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NAR Reports

Home sales being restrained by real and imaginary obstacles

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) Some obstacles to homeownership are real, but there is a perception problem going on right now that could hold back home sales this year.

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What’s holding back home sales?

We closed out 2016 with 90 percent of homeowners and 80 percent of non-homeowners maintaining a favorable view about homeownership, indicating that owning a home is part of the American Dream, according to a National Association of Realtors (NAR) study, so what’s holding the market back? And why are non-owners currently saying they are less optimistic about now being a good time to buy (down to 55 percent in Q4 from 66 percent in Q1)?

Home sales rose 3.8 percent in 2016, reaching a 10-year high, but NAR reiterates that affordability pressures, tight inventory levels, and student debt are preventing future homeowners’ aspirations.

The NAR study adds that possible confusion about down payment requirements is a new contributing factor holding buyers back.

NAR’s Aspiring Home Buyer Profile analyzed 2016 quarterly survey data from its Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey to capture movements in the housing expectations and sentiment of homeowners and non-homeowners – both renters and those living with a family member. It found real obstacles (affordability, inventory), but also perceived obstacles (down payments) as holding back home sales.

Wanting a home vs. being able to buy one

Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist, says the desire to own a home and the ability to do so are not on the same wavelengths for many households.

“Nearly all non-homeowners said they want to own a home in the future (87 percent), but it’s evident that higher rents and home prices – up 41 percent in the past five years – along with limited entry-level supply and repaying student debt have combined to make buying a challenging goal,” he said.

“It’s also little surprise that non-owners in the West – where price appreciation has been the strongest – were the least optimistic about buying,” Yun added.

Student debt causing delays in purchasing

Affordability was the top reason non-owners said they don’t own, and NAR’s analysis reveals that carrying student debt is causing many non-owners to delay purchasing a home. Of the 39 percent of non-owners who said they have student debt, three in five said they are “not very” or “not at all” comfortable taking on a mortgage.

“In addition to having to postpone important milestones such as getting married and starting a family, many young adults are financially falling behind previous generations in part because of having to prioritize repaying their sizeable student loans over buying a home and saving for retirement,” said Yun.Click To Tweet

Add to the weight of student debt the lagging confidence due to confusion surrounding down payments, and you have a recipe for home sales being restricted by real and imaginary obstacles. NAR studies note that the median down payment for first-time buyers has been 6.0 percent for three consecutive years, and 14 percent for repeat buyers in three of the last four years.

Yet 87 percent of non-owners surveyed believe a down payment is 10 percent or more.

“Current non-owners’ ultimate goal of owning a home may not be as far-fetched as they believe,” said NAR President William E. Brown. “There are mortgage options available for creditworthy borrowers with manageable levels of debt and smaller down payments. Those interested in buying their first home in 2017 should review their finances, sit down with a lender to see if they qualify for a mortgage and find a Realtor® to help them get started on their home search.”

#Obstacles

Staff Writer at The Real Daily, Tara Steele has long covered real estate news, technology news and everything in between. She has analyzed economic data for ages, and relishes in telling the real story behind the real estate industry.

NAR Reports

Existing home sales surged in October, what’s next?

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) Existing home sales rose in October despite continually tight inventory levels and rising home values.

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Despite the challenges of ongoing political uncertainty, extremely tight inventory conditions, and home values that continue to rise, existing home sales rose 2.0 percent in October, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

This marks the strongest home sales pace since June, yet are 0.9 percent below October 2016. October’s average days on market was 34, down from 41 days on this month last year.

The median price has risen 5.5 percent in the last year to $247,000 with October marking the 68th consecutive month of annual increases. Nearly half of all homes on the market in October sold in under 30 days.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist said, “While the housing market gained a little more momentum last month, sales are still below year ago levels because low inventory is limiting choices for prospective buyers and keeping price growth elevated.”

Added Yun, “The residual effects on sales from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are still seen in parts of Texas and Florida. However, sales should completely bounce back to their pre-storm levels by the end of the year, as demand for buying in these areas was very strong before the storms.”

Regional performances varied with sales rising in the Northeast by 4.2 percent, in the West by 2.4 percent, the South by 1.9 percent, and 0.8 percent in the Midwest.

Prices also varied depending on region, with the median price in the West rising 7.8 percent above October 2016 (to $375,100), 6.6 percent in the Northeast (to $272,800), 7.1 percent in the Midwest (to $194,700), and 4.6 percent in the South (to $214,900).

Dr. Yun expects conditions to remain competitive through the winter, but housing is experiencing a tremendous hanging chad right now – what will politicians do to the tax deductions that incentivize homeownership in the first place?

NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, says the pending tax reform legislation in both the House and Senate is a direct attack on homeowners and homeownership, with the result being a tax increase on millions of middle-class homeowners in both large and small communities throughout the U.S.

“Making changes to the mortgage interest deduction, eliminating or capping the deduction for state and local taxes and modifying the rules on capital gains exemptions poses serious harm to millions of homeowners and future buyers,” said Mendenhall. “With first-time buyers struggling to reach the market, Congress should not be creating disincentives to buy and sell a home. Furthermore, adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt will raise future borrowing costs for our children and grandchildren.”

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NAR Reports

Sustained lull in signed contracts means pullback in home sales

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) Existing home sales aren’t looking super hot this month, but it’s not the bad news that you’re thinking – let’s discuss!

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Existing home sales slide in June

Low supply has kept home sales muted, with existing home sales dipping 1.8 percent in the month of June, albeit 0.7 percent above June of 2016, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Midwest region is the current bright spot as the only area sales actually rose during this period.

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Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist, says the previous three-month lull in contract activity translated to a pullback in existing sales in June.

“Closings were down in most of the country last month because interested buyers are being tripped up by supply that remains stuck at a meager level and price growth that’s straining their budget,” said Yun.

He added, “The demand for buying a home is as strong as it has been since before the Great Recession. Listings in the affordable price range continue to be scooped up rapidly, but the severe housing shortages inflicting many markets are keeping a large segment of would-be buyers on the sidelines.”

There’s a silver lining

“The good news is,” observes Yun, “that sales are still running slightly above last year’s pace despite these persistent market challenges.”

The median price for an existing home rose 6.5 percent over the last year to $263,800, surpassing May as the new peak, and the 64th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Housing inventory declined 0.5 percent from the previous month, and 7.1 percent over the last year. Average days on market rose one day from May to 28 in June, which is down from 34 days in June 2016.

Supply and demand challenges

First time buyers were 32 percent of sales in June, down one percent from both in May and a year ago. Yun says “It’s shaping up to be another year of below average sales to first-time buyers despite a healthy economy that continues to create jobs,” said Yun.

“Worsening supply and affordability conditions in many markets have unfortunately put a temporary hold on many aspiring buyers’ dreams of owning a home this year,” noted Yun.

Spicy sales in the Midwest

In the Midwest, sales rose 3.1 percent from May but remain unchanged from this time last year. The median price rose 7.7 percent in the last year to $213,000.

In the Northeast, existing home sales actually fell 2.6 percent, but are 1.3 percent above a year ago (the median price was $296,300, up 4.1 percent for the year).

The South saw a 4.7 percent dip in sales ((unchanged from a year ago) and the median price in the South was $231,300, up 6.2 percent from a year ago.

Sales in the West declined 0.8 percent but are 2.5 percent above June 2016. The median price in the West was $378,100, up 7.4 percent from June 2016.

#HomeSales

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NAR Reports

Home prices up for third consecutive quarter, median price hits $232,100

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) Home prices continue to rise, and while homeowners may be feeling good about it, NAR notes some unhealthiness about these numbers, especially in areas where new home construction isn’t keeping up.

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Strong performance in housing

For the third consecutive quarter, home prices in America have risen on the tailwinds of the strongest quarterly sales pace in a decade which has put downward pressure on perpetually tight inventory levels, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

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Rising 6.9 percent from the first quarter of 2016, the national median existing single-family home hit $232,100, the fastest growth experienced since the second quarter of 2015. The median price during the fourth quarter of 2016 increased 5.9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2015. In the first quarter, home prices rose in 85 percent of measured markets.

NAR chief economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun says continual supply shortages ignited faster price appreciation across the country in the first quarter.

“Prospective buyers poured into the market to start the year, and while their increased presence led to a boost in sales, new listings failed to keep up and hovered around record lows all quarter,” said Dr. Yun.

“Those able to successfully buy most likely had to outbid others – especially for those in the starter-home market – which in turn quickened price growth to the fastest quarterly pace in almost two years,” Dr. Yun added.

He also noted that many metros have increased demands as employment levels rebound, but new home construction isn’t up, particularly in the South and West, leading to “unhealthy price appreciation that far exceeds incomes.”

Regional performances varied

NAR reports that total existing-home sales in the Northeast declined 2.2 percent in the first quarter but are 4.2 percent above the first quarter of 2016. The median existing single-family home price in the Northeast was $255,000 in the first quarter, up 2.2 percent from a year ago.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales dipped 4.3 percent in the first quarter but are 1.6 percent above a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the Midwest increased 5.7 percent to $176,600 in the first quarter from the same quarter a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South jumped 5.8 percent in the first quarter and are 5.8 percent higher than the first quarter of 2016. The median existing single-family home price in the South was $209,000 in the first quarter, 8.8 percent above a year earlier.

In the West, existing-home sales rose 1.6 percent in the first quarter and are 7.4 percent above a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the West increased 8.4 percent to $342,500 in the first quarter from the first quarter of 2016.

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