April 30 2016

Reasons behind California's High Housing Costs

California Housing Cos

The state of California is known for its high cost in housing. We took a look at why and how the market can move forward to make home ownership more affordable in California. Here is what we found:

1. In the last 30 years, California has struggled to make housing affordable due to stagnate wages and high land costs. When the recession hit in the early 90s, this only accelerated the trend by increasing rent by 3% while the states’ income dropped by 6%.

2. As home prices rose, not only did it prevent lower income homeowners from moving up, it also kept out lower income workers from buying into the higher housing regions. This disturbs the region’s economy and affects the middle–income professionals like nurses and teachers. This puts jobs and incomes on the line and forces individuals to move elsewhere.

3. While the focus on making housing more affordable tends to lean toward reducing home prices, it may need to lean more towards increasing the local income. According to Kerry Vandell, an economics professor at UC Irvine, “In the middle, you’re in a position of instability.” There is just not enough growth for middle income individuals to afford homeownership.

4. When we talk about affordable housing, we are not just talking about the price tag for a new home. In fact, home prices have become much more affordable since the housing market bubble burst. But homeownership levels are down due to tight mortgage funding.

To improve the buying statistics, local incomes need to rise. This will be hard with a low volume of homes being built, which increases the demand and drives prices up even further, but it also slows down local economy with construction being down. New home construction offers the biggest employment opportunities and motivates the local economy. Overall, to increase the affordability of homeownership for the lower and middle class, people need to make the income to match the standard of living.


March 30 2016

Real Estate has Heated Up in March 2016

2016 Spring Home Sales

Like the weather, our nation’s real estate market is heating up. March real estate numbers show we will not have to wait for April showers to bring May flowers for this home buying season to be in full bloom.

Prices are continuing to climb as the inventory of homes, while steadily increasing, is not meeting the demand of home buyers. The national median listing price for a home during March was $238,000, an increase since February by 3%, and 8% since March last year. While it is normal to see an increase in home sales during spring, with demand growing faster than homes being built, homes are selling at a faster pace.

Returning to the market are homebuyers that tried last year to purchase a home but were either outbid or unable to find a home within their financial desires at the time. With home prices up, current homeowners are now in place where they can sell their current home and use the equity for a down payment to move up.

When the number of homebuyers increases this home buying season, along with the lowest amount of inventory in three years, homebuyers need to be ready to be competitive. As a buyer, make sure you are pre-approved and have all your documents and funds available for the loan process so you can act quickly when you find a new home.


March 23 2016

Guide to Buying New Construction Homes

New Home Construction

When in the market to buy a home, you may want to check out new construction homes. New homes range in many price points for those looking to move up to first time homebuyers, from both large national builders to small local builders. To find out if new construction is the right fit for you, here are a few pointers to keep in mind.

How to find a new home

Unlike resale, new homes usually are not listed on MLS. To cut down cost of sales, homebuilders hire on-site sales agents instead of local realtors. This means the sales agent may not be a member of the local MLS.

So how do you find new home construction? Homebuilders advertise their new communities online as well as billboards and street signs. Make sure if you are working with a realtor, you inform them you are interested in buying a new construction home, or search online for new homes in your area.

If you search for a new home online, you can take out most of the leg work by narrowing down the homes that fit your criteria before even stepping in a community sales office. You can search by price, square footage and bed and bathroom counts. Once you find a new home which fits your needs, you can fill out an interest request form right on the builder’s website, or print driving directions to visit the community.

Homebuilders may sell you a home before it’s built

Homebuilders often sell a new home before construction on the home starts. There are two reasons for this. The first is so the homebuyer can customize the home with the options they would like. Usually, as a new homebuyer, you will be able to pick out your cabinets, fixtures, appliances, and flooring, as well as other structural options such as taller ceilings, separate shower and tub and added den/guest room.

The second reason is the builder sets up a financial plan for how many homes they believe they will sell in a particular market before they break ground. This means they will need to sell as many homes as quickly as possible to make their financial goal.

How do you buy a home you have never even seen? The builder will build model homes of the floor plans they offer in that community. This allows you to walk through each floor plan and see the options that are offered to you. This allows you to get a feel of what your new home will look like. Once you pick a floor plan, you may be able to pick the lot you would like your home to be built. Most communities have certain models on certain lots in the community plan. This ensures that no two models are right next to each other and maintains the esthetics of the neighborhood.

Once you pick your floor plan and location within the community, the sales agent at that time will ask for a deposit. The deposit to hold the lot could be as little as a couple thousand dollars up to 10% of the purchase price.

New homes are sold in phases

Communities release homes available for purchase in phases. Although a home builder may build a total of 100 homes in a community, not all of the homes will be available at once.

Buying a home in the first phase can possibly save you money. If the first phase of homes sell quickly at their asking price and the real estate market is doing well, the builder may raise the price on the next phase of homes. Being the first buyers of a new community may get you the best discounts. A community may take years to sell out and the last phases of homes for sale are usually 10% more than the first phase.

Builders need to get the first set of homes under contract as quickly as possible so their community seems desirable for the next round of buyers. Plus, the quicker the first phase of homes sell, the better the community’s outcome looks for the builder’s investment.

Buying a new home in the first phase of sales does has some disadvantages. Being one of the first home buyers, you are committed to the success of the community. If the community struggles to sell and you choose not to continue with the purchase of the new home, you may lose your deposit. During the housing bubble burst in the early 2000’s, many buyers were stuck in communities that had stalled in sales.

You may be able to get discounts for upgrades

Say you missed the first phase of home sales and a community is coming to a close with only a few homes left. The builder may be more willing to negotiate to close out the community. These negotiations are not on the price, but on the upgrades. The builder will not want to have public record that they sold the last few homes at a reduced price so instead they offer the buyer upgraded packages, such as hardwood or tiled flooring or higher-end appliances. This could add up to thousands of dollars in upgrades, making it a better deal for the buyer.

Buying new construction has many perks; not only being the first person to live in a home, but having flexibility to pick your options and the peace of mind in knowing your new investment has a warranty that will keep you relatively worry free for quite some time. All in all, a wonderful option when looking to purchase your new home.


January 15 2016

5 Reasons 2016 is the Year to Buy a New Home

Buying a New Home in 2016

While you may have already made your New Year resolutions, I have one more for you to add to the list: buy a new home. Here are five home-buying reasons that make 2016 the year to buy while ringing in the New Year:

Reason No. 1: Even though we have been on the edge of our seats since the 3rd quarter of 2015, and we know they are going to sneak up any minute, interest rates are STILL at historic lows. Interest rates on home loans are low with a 30-year fixed-rate home loan still hovering around the 3.60% to 4% range.

Reason No. 2: Home prices are stabilizing and the trend of climbing costs has finally steadied. These leveling prices are allowing home buyers to have more negotiating power with sellers even in the competitive markets.

Reason No. 3: Rents are outpacing home values. While rent had skyrocketed in 2015, an 8% rent hike is predicted for 2016, according to Rento.com. When rent values rise above home values, it becomes more affordable to own then rent.

Reason No. 4: The FHA predicts a 37% annual premium cut. Many first time home buyers have less than 20% to put down on their home. This requires them to obtain mortgage insurance. However if you loan from the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, your down payment can be as low as 3.5%, even with bad credit. The FHA offers fees from .85%, making your mortgage way lower than from a conventional loan. The FHA-predicted premium cut should welcome around 250,000 first-time home buyers into their first home in 2016. Why not be one of those new home buyers?

Reason No. 5: Tax breaks! Homeowners receive tax breaks on the monthly interest they pay on their home loan as well as on their property tax and any other home related cost.

This is your year to make those home buying dreams a reality!


December 3 2015

2016 Housing Market Forecast

2016 Housing Market Forecast

If 2015 was the year for the housing market to recover, then 2016 will be about creating affordable homes. The upcoming year will see some challenges in making homes affordable for first-time homebuyers. With the lack of reasonable home prices near major metropolitan areas, first-time home buyers are being pushed out to the suburbs.

As home prices are starting to see a steady increase in the hot coastal markets, young professionals and first-time buyers searching for a new home will have to leave the city and look for “mini-cities,” suburb communities offering an urban feel and that provide plenty of amenities within walking distance.

Key Predictions on the 2016 Housing Market:

1. New growing suburb markets will pop up as home buyers move outside cities to find affordable homes.
2. The average age of first-time home buyers will increase in 2016. In 2015, the average first time home buyer was 33 years old.
3. Home prices will increase by around 3.5%.
4. As home prices increase faster than incomes, more low-income Americans will be unable to afford homeownership.
5. 2016 will see the highest cost of rent.

On the bright side, over 5.4 million existing single-family homes are predicted to be sold in 2016. That is up by a million homes estimated sold in 2015. While home sales will continue to grow in 2016, the lack of first-time buyers and rising mortgage rates will make for some challenges for home builders.

The median price of new homes should grow at an annual rate of 5%, which is down by 1% of the average price this year. The rising home prices will become one more obstacle for first-time buyers, as well as the 30-year fixed mortgage rate rising to 4.5%.

The good news is, as young adults who can’t afford home ownership flood the renting market, rising rents will force those who can afford a home, to stop delaying in homeownership.

Although 2016 will not see a housing boom, it will see a slow and steady real estate market.


September 30 2015

Home Mortgage Rates Fall Below 4%

The aftermath of financial economic news of China combined with the Federal Reserve and housing markets, leads to a 6 point drop in interest rates, making the average thirty-year mortgage rate only 3.98%. While interest rates had stayed relatively low during the first half of 2015, this marks the first time rates dipped below 4% since June.

According to the survey released by Freddie Mac, mortgage rates fell as followed:

•    15-year fixed loan rates, on average, rates are 3.17%, down 3.21% from last week and 3.25% from this time last year.
•    5-year Treasury-indexed adjustable loan rates are 2.95%, down 2.97% from last week and 3.01% from this time last year
•    1-year Treasury-indexed adjustable loan rates are 2.52% down 2.54% from last week and 2.38% from this time last year.

Since the housing bubble burst in 2007, rates have been at historic lows, however rarely dropped below 5% until 2009. The reason for this low rate is simple; it’s the combination of the Federal Reserve’s undefended interest rate plan, China’s volatile stock market and fall in home prices by 0.7% that negatively affected the housing market.

So how long with these 2015 record low interest rates last? The Federal Reserve plans to increase rates once they see an improvement in the economy, especially in the labor market. As of right now, 30-year mortgage rates remain in the balance with their associated Treasury bond rates and monetary policy. One thing for sure, now is the time to buy before rates go up. To search for new homes in your area, visit www.newhomesdirectory.com.


September 11 2015

Homes On-Demand

Homes On-Demand

In the present age of smart phones and tablets, the world is at our finger tips. We have become accustom to on-demand service from everything from ordering food delivery to even car shopping. While the conveyance and speed of mobile-powered communication is making everything faster, a number of software companies are finding ways to incorporate the real estate industry into an on-demand service.

Apps, such as Avenue, a text based “real estate concierge “company,  are allowing homebuyers to get real time answers by realtors and experts in their area. Homebuyers can now have the tools they need to make a smart real estate transaction at the tips of their fingers. The best part is, users don’t need to commit or sign a contract with the realtor they are soliciting advice from.

AgentPair and Curb Call allow buyers to place a call to local agents when wanting to see a home for sale, again with no contract needed.

Can such tools be used in new construction? What about an app that allows a home buyer to explore a community for the comfort of their home?  How about a 3D walk through of the model home that allows a buyer to view all available upgrades? Or an app that allows home buyers to schedule model home tours and live chats with sales representatives? Maybe, should I dare say it, even the ability to use your smart phone to buy a home on-demand?


August 13 2015

New Home Feed and New Homes Directory Partner Up

New Home Feed and New Homes Directory Partnership

New Home Feed is a marketing tool that allows homebuilders to advertise their communities on the widest possible network of free and fee-based home listing websites. New Home Feed’s easy-to-use platform allows marketers to manage property listings and make updates a breeze. Once a listing is updated on New Home Feed, that update is pushed to all networks. Easy to follow reporting allows you to know where you are getting quality website traffic from and monitor budgets and spending. New Home Feed also shows you what potential buyers are looking at on your website and connects to your CRM so you can save money while selling homes. In need of a feed generator? You’re in luck, New Homes Feed’s flexible API plugs into your website to automate and customize your feed.

New Homes Directory is a New Home Feed top performer in delivering high quality traffic to home builders. That is why we saw it a great fit to partner up. If you are not currently a New Homes Directory client and list 5 or more communities you may be eligible for a package deal promotion! Customers taking advantage of this package will still be able to have access to all other features on NHF, including listing their homes on other directories. Contact Troy Reierson or Sarah Cook for details.


May 5 2015

Why Home Prices are Heating Up

Why Home Prices are Heating Up

Weather is not the only thing getting warmer this summer, so is the housing market. Starting in 2012, home prices started to rise, and by 2013 we saw double digit growth. While 2015 is at a slower pace than that of 2013, prices are still growing.

In the current market, it is common to see bidding wars and offers above asking price in many local markets. San Francisco’s current average median listed price is $1,099,000, yet 74% of homes are being sold within two months of being placed on the market. Some markets are exceeding prices of that during the housing boom, like Denver and Dallas. This may become an issue if home prices continue to rise while incomes and inventory stays stagnate.

Why are home prices increasing? The answer is simple: supply and demand. There are more homebuyers then homes available to purchase and current homeowners are not selling. In a normal real estate market, homeowners sell their homes to be able to move up or to downsize, creating inventory for first-time homebuyers. With little inventory of resale homes on the market, we see price increases in both resale and new homes for sale. 

Current homebuyers may be cautious to sell their homes for two reasons. One, they may be afraid they will not find a suitable new home available for purchase. Or, two, their current home may still be underwater or have low equity due to the housing market crash in 2008. Either way, without inventory on the existing side of home sale, first-time homebuyers are being shut out from the market.

Even if homeowners start to flood the market with “For Sale” signs, home builders are still not keeping up with demand. Builders are hesitant, and last year only one million new homes were built. A normal market will see around 1.6 million new homes.

When you combine rising prices with low inventory, you may have a formula for another housing bubble. Like in 2008, this new market is inflating from over demand and low supply. However, a major difference is, unlike the poor lending habits in the early 2000’s that allowed buyers to take on loans they could not afford, this market is backed by mortgages homebuyers can actually afford to pay off. Only time will tell if supply will be able to meet demand and if home prices will even out to a healthy market that both homebuyer and shoppers will benefit from.


March 30 2015

Home Sales Up 3% Making Spring A Great Start for the Housing Market

Home Sales Up this Spring

The housing market is in full bloom this season with pending home sales already up 3% in February. According to the National Association of Realtors, signed home contracts are up 12% from a year ago and the highest they have been in two years.

Chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, Lawrence Yun, said, “Pending sales showed solid gains last month, driven by a steadily-improving labor market, mortgage rates hovering around 4 percent and the likelihood of more renters looking to hedge against increasing rents.”

The only thing currently slowing down the market is low inventory. Lack of homes available for purchase is making for a highly competitive housing market and is increasing home prices. So far we are on track for a great home buying season!

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