recovery Already Underway? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Though we still have a long and difficult journey ahead, it appears the worst for both the economy and the unemployment situation may be in our rearview mirror.

June 16, 2020

Three Reasons Homebuyers Are Ready to Purchase This Year

Three Reasons Homebuyers Are Ready to Purchase This Year | MyKCM

A recent survey by Lending Tree tapped into behaviors of over 1,000 prospective buyers. The results indicated 53% of all homebuyers are more likely to buy a home in the next year, even amid the current health crisis. The survey further revealed why, naming several reasons buyers are more likely to move this year (see graph below):Three Reasons Homebuyers Are Ready to Purchase This Year | MyKCMLet’s break down why these are a few of the key factors motivating buyers to actively engage in the home search process, and the corresponding wins for sellers as well.

1. Low Mortgage Rates

The biggest reason potential homebuyers indicated they’re eager to purchase this year is due to current mortgage rates, which are hovering near all-time lows. Today’s low rates are making it more affordable than ever to buy a home, which is a huge incentive for purchasers. In fact, 67% of respondents in the Lending Tree survey want to take advantage of low mortgage rates. This is no surprise when comparing historic mortgage rates by decade (see below):Three Reasons Homebuyers Are Ready to Purchase This Year | MyKCMSam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac recently said:

“As the economy is slowly rebounding, all signs continue to point to a solid recovery in home sales activity heading into the summer as prospective buyers jump back into the market. Low mortgage rates are a key factor in this recovery.”

2. Reduced Spending

Some people have also been able to save a little extra money over the past few months while sheltering in place. One of the upsides of staying home recently is that many have been able to work remotely and minimize extra spending on things like commuting expenses, social events, and more. For those who fall into this category, they may have a bit more saved up for down payments and closing costs, making purchasing a home more feasible today.

3. Re-Evaluating Their Space

Spending time at home has also given buyers a chance to really evaluate their living space, whether renting or as a current homeowner. With time available to craft a wish list of what they really need in their next home, from more square footage to a more spacious neighborhood, they’re ready to make it happen.

What does this mean for buyers and sellers?

With these three factors in play, the demand for housing will keep growing this year, especially over the summer as more communities continue their phased approach to reopening. Buyers can take advantage of additional savings and low mortgage rates. And if you’re thinking of selling, know that your home may be in high demand as buyer interest grows and the number of homes for sale continues to dwindle. This may be your moment to list your house and make a move into a new space as well.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to buy or sell – or maybe both – let’s connect to put your plans in motion. With low mortgage rates leading the way, it’s a great time to take advantage of your position in today’s market.