Has the Inventory Crunch Begun to Subside?

Contract signings rose in all four major regions across the U.S. last month, a sign that dwindling home sales—which have plagued the market at an unusual time of year this summer—will reverse course in the coming months, the National Association of REALTORS® reports.

NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, increased 0.9 percent month over month in June to a reading of 106.9. “After two straight months of declines in pending home sales, home shoppers in a majority of markets had a little more success finding a home to buy last month,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The positive forces of faster economic growth and steady hiring are being met by the negative forces of higher home prices and mortgage rates. Even with slightly more homeowners putting their home on the market, inventory is still subpar and not meeting demand. As a result, affordability constraints are pricing out some would-be buyers and keeping overall sales activity below last year’s pace.”

Despite last month’s rise, contract signings are still down 2.5 percent compared to a year ago, NAR reports. Nevertheless, Yun says the worst of the supply crunch may now have passed. In June, existing inventory was up slightly on an annual basis, marking the first increase in three years. Several large metros saw year-over-year surges in inventory levels last month:

  • Portland, Ore.: +24 percent
  • Providence, R.I.: +20 percent
  • Seattle: +19 percent
  • Nashville, Tenn.: +17 percent
  • San Jose, Calif.: +15 percent

“Home price growth remains swift, and listings are still going under contract at a robust pace in most of the country, which indicates that even with rising inventory in many markets, demand still significantly outpaces what’s available for sale,” Yun says. “However, if this trend of increasing supply continues in the months ahead, prospective buyers will hopefully begin to see more choices and softer price growth.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®
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‘Fair’ vs. ‘Very Good’ Credit: The Impact on Mortgages

Consumers who make efforts to raise their credit scores from “fair” to “very good” may see big payoffs. LendingTree researchers analyzed loan request and average loan balance data to see how a lower credit score can increase borrowing costs for the average consumer. They compared the impact across several types of debt: mortgages, student loans, auto loans, personal loans, and credit cards.

Overall, raising a credit score from “fair” (580-669) to “very good” (740-799) can save a consumer $45,283 on their debt. That’s the average in extra interest on all debt that consumers will pay when they have a credit score ranked as fair. Mortgage costs can account for 63 percent of those potential savings. By raising a credit score from fair to very good, consumers could save $29,106 in mortgage costs, the study shows.

Read more…

3 Bathroom Trends Homeowners Might Want to Avoid

Bathroom makeovers can help enhance a property, but homeowners should be careful not to be too trendy or it may have the opposite effect. HouseLogic detailed several recent bathroom trends that homeowners might want to reconsider, including:

Tiny tiles

Mosaics of tiny colored tiles may be on-trend and offer a retro vibe to your bathroom, but they’ve also earned a reputation as being a pain to keep clean. Tiny tiles mean more grout to clean and maintain. Instead of doing a large space of tiny tiles, HouseLogic recommends using them as an accent, such as the wall surrounding your vanity. Choose a place where they won’t get wet on the floor, in the tub, or in the shower so that cleaning them is less of a chore.

Hardwood floors

The flooring may be a hot choice for the rest of your home, but they can be a pain in the bathroom. “It will warp next to a shower or tub if not dried after each use,” Tanya Campbell, a designer for Virdis Design Studio in Denver, told HouseLogic. “Also, tile is more sanitary.” If the wooden look is what you want, opt for something that resembles the exterior, but is actually tile.

Colored tubs and sinks

Color is gradually entering more bathrooms. But don’t forget the lessons from the 1950s pastel bathroom craze that brought in pink and aqua sinks. That had renovators ripping them out a few years later in favor of white, a safer choice for the long term. “The bathroom is one of the most expensive rooms in the house to do, and so I try to be very safe because the parts are going to be expensive to change out—like a tub,” Suzanne Felber, a designer in Dallas, told HouseLogic. If color is what homeowners want, opt for painting the walls instead; it’s easier to change later on.

Catch more bathroom trends worth reconsidering at HouseLogic.com.

Breaking Down Home Maintenance: The Costs, Timelines

The cost to maintain a home is something financial experts recommend budgeting for early on, in preparation for choosing which house to buy. On average, homeowners spend 1 percent of their overall home cost in maintenance every year, according to a new study by Porch.com.

The upkeep costs can vary based on style, age, type, and even location of the home. The average cost to maintaining a home each year is about $16,000, according to Porch.com’s analysis.

Where does all that money go? A few chores that routinely pop up on a homeowner’s to-do list include pool keeping, lawn maintenance, and repairs and replacements of appliances.

Read the article on REALTOR Magazine to see the estimated frequency of maintaining certain aspects of the home, and the average costs.

5 Tips for Buying Your Retirement Home

Planning for retirement means making a lot of decisions, including when you’ll stop working, how much you’ll withdraw from your savings each year, and where you’ll live. Many Americans view retirement as an opportunity to move into a new home; in fact, 64 percent of retirees either have moved or plan to move.

Ready to begin planning? Here are five tips to get you started.

  1. Location, location, location
    Ideally, you should think about where you want to live long before retirement, but it’s never too late to think about your priorities. Do you want to be close to family or health care resources? Do you desire a home in the mountains or somewhere you’ll never see snow again? Make a list of what you want in a home location so you’ll have a starting point for your search.
  2. Don’t delay
    If possible, don’t wait until poor health or declining finances force you to move somewhere that’s not your ideal location. Move while you’re still young enough to enjoy your dream retirement home.
  3. Get professional financial advice
    It’s important to protect your nest egg and keep it growing throughout retirement. A professional financial planner can help you understand what size mortgage is right for you, so your dream home doesn’t strain your finances.
  4. Be mindful of amenities
    When choosing a location and a home, in addition to your personal priorities, it’s important to keep in mind accessibility to amenities important to seniors. Community features such as good transportation, quality of roads, safe neighborhoods, and access to health care, socialization opportunities, shopping and cultural venues are all options to consider.
  5. Focus on must-haves
    Make a list of must-have features and those you would like your retirement home to have. Share the list with your real estate agent to help him or her focus on properties that meet your criteria. Your list of must-haves and desirables will likely be very different from the list you made when you bought your first home. Now, a single-level house with large bathrooms and a level lot may be more desirable than a two-story with lots of bedrooms and a big backyard.

June 2018 RE/MAX National Housing Report

Median Sales Price Reaches Nine-Year High, While Sales Decline

Halfway through 2018, prices are at record highs, inventory is at record lows and home sales are trailing 2017’s pace, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report.

June sales were 5.5% lower than June 2017 in the 54 metro areas surveyed, marking the seventh consecutive month of year-over-year declines.

Headed in the opposite direction, the June Median Sales Price of $258,500 was an all-time high in the nine-year history of the report. It was 5.1% higher than the $245,000 recorded last June, bringing the consecutive months of year-over-year price increases to 27. In each of the previous five years – going back to June 2013’s $193,750 – June has posted the highest Median Sales Price of the year.

Read the full article in RE/MAX’s newsroom

Watch the 40 second summary video on YouTube

Washington State NWMLS Market Snapshot for June 2018