Market Shifting to Buyers’ Favor

A housing market defined by rapidly rising home prices, bidding wars, a lack of inventory, and sellers with the upper hand in negotiations may be changing. “The signs are pointing to a market that’s shifting toward buyers,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “But in most places, we’re still a long way from a full reversal.”

After all, home sales aren’t exactly tanking. Prices for existing homes were up 4.6 percent from a year ago in the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest housing report. The median home list price in August was up 7 percent from last year.

While these numbers are still higher than last year, economists point to a slowing growth in the percentage jumps. Last year, median home list prices increased by 10 percent from the previous year and by 9 percent the year before that.

A recent report from real estate brokerage Redfin showed that more than one in four home sellers dropped their asking price last month. The areas seeing some of the biggest decreases this year are Las Vegas; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; and Atlanta.

“We’ve hit that tipping point in a lot of these cities where what sellers think they can get is just not possible for many buyers,” Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions, told realtor.com®. “Now the pendulum is swinging away from sellers and back toward buyers.”

Economists point to housing affordability as a culprit for the slowdown. Mortgage rates are up 0.82 percent since a year ago; the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.65 percent as of Sept. 20. Each percentage point increase in rates can translate to about $143 more on a monthly mortgage payment, or nearly $51,500 over the life of a loan on a $300,000 priced home, according to realtor.com®.

“Home prices have just gone up too fast,” Blomquist says. “It doesn’t mean that all of a sudden it’s a market that’s going to crash. But it does mean there are limits to what people can afford.”

Advertisements

Fewer Americans Are Willing to Move for a Job

Fewer Americans are willing to uproot their lives to move for new job opportunities, suggests new census data.

About 3.5 million Americans relocated for a new job last year, a 10 percent drop from 3.8 million in 2015. The number has been trending lower, despite the overall population increasing 20 percent over that time, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Why are more people staying put? Experts told WSJ that some blame may rest on rebounding real estate values. Housing costs have soared higher in some regions where jobs may be more plentiful, like East and West Coast cities, but it may be pricing out some who may have otherwise been willing to relocate.

Read the full article on REALTORmagazine

No Housing Recession Over the Horizon

Media reports are increasingly focused on whether a major home sale slowdown, or maybe even a crash, is in the making, in part because many hot housing markets are seeing slackening buyer demand, and nationally 2018 is expected to end with fewer home sales than 2017. But the possibility of a crash is unlikely, says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®.

In a piece he contributed to Forbes, Yun says hot markets are seeing a slowdown not because of weak buyer demand, which could be an indicator of a true slowdown, but insufficient supply. When homes come on the market, especially in areas like Seattle and Denver that have strong job growth and little unemployment, they are typically snapped up.

In other positive signs, home price growth remains strong in markets across the country—about 5 percent on a nationwide basis so far this year—and there are no signs of the credit excesses that characterized the housing crisis 10 years ago. “Lending standards today are still stringent, as evidenced by the higher-than-normal credit scores of those who are able to obtain a mortgage,” Yun says. “That is why mortgage default and foreclosure rates are at historic lows.”

In short, Yun says, today’s housing problem stems from insufficient inventory. The supply problem is driving up home prices and worsening affordability and keeping sales from matching demand. That is a serious problem and the answer is to encourage builders to increase supply, Yun says, but it is not a prelude to a crash.

Source: “No Housing Recession Over Horizon,” Forbes.com

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®

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.

Top 10 Threats to Real Estate in 2019

Rising interest rates and the economy are the top two current issues to watch in real estate, according to the Counselors of Real Estate’s Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate 2018-2019, a list of the biggest threats to the housing market. For the first time, CRE broke its annual list down into current and longer-term issues to watch during the industry’s next year.

Read the article on REALTORmagazine

The Top Landscaping Trends for 2018

Native plants, outdoor yoga spaces, and charging stations are among the hottest landscaping trends growing in consumer demand for 2018, according to a new report released by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Landscape architects were asked to rate the popularity of several residential outdoor design elements. Landscape architects noted a growth in the use of native plants, low-maintenance landscapes, and flexible-use spaces, for yoga classes or movie night.

Overall, landscape architects ranked the following outdoor design elements as the overall most popular in 2018:

  1. Fire pits/fireplaces
  2. Lighting
  3. Seating/dining areas
  4. Outdoor furniture
  5. Outdoor kitchens
  6. Decking (i.e. rooftop decking)
  7. Grills
  8. Movie/TV/video theaters, wireless/internet, stereo systems
  9. Outdoor heaters
  10. Stereo systems
  11. Pools and spa features (hot tubs, Jacuzzis, whirlpools, indoor/outdoor saunas)
  12. Utility storage
  13. Hammocks
  14. Outdoor cooling systems (including fans)
  15. Showers/baths

Source: RealtorMag