NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Rises in April

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 18th, 2019

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Rises in AprilHome builder confidence increased in April to an index reading of 63, which was one point higher than for March and the highest reading in six months. Analysts said that April’s reading revealed more about housing market conditions in the past six months than it was an indicator of future market conditions.

November’s builder confidence reading was the lowest since housing markets tanked in 2008, Builder confidence recovered over the past few months despite headwinds including higher materials costs and shortages of labor and buildable lots.

Home Builder Confidence Holds Steady Despite Headwinds

NAHB Housing Market Index readings over 50 indicate that most home builders are confident about housing market conditions. While April’s reading was comfortably above the benchmark, the average reading so far in 2019 is 61 as compared to 2018’s annual average reading of 67.

Component readings of the Housing Market Index were mixed in April. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose one point to 69; confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months dropped one point to 71 and the reading for builder confidence in buyer traffic rose three points to an index reading of 47. Readings for builder confidence in buyer traffic seldom exceeds 50.

Market Conditions Expected to Improve, but Obstacles Persist

Improving weather conditions and the peak home-buying season should boost builder confidence and housing market conditions, but rapidly rising home prices and affordability concerns could dampen housing markets and builder enthusiasm. Analysts report that no major changes are expected to mortgage rates in 2019. If this holds true, potential homebuyers are likely to take advantage of lower rates to buy homes. Analysts also said that initial impact of new tax laws has faded; more home buyers are expected to enter the market.

Market conditions depend on buyers and sellers; their motivations, resources and ability to “stay put” impact individual home sales. Buyers who depend on financing their home purchases are competing with increasing numbers of cash buyers; the National Association of Realtors ® traditionally reported about 10 percent of home sales were cash transactions, in recent years cash sales have increased to approximately 20 percent of home sales.

Homeowners are more likely to accept cash offers rather than accepting offers from buyers who must qualify for mortgages under a lengthy and precise approval process. Trends indicate that more homeowners are choosing to stay in their homes; this and exclusionary zoning laws in some areas are reducing the number of homes available.

 

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FOMC Minutes Reveal Fed Policymakers U-Turn

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 11th, 2019

FOMC Minutes Reveal Fed Policymakers U-TurnMembers of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee voted to hold the target range of the federal funds rate to its current range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent. The minutes of the most recent Committee meeting cited softening domestic and global economic conditions as reason for not raising the target federal funds range.

While labor markets remained strong, the minutes noted that household spending and business investment slowed in the first quarter of 2019. FOMC members expected Gross Domestic Product growth to slow as compared to its 2018 pace.

While current inflation and the national unemployment rate fell in line with the Fed’s dual mandate of seeking maximum employment and price stabilization, inflation fell due to falling fuel prices. The meeting minutes said that the Committee would be patient as it determined which, if any, action would be appropriate regarding the federal funds rate.

Strong Labor Sector Indicators Offset Lower GDP

Labor sector indicators remained strong with a national unemployment rate of 3.80 percent; labor force participation rose and the ratio of employment to population also rose. Strong employment and consumer sentiment readings suggested that more households may transition from renting to buying homes. Home sales recently fell due to affordability issues and rising mortgage rates.

Factors influencing FOMC monetary policy decisions include labor market conditions, inflation expectations and readings on domestic and international financial developments. The meeting minutes noted that near-term adjustments to monetary policy were dependent on changes to current economic outlook according to emerging data. The Committee consistently says that monetary policy positions can change according to developments in global and domestic economic data.

Fed Chairs Press Conference

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said during his post-FOMC meeting press conference that the Committee’s “wait and see” stance on raising the target range of the federal funds rate was based on information received since growth expectations based on 2018’s economic growth rate of 3.10 percent. As of September 2018, the Fed forecasted economic growth of 2.50 percent in 2019, but subsequent information caused the Fed to downwardly revise its growth estimate.

Mr. Powell said that global economic slowing was expected in Europe and China; unresolved issues including Brexit and ongoing trade negotiations were given as reasons for slower global economic growth. While domestic and international economic forecasts indicated a modest slowdown in economic growth, Chairman Powell said that overall economic conditions remained favorable.

If you are in the market for a new home, be sure to consult with your trusted real estate professional to get the most up-to-date information about the market trends in your area.

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Are Multi-Unit Properties the Right Move for You?

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 3rd, 2019

Are Multi-Unit Properties the Right Move for YouReal estate isn’t a one-size-fits-all pursuit. Buying and renting multi-unit properties is one of the ways investors build residual income while increasing their property portfolios. However, multi-unit rentals come with some unique challenges. Are you ready to manage a multi-unit rental property?

Ask yourself these questions to help you decide which path best fits your resources, goals, and interests.

Do You Plan To Live On The Property?

Living in one of your rental units offers a myriad of benefits. First, you get to keep a close eye on building conditions and the actions of your renters. Next, you’ll be able to respond quickly to an emergency. Last, you won’t have to pay extra for your own living quarters. You won’t have this option with single-occupancy properties.

Will You Work With A Property Management Company?

If you are more of a hands-off investor, a property management company makes owning properties simple. Their staff will collect the rents, respond to requests for maintenance and repairs, and take care of all the paperwork that comes along with rental units.

All you need to do is collect your portion of the payments and keep up with your bank loans. You can still work with a property management company if you opt for single-family properties. However, it may not be the most cost-effective solution in that situation.

Are Market Conditions In Your Area Changing Quickly?

When rental prices go up, it can be difficult for investors to take advantage. Long-term occupants may balk at the idea of paying more for the same property. With multi-unit buildings, you can raise prices as tenants vacate. In this way, you can keep your current occupants happy without sacrificing potential profits.

Are You Looking For More Ways To Increase Your Income?

Multi-unit properties are a unique opportunity for enterprising investors. Rent out space under stairways or in common areas to vending machine companies. Your residents get convenient snacks and you earn a little extra cash each month. A coin-operated laundry room is another addition that adds value for your residents while increasing your own payouts.

Managing a multi-unit building means more paperwork, maintenance, and marketing. However, the potential profits might be worth it. Take some time to review your own goals and abilities before committing to a purchase.

Be sure to consult with your trusted real estate and mortgage professionals to find out more information about purchasing multi-unit rentals.

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States With The Best Opportunities To Acquire Investment Property

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 29th, 2019

States With The Best Opportunities To Acquire Investment PropertyReal estate investors sometimes get stuck in a rut. They repeat the same type of investment that they did before. This is not necessarily a bad thing because a successful experience is worth repeating. However, it is also a good idea to occasionally take a look at the big picture as well, to see what else is out there for investment consideration.

Real estate markets go up and down. This can be a regional phenomenon. In some states, there are lots of properties that are “underwater.” This means the owners borrowed more on their property than it is currently worth.

In other states, there are properties that generate positive cash flow, while increasing in value. This is very desirable. It means that after paying all the expenses of owning the property, there is cash left over for the owner to receive and profits when selling the home.

Invest In Value

The investment strategy of buying low and then selling high is sage advice. To that, we would add the fine-tuning of buying value. Buying value means making investments that produce the greatest positive cash flows, while the investments appreciate in value.

State-By-State Comparisons

GoBankingRates did an analysis of the United States to see what states currently offer the best real estate deals for investors. They took a look at the three top markets in each state. They calculated the average for the home values and noted the increase in property value from 2017 to 2018.

There are 15 states that offer opportunities worth considering, which are:

Utah 

The three largest markets are Salt Lake, Provo, and Ogden. The average home price is $350,000 with a 12.6% year-over-year increase in value.

Idaho

The largest markets are Boise, Idaho Falls, and Coeur d’Alene. The average home price is $304,000 with a 12.6% year-over-year increase in value.

Montana

The largest markets are Billings, Missoula, and Great Falls. The average home price is $343,000 with an 11.1% year-over-year increase in value.

Maine

The largest markets are Augusta, Bangor, and Portland. The average home price is $231,000 with a 10.7% year-over-year increase in value.

Indiana

The largest markets are Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and Evansville. The average home price is $179,000 with a 9.3% year-over-year increase in value.

Tennessee

The largest markets are Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville. The average home price is $251,000 with a 9.1% year-over-year increase in value.

Georgia

The largest markets are Atlanta, Augusta, and Columbus. The average home price is $250,000 with an 8.8% year-over-year increase in value.

Michigan

The largest markets are Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Warren. The average home price is $205,000 with an 8.5% year-over-year increase in value.

Missouri

The largest markets are St. Louis, Springfield, and Kansas City. The average home price is $203,000 with an 8.1% year-over-year increase in value.

Mississippi

The largest markets are Jackson, Hattiesburg, and Gulfport. The average home price is $191,000 with a 7.4% year-over-year increase in value.

Ohio

The largest markets are Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland. The average home price is $207,000 with a 7.2% year-over-year increase in value.

Nebraska

The largest markets are Omaha, Lincoln, and Bellevue. The average home price is $221,000 with a 7.0% year-over-year increase in value.

Alabama

The largest markets are Birmingham, Montgomery, and Huntsville. The average home price is $210,000 with a 7.0% year-over-year increase in value.

Kentucky

The largest markets are Louisville, Lexington, and Bowling Green. The average home price is $226,000 with a 6.0% year-over-year increase in value.

Arkansas

The largest markets are Little Rock, Fort Smith, and Fayetteville. The average home price is $195,000 with a 5.7% year-over-year increase in value.

Summary

There are interesting opportunities uncovered by this analysis. Utah and Idaho are very attractive for investing right now. Real estate investors considering any of these states can also compare population growth rates, unemployment rates, cost-of-living, and other livability factors when making an investment decision.

If you’re interested in looking at properties in another state, contact your trusted local real estate professional. They are the best resource to help you identify great properties and agents to work with across the country.

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Case-Shiller Home Price Growth Slower in January

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 28th, 2019

Case-Shiller Home Price Growth Slower in JanuaryHome price indices issued by S&P Case-Shiller showed further slowing in home price growth in January. The national home price index showed 4.30 percent home price growth for the three months ended in January. Analysts expected home prices to grow 4.20 percent for the same period in cities surveyed by Case-Shiller. More cities reported declines in home prices than those that posted gains in home prices.

The top cities posting year-over-year home price gains in the 20-City Home Price Index were Las Vegas, Nevada with 10.50 percent growth; Phoenix, Arizona posted a year-over-year home price gain of 7.50 percent. Three cities tied for third place with Charlotte, North Carolina, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Tampa, Florida posting year-over-year home price growth rates of 5.10 percent.

Home Price Growth Stalls Throughout U.S.

Noteworthy in January’s readings were the West Coast’s loss of dominance in home price growth rates and the retreat of double-digit yearly growth rates for home prices. Las Vegas, Nevada posted the only double-digit price gain year-over-year, but it suffered steep declines in home values during the recession. The 20-City HPI for January showed month-to-month home price growth slowed in 14 cities, was unchanged in one city and five cities posted gains in home price growth rates.

David M. Blitzer, managing director and chair of the S&P Case-Shiller Index Committee, said that the home prices had not grown so slowly since April 2015. Rapidly rising home prices sidelined many buyers who could not afford to keep up with home prices that rose faster than inflation and wages. Analysts said that housing markets were leaning in favor of home buyers as home price growth slowed. Mr. Blitzer said that it “remains to be seen if recent low mortgage rates and smaller price gains can sustain improved home sales.”

Federal Reserve policymakers recently announced that the Fed would hold steady on its target federal funds rate range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent; this fueled a drop in mortgage rates. Analysts said that rates could continue to fall. Slower home price growth and lower mortgage rates are expected to encourage would-be home buyers back into the market.

If you are considering purchasing a new property, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional to discuss the market conditions in your area.

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NAHB: Housing Market Index Flat in March

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 20th, 2019

NAHB Housing Market Index Flat in MarchBuilder sentiment held steady in March as headwinds in housing markets affected homebuilder confidence, but National Association of Home Builders Chairman Greg Ugalde said that builders were looking forward to a “solid spring home-buying season.” Builder sentiment mirrored February’s index reading of 62; analysts expected an uptick to 63.

Any Housing Market Index reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer have a positive outlook on housing market conditions. The average reading for 2018 was 67, which indicated that builders were less confident current market conditions for new homes than in 2018.

HMI Component Readings Mixed in March

Three sub-readings used to calculate the monthly Housing Market Index reading showed builder confidence in current market conditions rose two points to 68; Builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months rose three points to 71 and homebuilder confidence in buyer traffic dipped four points to 44. Readings for buyer traffic seldom exceed the benchmark reading of 50.

The National Association of Home Builders said in a statement that housing markets are “stabilizing,” but did not say that housing markets were growing. Economists and housing market analysts rely on the Housing Market Index for clues about future housing production. Demand for new homes has been strong for years, but headwinds including tariffs on building materials and labor shortages continued to impact construction rates. More new homes on the market could ease pent-up demand for homes, but rapidly rising home prices are making home ownership less feasible for first-time and moderate-income home-buyers.

Imbalance Between New Homes Built and Consumer Needs

Analysts called out a problematic trend in meeting demands for new homes. Price points are frequently beyond affordable for most buyers, and new housing developments often trend toward larger homes with higher prices. Analysts said that from 2010 to 2017, the average size of new homes increased by 300 square feet while household size decreased over the same period. Lower mortgage rates benefit homebuyers concerned over affordable house payments, but strict mortgage qualification requirements limit the number of potential home buyers that can qualify for mortgage amounts needed to buy homes.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in selling your current property, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional.

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Case-Shiller: December Home Price Growth Slowest in 4 Years

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 27th, 2019

Case-Shiller: December Home Price Growth Slowest in 4 YearsCase-Shiller Home Price Indices reported the slowest rate of U.S. home price growth since November 2014. According to the 20-City Home Price Index, Home prices grew by 4.20 percent year-over-year and were 0.20 percent higher in December as compared to November. The 20-City Home Price Index fell short of analysts’ expected gain of 4.80 percent year-over-year. Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index reported home prices increased 4.70 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.

While home price growth is sluggish, home prices continued to rise faster than wages. This creates obstacles to affordability for many would-be home buyers. Fears about rising mortgage rates and inflation, also concerned would-be home buyers seeking affordable homes.

20-City Home Price Index: Home Price Growth Rose In Only 5 Metro Areas

Las Vegas, Nevada led in home price growth for December with a year-over-year increase of 11.40 percent. Phoenix, Arizona home prices rose 8 percent year-over-year, and Atlanta, Georgia home prices increased by 5.90 percent. Home prices in west coast cities including  San Francisco, California and Seattle, Washington grew at a slower pace than in prior years, which could indicate that high-demand metro areas are approaching peak home prices.

December home price growth surpassed November readings in five cities tracked in the 20-City Index. Three cities reported no change in month-to-month home prices growth. David M. Blitzer, Chair of the S&P Dow Jones Index Committee, acknowledged that year-over-year home prices continued to fall despite the prior assertion that housing markets were not approaching “bubble” conditions seen in the Great Recession.  

Serious Headwinds Face Prospective Home Buyers

According to data compiled by the National Association of Realtors®, 27 percent of prospective home buyers surveyed at the end of 2017 believed that they would face fewer challenges to finding and buying a home in 2018. Prospective buyers surveyed in late 2018 who planned to buy within the next year decreased from 24 percent to 13 percent. Combined impacts of high home prices, potential increases in mortgage rates and strict mortgage requirements discouraged some would-be buyers, but whether this is a short or long-term trend will depend on factors including inflation, wage growth and inventories of homes for sale.

Market conditions can vary by location. Please be sure to consult with your trusted real estate professional to find out about market specifics in your area.

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FOMC Meeting Minutes: Why Fed’s Rate Policy Reversed Course

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 22nd, 2019

FOMC Meeting Minutes: Why Fed’s Rate Policy Reversed CourseAfter raising the target range for the federal funds rate in 2018, the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee did not raise the Central Bank’s key interest rate at its meeting of January 29 and 30. While Committee members did not raise the Fed’s key rate, members were divided on the interest rate decision.

FOMC Members Divided On Interest Rate Decision

Minutes of January’s FOMC meeting indicated that member viewpoints varied about how the Fed should deal with the Fed’s target interest rate range. One group said that interest rate increases may be necessary if inflation increases above the Federal Reserve’s baseline forecast.

Other FOMC members supported raising the Fed’s interest rate range later in 2019 if economic conditions move as expected. Overall, FOMC members said that there were “few risks” in the Committee’s current position of patience, but they were open to reassessing that position according to how economic conditions change.

FOMC Cites Reasons For Halting Rate Increases

Committee members provided several reasons for reversing their 2018 policy of consistent rate hikes including declining economic conditions since early 2018. Global and domestic economic conditions slowed; deteriorating conditions were supported by lower readings on consumer and business sentiment. Federal government policies including the partial government shutdown and then-current trade policy contributed to the deteriorating economic outlook in late 2018.

Ongoing influences driving FOMC monetary policy decisions include the Fed’s mandate for achieving maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates. Because short-term data change frequently, Fed monetary policy reflects long-term goals, medium-term outlook and the Committee’s risk assessments in multiple financial and economic sectors. The Committee said that long-term inflation of two percent indicates stable pricing as required by federal mandate; any prolonged deviation above or below the two percent reading would concern Committee members.

FOMC indicated progress with its maximum employment mandate by changing its long-run unemployment outlook from 4.60 percent to 4.40 percent, which suggests a strong outlook for job markets. Fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product was described as “solid”. The meeting minutes indicated that some data typically used by Committee members was limited by the government shutdown.

 

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The 2019 Housing Market, While Still Risky, Isn’t All Bad for Buyers

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 20th, 2019

The 2019 Housing Market, While Still Risky, Isn't All Bad for BuyersMany new buyers start looking for homes in the spring. The question in 2019 is whether buyers can afford available inventory or want to buy given changes to the tax code and increase in natural disasters. 

Interest Rates

The 30-year-fixed interest rates have been trending lower recently. This reduction in interest rates, coupled with a slowdown in the resale housing market, is working in the buyer’s favor in some areas. Talk with your trusted real estate professional and mortgage lender to get the specifics for your area and situation. 

Affordability

Inventories of available homes are on the rise, but still out of reach for many Millennials and other first-time buyers. This has been the case for the past five years. One of the biggest factors some buyers second guess in a home purchase is the commission fees paid to real estate agents. Remember, the real estate commission is paid for by the seller of the home, not the buyer.

With advances in technology, the role of the real estate agent is changing. Many customers think they might be able to their own home online. However, agents still have valuable expertise in individual markets which may lead to a more competitive sales process. They also have helpful experience with the closing process which can significantly lower the anxiety throughout the home buying process.

Tax Code Changes

The 2018 tax code changes have big implications for current and prospective homeowners. The cutoff on home mortgage interest deductions dropped from $1 million to $750,000, and there’s a new $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions.

It may take a few years for the full impact to play out. However, it could mean an unfavorable combination of higher taxes, higher interest rates and higher prices. One favorable solution to this trifecta is new home construction. An increase in the number of homes could help to bring down housing costs, but zoning laws hinder a fast ramp up in many areas.

Hurricanes And Other Natural Disasters

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey decimated the Houston area and revealed a lack of adequate coverage for many homes. This should serve as a wakeup call since natural disasters seem to be on the rise. 

New buyers are more concerned with what the interests rate will be and whether they can afford the down payment. Many don’t even ask if the property is in a flood zone. That may change if the streak of hurricanes, floods, wildfires and other natural disaster events continues.

Even with all of these considerations, 2019 continues to look like a great time to invest in a new home. Contact your trusted real estate professional to discuss these issues and how they might affect your local area and personal financial situation.

 

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Case-Shiller: Home Prices Lower in November

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 31st, 2019

Case-Shiller Home Prices Lower in NovemberHome price growth continued to struggle in November, with Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index moving from October’s reading of 5.30 percent annual growth to 5.20 percent growth in November. This was the lowest reading since January 2015.

Las Vegas, Nevada remained first in home price growth rate with a year-over-year home prices growth of 12 percent. Phoenix, Arizona’s year-over-year home price growth rate was 8.10 percent and Seattle, Washington held third place with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 6.30 percent.

Las Vegas’ large year-over-year growth in home prices was attributed to the city’s ongoing recovery from the recession when home prices tanked in southern Nevada. Cities including Denver, Colorado, San Francisco California and Seattle, Washington saw steep declines in home price growth rates as compared to past peak home price growth fueled by post-recession recovery.

Challenges to home price appreciation were no surprise as slim supplies of available homes and high buyer demand created buyer competition and fewer choices of available homes. Affordability continued to discourage first-time and moderate income buyers.

David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices said, “The pace of price increases is being dampened by declining sales of existing homes and weaker affordability. Sales peaked in November 2017 and have drifted down through 2018. Affordability reflects higher prices and increased mortgage rates through much of last year.”

Affordable Homes Hard To Find Amid Slim Supply

First-time home buyers accounted for about 32 percent of home sales in November; their market share has not increased in recent months. First-time buyers typically look for pre-owned homes that cost less than brand new homes.

Healthy job growth and record unemployment rates could encourage potential buyers, but buyers were sidelined by short supplies of available homes and concerns about mortgage rates and overall economic trends. Analysts said that recently falling mortgage rates may not have been enough to encourage buyers who continued to face high demand for fewer homes and strict criteria for mortgage approval.

Positive indicators for housing markets included stable inflation and the Fed’s decision not to rise its target interest rate range; this was expected to help slow rate increases on consumer credit including mortgage loans.

If you are in the market for a new home, please be sure to consult with your trusted real estate agent and your trusted home mortgage professional.

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