The Real Reason Home Prices are Increasing

There are many unsubstantiated theories as to why home values are continuing to increase. From those who are worried that lending standards are again becoming too lenient (data shows this is untrue), to those who are concerned that prices are again approaching boom peaks because of “irrational exuberance” (this is also untrue as prices are not at peak levels when they are adjusted for inflation), there seems to be no shortage of opinion. However, the increase in prices is easily explained by the theory of supply & demand. Whenever there is a limited supply of an item that is in high demand, prices increase. It is that simple. In real estate, it takes a six-month supply of existing salable inventory to maintain pricing stability. In most housing markets, anything less than six months will cause home values to appreciate and anything more than seven months will cause prices to depreciate … Continue reading

2 Charts That Show the Truth about Home Affordability

There is a lot of discussion about the current state of housing affordability for both first-time and move-up buyers, and much of the narrative is tarnished with a negative slant. However, the truth is that housing affordability is better today than at almost any time in our history. The naysayers are correct in the fact that affordability today is not as good as it has been over the last several years. But, we must remember that home prices collapsed during the housing crash, and distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) kept home values depressed for years. When we compare affordability to the decades that proceeded the crash, a different story is revealed. Here is a graph of the National Association of Realtors’ Housing Affordability Index. The higher the graph, the more affordable homes are. We can see that affordability is better today than in the fifteen years prior to the … Continue reading

Low Interest Rates Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power

According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at 3.92%, which is still near record lows in comparison to recent history! The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power. Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget. The chart below shows what impact rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a home within the national median price range, and planned to keep your principal and interest payments between $1,850-$1,900 a month. With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can … Continue reading

The Cost of NOT Owning Your Home

Owning a home has great financial benefits, yet many continue to rent! Today, let’s look at the financial reasons why owning a home of your own has been a part of the American Dream for as long as America has existed. Zillow recently reported that: “In reality, buying or renting a home is an intensely personal decision, with emotional and even financial considerations that go beyond whether to invest in this one (admittedly large) asset. Looking strictly at housing market numbers, there is a concrete point at which buying a home makes more financial sense than renting it.” What proof exists that owning is financially better than renting? 1. We recently highlighted the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership: Homeownership is a form of forced savings. Homeownership provides tax savings. Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost. Buying a home is cheaper than renting. No other investment lets you … Continue reading

Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage?

There is little doubt that it is easier to get a home mortgage today than it was last year. The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI), published by the Mortgage Bankers Association, shows that mortgage credit has become more available in each of the last several years. In fact, in just the last year: More buyers are putting less than 20% down to purchase a home The average credit score on closed mortgages is lower More low-down-payment programs have been introduced This has some people worrying that we are returning to the lax lending standards which led to the boom and bust that real estate experienced ten years ago. Let’s alleviate some of that concern. The graph below shows the MCAI going back to the boom years of 2004-2005. The higher the graph line, the easier it was to get a mortgage.   As you can see, lending standards were much … Continue reading

A Housing Bubble? Industry Experts Say NO!

With residential home prices continuing to appreciate at levels above historic norms, some are questioning if we are heading toward another housing bubble (and subsequent burst) like the one we experienced in 2006-2008. Recently, five housing experts weighed in on the question. Rick Sharga, Executive VP at Ten-X: “We’re definitely not in a bubble.” “We have a handful of markets that are frothy and probably have hit an affordability wall of sorts but…while prices nominally have surpassed the 2006 peak, we’re not talking about 2006 dollars.” Christopher Thornberg, Partner at Beacon Economics: “There is no direct or indirect sign of any kind of bubble.” “Steady as she goes. Prices continue to rise. Sales roughly flat.…Overall this market is in an almost boring place.” Bill McBride, Calculated Risk: “I wouldn’t call house prices a bubble.” “So prices may be a little overvalued, but there is little speculation and I don’t expect … Continue reading