The 2012 Housing Market:
Low Inventory, Low Rates, and Rising Prices
When low supply meets high demand, prices eventually rise, and that's happening nationwide. Buyers are gaining confidence in the market and taking advantage of extremely low interest rates to lock in home purchases. Investors have backed off slightly, but they still play a big part in the picture. Here are some numbers that tell the story:
Number of homes for sale: DOWN by around 23 percent in early September compared to September 2011.
Median single-family home price: UP 9.6 percent in July, at $188,100, compared to July 2011.
Pending Home Sales Index: UP 12.4 percent year-to-year in July.
First-time buyers: 34 percent of transactions, UP 2 percent year-to-year in July.
Investors: 16 percent of transactions, DOWN 2 percent year-to-year in July
All-cash sales: 27 percent of transactions, DOWN 2 percent year-to-year in July.
Distressed sales: 24 percent of transactions, DOWN 5 percent year-to-year in July. (Half were foreclosures and half were short sales.)
30-year fixed mortgage rate: Approximately 3.50 percent, DOWN around .70 from 4.2 percent a year ago.
This is the first time since 2006 that we've seen year-to-year increases in home prices nationwide for five months in a row, according to the National Association of Realtors. They expect home prices to rise 10 percent cumulatively over the next two years.
Granted, this is just a projection, but if it happens it should allow many would-be sellers who are currently sitting tight because they're under water on their mortgages to finally list their homes without having to do a short sale.
Data from National Association of Realtors, S&P/Case-Shiller, and CoreLogic.
Finding a Good Home Loan Shouldn't
Be a Mystery
Between buyers shopping for home loans and homeowners refinancing, many loan professionals are pulling their hair out these days trying to keep up with demand. For consumers, the stress often comes from a different dilemma: how to figure out which loan program is really the best, taking into account loan costs and interest rates that vary both daily and by lender.
It can appear very complicated, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some tips to make shopping for a home loan simpler:
1. Get quotes on the same day.
Interest rates vary daily, so if you're getting estimates from three different lenders, try to get them all in writing on the same day.
2. Compare apples to apples by holding one variable constant.
The total cost of your loan is a combination of the interest rate and the initial cost to obtain the loan. Rather than trying to decipher combinations of costs and interest rates, ask for quotes at a specific interest rate and then compare costs; or, ask for estimates with a specific amount of closing costs and compare rates.
3. Consider using a good loan evaluation tool.
Some online tools make comparing loan options much easier. For example, you can click here or on the screenshot below to compare similar loans from two different lenders on the myFICO.com website.
On the left hand side of their web page you'll see a list of other useful calculators, including one for comparing different loans from the same lender - click here to see that one.
(I'm not necessarily sanctioning that site or service, just pointing out some tools that appear to be useful and that don't require you to sign up for anything.)
Credit Score Tip: One Thing to Not Do
Credit scoring is such an important topic that it deserves its own newsletter, but in the meantime this is a reminder to not make a very common mistake:
Closing out your old credit accounts (even if you never use them) can lower your score.
Part of your credit score is based on how much of your total credit you use, as well as the age of your credit history, which is why closing out old accounts can lower your score. Once closed they are also more likely to be removed from your credit report, taking your good payment history with them.
Where to get your credit report and score:
Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to obtain a free yearly credit report from each of the three major reporting companies. (Be careful about other sites that offer "free" reports on the condition that you sign up for ongoing paid services.)
Your credit report does not contain your actual credit score. Once you request your credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com you'll have the option to purchase your scores directly from each of the three reporting companies.
Are you planning to buy or sell a home, or do you know someone who is? Please call or email me - I'm never too busy to help you and the people you care about with real estate.
(What the lawyers make us say: The information in this newsletter is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Please always consult a qualified expert before making decisions based on this content. Nothing in this article is meant to be taken as expert legal, financial, or medical advice.)