REALTORS Raise $1.8M for Storm Victims

The real estate industry has been pouring in donations to go toward supporting storm victims affected by catastrophic flooding from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. State and local association donations to the REALTORS® Relief Foundation have totaled $1.2 million. The National Association of REALTORS® announced this week that it would give an additional $600,000 contribution to the RRF.
The RRF says 100 percent of all donations go directly to victims of natural disasters. “The devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is enormous, and our thoughts and support go out to all of those affected,” says NAR President William E. Brown. “The National Association of REALTORS® wants our members and the consumers they serve to know that the REALTOR® family is here for them. We encourage one and all to join NAR in donating to the REALTORS® Relief Foundation.”
The RRF was established in 2001 in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Since then, the foundation has raised more than $26 million for housing-related aid, which supports mortgage and rental assistance for disaster victims.

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Confidence in Housing Strong

Confidence in housing doubled back in August toward the all-time high in the Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI), with home sellers’ optimism rebounding from July. The HPSI overall posted 88.0 in August, 1.2 percentage points higher than the month prior and moving toward the Index’s record high in June.

The share of sellers surveyed who believe now is a good time to sell rose eight percentage points to 36 percent. The discrepancy is predominantly due to home prices, says Doug Duncan, chief economist and senior vice president at Fannie Mae. Forty-eight percent of both homebuyers and sellers surveyed anticipate home prices will rise.

“In the early stages of the economic expansion, home-selling sentiment trailed home-buying sentiment by a significant margin,” Duncan says. “The reverse is true today. The net good time to sell share is now double the net good time to buy share, with record high percentages of consumers citing home prices as the primary reason for both perceptions. Such a sizable gap between selling and buying sentiment, if it persists, could weigh on the housing market through the rest of the year.”

Source: Fannie Mae

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE UP

Consumer confidence kept improving in August, posting a 122.9 reading in the latest Consumer Confidence Index® from The Conference Board. The Expectations reading of the Index rose to 104.0, while the Present Situation reading rose to 151.2. July’s reading was 120.0.

 

“Consumer confidence increased in August following a moderate improvement in July,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board in a statement. “Consumers’ more buoyant assessment of present-day conditions was the primary driver of the boost in confidence, with the Present Situation Index continuing to hover at a 16-year high.”

 

The percentage of consumers who believe business conditions are “good,” as defined by the Index, increased from 32.5 percent in July to 34.5 percent in August; the percentage of those who believe business conditions are “bad” decreased from 13.5 percent in July to 13.1 percent in August. The percentage of those who expect business conditions to improve decreased from 22.4 percent in July to 19.6 percent in August; the percentage of those who expect business conditions to worsen decreased from 8.4 percent in July to 7.3 percent in August.

Home Prices Up

The headstrong supply and demand imbalances in much of the country tempered the pace of sales and caused home prices to maintain their robust growth in the second quarter, according to the the National Association of Realtors.

The national median existing single-family home price in the second quarter was $255,600, which is up 6.2 percent from the second quarter of 2016 ($240,700) as the new peak quarterly median sales price. The median price during the first quarter increased 6.9 percent from the first quarter of 2016.

Lawrence Yun NAR chief economist, said home prices in most metro areas continued their fast ascent because supply remained low. “The 2.2 million net new jobs created over the past year generated significant interest in purchasing a home in what was an extremely competitive spring buying season.”

Added Yun, “The glaring need for more new home construction is creating an affordability crisis that needs to be addressed by policy officials and local governments.”

U. S. Home Prices Up 6.2 Percent

According to the latest report by the National Association of Realtors, the national median existing home price in the second quarter was $255,600, up 6.2 percent from the second quarter of 2016 ($240,700) as the new peak quarterly median sales price. The median price during the first quarter increased 6.9 percent from the first quarter of 2016.
Single-family home prices last quarter increased in 87 percent of measured markets, with 154 out of 178 metropolitan statistical areas, showing sales price gains in the second quarter compared with the second quarter of 2016.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says home prices in most areas continued their fast ascent in the second quarter because supply remained at pitiful levels. “The 2.2 million net new jobs created over the past year generated significant interest in purchasing a home in what was an extremely competitive spring buying season,” he said. “Listings typically flew off the market in under a month. With new supply not even coming close to keeping pace, price appreciation remained swift in most markets.”
At the end of the second quarter, there were 1.96 million existing homes available for sale, which was 7.1 percent below the same time last year. The average supply during the second quarter was 4.2 months — down from 4.6 months in the second quarter of last year.
“Mortgage rates have subsided in recent months, which has somewhat helped take away the sting of rising prices.” added Yun.

Reasons to work with a REALTOR

REALTORS® are professional members of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict code of ethics. This is the REALTOR® difference for home buyers:
1. Ethical treatment. Every REALTOR® must adhere to a strict code of ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a REALTOR®’s client, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters. The first obligation is to you, the client.
2. An expert guide. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.
3. Objective information REALTORS can provide local information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They also have objective information about each property.
4. Expanded search power. A REALTOR can help you find opportunities not listed on home search sites and can help you avoid out-of-date listings that might be showing up as available online but are no longer on the market.
5. Negotiation knowledge. A REALTOR will look at every angle from your perspective, including crafting a purchase agreement that allows enough time for you to complete inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase.
6. Up-to-date experience. Most people buy only a few homes in their lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. Even if you’ve done it before, laws and regulations change.
7. Your rock during emotional moments. . For most people, property represents the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on the issues most important to you.

Lenders Relax Standards

As home prices continue to rise, some mortgage lenders are loosening their underwriting standards so borrowers can purchase property sooner. “The reality has sunk in that there are buyers out there who will be able to buy homes and make the mortgage payments,” said William E. Brown, president of the National Association of REALTORS®. told mortgage industry news website OriginatorTimes.com. The industry is “trying to give them more options to buy a house,” he added.
Mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are rolling out new programs to spur homeownership, and some lenders are moving to relax standards to avoid losing business as home prices and mortgage rates rise, says Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance. “If your business is going to drop 20 percent, you need to come up with ways to offset that,” he says.
Underwriting standards still remain stricter than in the past. Though borrowers have more loan options, such as 3 percent down mortgages, they typically must meet credit requirements to qualify.