Housing Market is Healthiest in Years!

Housing Market is Healthiest in Years! | Keeping Current Matters

According to Nationwide’s recently unveiled, Health of Housing Market (HoHM) Report, the US housing market is at it’s healthiest levels since the index’s creation in 2001.

The index analyzes the health of the housing market across the country and in 373 metro areas every quarter. Using the data that they have collected over the past 15 years, Nationwide will look to give a “data-driven view of the near-term performance of housing markets based upon current health indicators.”

The fourth quarter of 2014 ended with the highest indicator score in over 15 years of data analyzed by the study at 109.8. The report explains:

“An index value over 100 suggests that the national housing market is healthy, with lower chances of a housing downturn over the next year as the index moves increasingly above the 100 breakeven value.”

Employment, demographics, the mortgage market, and housing prices are all used to evaluate the health of each market. The top 10 healthiest housing markets according to the index are:

  1. Pittsburgh, PA
  2. Cleveland-Elyria, OH
  3. Philadelphia, PA
  4. Rockford, Ill.
  5. Burlington, NC
  6. Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, PA
  7. Fayetteville-Springdale, AR
  8. Idaho Falls, ID
  9. Tulsa, OK
  10. Kennewick-Richland, WA

The two ‘least healthy’ markets were Bismark, ND and Atlantic City, NJ who received“just slightly negative performance rankings”.

David Berson, Nationwide’s Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, says “the quarterly report should serve as a resource to gauge how healthy housing markets are today but, perhaps more important, what to expect in the future and why.”

Bottom Line

The housing market continues to recover and surpass recent history. Meet with an agent in your local market to determine if you are able to take advantage of the opportunities available in real estate today.

Does Homeownership Make Sense Financially?

Does Homeownership Make Financial Sense? | Keeping Current Matters

Everyone knows the social advantages of home ownership. However, some question the financial benefits of owning a home. Three recent studies shed some light on the issue.

RealtyTrac recently released a report comparing home price appreciation to wage growth over the last two years. The study revealed that home price appreciation has outpaced wage growth in 76% of U.S. housing markets during that time period. By how much? Here is a graph showing their findings:

Home Prices vs. Wages | Keeping Current Matters

And we all know the importance of home appreciation in determining the net wealth of most American families. Merrill Lynch just issued a report covering the issue. Their findings are shown here:

Average Home Equity | Keeping Current Matters

It obviously makes financial sense to be a homeowner.

But, does it make sense to buy now?

The survey company Pulsenomics just issued their findings on the cost of owning versus the cost of renting. They compared historical averages to the cost you can expect to pay today.

Buying vs. Renting | Keeping Current Matters

The cost of buying is far below historical averages. Renting is another story.

 

Keeping Current Matters

Freddie Mac’s New 3% Down Program

Freddie Mac's New 3% Down Program | Keeping Current Matters

Today, Freddie Mac is scheduled to start buying mortgages with down payments of only three percent – the first time down payments have been this low on Freddie Mac loans in nearly five years. The program is called Freddie Mac Home Possible AdvantageSM.

In a recent Executive Perspectives, Dave Lowman EVP, Single-Family Business Freddie Mac, explained the potential impact this program will have on the housing market:

“There’s a new reason Realtors and lenders may expect more qualified borrowers at the closing table during this spring’s home buying season. In addition to low mortgage rates and rising job growth, the down payment hurdle is starting to shrink for creditworthy borrowers, including first-time homebuyers.”

And the mortgage industry agrees with Mr. Lowman. In a recent survey of mortgage originators by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), it was revealed that most loan officers believe the move to a lower down payment will increase access to mortgage credit. Here are that survey’s findings:

Down Payment Survey | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Many potential buyers are “ready and willing” to buy a home but have been afraid they may not be “able” because of a lack of adequate savings for a down payment. Check with a local real estate or mortgage professional to understand what the new rules may mean to you.

Keeping Current Matters

Selling Your House? Price it Right Up Front

Selling Your House? Price it Right Up Front | Keeping Current Matters

In today’s market, where demand is outpacing supply in many regions of the country, pricing a house is one of the biggest challenges real estate professionals face. Sellers often want to price their home higher than recommended, and many agents go along with the idea to keep their clients happy. However, the best agents realize that telling the homeowner the truth is more important than getting the seller to like them.

There is no “later.”

Sellers sometimes think, “If the home doesn’t sell for this price, I can always lower it later.” However, research proves that homes that experience a listing price reduction sit on the market longer, ultimately selling for less than similar homes.

John Knight, recipient of the University Distinguished Faculty Award from the Eberhardt School of Business at the University of the Pacific, actually did research on the cost (in both time and money) to a seller who priced high at the beginning and then lowered the their price. In his article, Listing Price, Time on Market and Ultimate Selling Pricepublished in Real Estate Economics revealed:

“Homes that underwent a price revision sold for less, and the greater the revision, the lower the selling price. Also, the longer the home remains on the market, the lower its ultimate selling price.”

Additionally, the “I’ll lower the price later” approach can paint a negative image in buyers’ minds. Each time a price reduction occurs, buyers can naturally think, “Something must be wrong with that house.” Then when a buyer does make an offer, they low-ball the price because they see the seller as “highly motivated.” Pricing it right from the start eliminates these challenges.

Don’t build “negotiation room” into the price.

Many sellers say that they want to price their home high in order to have “negotiation room.” But, what this actually does is lower the number of potential buyers that see the house. And we know that limiting demand like this will negatively impact the sales price of the house.

Not sure about this? Think of it this way: when a buyer is looking for a home online (as they are doing more and more often), they put in their desired price range. If your seller is looking to sell their house for $400,000, but lists it at $425,000 to build in “negotiation room,” any potential buyers that search in the $350k-$400k range won’t even know your listing is available, let alone come see it!

A better strategy would be to price it properly from the beginning and bring in multiple offers. This forces these buyers to compete against each other for the “right” to purchase your house.

Look at it this way: if you only receive one offer, you are set up in an adversarial position against the prospective buyer. If, however, you have multiple offers, you have two or more buyers fighting to please you. Which will result in a better selling situation?

The Price is Right

Great pricing comes down to truly understanding the real estate dynamics in your neighborhood. Look for an agent that will take the time to simply and effectively explain what is happening in the housing market and how it applies to your home. You need an agent that will tell you what you need to know rather than what you want to hear. This will put you in the best possible position.

Keeping Current Matters

Pending Sales Surge: Great Sign for the Housing Market

Pending Sales Surge: Great Sign for the Housing Market | Keeping Current Matters

The most recent Pending Homes Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors revealed that homes going into contract in February increased to their highest level since June 2013.

The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The Index is now 12.0 percent above February 2014. The index is at its highest level since June 2013, has increased year-over-year for six consecutive months and is above what is considered “the average level of activity” – for the 10th consecutive month.

Here is a graph showing the Pending Sales numbers:

Pending Home Sales | Keeping Current Matters

Here is a chart showing the Pending Sales increases by region:

Pending Home Sales By Region | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

In an article from Investors’ Business Daily, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors, explained what these numbers will mean to the overall market:

“It looks like the buyers want to come out to the market and they are eager to find the right home and make an offer. Therefore, I expect the second quarter of this year to be easily ahead of last year in terms of sales activity. Pending contracts are implying that the closing activity in coming months will be quite solid.”

Sotheby’s International Realty Brand Expands Presence into Mauritius

MADISON, N.J. and PORT LOUIS, MAURITIUS (April 10, 2015) – Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC today announced that Espral International Ltd, a land and property development company in Mauritius, has joined its luxury real estate network and will now do business as Mauritius Sotheby’s International Realty.

The firm, which is represented by Gilbert Espitalier-Noel as chief executive officer, will be managed by Diane Watkins and Timo Geldenhuys and serve the high-end real estate market throughout Mauritius.

“Our expansion into Mauritius continues our commitment to providing access to the Sotheby’s International Realty network’s exclusive real estate services in key countries around the world,” said Philip White, president and chief executive officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “Mauritius is a beautiful island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of the African continent. Known for its blue seas, white sandy beaches and luxury hotels, the island is also home to significant luxury real estate offering a truly unique lifestyle. We are proud to have this team of professionals represent us in this fine market. ”

According to Geldenhuys, Mauritius is a relatively small market with a very distinct separation between local and international buyers. “International buyers are only allowed to purchase in dedicated government approved developments and hence the local market prices are not inflated by international investment,” he said. “Cultural diversity within the local market demands the abilities of a skilled agent.”

“We boast a young and dynamic team, driven by passion and excellence, with a culture that favors communication and discussion,” said Watkins. “We have an in-depth knowledge of the local market and our products. We believe the client always comes first and we go the extra mile to assist in finding the best fit for their needs. Now with the support of the Sotheby’s International Realty brand we can bring our extraordinary properties to the far-reaching corners of the world.”

The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has more than 16,500 sales associates located in approximately 760 offices in 60 countries and territories worldwide. Mauritius Sotheby’s International Realty listings are marketed on the sothebysrealty.com global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, the firm’s brokers and their clients will benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty marketing programs. Each office is independently owned and operated.

Vacation Home Sales Pegged at a Record High

Sales of vacation homes have been picking up as the economy grows and baby boomers retire and move from condos and rentals to outright purchases. Here, a waterfront vacation rental in Cape Cod, Mass., in 2012.
Sales of vacation homes have been picking up as the economy grows and baby boomers retire and move from condos and rentals to outright purchases. Here, a waterfront vacation rental in Cape Cod, Mass., in 2012. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Continued stock-market gains and low interest rates drove sales of vacation homes to the highest level on record last year, putting one segment of the housing market above its prerecession peak.

The National Association of Realtors estimates that vacation-home sales amounted to 1.13 million properties last year, up a robust 57.4% from 2013, which itself marked a 30% increase from 2012.

Last year’s estimated tally topped the previous high from 2006 to become the biggest year for vacation-home sales volume since the Realtor association started tracking the market in 2003. Vacation homes accounted for 21% of all sales last year, the highest share since the survey’s inception.

Read full article here

 

Sotheby’s International Realty Launches Newly Redesigned Website, SIR.com

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Portland, ME (April 3, 2015) – Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, a luxury real estate firm with offices in Portland, Kennebunk, Brunswick, Damariscotta, and Camden, ME today announced the launch of the Sotheby’s International Realty® brand’s newly redesigned website, sir.com, which was built to showcase the network’s listings in an immersive and visual way that is unique to the industry.

“The new sir.com was created to tell the story of a home in a more editorial way, not the commoditized approach that can often be found in our industry,” said Wendy Purvey, chief marketing officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC.  “We believe the art of marketing a home is based on showcasing its soul, so every aspect of the new site works toward this goal.”

The design changes include an increased focus on full-screen, high-definition video throughout the site, from the homepage to property detail pages, to allow for a more immersive consumer experience.  High-resolution photography also plays a more prominent role.  The property detail pages feature: slideshows that tell a home’s story via the captions, custom video, location overviews that provide insight into the local area via video and text, and a seller or expert quote that offers a personal view of the property.

Consumers still can search for a home based on lifestyle and amenity but now have the ability to sort their results by various home features including pools, kitchens and views, and compare visual images of that feature among their search results.

“At the foundation of the Sotheby’s International Realty brand is our focus on lifestyle,” said John Passerini, vice president of interactive marketing for the brand.  “Our lifestyle search is more visual, and our focus on video and photography allows our affiliates to showcase the various lifestyles a home offers that cannot be properly articulated in words only.  Our fully responsive site works on any mobile device and allows our network members to do what we believe they do best: uniquely showcase extraordinary homes around the world anytime, anywhere and in any language.”

Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, which has offices in Portland, Kennebunk, Brunswick, Damariscotta, and Camden, ME, offers exclusive Sotheby’s International Realty marketing, advertising and referral services designed to attract well-qualified buyers to the firm’s property listings. In addition, the firm and its clients benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house, which promotes real estate referral opportunities with auction house clientele.

As a Sotheby’s International Realty affiliate, the firm also has the unique ability to refer its real estate clientele to the auction house for jewelry, art, unique furniture and collectible appraisal services. Property listings from Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty also are marketed on the sothebysrealty.com global website, as well as on the firm’s local website, LegacySIR.com.

Sotheby’s International Realty Brand Enters Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington

MADISON, N.J. (April 1, 2015) – Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC today announced that its affiliate in Oregon, Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty, has expanded its residential brokerage operations to now serve two new markets: Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington.

Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty joined the Sotheby’s International Realty® brand in 2006 and is owned by Deb Tebbs. The firm now has six offices serving Bend, Sisters, Sunriver and Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington.

“Deb Tebbs and her team have been great stewards of our brand for nearly a decade,” said Philip White, president and chief executive officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “We are proud to have the brand represented in the Portland and Vancouver markets through their leadership and market knowledge.”

According to Tebbs, her firm is committed to providing clients with quality, worldwide exposure. “We specialize not only in residential property but also fine farm and ranch and vineyard properties,” she said. “We are pleased to continue to grow with the Sotheby’s International Realty brand.”

The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has more than 16,500 sales associates located in approximately 760 offices in 60 countries and territories worldwide. Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty listings are marketed on the sothebysrealty.com global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, the firm’s brokers and their clients will benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty marketing programs. Each office is independently owned and operated.

Sotheby’s International Realty Brand Welcomes Virginia Firm

MADISON, N.J. (March 31, 2015) – Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC today announced that Frank Hardy Inc., in Charlottesville, Virginia, is the newest member of is real estate network, now operating as Frank Hardy Sotheby’s International Realty.

Established in 1977, the firm is owned by Frank Hardy and will serve the high-end real estate market throughout Charlottesville, Piedmont, Albemarle County, Orange County, Chesapeake Bay and the Shenandoah Valley through its two offices and 22 affiliated agents.

“Since its inception in 1977, Frank Hardy Inc. has developed a reputation for specializing in highend farms and estates,” said Philip White, president and chief executive officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “During that time, the firm has served its clientele with dedicated support and specialized market knowledge.”

According to Hardy, the affiliation offers his firm a broader reach among potential clients worldwide. “We have always worked with an international client base, and we believe that with the support of this brand we can expand on that,” he said. “We have spent nearly 40 years developing a deep understanding of our unique market, which offers a vibrant university community mixed with outdoor country living. It is with this understanding and love of our hometown that we serve our clients.”

The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has more than 16,500 sales associates located in approximately 760 offices in 60 countries and territories worldwide. Frank Hardy Sotheby’s International Realty listings are marketed on the sothebysrealty.com global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, the firm’s brokers and their clients will benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty marketing programs. Each office is independently owned and operated.