KCM.Busting the Myth Housing Affordability Crisis

Busting the Myth About a Housing Affordability Crisis

It seems you can’t find a headline with the term “housing affordability” without the word “crisis” attached to it. That’s because some only consider the fact that residential real estate prices have continued to appreciate. However, we must realize it’s not just the price of a home that matters, but the price relative to a purchaser’s buying power.

Homes, in most cases, are purchased with a mortgage. The current mortgage rate is a major component of the affordability equation. Mortgage rates have fallen by over a full percentage point since December 2018. Another major piece of the affordability equation is a buyer’s income. The median family income has risen by 3.5% over the last year.

Let’s look at three different reports issued recently that reveal how homes are very affordable in comparison to historic numbers, and how they have become even more affordable over the past several months.

1. National Association of Realtors’ (NAR)Housing Affordability Index:

Here is a graph showing the index going all the way back to 1990. The higher the column, the more affordable homes are:Busting the Myth About a Housing Affordability Crisis | MyKCMWe can see that homes are less affordable today (the green bar) than they were during the housing crash (the red bars). This was when distressed properties like foreclosures and short sales saturated the market and sold for massive discounts. However, homes are more affordable today than at any time from 1990 to 2008.

NAR’s report on the index also shows that the percentage of a family’s income needed for a mortgage payment (16.5%) is dramatically lower than last year and is well below the historic norm of 21.2%.Busting the Myth About a Housing Affordability Crisis | MyKCM

2. Black Knight’s Mortgage Monitor:

This report reveals that as a result of falling interest rates and slowing home price appreciation, affordability is the best it has been in 18 months. Black Knight Data & Analytics President Ben Graboske explains:

“For much of the past year and a half, affordability pressures have put a damper on home price appreciation. Indeed, the rate of annual home price growth has declined for 15 consecutive months. More recently, declining 30-year fixed interest rates have helped to ease some of those pressures, improving the affordability outlook considerably…And despite the average home price rising by more than $12K since November, today’s lower fixed interest rates have worked out to a $108 lower monthly payment…Lower rates have also increased the buying power for prospective homebuyers looking to purchase the average-priced home by the equivalent of 15%.”

3. First American’s Real House Price Index:

While affordability has increased recently, Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist explains:

“If the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage declines just a fraction more, consumer house-buying power would reach its highest level in almost 20 years.”

Fleming goes on to say that the gains in affordability are about mortgage rates and the increase in family incomes:

“Average nominal household incomes are nearly 57 percent higher today than in January 2000. Record income levels combined with mortgage rates near historic lows mean consumer house-buying power is more than 150 percent greater today than it was in January 2000.”

Bottom Line

If you’ve put off the purchase of a first home or a move-up home because of affordability concerns, you should take another look at your ability to purchase in today’s market. You may be pleasantly surprised!

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Special Mid-Year Market Update (July 2019)

It’s the beginning of July and we’re now half-way through 2019. And, if you’ve been considering to make a move in real estate, either to purchase a home or sell a home, I wanted to make sure I was able to provide some clarity on the current market conditions in and around Silicon Valley.

First of all, how have things been going this year?

2019 was speculated to be a great market for first-time homebuyers and move-up buyers due to rising inventory levels, diminishing investor demand for housing, and an easing of interest rates. And, with inventory beginning the year at very healthy levels (about twice as many homes available for sale when compared to last year), and interest rates remaining relatively low (even falling again recently), 2019 has held true to its forecast. 

[Side-bar: my team and I have already helped numerous families with the simultaneous sale and purchase of real estate…with many purchasing up into a larger home before selling their current home].

But, is this trend likely to hold up through the rest of the year?

Well, let’s talk about supply & demand trends…

So far we’ve seen the rebound in inventory from 2018 continue to hold up. Current “active” inventory across Santa Clara County is sitting at 2,222 listings, down slightly 9% from our peak in May, but up 8% from last year in July. And within San Jose, we’re currently sitting at 1,129 active listings, down slightly again from the peak earlier in May, and up 6% from the same time last year.

What’s interesting to me about this trend, is that our inventory levels are slightly down from the end of the spring market. And, with current interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage sitting at 3.75%, down 0.75% from the same time last year, my assumption is that this trend is most likely due to the continued easing of interest rates allowing for an increased number of buyers to come into the market and absorb our housing supply. When interest rates fall, it can be less expensive to own than to rent across many entry-level price points.

And, if we look at “pending sales” figures you’ll notice that our demand has held steady at around 1,300 properties obtaining a contract each month for that last 4-months at the county level, and an average of 700 properties per month going into contract for the City of San Jose.

So, as long as rates continue to remain low, and new inventory continues to be absorbed by steady demand, I expect that we should have a well-balanced market through the end of the year, which will play well for move-up buyers and first-time homebuyers.

So how are these conditions affecting sales prices?

Have we seen a huge crash in home prices across Silicon Valley as some media outlets would suggest?

I hate to disappoint you but in fact, our median sales price for June is up 16% from the beginning of the year at $1,190,000 for Santa Clara County

Now, considering the spike in sales prices witnessed at the beginning of 2018, when prices shot up as much as 24% in some areas, we’re still down about 8% from these peak prices, but when you consider the longer-term trends our prices have consistently appreciated annually in the 9-10% range.

I may be going out on a limb, but I don’t think our prices are “crashing!,” especially when you consider that the current median Sales Price-to-List Price ratio is sitting around 102%, up 2% from January and holding steady. And provided median days to sell have also declined from January and are sitting at about 2-weeks or less. To me, these statistics still represent a very vibrant housing market across the Valley.

So, how will these conditions affect you if you’re thinking about making a move in real estate this year?

As you know, we’re on the front lines interacting with homebuyers and sellers on a daily basis. What we can share with you is that we’re beginning to see a shift in the way that buyers are approaching our market.

A large majority of the buyers we’ve recently met are getting into the market for the first time this year and haven’t been exposed to the past years of competitive multiple offers. So, as inventory levels have risen recently, these inexperienced buyers are becoming increasingly indecisive.

This is creating issues for sellers and opportunities for savvy buyers. Indecisive buyers mean that sellers need to be more strategic when selling their homes; they should take the time to properly prepare their home for sale, and make sure they price appropriately provided the increased competition they in their neighborhoods.

And for buyers, the influx of inexperienced buyers is making it easier for move-up buyers, or those with experience, to negotiate our market and recognize great values with little competition. And, we’re seeing a lot of great properties in the higher-end of the market selling at very reasonable prices quickly to homebuyers that have gained experience from the competitive markets of years past.

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VLOG: Top 4 Reasons to Buy a Home this Summer!

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest U.S. Home Price Insights reports that home prices have appreciated by 3.7% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.8% over the next year.

Home values will continue to appreciate. Waiting may no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have started to level off around 4.3%. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage

Some renters have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Examine the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, greater safety for your family, or you just want to have control over renovations, now could be the time to buy.

Bottom Line

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.