November 2018 Housing Affordability Index

At the national level, housing affordability is down from last month and down from a year ago. Mortgage rates rose to 4.99 percent this November, up 19.1 percent compared to 4.19 percent a year ago.

  • Housing affordability declined from a year ago in November moving the index down 10.6 percent from 161.0 to 144.0. The median sales price for a single family home sold in November in the US was $260,500 up 5.0 percent from a year ago.
  • Nationally, mortgage rates were up 80 basis point from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points).
  • The payment as a percentage of income was up from last month at 17.4 percent this November and up from 15.5 percent from a year ago. Regionally, the West has the highest payment at 23.8 percent of income. The Northeast had the second highest payment at 17.1 percent followed by the South at 16.8 percent. The Midwest had the lowest payment as a percentage of income at 13.7 percent.

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Buyers May Find Relief in Cooling Housing Market

The housing market is showing several signs of slowing, providing a much-needed break for potential buyers who have been waiting to jump into the market. Existing-home sales were 2.4 percent lower in the third quarter than a year ago, and the drop comes at a time when many areas are starting to see an uptick in new listings.

Home prices in many markets are no longer rising by double digits—or even single digits—annually. But with a strong economy and low unemployment, the housing dip is more of a rebalancing of the market than a sign of a downturn, housing analysts say.

Sellers are realizing there is a slowdown and are starting to cut their prices to better compete. Nearly 29 percent of listings in major markets during the month ending Oct. 14 saw price reductions, according to the real estate brokerage Redfin. “The cycle has moved from seller-advantage to at least mildly buyer-advantage in many parts of the United States,” writes Kenneth Harney, a nationally syndicated real estate columnist. “If you’re a buyer, take your time. But keep in mind: If you shop diligently, this fall could be a smart time to catch a deal—a marked-down price on the house you really want.”

Source: REALTOR® Magazine

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.”

Bidding Wars Heat Up in Unassuming Towns

You’d expect bidding wars in major cities such as San Francisco, Boston, and New York—but Akron, Ohio? The Midwestern town has seen the biggest spike in multiple-offer situations on listings in the nation, according to realtor.com®. And as housing demand picks up in the spring, ushering in the typically busy selling season across the nation, other unassuming metros are becoming hotbeds for buyer competition. “Multiple-offer scenarios are no longer reserved for the usual big, fast-moving markets,” says Javier Vivas, director of economic research at realtor.com®. “Demand for homes has spilled outward into secondary, smaller markets, and more buyers are gearing up to face fierce competition in more places around the country.”

Realtor.com® pinpointed the cities that have seen the most acute spikes in bidding wars by looking at the percentage of homes that have sold above their asking prices. The site evaluated listing and sales data from March 2015 to February 2016 and then compared it to data from March 2017 to February 2018. The following seven locales saw the biggest upticks in the percentages of homes selling above asking price:

1. Akron, Ohio

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 20.6 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 91.7 percent

2. Worcester, Mass. 

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 41.5 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 88.1 percent

3. Lexington, Ky.

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 22.7 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 86.4 percent

4. Irvine, Calif.

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 30.3 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 85.5 percent

5. Greensboro, N.C.

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 29 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 81 percent

6. Sioux Falls, S.D.

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 32.8 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 74.2 percent

7. Madison, Wis.

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 40.9 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 73.4 percent

Source: Housing Knife Fights! 10 Surprising Cities Where Bidding Wars Are Booming,” realtor.com®

Bidding Wars to Heat Up This Spring

Likely to be a hallmark of this year’s spring homeselling season: Bidding wars. As home listings are scarcer and buyer demand remains high, home shoppers are finding a lot more competition this spring, particularly in hot markets like the San Francisco Bay area, Denver, and Boston.

An improving job market, growing consumer confidence, and the threat of rising mortgage rates have Americans flocking to housing. But many markets remain tight for listings. Housing starts remain well below levels prior to the recession and are geared more toward the higher end of the market. Homeowners also are reluctant to sell their existing home because they’re unsure of where they’d move to with the dearth of listings.

Homes are selling at a rapid clip in places like Denver; Seattle; Oakland, Calif.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Boise, Idaho; Madison, Wis.; and Omaha, Neb., according to the real estate brokerage Redfin.

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The 5 Real Estate Trends That Will Shape 2017

2017

We won’t pretend to know everything that 2017 will bring—heck, 2016 sure surprised us—but we’re pretty certain there will be changes. A lot of them. And while the surprise triumph of Donald Trump in the presidential election won’t alter the fundamentals shaping the 2017 real estate market, its impact is already being felt.

We’ve seen interest rates jump since the election, a movement that’s likely to affect the youngest generation of home buyers.

Just like last year, realtor.com®’s economic data team analyzed our market data and economic indicators to come up with a picture of the key housing trends for 2017. As we prepare to bid farewell to 2016, it looks like we’ll be saying goodbye to the last of the record-low interest rates of the past few years, too. Interest rates have shot up 40 basis points, or 0.4 percentage points, since Trump’s election.

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Neighborhood Features That Drag Down Prices

Neighborhood

Living near bad schools can decrease a home’s value big time. Indeed, the median home price in ZIP codes with schools that receive a one to three rating (out of possible 10) is only $155,000.

Realtor.com® analyzed home prices and appreciation rates in U.S. ZIP codes to identify possible factors that could drag down prices. Researchers compared the median home price of the ZIP with that facility with the median price for all homes in the same county.

Here are five neighborhood features that had the biggest impact on dragging down nearby home prices.