House prices are soaring and, despite warnings from some analysts, most Americans believe they will continue to soar.
A majority of U.S. adults (64%) continue to believe home prices in their local area will increase over the next year, a survey released Monday by polling firm Gallup concluded. That’s up nine percentage points over the past two years and is the highest percentage since before the housing market crash and Great Recession in the mid-2000s.
The level of optimism is edging closer to the 70% of adults in 2005 who said prices would continue rising. That, of course, was less than one year before the peak of the housing market bubble in early 2006, which was largely fueled by a wave of subprime lending. (Roughly one-quarter of respondents in both 2005 and 2018 said they believed house prices would remain the same.)
In 2009, during the depths of the Great Recession, only 22% of Americans believed house prices would rise. But optimism about the housing market has made a slow recovery—along with the market itself—in the intervening years. Today, only 10% in the Gallup survey believe prices will fall. That compares to 5% who felt similarly pessimistic in 2005, just two years before the crash.
Existing-home sales increased 1.1% in March, but remain down 1.2% from a year ago. The first-time buyer share of 30% is also down from 32% a year ago. The National Association of Realtors reported that 50% of homes sold last month were on the market less than a month. The March inventory increased 5.7%, but remains 7.2% below the level a year ago, and has decreased for 34 consecutive months on a year-over-year basis. At the current sales rate, the March unsold inventory represents a 3.6-month supply, down from a 3.8-month supply a year ago. March existing sales reached a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.60 million units, compared to 5.54 million in February. Total existing home sales include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.
Existing sales increased 6.3% in the Northeast and 5.7% in the Midwest, reversing weather-impacted declines last month. Existing sales declined slightly by 0.4% in the South and 3.1% in the West. Year-over-year sales increased 0.8% in the West and 0.4% in the South, while declining by 1.5% in the Midwest and 9.3% in the Northeast.
Homes stayed on the market for 30 days in March, down from 37 days In February.
The March all-cash sales share was 20%, down from 24% last month and 23% a year ago. Individual investors purchased a 15% share in March, unchanged from February, and down from 18% a year ago.
The March median sales price of $250,400 was up 5.8% from a year ago, representing the 73rd consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The March median condominium/co-op price of $236,100 was up 4.8% from a year ago.
The seasonal spring increase in demand is facing the combination of increasing mortgage rates and a tight inventory. However, the economy continues to add jobs, and new residential construction offers buyers a wider choice in homes. These prospective buyers contribute to builder confidence remaining in solid territory.
StreetEasy senior economist Grant Long says half of New Yorkers find the city to be unaffordable, but only 1 in 6 say their own home is unaffordable.
Budget is the No. 1 real estate concern for New Yorkers, followed by space. But they couldn’t care less about modern amenities. The survey found that, at the end of the day, doormen and in-building gyms had no impact on people’s home-buying decisions, Grant says. They’re not concerned about those perks at all.
According to the survey, New York City millennials might finally be ready to settle down: 1 in 3 millennials is considering buying a home in the next 12 months.
Grant says they’re either settling down or starting a family for the first time. A lot of them are building up the savings required to afford a home so it makes sense, he says, that they’re now looking to capitalize on the home-buying trend.
But with home prices so high in the city, renting might not be such a bad idea. Grant says the average home price in Manhattan right now is about $1 million.
With rent growth slowing down and a lot of new rental construction, you can find a lot of deals right now. So that remains a really attractive option for New Yorkers.
Congressional Republicans reached a deal on a reconciled version of the House and Senate tax bills, and while experts are still sifting through the fine print to determine its potential impact, one thing seems clear: Home prices will take a hit.
This could be good news or bad news depending on whether you already own a house or are a prospective buyer, but a Moody’s Analytics report released Monday estimates that by the summer of 2019 home prices will be down nationally by 4 percent compared to where they’d be if no tax bill was passed.
To be clear: This doesn’t mean home prices will fall by 4 percent from where they are right now, but Moody’s estimates they’ll be 4 percent less in the future than they would be if current conditions held.
The drops are projected to hit hardest in markets where home prices are already high. East Coast cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. show heavy drops, as do West Coast cities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles. South Florida and a few cities in the Midwest also stand to see substantial drops.
The home-price drops are mostly the result of three key provision changes in the tax bill, which could be signed by President Trump as early as this week: the lowered cap on mortgage-interest deductions (MID), from $1 million to $750,000; the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions of $10,000; and the doubling of the standard deduction.
Currently, homeowners can deduct interest they pay on their homes and second homes on loans up to $1 million in value. While lowering the cap to $750,000 is a fairly modest measure—the House bill lowered it to $500,000, and the deduction’s many critics would like it repealed outright—it means wealthy homeowners in hot real estate markets are exposed to higher tax bills.
The same goes for SALT deductions. Currently, taxpayers can deduct what they pay in state and local property and income taxes from their federal returns. Under the new law, taxpayers can only claim a maximum of $10,000, although it can be any combination of income or property taxes. This hits high tax states like New York and New Jersey particularly hard.
Because the MID and SALT deductions are baked into the price of homes, eliminating or capping the deductions will inherently lower the value of homes that are particularly exposed to the MID cap or are in high tax areas.
The new standard deduction complicates things further. When taxpayers file federal returns, they have a choice between itemizing their deductions or taking the standard deduction. The new law will double the standard deduction from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals and from $12,700 to $24,000 couples.
It doesn’t make sense for taxpayers to itemize unless their deductions are greater than the standard deduction, and with the standard deduction doubling, fewer taxpayers will itemize. This will lead to fewer people taking the MID and SALT deductions, further weakening their value and thus home prices.
A recent Zillow report showed that under current law, roughly 44 percent of homes were worth enough to justify itemizing and taking the MID. Under the new law, only 14.4 percent are worth it.
New York real estate has its worst quarter in 6 years – and there could be more pain ahead
Manhattan real estate sales and prices took a fall in the fourth quarter, and they’re likely to slide even further this year after the new tax rules take effect.
Total sales volume fell 12 percent compared with the fourth quarter of last year — the lowest quarterly level in six years, according to a report from Douglas Elliman Real Estate and Miller Samuel, the appraisal firm. The average sales price in Manhattan fell below $2 million for the first time in nearly two years.
Brokers say the declines were simply the result of uncertainty around the Republican tax plan, as buyers held off until the details of the new law became clear. They say many of those buyers have since rushed in and will help show a rebound.
Yet the luxury market in Manhattan is suffering from an expanding glut of high-end and highly priced apartments. And analysts say that while sales may rebound slightly in the first quarter of 2018, the tax law — which limits the deductibility of state and local taxes — will continue to add pressure to New York City housing prices, especially at the top.
“There will be an impact on prices and sales,” said Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel. “But it may take up to a year and a half to two years to see the full impact.”
The high end of the Manhattan market is showing the biggest cracks. Inventory of luxury apartments — those in the top 10 percent by price — grew by 15 percent. There is now a 17-month supply of luxury apartments in Manhattan, up from 10 months a year ago.
And with giant new condo towers sprouting up in every corner of the city, those numbers are likely to grow.
Miller said that resales — as opposed to new development — are holding up strong, with median sales prices up by 2 percent over last year. But prices for new developments fell 17 percent over last year and the number of sales are down 20 percent.
The number of new developments is expected to continue to rise this year and next, which will add to inventory, Miller said. While demand for “low-end” apartments priced at $1 million to $2 million remains strong, sales of apartments of more than $5 million will get tougher. In part, that’s because the rich have more discretion on when and where to buy homes — and with the costs of owning a home in New York going up with the tax plan, apartments aimed at the rich will see the biggest price hits.
Miller said that while buyers have already adjusted, sellers may take more time to catch up.
“The sellers were already recalibrating after 2015,” he said. “Now they will have to readjust again.”
Easy tasks that will make you happier, healthier and even wealthier!
Prevent Bathroom Mold
No matter where you live, the high moisture level in your bathroom can cause mold and mildew. Eliminating bathroom dampness is the key to keeping mold from growing. To do that, follow these steps:
First, after a bath or a shower, squeegee water off the shower walls. That eliminates at least three-fourths of the moisture that supports mold and mildew growth.
Second, run your bath fans during your bath or shower and for a half-hour after to flush out moisture. Or add a timer switch to make this step automatic.
Third, if you have tile, seal the grout lines annually with a standard grout sealer to waterproof them.
To get rid of the current mold, scrub with detergent and water, then let the surface dry completely. Or use a solution of 10 percent bleach and 90 percent water (a stronger bleach solution will not give better results). Spray or brush on the solution, let it sit 10 minutes, then rinse it off and let dry.
If the fans aren’t clearing out most of the moisture in your bathrooms after five to 10 minutes, your fans may not be moving enough air. Fans are certified by the volume (cfm, or cubic feet per minute) of air ‘exhausted’ out of the room. To find the recommended fan capacity for your bathroom, simply multiply the bathroom square footage by 1.1 (assuming an 8-ft. ceiling; for a 9-ft. ceiling, multiply by 1.5).
Restore Free Flow to Your Showerhead
If the flow from your showerhead is growing weaker, the cause is probably mineral buildup. Many manufacturers recommend that you remove the showerhead and soak it in a half-and-half mixture of warm water and vinegar (any type). But there’s really no need to remove the head. Just pour the mix into a heavy-duty plastic bag and attach it to the shower arm with a rubber band. The acid in the vinegar dissolves minerals, but prolonged contact can harm some plastics and metal finishes, so remove the bag every 15 minutes and check the shower flow.
Clean Out Dryer Lint
If you notice that it takes longer than normal for loads to dry in your clothes dryer, it may be time to clean out the vent. First detach the duct from behind the unit and then push a plumbing snake through your dryer vent from outside. Tie a rag securely to the snake end. Pull the cloth and snake through a couple of times and your clean vent will not only save energy but possibly prevent a fire as well.
Add a cup of vinegar to your empty dishwasher and let it run a full cycle once a month or so. Your kitchen may smell a bit like a pickle jar for a few hours, but hard-water lime buildup will be rinsed away, making your spray arm and other dishwasher parts work flawlessly.
Check Your Gutters
A 1,000-sq.-ft. roof will shed about 620 gallons of water during a 1-in. rainfall, or about 103 gallons per downspout if you have six downspouts. That’s a lot of water dumped right next to your basement. Although it may seem obvious, clean and properly functioning gutters with downspouts that empty away from the foundation are key to avoiding major and expensive home repairs.
So before you leave for a vacation, take a walk around the house and check your gutters. Check to see if leaves, sticks or other debris are blocking the inlet of the downspout and preventing water from flowing down the spout. Also make sure your downspout extensions are discharging the water far enough from the foundation and that you always reattach them after you mow your lawn.
Avoid a Scalding by Setting Your Water Heater to 120 Degrees
Plain old tapwater can be dangerous. Water heaters set too high send thousands (mostly children) to hospitals each year with burns. Most safety experts recommend a setting of 120 degrees F. But finding that setting on the dial isn’t easy—most dials aren’t labeled with numbers.
If the stickers on the water heater don’t tell you how to set the temperature and you can’t find the owner’s manual, use this method: Run hot water at the tap closest to the water heater for at least three minutes. Then fill a glass and check the temperature. If the water is above 120 degrees, adjust the dial, wait about three hours and check again. Repeat until you get 120-degree water. For a final test, check the temperature the following morning, before anyone uses hot water.
Sales of new single-family houses in the United States jumped 17.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 733 thousand in November of 2017 from a downwardly revised 624 thousand in October and beating market forecasts of 654 thousand. It was the strongest number since July of 2007. Sales rose in all four regions. New Home Sales in the United States averaged 650.82 Thousand from 1963 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 1389 Thousand in July of 2005 and a record low of 270 Thousand in February of 2011.
US New Home Sales Highest Since July 2007
Sales of new single-family houses in the United States jumped 17.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 733 thousand in November of 2017 from a downwardly revised 624 thousand in October and beating market forecasts of 654 thousand. Sales rose in all four regions.
Sales surged in all four main regions: South (14.9 percent to 416 thousand); West (31.1 percent to 194 thousand); Midwest (6.9 percent to 77 thousand) and Northeast (9.5 percent to 46 thousand):
The median sales price of new houses sold was $318,700, above $315,000 a year earlier. The average sales price was $377,100, also higher than $363,400 in November of 2016.
The stock of new houses for sale was flat at 283 thousand. This represents a supply of 4.6 months at the current sales rate.
Year-on-year, new home sales increased 26.6 percent.
National home price appreciation continued in September, while local home prices grew at different rates. All of the 20 metro areas had positive annual growth rates.
The Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, reported by S&P Dow Jones Indices, rose at a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 9.0% in September, faster than an 8.2% increase in August. It was the highest seasonally adjusted annual growth rate since October 2013. Tight inventory of existing homes is contributing to strong house price appreciation.
Meanwhile, the Home Price Index, released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.2% in September, following the 9.7% increase in August.
Figure 2 shows the annual growth rate of home prices for 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas. In September, local home price varied greatly and its annual growth rates ranged from 2.2% to 16.4%. However, all 20 metro areas tracked recorded year-over-year appreciation.
Among the 20 metro areas, Atlanta, San Francisco and Tampa had the highest home price appreciation. Atlanta led the way with 16.4%, followed by San Francisco with 14.6% and Tampa with a 12.7% increase. Half of the 20 metro areas exceeded the national average of 9.0%. The ten metro areas that had lower home price appreciation than the national level were: Los Angeles (8.1%), Denver (7.9%), Charlotte (7.4%), Seattle (6.8%), Miami (6.6%), Chicago (6.4%), Portland (6.2%), Detroit (3.9%), Washington, DC (3.7%) and Minneapolis (2.2%).
Single-family homes built after the 1990s have an average of 3.1 toilets, 2.6 showers and 2.3 bathtubs, according to a recent NAHB study.
Standard tables from the Survey of Construction (SOC, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau with partial funding from HUD) show that the share of single-family homes built with at least 2 bathrooms has increased regularly from 60 percent of homes completed in 1973 to 97 percent of homes completed in 2016. This suggests that the number of bathroom fixtures should also be on the riese, but this is not one of the things that it has been possible to investigate using SOC data.
It can be investigated, however, with data that has recently become available from the Residential End Uses of Water (REUW) study from the Water Research Foundation (WRF). The REUW is the source of information on water use in single-family homes in the recent NAHB article on the topic. Consistent with the increasing number bathrooms, the REUW data show that the average number of toilets, showers and bathtubs all increase regularly as single-family homes become newer. For example, the average number of toilets increases regularly from 1.9 in homes built before 1960 to 3.1 for homes built after 1999.
Perhaps surprisingly, the published REUW study did not show a statistical relationship between the number of bathroom fixtures and the amount of water used by a particular single-family. The WRF constructed several models from REUW data, estimating outdoor water use, total indoor use, and a number of different individual indoor uses. NAHB economists reviewed these models and judged them to be generally well constructed and a good use of the available data, and saw no obvious reason to critique them or suggest alternatives.
Although the number of bathroom fixtures does not affect water use in any of the WRF models, the presence of efficient toilets and clothes washers does. Given government standards that have been promulgated and modified since 1990, it should not be surprising that efficient fixtures were most common in the newest REUW homes. For example, of the homes built after 1999, 71 percent had toilets that averaged less than 1.6 gallon per flush, 51 percent had toilets that averaged less than 1.28 gallons per flush and 80 percent had ENERGY STAR rated clothes driers. All three of these percentages are higher than they are for homes in any of the earlier vintage categories
Estimates of total water use, as well as the amount of water used by specific features, in single-family homes were discussed in last week’s post. For a more thorough discussion of the REUW and what if finds has an impact on water used by a single-family home, please consult the full NAHB study.
Earlier this week the Senate jumped into the fray, releasing its own proposal for tax reform. The Senate’s proposal, much like the House bill, which we looked at last week, creates significant headwinds for homeowners and homebuyers, while providing only a temporary cut for middle class homeowners.
What Stays the Same?
Like the House bill, the Senate chose to change the definition for capital gains so that a home seller must have lived in their home for at least five of the prior 8 years. This change would affect 12% to 22% of home sellers, locking in some inventory and potentially changing the trade-up purchase process.
The Senate also proposed to eliminate personal exemptions as the House did, but they chose to increase the child credit to $2000 per child. This latter change is more generous than the House’s $1,600 credit per child and $300 for each parent.
Pouring SALT in the Wound
Unlike the House bill, the Senate chose to eliminate all state and local taxes (SALT) including state and local income and sales taxes as well as state and local real estate taxes. This change will make it more difficult for homeowners to itemize their mortgage interest and when they do, they will face a much lower benefit from homeownership. In a perverse way, only those who can afford very expensive homes will be able to benefit from the real estate provisions of the tax code.
The generous $24,000 standard deduction for couples who are renter or owners provides little support for renters who move to ownership nor does it guarantee that tax cuts today will be utilized to boost housing affordability in the future. Worse, when this provision expires in 8 years, both groups will be worse off.
Time Does Not Heal All Wounds
Most forecasts are for home prices and mortgage rates to rise in the coming years. The chart below shows how the proposals from the House and Senate compare with current law. The orange bars depict the difference between the Senate proposal and current law. A home buying family of four with an income of $100,000 or less would see a gain, while upper-middle income buyers would face a tax hike. However, in 5 years1 that tax cut would disappear for nearly all middle-income homebuyers as mortgage rates and prices rise (red bars). Finally, after 8 years, the tax cuts and enhanced standard deduction both expire letting virtually no buyers benefit under the plan (dark blue bars).
The Senate’s proposal reflects many new changes, but retains many facets of the House proposal. While some changes help middle class homeowners today, it appears that the changes quickly wear out and are worse in the future.