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Stock market swoon stalls luxury home sales

Article by Diana Olick

Rampant volatility in the U.S. stock market is showing up in the high-end housing market. But as with all things real estate, the impact depends entirely on location.

2016 started with a severe stock swoon, and that had an outsized impact on homebuyers with a higher net worth. Historically, high-end housing suffers most in a market downturn.

“As you go up the income quintile, into the top 10 percent, 5 percent, 1 percent by income, their stock exposure increases,” said Sam Khater, chief economist at CoreLogic. “For the typical family, the bulk of their equity is tied up in home equity not stock equity. It’s the reverse for high income.”

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Source: Sam Khater/CoreLogic

Khater compared the share of million-dollar home sales to the S&P 500 and found a distinct correlation. While the share of $1 million or more homes is very small, just 1.2 percent of all home sales historically, it can move dramatically depending on stock market gains or losses. From the worst of the financial crisis in 2008 to the peak of the equity markets in May 2015, the share of million dollar and more home sales nearly doubled, according to Khater.

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“Since its peak in May 2015, the S&P index declined 10 percent as of mid-February. This decline in the S&P index was matched by a 30 basis point or 15 percent decline in the $1 million or more share,” Khater said.

The correlation, however, is far more acute in certain locations.

In New York City and San Francisco, where the local economies are tied most to financial markets, sales of high-end homes have weakened, and supply is rising. That jump in inventory will likely affect prices down the road, as supply outstrips demand. Nationally there was a 9.3-month supply of homes listed at $1 million or above in December 2014, but that increased to 13 months by December 2015, according to CoreLogic.

“With more than a year’s supply of inventory, prices, for the most part, won’t be increasing,” Khater said.

Read More House flipping: Deja vu all over again

In Washington, D.C., however, the stock effect is far more muted. Government, and the high-priced lawyers and lobbyists that surround it, are a steady denominator.

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“Demand is higher, even though the stock market has gotten in the way and the snowstorm has gotten in the way, but demand is there, people are feeling very good about the economy,” said Nancy Taylor Bubes, a 30-year veteran of high-end D.C. real estate and currently an agent with Washington Fine Properties.

She was standing in a $5.75 million listing that received a solid offer in just 10 days. Taylor Bubes, who specializes in the area’s high-end neighborhoods, says she has sold six million-dollar-plus listings year to date, three times what she did last year. Her buyers, mostly domestic and local, are not swayed by Wall Street.

“I actually think the stock market is good for my business. I think people are going to really think about divesting a little bit and putting it into something they would really enjoy,” Taylor Bubes said.

In southwest Florida, however, where real estate is primarily driven by wealthy retirees from the Northeast and Midwest, the story is very different. Sales have slowed dramatically.

“The stock market volatility has definitely impacted the luxury homebuyer in Florida, particularly in Naples and Sarasota,” said Kristine Smale, a senior consultant with John Burns Real Estate Consulting who is based in Florida. “Seasonal traffic is still strong, but would-be buyers are slow to commit this year due to the significant hits to their portfolios. Builders are disappointed, and some are increasing incentives to generate sales,”

Read MoreYours for $44M: Margaret Thatcher’s London home

The direction of the luxury real estate market now depends entirely on both the trajectory of the stock market and on inventory levels. Supply of less-expensive homes is extremely tight, and homebuilders are leery of building to that market, as it is harder to meet margins at lower price points. Early last year, before the stock market began its fall, the CEO of Pulte Group, Richard Dugas, said the company would focus more on high-end product, because that is where the demand is.

If the stock market settles, the spring housing market could see a resurgence on the high end. If not, supply will surely increase, and prices will chill.

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2015 Survey Exclusive: Wealth, Real Estate & the High-Net-Worth Investor

 

Article by Real Estate News

Rising home prices? C’est la vie, say a majority of today’s high-net-worth (HNW) individuals. According to new research Coldwell Banker Previews International®/NRT commissioned from Ipsos MediaCT, 54% of HNW individuals say they plan to make a real estate investment this year, up from 48% in 2014. The report surveyed the wealthiest 1.5% of the U.S. population with an average net worth of $8.5 million, and their outlook on real estate was generally positive.

An overwhelming majority — 94% — expect their property to grow, on average, 16% in value over the next five years. However, appreciation is not their primary motivator for wanting to buy. Those considering a purchase are twice as likely to be looking for a residence for personal use, as opposed to purely for investment/rental purposes. Still, 40% of respondents cited investment attractiveness as a reason to be in the real estate market.

“Property has been a mainstay of high-net-worth investor portfolios for decades, but what is notable now is that so many those investors continue to be bullish about real estate, even in the face of rising real estate prices in many U.S. cities,” says Ginette Wright, vice president of marketing for Previews®/NRT. “Financial market uncertainty and other recent global economic factors, such as a potential slowdown in China, all seem to have contributed to their view of real estate as a safe haven.”

Young, Free and Willing to Pay a Premium

Even younger affluent generations are taking an interest in real estate. The survey found that 69% of HNW millennials (those under age 35) say they plan to purchase a new property in the coming year — running contrary to the myth that millennials are reluctant to enter the housing market. Compare that to 50% of Gen Xers (ages 35-49) and 17% of baby boomers (50 and older), who expect to purchase new property in the coming year. Millennials are also leading the movement toward embracing a “live anywhere” lifestyle, a trend spotted in last year’s survey.

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In addition to being more inclined to invest in real estate, younger wealthy consumers are also purchasing homes at substantially higher prices than baby boomers. Gen Xers paid an average of $5.24 million for their last home, and millennials spent $4.96 million. Baby boomers, who tend to be in downsizing mode, reported an average closing price of $1.55 million on their last home purchase.

Most Wanted: Tech and Green Features

What features and amenities do HNW individuals most desire? A home that’s move-in ready was at the top of their list, followed by modern appliances and technology, as well as the latest in “green” features. A growing share of HNW individuals say that a fully automated and wired home environment and a LEED-certified green home are becoming more important.

California Market is Hot & Forecasted to Continue in 2016

 

11.05.2015California

Written by Helen Chong

The California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) has released its 2016 Market Forecast, and the selling trend is expected to continue to rise. The report shows home sales as projected to increase 6.3% compared to 2015’s forecast figures. This moves the expected number of home units to sell next year from 407,500 to 433,000. 2015 is moving toward an increase of 6.3% in homes sales compared to 2014 as well. This positive forecast is no surprise when you look at some of the latest statistics for California’s Real Estate Market. In a survey completed by the National Association of Realtors, our state is hotter than hot in sales compared to the rest of the country. Of the top 20 hottest markets they identified, more than half of them are in California.

The survey analyzed the number of listing views and how quickly properties sold in October 2015. Overall markets in California are seeing between 1.8 and 3.6 more viewings in a shorter span of time prior to selling, as much as 30 to 47 days faster than other markets. Despite our drought situation, and significantly higher than average home prices, we are continuing to see growth in the market. According to the forecast from C.A.R., this is due primarily to favorable interest rates and strong job growth.

Fixed mortgage rates for a 30 year mortgage are expected to increase on average only a small amount, up to 4.5%. This projected increase and the current average fixed rate of 3.88% are historical lows. Lower interest rates help more families to better afford a home loan, whether they are first time home buyers, refinancing or making a move to a new home. That the average rate will continue to hold at a low level is great news for anyone looking to buy in 2016.

Job growth in California is the other major player in our continued growth for the market. With major projects such as the Apple’s new offices in Cupertino at the south end of the Bay Area, an influx of new jobs and new residents to the area is guaranteed. With the nonfarm job growth forecasted to increase 2.3% in 2016, California’s unemployment rates is expected to decrease 5.5%. C.A.R. has forecasted it will be outlying areas which have less expensive homes, where the strongest sales will occur. This is due to the growth in jobs in logistics, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing. The areas to watch most are the Central Valley, Riverside, San Bernardino and Solano County.

California is definitely one of the hottest states for Real Estate sales. Once you have decided that you are ready to purchase We hope that you will give us Cat Moe & John Nelson of Nelson-Moe Properties the opportunity to help you with those needs.

Mortgage Rates May Go Up, but You Can Deal: Here’s Why

 

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It’s a late-summer nail-biter: The U.S. Federal Reserve will announce its current policy for short-term rates on Thursday, ending weeks of suspense. If you’ve been worrying that the Fed will raise rates and thus ruin your dream of homeownership, well, you’re not alone.

But higher rates won’t hurt the housing market overall, which should console homeowners watching their equity as well as home buyers concerned about their investment.

The Fed’s target for short-term rates has been zero since December 2008. Since then, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has averaged between 3.31% and 5.59% on a weekly basis. So when the Fed officially moves away from a zero interest rate policy for short-term rates, whether it happens tomorrow or in a few months, it will mark the beginning of the end of an era: seven years of incredibly low mortgage rates and high affordability.

But interest rates matter less to housing demand than consistently high levels of job creation and household formation. That is, when people are able to get jobs, move out on their own, and create families, they’re likely to want to buy a home. So higher rates—though they may price out some buyers—won’t cause a decline in sales, or a decline in prices.

But that may not help you feel better if you’ve yet to buy and lock in a monthly payment at these historically low rates. If that’s you, have you completely missed out on the party?

No. You will still be able to do well by historical standards.

The affordability index reported by the National Association of Realtors® stood at 151.2 in July. That number basically means that a family earning the median household income could afford to buy 151% of the median-priced homes in the U.S. Yes, the index is down 16% from January when mortgage rates were at their lows for this year. But the index has averaged 125 over the past 44 years. That means you can still get more home for your money than most people have for more than 40 years.

Over that same 44-year period, the average monthly 30-year fixed mortgage rate was over 8%. It was 4.06% on Tuesday.

Does that mean dealing with higher rates will be easy? No, we will have to adjust to the impact. A 50 basis-point increase in rates causes a 6% increase in monthly mortgage payments. (A basis point is 1/100th of a percentage point.) And higher payments cause higher debt-to-income ratios, which typically max out for various mortgage products between 36% and 43%.

How can you still qualify even with higher rates?

Consider a higher down payment. Can you swing it? This could qualify you for a lower rate, but even if it doesn’t, you’d have a lower loan balance, resulting in a lower monthly payment.

Pay a discount point. This would also reduce the applicable rate, and could make economic sense if you intend to stay in the home long enough to recover the cost of that discount point.

Consider hybrid mortgages. These offer lower rates that are fixed for a specified period such as five, seven, or 10 years. Since rates have been so low, most mortgages have been fixed for the duration of the mortgage term. But in periods of higher rates, we usually see more hybrid term mortgages because of the flexibility the lower rates provide.

Consider different mortgage types such as an FHA loan. This offers more flexibility on key ratios for qualified buyers.

Finally, consumers may need to rethink their target prices based on what they can afford with higher rates. That may mean rethinking location, size, or key features. An expert local Realtor® can help you think through trade-offs and home in on what matters most.

Bottom line: This era of low rates was a unique period of economic weakness and poor housing fundamentals. That era is ending, as conditions are much, much better now. Yes, that does mean that affordability will be lower, but we are still in good territory by historical standards, and today looks pretty good compared to the future for locking in prices and rates.