Monthly Archives: August 2014

It May Be Cheaper To Buy Than Rent | #Chappaqua Real Estate

Renting is becoming unaffordable in many metropolitan cities, a new report reveals.

According to Zillow, renting is more expensive than buying in 94 of the country’s 100 biggest metropolitan areas.

The report suggests the rental market didn’t see a precipitous drop in prices stemming from the financial crisis, as illustrated in the housing market, which explains the slow and steady upward trend in rents. Plus, the study says consumers spent an average of 29.5% of their income on rent, compared to 15.3% for home buyers with mortgages.

Home buying affordability stems from the low interest environment, which isn’t expected to last, especially as the Federal Reserve scales back its bond stimulus, known as quantitative easing.

On Thursday, Freddie Mac said the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage held steady at 4.10%, compared to 4.51% during the same time last year.

Rising rents could prove to be a vicious cycle for the real estate market.

“As rents keep rising, along with interest rates and home values, saving for a down payment and attaining homeownership becomes that much more difficult for millions of current renters, particularly millennial renters already saddled with uncertain job prospects and enormous student debt,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “In order to combat this phenomenon, wages need to grow more quickly than they are, particularly for renters, and growth in home values will need to slow.”

Wages aren’t showing robust growth, and rising inflation is making matters worse. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that while average hourly wages grew 2% year-over-year in July, the consumer price index also grew 2% during the same period.



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Zillow: Fewer homes underwater in second quarter | North Salem Real Estate

Although the percentage of underwater homeowners continues to heal, the remaining pain is left to struggling borrowers of low-price homes, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal:

About 28% of homes with a mortgage within the bottom third of home values were underwater at the end of the second quarter, meaning they were worth less than the balance of their mortgages, according to real-estate information service. That compares with about 16% of homeowners in the middle tier and 9.2% in the top tier.

As a result, the article explained that it could prevent owners from moving up to larger homes and thus put a damper on purchases by first-time homebuyers.

Overall, the percentage of homeowners who were underwater in the second quarter dropped to 17% from 24% a year ago. 

Source: WSJ

Apply Google’s 6 key trends for homebuyers | Mt Kisco Real Estate

In my post last Friday, I expanded upon Peter Miller’s article titled “Would you bank with Google or Amazon?” where we looked at the stretch of a tech giant entering the mortgage space, which then led me to touch on what we could learn from them around customer experiences.

Less than a week later, Google publishes some information on 6 key trends of homebuyers, backed by some interesting stats. Now, I’m not trying to reinforce the concept of Google-going-mortgage. Rather, I’ve been watching the Think with Google site for a while now, hoping that they would share some insights relative to the housing industry, something everyone knows they’ve had stored in all those rows and rows of servers, along with the rest of the internet…LOL. If you’re not familiar with this site, it’s a digital candy store for analytics and trends junkies, where they’ve cleverly packaged content and their product offerings in an easy-to-consume format (kind of like that consumer experience thing I previously mentioned…).

For those who don’t wish to go through the article (although it’s a fairly quick read with some great charts and stats), here are Google’s six keys to unlocking opportunities with today’s homebuyers:

1. Every year, searches for real estate-related terms peak in July — a sign that people are out house hunting. Be there to meet this seasonal rise in demand. Remind them throughout the long process with remarketing.

2. Millennials are likely to make their long-awaited entrance into market soon. Understand what this audience cares about and appeal to them with relevant messaging.

3. More people (especially millennials) are relying on mobile devices throughout the process — from finding a home to financing it. Help them find what they’re looking for through mobile ads and extensions such as location and click-to-call.

4. Small and mobile homes are becoming an appealing option, even for high-income buyers. Think about ways you can address this new, growing market. Explore Search data to learn what else interests these consumers and use it to shape co-marketing opportunities, cross-promotions, creative executions and media buys.

5. While they’re looking for homes, people are also looking for interior design ideas, often turning to video for inspiration. Post home-tour videos to YouTube to make it easy for them to get an in-depth look at listings.

6. Vintage is all the rage in interior design. Help people get that retro, one-of-a-kind look with the products you offer and the content you create.



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US pending home sales rebound | #Waccabuc Real Estate


US pending home sales rebounded last month to their highest levels in nearly a year, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday, in report providing further evidence of a steadying housing market.

The NAR’s pending home sales index surged 3.3 percent in July to 105.9, its highest level since August 2013.

The increase in the forward-looking indicator, which is based on contract signings, came in much stronger than expected. The average estimate was for a modest 0.5 percent rise.

Pending home sales have climbed in four of the past five months. The June decline in pending home sales was steeper than first thought, with the drop revised to 1.3 percent from 1.1 percent.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said that favorable housing conditions spurred increased contract activity last month.

“Interest rates are lower than they were a year ago, price growth continues to moderate and total housing inventory is at its highest level since August 2012,” he said.

“More importantly, steady job additions to the economy are helping family finances and giving them added confidence to enter the market.”


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College grads face high hurdles to buying first homes | Armonk Homes

Recent graduates who are saddled with student debt and want to get on the property ladder will have to earn roughly one-third more annually (or $8,969 more, on average) than those who are debt-free, according to new research from real-estate website RealtyTrac.

To reach that figure, RealtyTrac took the median home price for each state and county, and calculated the minimum amount of income that would be needed to qualify for a loan to buy a house at that price. (RealtyTrac assumed a 20% down payment and a 4.13% 30-year fixed loan with a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 43%, which is the maximum ratio for a “qualified mortgage” under Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rules).

“To overcome the additional debt from student loans, indebted college graduates need to make more income than college graduates without student loans to be able to afford a home,” says Daren Blomquist, vice-president at RealtyTrac.

Of course, this also depends on where the student lives. “The average student loan debt varies from state to state and, somewhat counterintuitively, some of the most expensive states for housing also have the lowest average student loan debt,” Blomquist explains. California has one of the lowest levels of student loan debt, for example, but also some of the highest house prices in the country.



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