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Homeownership

NAR wants student borrowers to have a fair chance at ownership

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) The National Association of Realtors has been working long and hard on efforts to ensure underwriting related to student loan debt being standardized without threatening homeownership.

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ON KIDS AND LAWNS

The National Association of Realtors is deploying sweeping new policies that address an ongoing problem in the housing market: the drop in homeownership due to student debt burdens.

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Nationwide student debt stands at $1.4 trillion dollars. 40 percent of first-time homebuyers have student debt burdens. In a survey of millennials, defined by the study as people born between 1980 and 1998, a frankly frightening 83 percent cited student debt as the primary reason they were unwilling or, more often, simply unable to buy a home.

WHAT’S TO DO?

NAR conferred with Fannie Mae (which still sounds like a stage direction from “Oklahoma!” to me, as opposed to America’s largest trade association establishing policy direction with the Federal National Mortgage Association, but it’s the second thing) and established a slate of new policies that they hope will empower more people, above all more young people, to buy homes and get the property market moving upwise.

First, several vital and frankly obvious changes are being made to the calculation of the debt-to-income ratio (DTI).

What with the whole “it’s 1.4 trillion freaking dollars” thing, folks other than Realtors have taken steps re: student loans.

Notably, a growing number of third parties, particularly employers but also grad schools and federal work programs like AmeriCorps, have made student loan payment part of their compensation plans. New NAR policy states that any payments being made by a third party should not be included as debt in the DTI calculation.

Second, many government programs establish lower payment plans for low-income recipients of student loans. Programs like these are expected to grow more commonplace – college ain’t getting cheaper – and NAR policy now calls for DTI to be calculated on the payment amount after assistance, rather than before.

Third, when it comes to underwriting a mortgage, debt-to-income rate has historically been capped at 45, with very occasional exceptions up to 50. NAR policy now calls for a universal 50 rate cap.

The third-party payment and federal assistance exceptions have been in place for some time, and the cap increase went into effect at the end of July 2017.

BIG CHANGES, BIG MONEY

What matters now is implementation. NAR has been studying these issues since 2014, and obviously it’s got its policies in a row. But policy only leads to change when people are proactive — NAR calls for exactly that, advising Realtors to reach out to potential customers in the pipeline, or prospects who couldn’t quite clear the old numbers but might meet the new standards.

With more customers involved in the process and a less restrictive approach, the new NAR policies could represent a major move toward breaking the “eternal renter” millennial stereotype and getting more people, especially young people, into housing.

#MoveInKids

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Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

Homeownership

The Granny Pod could be the alternative to nursing homes (and why people will soon demand bigger back yards)

The Granny Pod looks like a guest house and sits conveniently in any backyard – they plug right up to existing plumbing and electrical and allow both caregiver and senior to have their own space while remaining connected.

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I’ve spent most of my life living everywhere but the United States, and from what I’ve seen in other cultures, when couples tie the knot parents come with the marriage! That doesn’t necessarily mean the parents live with the kids (although I’ve seen that in countries like Japan, Korea, and Turkey), but I feel safe saying that it’s a given the kids will taken in/take on/take over their ailing parents at some point in said parent’s lives (Italy for example).

I’m not sure the US is set up that way. The big business of senior living facilities and nursing homes tells me otherwise.

But that might be changing thanks to the Granny Pod and similar mono-living facilities that can be installed in a person’s backyard (which is why we suspect people may demanding bigger back yards in coming years).

Close, but not TOO close

MedCottages or “Granny Pods” seem to be a viable solution for taking care of elderly family members without giving up the independence Americans put so much emphasis on.

A recent story explains that Reverend Ken Dupin created the MedCottage as an alternative to nursing homes, as 78 million baby boomers head toward retirement.

These 12 feet by 24 feet pods can sit conveniently in any backyard and plug right up to one’s existing plumbing and electrical. The pods allow both caregiver and senior to have their own space while remaining connected.

Retiree support for Granny Pods

For its part, AARP, the lobbying group for aging Americans, has gone on record to assert that local zoning laws pose one of the biggest obstacles to making such dwellings a practical solution to caring for aging family members in what it calls “accessory dwelling units.”

AARP spokesperson, Nancy Thompson said “the MedCottage has some of the features the organization advocates in accessory dwelling units, but not all of the universal design features that could be useful for people of all ages.” She does add that it’s a step in the right direction for accessory dwelling units.

No more condo fees

I’m no social worker, but studies bear out that human contact is vital as we grow older. Even in a worst case scenario (when an individual living in a nursing home is alone in their room for much of the day), they at least meet other patrons at lunch or dinner, and at whatever social outings are plugged into a daily schedule. For all the close circuitry and monitoring the Granny Pod offers, I don’t know if it takes the place of human contact, so hopefully families will remember the ties that bind them and do more than just monitor a screen to see if Granny is okay.

Another benefit of the Granny Pod is that once it’s paid for and installed, that’s it – no more monthly rent or condo fees that can deplete a retiree’s resources.

Granny Pod starting a movement

According to the Washington Post, other companies seeking to make similar structures are Seattle-based FabCab (whose name comes from Fabulous Cabin), and San Francisco-based Larson Shores Architects, which designs what it calls “Architectural Solutions for the Aging Population,” or ASAP, and its “Inspired In-Law” dwellings” demonstrates that assisted living facilities aren’t the only item on the menu.

As this type of structure catches on, it may threaten nursing homes and even retirement condo villages, and could influence the sizes of yards builders offer in coming years. Industry practitioners should be aware of the trend, and be able to offer this type of setup to clients who are actively considering options for their parents (the solution may just be a bigger back yard).

#GrannyPods

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Homeownership

Real estate association launches impactful video – I’m not crying, you are

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) The dream of owning a home is under assault – one real estate association has launched a massive awareness campaign that is truly meaningful.

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The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) has launched a new site, KeepTheDreamAlive.ca to lobby locals to “keep the dream of home ownership alive.”

America is not the only nation with diminishing affordability conditions, rising prices, and limited inventory. No, Canada is experiencing a similar market, and OREA is taking action to make sure those people hoping to own have the chance to do so.

“Millennials want to own homes but it’s never been tougher to achieve,” the organization notes. “Rising home prices have pushed home ownership out of reach. All their hard work and saving just isn’t enough to compete with rising prices.”

The KeepTheDreamAlive.ca site offers homeownership statistics and makes it easy to email their candidate to express the importance of the dream of ownership.

The video is moving. Prior to watching, we assumed it was another feel-good video about how neat homeownership, but to end it in broken dreams is more realistic than what you’ll see here in America.

We hope that changes. In America, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is extremely realistic with data and they have long been very vocal on people being squeezed out of the market. And the major real estate sites paint a sunny picture of home searching and making the dream come true, but none reach as far as OREA has, to express that homeownership is simply out of reach for otherwise qualified people.

Send a link to this story to your local and state Associations as they consider their plans for marketing outreach next year. Perhaps it’s time to empower local homeowners to contact their representatives, lest they remain unaware of the big picture.

While NAR has repeatedly noted that three things will alleviate the pressure on the market (investors putting inventory on the market, builders stepping up production, and more current homeowners opting to sell), overall awareness that homeownership is out of reach for many can put a spotlight on these conditions in each market.

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Homeownership

Consumer confidence about money is up, but not optimism about buying a home

(REAL ESTATE) Consumer confidence is way up about the economy, but many still don’t feel it’s a good time to buy – here’s the data behind this contradiction.

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In the first quarter of this year, consumer confidence regarding their personal finances and the economy rose, yet this confidence is not translating to optimism that now is a good time to buy a home, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) “Housing Opportunities and Marketing Experience” (HOME) survey.

In fact, positive feelings that it’s a good time to buy a home is at its lowest share in the past two years, and even lower among renters. The strongest concentration of those that did feel positive about buying are homeowners in the South and Midwest where housing is more affordable.

The survey also indicates that owners feel positive about selling, while non-homeowners are feeling anxious about qualifying for a loan and saving for their down payment.

NAR Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun says extremely challenging market conditions to start the year are chipping away at homebuyer optimism. “The critical shortage of listings in most markets continues to spark a hike in home prices that is not easy for many buyers – and especially first-time buyers – to overcome.”

“Adding more fuel to the affordability fire is the fact that mortgage rates have shot up to a four-year high in just a few months,” added Dr. Yun. “Many house hunters are telling Realtors® that they are dispirited by the stiff competition for the short number of listings they can afford.”

He notes that if more homeowners decided that spring is the best time to list their home (especially after amassing equity), supply conditions would “improve measurably, and ultimately lead to more sales.” We would add that the HOME survey’s confidence indices would also shift.

Consumer confidence is up, but of particular note, non-homeowners are anxious about saving for a down payment. Nearly half indicating limited income was a primary reason, followed by student loan debt (30 percent), rising rents (28 percent), and health expenses (14 percent). Only 14 percent said nothing was holding them back.

The survey also indicates anxiety over qualifying, with 45 percent claiming the reason is income uncertainty. One in three said their credit score would hold them back, and 26 percent said they were carrying too much debt. Nearly one in three said they don’t know the first step they’d need to take in order to qualify, so a lack of financial literacy is holding a portion of the market back.

“It’s never too early for those wanting to own a home in the future to sit down with a lender to discuss their current financial situation,” said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty. “Homeownership could be a more attainable goal once an interested buyer finds out how much they can afford to buy, as well as what steps, if any, are needed to improve their chances of obtaining a mortgage.”

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