Owners Upbeat That Equity Rises Will Continue

Homeowners are optimistic that their home’s value will continue to increase, and they’re increasingly turning to home equity loans to try to make their homes even more valuable. But a new survey shows they’re unclear on how new tax reform laws could impact home equity loans.

More than 80 percent of about 1,000 homeowners recently surveyed said that they believe the value of their home will increase over the next three years as well as over the next five years, according to a new study by LendEDU, a marketplace for student loans, credit cards, and other financial products. Fifty-two percent of homeowners say that they used a home equity loan for home improvement projects, and 89 percent believe that the home equity loan will increase the value of their home by even more.

But LendEDU’s study does sound some caution on the home equity loan market in the coming months. Only 4 percent of homeowners knew about the removal of home equity loan interest deductions from the new tax reform plan, the survey showed. Previously, consumers could deduct interest paid on up to $100,000 of home equity debt.

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Nearly 44 percent of homeowners surveyed said they best view the equity in their home as an “investment for my future retirement.” Twenty-three percent of respondents said they viewed the equity in their home as a way to one day trade up to a bigger home.

Source: “Home Equity Loans Survey & Report,” LendEDU (February 2018)

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2 Ways to Get the Most Money from The Sale of Your Home

2 Ways to Get the Most Money from The Sale of Your Home | Keeping Current Matters

Every homeowner wants to make sure they maximize their financial reward when selling their home. But how do you guarantee that you receive the maximum value for your house?

Here are two keys to ensure that you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW

This may seem counterintuitive, but let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their homes a little OVER market value will leave them with room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house (see chart below).

2 Ways to Get the Most Money from The Sale of Your Home | Keeping Current Matters

Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing this, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price but will instead have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

Realtor.com gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This, too, may seem counterintuitive. The seller may think they would make more money if they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

A study by Collateral Analytics, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save any money, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

The results of the study showed that the differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%. Sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

Price your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the price you get for your house.

Renters Are Getting Frustrated

The majority of renters say they want to own a home in the future and believe that homeownership is a critical piece of the American dream. But making the leap into homeownership is facing bigger hurdles as the market sees higher home prices and a shortage of homes for sale, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ newly released Aspiring Home Buyers Profile, which is based on findings from a survey of more than 10,000 households’ attitudes about the real estate market.

Non-homeowners surveyed say the main reason why they do not currently own is because they are unable to afford homeownership. Swift price increases and a shortage of homes for sale in most of the country have shaken the confidence of non-owners as they consider buying. As such, the share of non-owners who say now is a good time to buy fell to 58 percent at the end of 2017, following a high of 62 percent in the third quarter of 2017.

“A tug of war continues to take place in many markets throughout the country, where consistently solid job creation is fueling demand, but the lack of supply is creating affordability constraints that are ultimately pulling aspiring buyers further away from owning,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “These extremely frustrating conditions continue to be most apparent at the lower end of the market, which is why the overall share of first-time buyers remains well below where it should be given the strength of the job market and economy.”

Still, non-homeowners’ desire to eventually buy is not waning. They say the following goals most make them want to buy in the future:

  • Change in lifestyle, such as getting married, starting a family, or retiring
  • Improvement in their financial situation
  • Desire to settle down in one location

Until they do buy, non-homeowners expect to face increasing rents. Fifty-one percent of renters surveyed say they expect their rent to increase this year. However, only 15 percent of renters said the increase in rental costs would make them consider purchasing a home.

“Housing demand in 2018 will be fueled by more millennials finally deciding to marry and have kids and the expectations that solid job growth and the strengthening economy will push incomes higher,” Yun says. “However, with prices and mortgage rates also expected to increase, affordability pressures will persist. That is why it is critical for much of the country to start seeing a significant hike in new and existing housing supply. Otherwise, many would-be first-time buyers will be forced to continue renting and not reach their dream of being a homeowner.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Home Renovations That Can Hurt (and Help) Property Value

Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 8.58.33 AM.pngIf you’re into renovation projects, then updating and revamping your home can be a lot of fun. But before you get too excited about knocking down walls and setting up a custom movie room, you might want to consider resale value. Flashy renovations don’t always yield the best returns, so you’ll need to take care when picking projects.

To make things easier for you, here are four remodels to avoid and four to invest in.

Remodels to Avoid

Luxury Rooms
An indoor basketball court, wine cellar, sauna, or even a movie theater won’t often recoup the high building costs. Luxury add-on rooms are hard to pitch to buyers unless you’re living in an upscale housing market—the average homebuyer won’t be willing to pay for them. Further, rooms that depend heavily on wired electronics, like home theaters, are hard to keep current because TVs and speakers are constantly advancing.

Swimming Pool
The average cost to build a pool is $39,084, a hefty price tag that is seldom recovered once the home is sold. It’s widely accepted throughout the industry that a homeowner will lose money by adding a swimming pool. Homebuyers don’t want to deal with the maintenance cost of a pool (which can cost as much as $2,000 a year), the added insurance premiums, and—if they have young kids—the safety issues.

Gaudy Accents
Though gold-plated crown molding or mosaic-tile backsplashes may feature prominently in your ideal vision for your home, they often turn out to be the average homebuyer’s worst nightmare. Passing fads or niche trends rarely stick around long, so if you miss the brief window when your remodeling choices are in, you’ll end up paying for it later.

Changes Contrary to Area Standards
If you aren’t watching the trends common to your area, you could end up losing a lot of money. A home that totals $600,000 after all the renovations won’t sell in a neighborhood where homes are netting half that price. Likewise, knocking down the walls of extra bedrooms for an open layout won’t be appealing in a family-oriented neighborhood.

Remodels that Pay

Steel Doors
You don’t want to go cheap on a standard front door. At roughly $1,000, steel doors are comparatively affordable, durable, low maintenance and burglar resistant. As an added bonus, the National Association of Realtors® reports that steel door upgrades show the highest return on investment of any home remodel, at over 100 percent of the cost.

Solar Panels
As the price of solar panels continues to drop, the energy payback on installing them is becoming greater and greater. The average rooftop solar system is now paid off in seven and a half years. After that, panels are a big money-saving asset. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory notes that homebuyers “consistently have been willing to pay more for a property” with solar panels—a premium of around $4 per installed watt, on average.

New Siding
The exterior of your house is the first thing potential homebuyers see when they come to your home, and you want to make the best first impression. This is part of the reason redoing your siding is so profitable. New siding recoups around 80 percent of the initial cost, according to the National Association of Realtors®, thanks largely to the increased curb appeal and improved energy efficiency it provides.

Broadband Access
Access to broadband speeds is considered an essential utility for today’s connected homebuyer. Research shows that faster internet speeds increase your home value by as much as 3 percent. Homeowners can prepare their homes for higher broadband connectivity by working with area providers to install requisite equipment and wiring. Building out wall ports and cable-hiding baseboards is a good move to attract buyers, too.

Even if you’re not considering selling your home just yet, keep potential selling benefits in mind. Intrepid homeowners know that the best remodels will increase both quality of life and listing price, so take care to invest in projects that will net the biggest returns.

By Brooke Nally

Buyers Caught in Deadlock

Homebuyers are hopeful, however. Demand is ever-increasing, and, of aspiring homeowners, the majority do want to own. In 2017, approximately one-quarter (and as much as 32 percent) of aspiring homeowners identified their motivators for purchase as children, marriage and/or retirement, the Profile reveals. A similar share (26-30 percent) indicated they would buy if their finances improved.

Less motivating is a raise in rents, the Profile shows. Despite 51 percent of renters anticipating their rent will rise, 42 percent would not move. Twenty-five percent would find a less pricey rental. Just 15 percent would make the move to own.

Affordability is the obstacle—and according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR, aspiring homeowners at the lower-end of the market have the worst of it. At the close of 2017, in fact, 56 percent of aspiring homeowners did not have the means to purchase, while the amount of aspiring homeowners who believed it is a good time to buy declined (down to 58 percent from 62 percent).

“A tug-of-war continues to take place in many markets throughout the country, where consistently solid job creation is fueling demand, but the lack of supply is creating affordability constraints that are ultimately pulling aspiring buyers further away from owning,” says Yun. “These extremely frustrating conditions continue to be most apparent at the lower end of the market, which is why the overall share of first-time buyers remains well below where it should be given the strength of the job market and economy.

“Housing demand in 2018 will be fueled by more millennials finally deciding to marry and have kids and the expectations that solid job growth and the strengthening economy will push incomes higher,” Yun says. “However, with prices and mortgage rates also expected to increase, affordability pressures will persist. That is why it is critical for much of the country to start seeing a significant hike in new and existing housing supply. Otherwise, many would-be first-time buyers will be forced to continue renting and not reach their dream of being a homeowner.”

The Aspiring Home Buyers Profile is based on findings from NAR’s 2017 Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) surveys.

By Suzanne De Vita

Single-Family Home Trends to Watch Out for in 2018

Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 9.00.15 AM.pngTrends are an excellent way to predict things like homebuyer behavior over the coming months or years. Unlike a fad, which ends quickly, a trend is something that may continue on for 10 or more years.

Each year, Fixr conducts a survey of influencers within the building and design industry—those professionals who are helping to shape the trends that impact homeowners and homebuyers alike. This year’s survey results have shown some surprising (and not so surprising) trends that real estate professionals can use to help sell homes more quickly and influence homebuyer behavior.

Pay close attention to these five trends to help make the most of all your real estate transactions in 2018:

Smart Home Technology

The No. 1 trend influencers say homebuyers are going to be looking for in 2018 is smart home technology. Smart homes have taken off in the last few years with the introduction of systems like Apple Home and Amazon’s Alexa. Adding smart home features to a home makes it much more attractive to younger homebuyers who currently make up the largest population of buyers.

Adding smart home technology to a home costs around $5,000 to $9,000 on average, but can increase the value of a home by about 5 percent. Keep in mind that this is only true if the upgrades were made in the last five years; after that, the technology becomes outdated. The most sought-after items include smart lights and thermostats—which can reduce energy consumption—and security features like locks and cameras.

Open Floor Plans

The second most popular trend is a continuation from years past: the open floor plan. Particularly on single-story homes, open floor plans continue to be one of the most requested options among homebuyers, possibly because of the flexibility this type of floor plan offers. An open floor plan allows you to configure the space in ways that work for you, rather than working around what’s already there.

As long as you aren’t removing load-bearing walls in the structure, opening up rooms and removing walls can bring up to 60 percent ROI at time of resale, while also making the home much more attractive to today’s buyers.

Solar Energy

Solar energy isn’t a new trend, but it’s one that’s making big gains in today’s market. In fact, homebuyers are much more likely to want to invest in a home with solar power today than they were just a few years ago. As energy costs continue to soar, having solar power available can be a very enticing option.

The national average cost to install solar panels on a home is between $20,000 and $25,000. The ROI on solar power does vary by state, but because the cost is usually offset over time by reduced energy costs, most people find the investment worth it in terms of decreased energy bills and how much more attractive it makes the home to younger buyers.

Tiny Houses

Wondering where to steer your potential buyers? Consider showing them tiny houses. First-time homebuyers, as well as minimalists, are showing considerable interest in the tiny house movement, making this a trend that can’t be ignored by home builders or real estate professionals alike.

More than half of the influencers surveyed believe that the tiny house trend is growing. Tiny houses can be built for anywhere between $10,000 and $40,000, which makes purchasing land and building a more attractive option than finding one already for sale.

Voice Control Systems

Artificial intelligence (AI) and voice control systems round out the top five growing trends in the home-building and design industry. Nearly all influencers agree that smart home systems that are controlled via AI or voice will be one of the biggest trends of 2018. While the controller may be personal to the user—Google, Alexa and Apple Home are just a few of the offerings—the systems they can control (lights, thermostat, door locks and appliances) can all be added to the home and ready to use in a timely manner, making the property very attractive to new homebuyers.

Get Ready for the Year Ahead

By encouraging sellers to make these changes to their homes, and steering buyers in the direction of homes that contain these trends, you will find it more likely to make quicker and easier sales in 2018. Not only are many of these investments quick, but they don’t require a lot of invasive procedures to incorporate into existing properties. Watch for these trends to start getting more attention from buyers and sellers alike in 2018.

By Yuka Kato

Which Comes First… Marriage or Mortgage?

Which Comes First… Marriage or Mortgage? | Keeping Current Matters

According to the National Association of REALTORS most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, married couples once again dominated the first-time homebuyer statistics in 2017 at 57% of all buyers. It is no surprise that having two incomes to save for down payments and contribute to monthly housing costs makes buying a home more attainable.

But, many couples are also deciding to buy a home before spending what would be a down payment on a wedding, as unmarried couples made up 16% of all first-time buyers last year.

If you’re single, don’t fret! Single women made up 18% of first-time buyers in 2017, while single men accounted for 7% of buyers. A recent report pointed to a sense of responsibility and commitment that drives many single women to want to own their own homes rather than rent someone else’s.

Here is the breakdown of all first-time homebuyers in 2017 by percentage of all buyers, income, and age:

Which Comes First… Marriage or Mortgage? | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

You may not be that much different than those who have already purchased their first homes. Meet with a local real estate professional today who can help determine if your dream home is already within your grasp.

Why You Need a Professional on Your Team When Buying a Home

Why You Need a Professional on Your Team When Buying a Home | Keeping Current Matters

Many people wonder whether they should hire a real estate professional to assist them in buying their dream homes or if they should first try to go through the buying process on their own. In today’s market: you need an experienced professional!

You Need an Expert Guide If You Are Traveling a Dangerous Path

The field of real estate is loaded with landmines; you need a true expert to guide you through the dangerous pitfalls that currently exist. Finding a home that is priced appropriately and is ready for you to move into can be tricky. An agent listens to your wants and needs, and can sift through the homes that do not fit within the parameters of your “dream home.”

A great agent will also have relationships with mortgage professionals and other experts that you will need in order to secure your dream home.

You Need a Skilled Negotiator

In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

Realize that when an agent is negotiating his or her commission with you, they are negotiating their own salary; the salary that keeps a roof over their family’s head; the salary that puts food on their family’s table. If they are quick to take less when negotiating for themselves and their families, what makes you think they will not act the same way when negotiating for you and your family?

If they were Clark Kent when negotiating with you, they will not turn into Superman when negotiating with the buyer or seller in your deal.

Bottom Line

Famous sayings become famous because they are true. You get what you pay for. Just like a good accountant or a good attorney, a good agent will save you money…not cost you money.

Could the Inventory Crunch Worsen?

Housing permits, a gauge of new-home activity, slipped in the final quarter of 2017, which could worsen a housing shortage already shaking many markets across the country.

Single-family permits are running at only 56 percent of normal activity, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index.

“We are concerned with the sluggish permit activity,” says Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders. “The weak permit numbers indicate that builders may be hesitant to start projects as they contend with supply-side hurdles, such as rising material prices and labor shortages.”

Permit levels are at or above normal in only 62 of the 337 metro areas tracked in the NAHB/First American Index, which is a drop of 7.5 percent compared to the third quarter of 2017.

Despite sluggish permits, the index showed that many markets are showing a stronger recovery in their economy and home prices. Housing markets in 195 of the 337 metro areas tracked nationwide returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity in the fourth quarter of 2017. The LMI measures three components: housing permits, employment, and home prices.

Employment is at 98 percent of normal activity, while home price levels are well above normal at 158 percent. Single-family permits were the only of the three components to see a decline in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Overall, the index shows the fastest-growing new-home metro areas are in the South and West, says NAHB Chairman Randy Noel.

The major metros scoring the highest on the LMI—meaning they are performing at the highest levels compared to their historic normal market level—are Baton Rouge, La.; Austin, Texas; Honolulu; Oxnard, Calif.; and Provo, Utah. Among smaller metro areas, the metros scoring the highest in besting their own previously normal market levels are: Odessa, Texas; Midland, Texas; Walla Walla, Wash.; Florence, Ala.; and Gadsden, Ala.

 

Source: National Association of Home Builders

The Impact of Homeownership on Educational Achievement

The Impact of Homeownership on Educational Achievement | Keeping Current Matters
The National Association of Realtors released a study titled ‘Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing.’ The study confirmed a long-standing belief of most Americans:

“Owning a home embodies the promise of individual autonomy and is the aspiration of most American households. Homeownership allows households to accumulate wealth and social status, and is the basis for a number of positive social, economic, family and civic outcomes.”

Today, we want to cover the section of the report that quoted several studies concentrating on the impact homeownership has on educational achievement. Here are some of the major findings on this issue revealed in the report:

  • The decision to stay in school by teenage students is higher for those raised by home-owning parents compared to those in renter households.
  • Parental homeownership in low-income neighborhoods has a positive impact on high school graduation.
  • Though homeownership raises educational outcomes for children, neighborhood stability may have further enhanced the positive outcome.
  • Children of homeowners tend to have higher levels of achievement in math and reading and fewer behavioral problems.
  • Educational opportunities are more prevalent in neighborhoods with high rates of homeownership and community involvement.
  • The average child of homeowners is significantly more likely to achieve a higher level of education and, thereby, a higher level of earnings.

Bottom Line

People often talk about the financial benefits of homeownership. As we can see, there are also social benefits of owning your own home. *The next two Thursdays, we will report the study’s findings on the impact homeownership has on civic participation and a family’s health.