Housing MarketSeller August 31, 2023

How Inflation Affects the Housing Market

Have you ever wondered how inflation impacts the housing market? Believe it or not, they’re connected. Whenever there are changes to one, both are affected. Here’s a high-level overview of the connection between the two.

The Relationship Between Housing Inflation and Overall Inflation

Shelter inflation is the measure of price growth specific to housing. It comes from a survey of renters and homeowners that’s done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The survey asks renters how much they’re paying in rent, and homeowners how much they’d rent their homes for, if they weren’t living in them.

Much like overall inflation measures the cost of everyday items, shelter inflation measures the cost of housing. And for four consecutive months, based on that survey, shelter inflation has been coming down (see graph below):

Why does this matter? Well, shelter inflation makes up about one-third of overall inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). So, when shelter inflation moves, it leads to noticeable moves in overall inflation. That means the recent dip in shelter inflation might be a sign that overall inflation could fall in the months ahead.

That moderation would be a welcome sight for the Federal Reserve (the Fed). They’ve been working to get inflation under control since early 2022. While they’ve made some headway (it peaked at 8.9% in the middle of last year), they’re still trying to get to their 2% goal (the latest report is 3.3%).

Inflation and the Federal Funds Rate 

What’s the Fed been doing to lower inflation? They’ve been increasing the Federal Funds Rate. That interest rate influences how much it costs banks to borrow money from each other. When inflation climbed, the Fed responded by raising the Federal Funds Rate to keep the economy from overheating.

The graph below shows the relationship between the two. Each time inflation (shown in the blue line) starts to climb, the Fed raises the Federal Funds Rate (shown in the orange line) to try to get it back to their target of 2% (see below):

The circled portion of the graph shows the most recent spike in inflation, the Fed’s actions to raise the Federal Funds Rate to fight that, and the moderation of inflation that happened in response to that hike. As inflation gets closer to the Fed’s current 2% goal, they may not need to raise the Federal Funds Rate much further.

A Brighter Future for Mortgage Rates?

So, what does all of this mean for you? While the actions coming out of the Fed don’t determine mortgage rates, they do have an impact. As Mortgage Professional America (MPA) explains:

“. . . mortgage rates and inflation are connected, however indirectly. When inflation rises, mortgage rates rise to keep up with the value of the US dollar. When inflation drops, mortgage rates follow suit.

While no one can predict the future for mortgage rates, it’s encouraging to see the signs of moderating inflation in the economy.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or just stay informed about the housing market, let’s connect.

BuyerSeller August 30, 2023

Buyer Traffic Is Still Stronger than the Norm

Are you putting off selling your house because you’re worried no one’s buying because of where mortgage rates are? If so, know this: the latest data shows plenty of buyers are still out there, and they’re purchasing homes today. Here’s the data to prove it.

The ShowingTime Showing Index is a measure of buyers touring homes. The graph below uses the latest numbers available and compares them to the same month in the last normal years to show just how active today’s buyers still are:

As you can see, when June 2023 numbers are stacked alongside what’s typical for the housing market at this time of year, it’s clear buyers are still active. And, they’re actually a lot more active than the norm.

If you’re wondering how this could possibly be true, it’s because buyers are getting used to higher mortgage rates and accepting them as the new reality. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, Realtor.comexplains:

“Interest rate hikes continue to further cut into buyers’ purchasing power, although they appear to have adapted to the higher mortgage rate environment . . .”

It’s simple. Buyers will always need to buy, and those who can afford to move at today’s rates are going to do so.

The Key Takeaway for You

While it’s true things have slowed down from the frenzy of the last couple of years, it doesn’t mean today’s market is at a standstill. The reality is: buyer traffic is still strong today. Even with today’s mortgage rates, plenty of buyers are still making their moves. So why delay your own move when there’s clearly a market for your house?

Bottom Line

Don’t put off your plans because you’re worried no one will buy your home. The opposite is true, and more buyers are more active than the norm. Let’s connect to get your house ready to sell, so it makes the best first impression possible on those eager buyers.

Buyer May 31, 2023

Keys to Success for First-Time Homebuyers

Buying your first home is an exciting decision and a major milestone that has the power to change your life for the better. As a first-time homebuyer, it’s a vision you can bring to life, but, as the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shares, you’ll have to overcome some factors that have made it more challenging in recent years:

“Since 2011, the share of first-time home buyers has been under the historical norm of 40% as buyers face tight inventory, rising home prices, rising rents and high student debt loads.”

That said, if you’re looking to purchase your first home, here are two things you can consider to help make your dreams a reality.

Save Money with First-Time Homebuyer Programs

Being able to pay for the initial costs and fees associated with homeownership can feel like a major hurdle. Whether that’s getting a loan, being able to put together a down payment, or having money for closing costs – there are a variety of expenses that can make buying your first home feel challenging.

Fortunately, there are a lot of public and private first-time homebuyer programs that can help you get a loan with little-to-no money upfront. CNET explains:

A first-time homebuyer program can help make homeownership more affordable and accessible by offering lower mortgage rates, down payment assistance and tax incentives.”

In fact, as Bankrate says, many of these programs are offered by state and local governments:

Many states and local governments have programs that offer down payment or closing cost assistance – either low-interest-rate loans, deferred loans or even forgivable loans (aka grants) – to people looking to buy their first house . . .”

To take advantage of these programs, contact the housing authority in your state and browse sites like Down Payment Resource.

The Supply of Homes for Sale Is Low, So Explore Every Possibility

It’s a sellers’ market, meaning there aren’t enough homes on the market to meet buyer demand. So, how can you be sure you’re doing everything you can to find a home that works for you? You can increase your options by considering condominiums (condos) and townhomes. U.S. News tells us these housing types are often less expensive than single-family homes:

Condos are usually less expensive than standalone houses . . . They are also less expensive to insure.”

One reason why they may be more affordable is because they’re often smaller. But they still give you the chance to get your foot in the door and achieve your dream of owning and building equity. Beyond that, another major perk is they typically require less maintenance. As U.S. News says in the same article:

The strongest reason for purchasing a condo is that all external maintenance is usually covered by the condo association, such as landscaping, pool maintenance, external painting, paving, plowing and more. This fee also covers some internal maintenance, such as gas, electric, plumbing, HVAC and other mechanical systems.” 

Townhomes and condos are great ways to get into homeownership. Owning your home allows you to build equity, increase your net worth, and can fuel a future move.

The best way to make sure you’re set up for success, especially if you’re just starting out, is to work with a trusted real estate agent. They can educate you on the homebuying process, help you understand your local area to find options that are right for you, and coach you through making an offer in a competitive market.

Bottom Line

Today’s housing market provides some challenges for first-time homebuyers. But, there are still ways to achieve your goals, like utilizing first-time homebuyer programs and considering all of your housing options. Let’s connect so you have an expert on your side who can help you navigate the process.

Seller May 25, 2023

The Benefits of Selling Now, According to Experts

If you’re trying to decide if now’s the time to sell your house, here’s what you should know. The limited number of homes available right now gives you a big advantage. That’s because there are more buyers out there than there are homes for sale. And, with so few homes on the market, buyers will have fewer options, so you set yourself up to get the most eyes possible on your house.

Here’s what industry experts are saying about why selling now has its benefits:

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Inventory levels are still at historic lows. Consequently, multiple offers are returning on a good number of properties.”

Selma Hepp, Chief Economist at CoreLogic:

“We have not seen the traditional uptick in new listings from existing homeowners, so undersupply of housing will continue to heighten market competition and put pressure on prices in most regions. Some markets are already heating up considerably, but price premiums that we saw last spring and summer are unlikely.”

Clare Trapasso, Executive News Editor at Realtor.com:

“Well-priced, move-in ready homes with curb appeal in desirable areas are still receiving multiple offers and selling for over the asking price in many parts of the country . . .”

Jeff Tucker, Senior Economist at Zillow:

“. . . sellers who price and market their home competitively shouldn’t have a problem finding a buyer.”

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your house, let’s connect so you have the expert insights you need to make the best possible move today.

Buyer May 18, 2023

Powerful Job Market Fuels Homebuyer Demand

The spring housing market has been surprisingly active this year. Even with affordability challenges and a limited number of homes for sale, buyer demand is strong, and getting stronger.

One way we know there are interested buyers right now is because showing traffic is up. Data from the latest ShowingTime Showing Index, which is a measure of buyers actively touring homes, makes it clear more people are out looking at homes than there were prior to the pandemic (see graph below):

And though there’s less traffic than the buyer frenzy of the past couple of years, we’re not far off that pace. There are a lot of interested buyers checking out available homes right now.

But why are buyers so active at a time when mortgage rates are higher than they were just last year?

The Job Market Is Growing at a Stronger-Than-Expected Pace

With inflation still high, the Federal Reserve (the Fed) repeatedly hiking the Federal Funds Rate, and a lot of chatter in the media about a recession, it might surprise you just how strong today’s job market is. What might be even more surprising is the fact that it appears to be getting stronger (see graph below):

Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports how many new jobs were added to the U.S. job market. The graph above shows 88,000 more jobs were created in April than in March. In fact, the April numbers beat expert projections. That’s a solid indicator the job market is growing.

Unemployment Is at a Near All-Time Low

Ever since the Fed began fighting inflation, many people expected the low unemployment rate we’ve seen over the past couple of years to rise – but that hasn’t happened.

In fact, what has happened is the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.4% – a 50-year low (see graph below):

With so many people steadily employed and financially stable right now, they’re still able to seriously consider buying a home.

What This Means for You

If you’re thinking about selling your house this year, a market with active buyers is music to your ears. That’s because there’ll be increased interest in your home when you put it on the market, especially at a time when the number of homes for sale is so low.

To get started, your best resource is an experienced real estate agent. They can help you price your house appropriately, navigate the offers you’ll receive, negotiate effectively, and minimize your stress and hassle.

Bottom Line

There are plenty of buyers out there right now trying to find a home that fits their needs. That’s because the job market is strong, and many people have the stable income needed to seriously consider homeownership. To put your house on the market and get in on the action, let’s connect.

Seller May 15, 2023

Homeowners Have Incredible Equity To Leverage Right Now

Even though home prices have moderated over the last year, many homeowners still have an incredible amount of equity. But what is equity? In the simplest terms, equity is the difference between the market value of your home and the amount you owe on your mortgage. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains how your equity grows over time:

“Housing wealth (home equity or net worth) gains are built up through price appreciation and by paying off the mortgage.”

How Your Equity Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

The equity you build up over the years can be used to your advantage when you sell your current house and buy your next home. If you no longer have the space you need, it might be time to move into a larger home. Or it’s possible you have too much space and need something smaller. No matter the situation, your equity can be a powerful tool you can use to help you make a move in today’s market. That’s because it may be some (if not all) of what you need for your down payment on your next home.

And how much equity you have may surprise you. A recent survey from Realtor.com finds many homeowners today estimate they’ve built up a significant amount of equity:

The latest data from CoreLogic helps solidify why homeowners are feeling so good about the equity they’ve likely gained over time. As Selma Hepp, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, says:

“While equity gains contracted in late 2022 due to home price declines in some regions, U.S. homeowners on average still have about $270,000 in equity, nearly $90,000 more than they had at the onset of the pandemic.”

How a Skilled Real Estate Agent Can Help

If you’re looking to leverage your equity to boost your buying power in today’s market, having a trusted agent by your side makes a difference.

A real estate professional can help you better understand the value of your home, so you’ll get a clearer picture of how much equity you likely have. As a recent article from Bankrate says:

“Hiring a skilled real estate agent can give you a realistic estimate of home prices in your area and how to price your current home. Using that figure, you can calculate how much equity you have and what your net proceeds will look like, so you can apply that money toward the down payment and closing costs of your new home.”

Having a solid understanding of your equity is key when it comes to making decisions about buying or selling your home. A skilled agent can help you navigate the often-complicated process of selling your house and ensure the transaction goes smoothly.

Bottom Line

Today, many homeowners are sitting on a substantial amount of equity, and you may be one of them. Let’s connect so we can estimate how much equity you have and plan how you can use it toward the purchase of your next home.

Housing MarketSeller May 11, 2023

The Best Time To Sell Your House Is When Others Aren’t Selling

If you’re thinking about selling your house, you should know the number of homes for sale right now is low. That’s because, this season, there are fewer sellers listing their houses for sale than the norm.

Looking back at every April since 2017, the only year when fewer sellers listed their homes was in April 2020, when the pandemic hit and stalled the housing market (shown in red in the graph below). In more typical years, roughly 500,000 sellers add their homes to the market in April. This year, we saw fewer than 400,000 sellers entering the market in April (see graph below):

While there are a number of factors contributing to this trend, one thing keeping inventory low right now is that some homeowners are reluctant to move when the mortgage rate they have on their current house is lower than the one they could get today on their next house. It’s called rate lock.

As a recent survey from Realtor.com explains, 56% of people who are planning to sell in the next 12 months say they’re waiting for rates to come down.

While this wait-and-see approach is right for some sellers, it also creates an opening for more eager sellers to jump in now.

If your current house truly doesn’t fit your needs anymore and you’re ready to move, don’t miss this chance to stand out. When fewer sellers are putting their homes up for sale, buyers will have fewer options, so you set yourself up to get the most eyes possible on your house. That’s why your house could see multiple offers as buyers compete over the limited supply of homes for sale – especially if you price it right.

As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

“Inventory levels are still at historic lows . . . Consequently, multiple offers are returning on a good number of properties.”

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to sell now, beat the competition before it comes onto the market. If you do, your house should stand out and could get multiple offers. Let’s connect to get you market ready.

BuyerEconomySeller May 10, 2023

The Impact of Inflation on Mortgage Rates

If you’re reading headlines about inflation or mortgage rates, you may see something about the recent decision from the Federal Reserve (the Fed). But what does it mean for you, the housing market, and your plans to buy a home? Here’s what you need to know.

Inflation and the Housing Market

While the Fed’s working hard to lower inflation, the latest data shows that, while the number has improved some, the inflation rate is still higher than the target (2%). That played a role in the Fed’s decision to raise the Federal Funds Rate last week. As Bankrate explains:

Keeping its inflation-fighting streak alive, the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates for the 10th time in 10 meetings . . . The hikes aimed to cool an economy that was on fire after rebounding from the coronavirus recession of 2020.”

While the Fed’s actions don’t directly dictate what happens with mortgage rates, their decisions do have an impact and contributed to the intentional cooldown in the housing market last year.

How This Impacts You

During times of high inflation, your everyday expenses go up. That means you’ve likely felt the pinch at the gas pump and in the grocery store. By raising the Federal Funds Rate, the Fed is actively trying to lower inflation. If the Fed is successful, it could also ultimately lead to lower mortgage rates and better homebuying affordability for you. That’s because when inflation is high, mortgage rates tend to be high. But, as inflation cools, experts say mortgage rates will likely fall.

Where Experts Think Mortgage Rates and Inflation Will Go from Here

Moving forward, both inflation and mortgage rates will continue to impact the housing market. And as Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

Mortgage rates are likely to descend lower later in the year as the consumer price inflation calms down . . .” 

Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), explains:

“We continue to expect that mortgage rates will drift down over the course of the year as the economy slows . . .”

While there’s no way to say with certainty where mortgage rates will go from here, the experts think mortgage rates will trend down this year if inflation comes down too. To stay informed on the latest insights, connect with a trusted real estate advisor. They keep their pulse on what’s happening today and help you understand what the experts are projecting and how it could impact your homeownership plans.

Bottom Line

Don’t let headlines about the latest decision from the Fed confuse you. Where mortgage rates go from here depends on what happens with inflation. If inflation cools, mortgage rates should tick down as a result. Let’s connect so you have expert insights on housing market changes and what they mean for you.

Buyer April 18, 2023

5 Reasons Millennials Are Buying Homes

In the United States, there are over 72 million millennials. If you’re part of that generation and have thought about buying a home, you aren’t alone. According to Zonda, 98% of millennials want to become a homeowner at some point if they aren’t already. But why? There are plenty of reasons you may choose to become a homeowner. Here’s why other millennials have made that decision (see graph below):

This graph shows why millennials are buying homes according to Zonda’s 6th annual millennial survey. The top reasons include building equity, a change in life stage, wanting stability, rising home values, and wanting to make somewhere truly their own. Here’s a look at each in more detail.

Building equity – Homeownership is a long-term investment that allows you to build wealth, increase your net worth, and become more financially stable. Beyond that, the alternative to owning a home is typically renting. With the way rents have risen so dramatically over time, it may make sense to build your own equity instead of the equity of the person you’re renting from.

A change in life stage – As a millennial, you’re reaching your prime homebuying years. That means you may be at the point where you need more space or a different location.

Stability or settling down – This could mean establishing your career or just generally deciding more concretely what you want your life to look and feel like. As that idea becomes clearer, you may want to establish that lifestyle in a particular place and put down roots.

Rising home values – By purchasing a home, you own an asset that traditionally increases in value over time. That can mean your home will have a higher resale value if you decide to move again.

Wanting to make somewhere “mine” – Owning a home gives a sense of freedom because you can customize it however you want, make updates as you see fit, and be yourself in a place that’s solely your own.

Bottom Line

There are plenty of great reasons why millennials are buying homes today. If you’ve thought about becoming a homeowner and any of these reasons resonate with you too, let’s connect to explore your options.

Seller April 11, 2023

The Big Advantage If You Sell This Spring

Thinking about selling your house? If you’ve been waiting for the right time, it could be now while the supply of homes for sale is so low. HousingWire shares:

“. . . the big question is whether we are finally starting to see the seasonal spring increase in inventory. The answer is no, because active listings fell to a new low last week for 2023 . . .”

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) confirms today’s housing inventory is low by looking at the months’ supply of homes on the market. In a balanced market, about a six-month supply is needed. Anything lower is a sellers’ market. And today, the number is much lower:

“Total housing inventory registered at the end of February was 980,000 units, identical to January and up 15.3% from one year ago (850,000). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.6-month supply at the current sales pace, down 10.3% from January but up from 1.7 months in February 2022.”

Why Does Low Inventory Make It a Good Time To Sell?

The less inventory there is on the market when you sell, the less competition you’re likely to face from other sellers. That means your house will get more attention from the buyers looking for a home this spring. And since there are significantly more buyers in the market than there are homes for sale, you could even receive more than one offer on your house. Multiple offers are on the rise again (see graph below):

If you get more than one offer on your house, it becomes a bidding war between buyers – and that means you have greater leverage to sell on your terms. But if you want to maximize the opportunity for a bidding war to spark, be sure to lean on your expert real estate advisor. While we’re still in a strong sellers’ market, it isn’t the frenzy we saw a couple of years ago, and today’s buyers are focused on the houses with the greatest appeal. Clare Trapasso, Executive News Editor at Realtor.com, explains:

“Well-priced, move-in ready homes with curb appeal in desirable areas are still receiving multiple offers and selling for over the asking price in many parts of the country. So, this spring, it’s especially important for sellers to make their homes as attractive as possible to appeal to as many buyers as possible.”

Bottom Line

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to sell your house, low inventory this spring sets you up with a big advantage. Let’s connect today to make sure your house is ready to sell.