A Housing Bubble? Industry Experts Say NO!

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With residential home prices continuing to appreciate at levels above historic norms, some are questioning if we are heading toward another housing bubble (and subsequent burst) like the one we experienced in 2006-2008.

Recently, five housing experts weighed in on the question.

Rick Sharga, Executive VP at Ten-X:

“We’re definitely not in a bubble.”

“We have a handful of markets that are frothy and probably have hit an affordability wall of sorts but…while prices nominally have surpassed the 2006 peak, we’re not talking about 2006 dollars.”

Christopher Thornberg, Partner at Beacon Economics:

“There is no direct or indirect sign of any kind of bubble.”

“Steady as she goes. Prices continue to rise. Sales roughly flat.…Overall this market is in an almost boring place.”

Bill McBride, Calculated Risk:

“I wouldn’t call house prices a bubble.”

“So prices may be a little overvalued, but there is little speculation and I don’t expect house prices to decline nationally like during the bust.”

David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices:

“Housing is not repeating the bubble period of 2000-2006.”

“…price increases vary unlike the earlier period when rising prices were almost universal; the number of homes sold annually is 20% less today than in the earlier period and the months’ supply is declining, not surging.”

Bing Bai & Edward Golding, Urban Institute:

“We are not in a bubble and nowhere near the situation preceding the 2008 housing crisis.”

“Despite recent increases, house prices remain affordable by historical standards, suggesting that home prices are tracking a broader economic expansion.”

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A Colorado county of 30,000 people is the healthiest place in America — here’s why

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  • Summit County, Colorado is the healthiest place in the US, according to a wealth of public health data.
  • The county is middle to upper-middle class and has high rates of physical activity.
  • A rare lung condition makes the high-altitude lifestyle slightly more challenging, however.

It’s not just the skiing that keeps residents of Summit County, Colorado spry.

Located about an hour’s drive west from Denver, the mountainous county of roughly 30,000 people is the healthiest place in America, ranking at or near the bottom of numerous causes of death.

According to 2014 data from the Institutes for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Summit County has the nation’s lowest death rates due to cancers overall; breast cancer, prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer individually; chronic respiratory diseases; and the second-lowest heart disease rate.

It also has the lowest death rate overall and the highest life expectancy, at 86.83 years, beating the national average by eight years.

summit county colorado Annual death rates by US county, with lower rates in blue and higher rates in red. IHME

What’s going on?

A lot of what makes Summit County so healthy is also what makes the other four Colorado counties in the top-10 ranking for life expectancy so healthy: an over-representation of higher-income, young, white residents relative to national averages.

About 81% of the county is white. The median age is 37.1 with a household income of $67,983 and property value of $478,800. The poverty rate was 13.7%.

Now compare those numbers with the demographic data in Union County, Florida, the least healthy county in the US. Union is 67% white, with a median age of 40.3, household income of $39,163, and property value of $87,500. The poverty rate is 20%.

Unlike Union, which has poor access to health services, Summit residents are generally wealthier and better-equipped financially to seek out health care when they need it. They participate less in unhealthy activities, such as smoking. Summit’s smoking rate in 2015 was 14.6%. The national rate is 15.1%. In Union, meanwhile, 20.9% of people smoke.

Living near popular winter resorts in Breckenridge and Frisco, Summit residents also have more opportunities than most to stay active year-round.

Keeping an eye on the heart

Summit may be leading the nation in cancer prevention and avoiding heart disease, but there are some costs to living at such high elevations. At 9,000 to 10,000 feet, Summit residents of all ages are at risk of developing high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). The condition arises when too much fluid enters the lungs, due to a lack of oxygen.

Dr. Christine Ebert-Santos said she saw 44 cases of HAPE in 2015, split across three types. The first are people visiting from low-lying regions. The second are people used to high-altitude coming back after a long visit. And the third are people who are long-term residents, who develop the illness suddenly.

What’s challenging about HAPE, according to Dr. Ebert-Santos, is people are “not really sick,” she told ParkRecord.com. The person’s oxygen levels are too low, but they don’t have asthma or pneumonia, which would hospitalize a person if they coincided with low oxygen levels. This can lead people to misdiagnose the condition as asthma, and panic when typical inhaler treatments don’t work.

“There’s so much that we don’t know, in every walk of life — every facet, not just medicine,” she said. “So we cling to the things we know, like asthma and pneumonia, and it’s like if you have a hammer, everything’s a nail.”

But with the exception of a rare lung condition, Summit residents tend to live long, healthy lives — proving each year the health benefits of financial stability, low poverty, and staying active.

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Why Sell Now Instead of Later? The Buyers are Out Now

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Each year, most homeowners wait until the spring to sell their houses because they believe that they can get a better deal during the normal spring buyer’s market. However, recently released data suggests that a seller’s best deal may be available right now. The concept of ‘supply & demand’ reveals that the best price for an item will be realized when the supply of that item is low and the demand for that item is high. Let’s see how this applies to the current residential real estate market.

SUPPLY

It is no secret that the supply of homes for sale has been far below the number needed for over a year. A normal market requires six months of housing inventory to meet the demand. The latest report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that there is currently only a 4.2-month supply.

Supply is currently very low!!

DEMAND

A report that was just released tells us that demand is very strong. The most recent Foot Traffic Report (which sheds light on the number of buyers out looking at homes) disclosed that there are more buyers right now than at any other time in the last twelve months. This includes more buyers looking at homes right now than at any time during last year’s spring market.

Demand is currently very high!! 

Bottom Line

Waiting until the spring to list your house for sale made sense in the past. This year is different. The best deal is probably available right now.

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Renting or Buying…Either Way, You’re Paying Someone’s Mortgage

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There are some people who have not purchased homes yet because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich,”

“While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”

Christina Boyle, Senior Vice President and head of the Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management organization at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person with that equity.

Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 3.94% last week.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.

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The #1 Reason to List Your House, NOW!

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released the results of their latest Existing Home Sales Report which revealed that sales rose 0.7% month-over-month, but remain 1.5% lower than they were a year ago. Some may look at these numbers and think that now is not a good time to sell their house, but in fact, the opposite is true.

The national slowdown in sales is directly tied to a lack of inventory available for the buyers who are out in the market looking for their dream homes! The inventory of homes for sale has fallen year-over-year for the last 28 months and has had an upward impact on home prices.

NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun had this to say,

“Home sales in recent months remain at their lowest level of the year and are unable to break through, despite considerable buyer interest in most parts of the country.

Realtors® this fall continue to say the primary impediments stifling sales growth are the same as they have been all year: not enough listings – especially at the lower end of the market – and fast-rising prices that are straining the budgets of prospective buyers.” (emphasis added)

The houses that are on the market are selling fast, too! According to NAR’s Realtors Confidence Index, the median number of days it took for a house to go from listed to under contract over the past three months was 34.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners who is debating listing your house for sale this year, the time is now! Meet with a local real estate professional who can guide you through the process and discuss the specifics of your market!

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Buying a Home Can Be Scary… Unless You Know the Facts

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Some Highlights:

Many potential homebuyers believe that they need a 20% down payment and a 780 FICO® score to qualify to buy a home, which stops many of them from even trying! Here are some facts:

  • 40% of millennials who purchased homes this year have put down less than 10%.
  • 76.4% of loan applications were approved last month.
  • The average credit score of approved loans was 724 in September.

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Hiring An Agent To Sell Your House May Cost You NOTHING!

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There is no doubt that it is easier to sell your house when using the services of a local real estate professional. The agent will provide:

  • Greater exposure to more buyers
  • The skills of a professional negotiator
  • A layer of protection from possible legal liabilities
  • Professional guidance in navigating any pitfalls that may arise
  • A level of safety while showing the home

There is no doubt that these services are valuable to any family that decides to sell. The only question is – how valuable? One of the main reasons For Sale By Owners (FSBOs) don’t use a real estate agent is because they believe these services are not worth the fee an agent charges. But, what if those services didn’t cost the seller a penny?

A study by Collateral Analytics, however, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save anything and, in some cases, may be costing themselves more by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.” (emphasis added)

Why would FSBOs net less money on their own than if they used an agent?

The study makes several suggestions:

  • “There could be systematic bias on the buyer side as well. FSBO sales might attract more strategic buyers than MLS sales, particularly buyers who rationalize lower-priced bids on with the logic that the seller is “saving” a traditional commission. Such buyers might specifically search for and target sellers who are not getting representational assistance from agents.” In other words, ‘bargain lookers’ might shop FSBOs more often.
  • “Experienced agents are experts at ‘staging’ homes for sale” which could bring more money for the home.
  • “Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.” If more buyers see a home, the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war for the property.

Three conclusions from the study:

  1. FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by Realtors using the MLS.
  2. The differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%.
  3. The sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling, FSBOing may end up costing you money instead of saving you money.

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