Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

March 1, 2024

Expert Home Price Forecasts for 2024 Revised Up

Over the past few months, experts have revised their 2024 home price forecasts based on the latest data and market signals, and they’re even more confident prices will rise, not fall.

So, let’s see exactly how experts’ thinking has shifted – and what’s caused the change.

2024 Home Price Forecasts: Then and Now

The chart below shows what seven expert organizations think will happen to home prices in 2024. It compares their first 2024 home price forecasts (made at the end of 2023) with their newest projections:

The middle column shows that, at first, these experts thought home prices would only go up a little this year. But if you look at the column on the right, you'll see they've all updated their forecasts and now think prices will go up more than they originally thought. And some of the differences are major.

There are two big factors keeping such strong upward pressure on home prices. The first is how few homes are for sale right now. According to Business Insider:

“Low home inventory is a chronic problem in the US. This has generally kept home prices up . . .”

A lack of housing inventory has been pushing prices up for a long time now – and that’s not expected to change dramatically this year. But what has changed a bit is mortgage rates.

Late last year when most housing market experts were calling for home prices to rise only a little bit in 2024, mortgage rates were up and buyer demand was more moderate.

Now that rates have come down from their peak last October, and with further declines expected over the course of the year, buyer demand has picked up. That increase in demand, along with an ongoing lack of inventory, is what’s caused the experts to feel the upward pressure on prices will be stronger than they expected a couple months ago.

A Look Forward To Get Ahead of the Next Forecast Revisions

Real estate experts regularly revise their home price forecasts as the housing market shifts. It’s a normal part of their job that ensures their projections are always up-to-date and factor in the latest changes in the housing market.

That means they’ll continue to revise their projections as the housing market changes, just as they’ve always done. How those forecasts change next is anyone’s guess, but pay attention to mortgage rates.

If they trend down as the year goes on, as they’re expected to do, that could lead to more buyer demand and even higher home price forecasts.

Basically, it’s all about supply and demand. With supply still so limited, anything that causes demand to go up will likely cause prices to go up, too.

Bottom Line

At first, experts believed home prices would only go up a little this year. But now, they've changed their minds and forecast prices will grow even more than they originally thought. Let’s connect so you know what to expect with prices in our area.

 

Source: Real Estate With Keeping Current Matters

Posted in Home Prices
Feb. 27, 2024

Why Today’s Housing Supply Is a Sweet Spot for Sellers

Wondering if it still makes sense to sell your house right now? The short answer is, yes. And if you look at the current number of homes for sale, you’ll see two reasons why.

An article from Calculated Risk shows there are 15.6% more homes for sale now compared to the same week last year. That tells us inventory has grown. But going back to 2019, the last normal year in the housing market, there are nearly 40% fewer homes available now:

Here’s a breakdown of how this benefits you when you sell.

1. You Have More Options for Your Move

Are you thinking about selling because your current house is too big, too small, or because your needs have changed? If so, the year-over-year growth gives you more options for your home search. That means it may be less of a challenge to find what you’re looking for.

So, if you were holding off on selling because you were worried you weren’t going to find a home you like, this may be just the good news you needed. Partnering with a local real estate professional can help you make sure you’re up to date on the homes available in your area.

2. You Still Won’t Have Much Competition When You Sell

But to put that into perspective, even though there are more homes for sale now, there still aren’t as many as there’d be in a normal year. Remember, the data from Calculated Risk shows we’re down nearly 40% compared to 2019. And that large a deficit won't be solved overnight. As a recent article from Realtor.com explains:

“. . . the number of homes for sale and new listing activity continues to improve compared to last year. However the inventory of homes for sale still has a long journey back to pre-pandemic levels.”

For you, that means if you work with an agent to price your house right, it should still get a lot of attention from eager buyers and could sell fast.

Bottom Line

If you're a homeowner looking to sell, now's a good time. You'll have more options when buying your next home, and there's still not a ton of competition from other sellers. If you’re ready to move, let’s connect to get the ball rolling.

 

Source: Real Estate with Keeping Current Matters

Posted in Housing Inventory
Feb. 23, 2024

Home Equity Can Be a Game Changer When You Sell

Are you on the fence about selling your house? While affordability is improving this year, it’s still tight. And that may be on your mind. But understanding your home equity could be the key to making your decision easier. An article from Bankrate explains:

“Home equity is the difference between your home's value and the amount you still owe on your mortgage. It represents the paid-off portion of your home.

You'll start off with a certain level of equity when you make your down payment to buy the home, then continue to build equity as you pay down your mortgage. You'll also build equity over time as your home's value increases.”

Think of equity as a simple math equation. It's the value of your home now minus what you owe on your mortgage. And guess what? Recently, your equity has probably grown more than you think.

In the past few years, home prices skyrocketed, which means your home's value – and your equity – likely shot up, too. So, you may have more equity than you realize.

How To Make the Most of Your Home Equity Right Now

If you're thinking about moving, the equity you have in your home could be a big help. According to CoreLogic:

“. . . the average U.S. homeowner with a mortgage still has more than $300,000 in equity . . .”

Clearly, homeowners have a lot of equity right now. And the latest data from the Census and ATTOM shows over two-thirds of homeowners have either completely paid off their mortgages (shown in green in the chart below) or have at least 50% equity (shown in blue in the chart below):

After you sell your house, you can use your equity to help you buy your next home. Here’s how:

Be an all-cash buyer: If you’ve been living in your current home for a long time, you might have enough equity to buy your next home without having to take out a loan. If that’s the case, you won’t need to borrow any money or worry about mortgage rates. Investopedia states:

“You may want to pay cash for your home if you're shopping in a competitive housing market, or if you'd like to save money on mortgage interest. It could help you close a deal and beat out other buyers.”

Make a larger down payment: Your equity could also be used toward your next down payment. It might even be enough to let you put a larger amount down, so you won’t have to borrow as much money. The Mortgage Reports explains:

“Borrowers who put down more money typically receive better interest rates from lenders. This is due to the fact that a larger down payment lowers the lender’s risk because the borrower has more equity in the home from the beginning.”

The Easy Way To Find Out How Much Equity You Have

To find out how much equity you have in your home, ask a real estate agent you trust for a Professional Equity Assessment Report (PEAR).

Bottom Line

Planning a move? Your home equity can really help you out. Let’s connect to see how much equity you have and how it can help with your next home.

 

Source: Real Estate with Keeping Current Matters

 

 

Posted in Home Equity
Feb. 20, 2024

It’s Time To Prepare Your House for a Spring Listing

If you're thinking of selling your house this spring, now is the perfect time to start getting it ready. With the market gearing up for its busiest time of year, it'll be important to make sure your house shines bright among the competition.

Here are some valuable tips you can use to get your house market-ready.

Declutter and Organize

First impressions matter, and if your house is a mess, that can easily turn off potential buyers. Before listing, take the time to declutter and organize each room. Decluttering is about more than just tidying up – it's about creating a sense of space and openness that allows potential buyers to envision themselves living in your home. According to Moving.com:

“Decluttering and organizing your space will go a long way in appealing to potential buyers. . . .decluttering will help the buyers see themselves living in your home. Less clutter inside a home also helps a place appear larger and cleaner, which should attract more buyers.”

Deep Clean Your Kitchen and Bathrooms

The kitchen and bathrooms are focal points for many buyers, and often influence their overall opinion of the house. Ensure these spaces dazzle by giving them a thorough deep cleaning. Pay attention to details like scrubbing grout lines, polishing fixtures, and decluttering countertops. A sparkling kitchen and bathroom can leave a lasting positive impression on potential buyers.

Maintain Your Yard

Your home’s exterior is the first thing potential buyers see, so it’s important to make a good impression from the moment they arrive. A well-maintained yard not only enhances curb appeal, but also shows buyers the home has been well taken care of.

Take the time to spruce up your yard by mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, and clearing away any debris or dead plants. Remember, the goal is to create a welcoming environment that entices buyers to step inside and imagine themselves living there. U.S. News says:

“A beautifully landscaped front yard can elevate an ordinary house into a charming home and will help homes sell faster and for more money.”

Find a Listing Agent

A skilled listing agent is your partner in minimizing stress when selling your home. Lean on your agent for advice on decluttering, staging, and enhancing your home's appeal to potential buyers. Their insights into market trends and recommendations for reliable contractors and stagers are invaluable. As Realtor.com says:

 

“A good listing agent will help you price your home . . . recommend a photographer and stager to make it look its best, and put your home on the multiple listing service.”

 

Bottom Line

By decluttering, deep cleaning, and tidying up your house, you can create a welcoming environment that resonates with buyers and increases your chances of a successful sale. Let’s connect on what you need to do to get your house ready to sell this spring.

 

Source: Real Estate with Keeping Current Matters

Posted in Home Selling
Feb. 15, 2024

Don’t Let the Latest Home Price Headlines Confuse You

Based on what you’re hearing in the news about home prices, you may be worried they’re falling. But here’s the thing. The headlines aren’t giving you the full picture.

If you look at the national data for 2023, home prices actually showed positive growth for the year. While this varies by market, and while there were some months with slight declines nationally, those were the exception, not the rule.

The overarching story is that prices went up last year, not down. Let’s dive into the data to set the record straight.

2023 Was the Return to More Normal Home Price Growth

If anything, last year marked a return to more normal home price appreciation. To prove it, here’s what usually happens in residential real estate.

In the housing market, there are predictable ebbs and flows that take place each year. It’s called seasonality. It goes like this. Spring is the peak homebuying season when the market is most active. That activity is usually still strong in the summer, but begins to wane toward the end of the year. Home prices follow along with this seasonality because prices grow the most when there’s high demand.

The graph below uses data from Case-Shiller to show how this pattern played out in home prices from 1973 through 2022 (not adjusted, so you can see the seasonality):

As the data shows, for nearly 50 years, home prices match typical market seasonality. At the beginning of the year, home prices grow more moderately. That’s because the market is less active as fewer people move in January and February. Then, as the market transitions into the peak homebuying season in the spring, activity ramps up. That means home prices do too. Then, as fall and winter approach, activity eases again and prices grow, just at a slower rate.

Now, let’s layer the data that’s come out for 2023 so far (shown in green) on top of that long-term trend (still shown in blue). That way, it’s easy to see how 2023 compares.

As the graph shows, moving through the year in 2023, the level of appreciation fell more in line with the long-term trend for what usually happens in the housing market. You can see that in how close the green bars come to matching the blue bars in the later part of the year.

 

But the headlines only really focused on the two bars outlined in red. Here’s the context you may not have gotten that can really put those two bars into perspective. The long-term trend shows it’s normal for home prices to moderate in the fall and winter. That’s typical seasonality.

 

And since the 49-year average is so close to zero during those months (0.10%), that also means it’s not unusual for home prices to drop ever so slightly during those times. But those are just blips on the radar. If you look at the year as a whole, home prices still rose overall.

What You Really Need To Know

Headlines are going to call attention to the small month-to-month dips instead of the bigger year-long picture. And that can be a bit misleading because it’s only focused on one part of the whole story.

Instead, remember last year we saw the return of seasonality in the housing market – and that’s a good thing after home prices skyrocketed unsustainably during the ‘unicorn’ years of the pandemic.

And just in case you’re still worried home prices will fall, don’t be. The expectation for this year is that prices will continue to appreciate as buyers re-enter the market due to mortgage rates trending down compared to last year. As buyer demand goes up and more people move at the same time the supply of homes for sale is still low, the upward pressure on prices will continue.

 

Bottom Line

Don’t let home price headlines confuse you. The data shows that, as a whole, home prices rose in 2023. If you have questions about what you’re hearing in the news or about what’s happening with home prices in our local area, let’s connect.

 

Source: Real Estate with Keeping Current Matters

 

 

Posted in Home Prices
Feb. 9, 2024

Houses Are Still Selling Fast

Have you been thinking about selling your house? If so, here’s some good news. While the housing market isn't as frenzied as it was during the ‘unicorn’ years when houses were selling quicker than ever, they’re still selling faster than normal.

 

The graph below uses data from Realtor.com to tell the story of median days on the market for every January from 2017 all the way through the latest numbers available. For Realtor.com, days on the market means from the time a house is listed for sale until its closing date or the date it’s taken off the market. This metric can help give you an idea of just how quickly homes are selling compared to more normal years:

When you look at the most recent data (shown in green), it's clear homes are selling faster than they usually would (shown in blue). In fact, the only years when houses sold even faster than they are right now were the abnormal ‘unicorn’ years (shown in pink). According to Realtor.com:

 

“Homes spent 69 days on the market, which is three days shorter than last year and more than two weeks shorter than before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

What Does This Mean for You?

Homes are selling faster than the norm for this time of year – and your house may sell quickly too. That’s because more people are looking to buy now that mortgage rates have come down, but there still aren’t enough homes to go around. Mike Simonsen, Founder of Altos Research, says:

 

“. . . 2024 is starting stronger than last year. And demand is increasing each week.”

 

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering if it’s a good time to sell your home, the most recent data suggests it is. The housing market appears to be stronger than it usually is at this time of year. To get the latest updates on what’s happening in our local market, let’s connect.

 

Source: Real Estate with Keeping Current Matters

Posted in Home Selling
Feb. 5, 2024

2 of the Factors That Impact Mortgage Rates

If you’re looking to buy a home, you’ve probably been paying close attention to mortgage rates. Over the last couple of years, they hit record lows, rose dramatically, and are now dropping back down a bit. Ever wonder why?

 

The answer is complicated because there’s a lot that can influence mortgage rates. Here are just a few of the most impactful factors at play.

 

Inflation and the Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve (Fed) doesn’t directly determine mortgage rates. But the Fed does move the Federal Funds Rate up or down in response to what’s happening with inflation, the economy, employment rates, and more. As that happens, mortgage rates tend to respond. Business Insider explains:

 

“The Federal Reserve slows inflation by raising the federal funds rate, which can indirectly impact mortgages. High inflation and investor expectations of more Fed rate hikes can push mortgage rates up. If investors believe the Fed may cut rates and inflation is decelerating, mortgage rates will typically trend down.”

Over the last couple of years, the Fed raised the Federal Fund Rate to try to fight inflation and, as that happened, mortgage rates jumped up, too. Fortunately, the expert outlook for inflation and mortgage rates is that both should become more favorable over the course of the year. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.com, says:

 

“Mortgage rates will continue to ease in 2024 as inflation improves . . .”

There’s even talk the Fed may actually cut the Fed Funds Rate this year because inflation is cooling, even though it’s not yet back to their ideal target.

 

The 10-Year Treasury Yield

Additionally, mortgage companies look at the 10-Year Treasury Yield to decide how much interest to charge on home loans. If the yield goes up, mortgage rates usually go up, too. The opposite is also true. According to Investopedia:

 

“One frequently used government bond benchmark to which mortgage lenders often peg their interest rates is the 10-year Treasury bond yield.”

Historically, the spread between the 10-Year Treasury Yield and the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has been fairly consistent, but that’s not the case recently. That means, there’s room for mortgage rates to come down. So, keeping an eye on which way the treasury yield is trending can give experts an idea of where mortgage rates may head next.

 

 

Bottom Line

With the Fed meeting later this week, experts in the industry will be keeping a close watch to see what they decide and what impact it’ll have on the economy. To navigate any mortgage rate changes and their impact on your moving plans, it’s best to have a team of professionals on your side.

 

Source: Real Estate with Keeping Current Matters

Posted in Mortgage Rates
Jan. 31, 2024

3 Must-Do’s When Selling Your House in 2024

If one of the goals on your list is selling your house and making a move this year, you’re likely juggling a mix of excitement about what’s ahead and feeling a little sentimental about your current home.

A great way to balance those emotions and make sure you’re confident in your decision is to keep these three best practices in mind when you’re ready to sell.

1. Price Your Home Right

The housing market shifted in 2023 as mortgage rates rose and home price appreciation started to normalize once again. As a seller, you still need to recognize how important it is to price your house appropriately based on where the market is today. Hannah Jones, Economic Research Analyst for Realtor.comexplains:

“Sellers need to become familiar with their local market and work closely with a local agent to make sure their listing is attractive to buyers. Buyers feeling the pressure of affordability are likely to be pickier, so a well-priced, well-maintained home is the ticket to drumming up big demand.”

If you price your house too high, you run the risk of deterring buyers. And if you go too low, you’re leaving money on the table. An experienced real estate agent can help determine what your ideal asking price should be, so your house moves quickly and for top dollar.

2. Keep Your Emotions in Check

Today, homeowners are staying in their houses longer than they used to. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), since 1985, the average time a homeowner has owned their home has increased from 6 to 10 years (see graph below):

 

This is much more than what used to be the norm. The side effect, however, is when you stay in one place for so long, you may get even more emotionally attached to your space. If it’s the first home you bought or the house where your loved ones grew up, it very likely means something extra special to you. Every room has memories, and it’s hard to detach from the sentimental value.

For some homeowners, that makes it even tougher to separate the emotional value of the house from fair market price. That’s why you need a real estate professional to help you with the negotiations and the best pricing strategy along the way. Trust the professionals who have your best interests in mind.

3. Stage Your Home Properly

While you may love your decor and how you’ve customized your house over the years, not all buyers will feel the same way about your vibe. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you focus on your home’s first impression, so it appeals to as many buyers as possible.

Buyers want to be able to picture themselves in the home. They need to see themselves inside with their furniture and keepsakes – not your pictures and decorations. As Jessica Lautz, Deputy Chief Economist and Vice President of Research at NAR, says:

“Buyers want to easily envision themselves within a new home and home staging is a way to showcase the property in its best light.”

A real estate professional can help you with expertise on getting your house ready to sell.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering selling your house, let’s connect so you have help navigating the process while prioritizing these must-do’s.

Posted in Home Selling
Jan. 31, 2024

3 Key Factors Affecting Home Affordability

Over the past year, a lot of people have been talking about housing affordability and how tight it’s gotten. But just recently, there’s been a little bit of relief on that front. Mortgage rates have gone down since their most recent peak in October. But there’s more to being able to afford a home than just mortgage rates.

To really understand home affordability, you need to look at the combination of three important factors: mortgage rates, home prices, and wages. Let’s dive into the latest data on each one to see why affordability is improving.

1. Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates have come down in recent months. And looking forward, most experts expect them to decline further over the course of the year. Jiayi Xu, an economist at Realtor.comexplains:

“While there could be some fluctuations in the path forward … the general expectation is that mortgage rates will continue to trend downward, as long as the economy continues to see progress on inflation.”

And even a small change in mortgage rates can have a big impact on your purchasing power, making it easier for you to afford the home you want by reducing your monthly mortgage payment.

2. Home Prices

The second important factor is home prices. After going up at a relatively normal pace last year, they’re expected to continue rising moderately in 2024. That’s because even with inventory projected to grow slightly this year, there still aren’t enough homes for sale for all the people who want to buy them. According to Lisa Sturtevant, Chief Economist at Bright MLS:

“More inventory will be generally offset by more buyers in the market. As a result, it is expected that, overall, the median home price in the U.S. will grow modestly . . .”

That’s great news for you because it means prices aren’t likely to skyrocket like they did during the pandemic. But it also means it’ll probably cost you more to wait. So, if you’re ready, willing, and able to buy, and you can find the right home, purchasing before more buyers enter the market and prices rise further might be in your best interest.

3. Wages

Another positive factor in affordability right now is rising income. The graph below uses data from the Federal Reserve to show how wages have grown over time: 

If you look at the blue dotted trendline, you can see the rate at which wages typically rise. But on the right side of the graph, wages are above the trend line today, meaning they’re going up at a higher rate than normal.

Higher wages improve affordability because they reduce the percentage of your income it takes to pay your mortgage. That’s because you don’t have to put as much of your paycheck toward your monthly housing cost.

What This Means for You

Home affordability depends on three things: mortgage rates, home prices, and wages. The good news is, they’re moving in a positive direction for buyers overall.

Bottom Line

 

If you're thinking about buying a home, it's important to know the main factors impacting affordability are improving. To get the latest updates on each, let's connect.

 

Jan. 15, 2024

9 Issues You Absolutely Must Fix Before You Sell Your Home

Before you list your home for sale, you must be aware of all its potential problems. Major and minor issues inevitably crop up on inspection reports, and fixing the big ones (and some of the small ones) will help you get your money’s worth on a home.

So, what exactly constitutes a major problem? Any concern tied to health or safety falls squarely into this category. The health and safety issues such as roof repairs, water leaks, HVAC cleaning and maintenance can’t be ignored; these are serious and costly items to replace and definitely worth addressing before listing

 

1. Water Damage and Mold

Water damage and any resulting signs of water damage, including mold, are a must-fix when listing a home.

Not only is water damage a significant problem for a home, but it can also trigger a series of doubts for potential buyers about the property's overall condition.

2. Faulty Smoke Detectors

The health and safety of all occupants is paramount whether you’re selling or buying, and making sure smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and radon systems are working is crucial.

3. Busted Plumbing

Plumbing is an essential component of a safe home, and ensuring that everything from your toilet to your sink and septic tank works is essential for potential buyers.

4. Malfunctioning HVAC Systems

You can’t live safely in a home without heat or cool air. Having an HVAC system that’s in working order is a must when you sell.

Common system breakdowns are a result of dirty HVAC filters, thermostat settings, a pilot light being out, or a faulty thermocouple.

Preventative maintenance is key to avoiding major repairs. Changing your HVAC filter once every 30 to 90 days is ideal. You can also schedule a biannual tuneup to ensure you’re never without heat.

5. Structural Issues

Any essential repair that implies a structural issue and compromises the integrity of the structure could deter potential buyers

Structural issues include leaning walls, sagging roofs, and cracks in the walls, ceilings, and fireplaces.

6. Foundation Problems

The seriousness of a foundation problem is self-evident in the word itself: A solid foundation is vital for a good home.

Foundation problems spell danger on an inspection report, so addressing them before you sell will ensure a clean bill of health from your buyer’s inspector.

7. Roof Damage

A bad roof can lead to major problems for your entire home. If you can spot these problems before selling, it’s wise to address them.

To spot a damaged roof, look for missing, worn, or damaged shingles while inspecting the roof from the ground

8. Broken Light Fixtures

Light fixtures are easy fixes that go a long way when it comes to staging your home and selling it.

You should also address other, more serious lighting issues that have major implications on safety and meeting code.

9. Broken Appliances

Like signs of water damage, nonworking appliances could make a buyer wonder whether other systems in the home have been neglected. If you have a broken washing machine or oven, some agents say it gives a buyer pause that your home’s appliances aren’t working.

 

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Posted in Home Selling