HOME VALUES RISE

The national median home value has careened to over $200,000 for the first time, with a 7.4 percent annual gain rocketing it to a new high of $200,400, according to the Zillow Home Value Index.
Values are on a swift upswing due to low levels of supply and spiking demand. There are now 11 percent fewer homes for sale compared to one year ago.
“The national housing market remains red hot and shows no signs of slowing, even as some local markets like the Bay Area have noticeably cooled,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “But even in areas where the housing market has slowed, home values are at or very near peak levels, selection is limited, demand is high and competition is fierce.”
Gudell advises, “Given these high costs and high competition, the most important thing you can do is get your finances in order so you know what you can comfortably afford, and find an agent who has experience with bidding wars and will help you stand out in a competitive market, especially if you’re buying for the first time.”

Americans See Homeownership as Good Investment

According to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors®’ measuring consumers’ attitudes and concerns about housing issues in the nation’s 25 largest metropolitan areas. Results found that 84 percent of Americans believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision – the highest number since 2007.
Sixty percent said that they are concerned about affordability and the rising cost of buying a home or renting in their area. Housing affordability was ranked fourth in the top-five issues Americans face behind the lack of affordable health care; low wages and debt making it hard to save; drug abuse, and ahead of job layoffs and employment.
“Despite the growing concern over affordable housing, this survey makes it clear that a strong majority still believe in homeownership and aspire to own a home of their own. Building equity, wanting a stable and safe environment, and having the freedom to choose their neighborhood remain the top reasons to own a home,” says NAR president William E. Brown
Most surveyed believe that the most important financial reason to own a home is that the money spent on housing goes towards building equity rather than to a property owner. Paying off a mortgage and owning a home by the time you retire was the next most important financial reason for buying a home.

Realtors® Highlight Flood Insurance Concerns

According to a statement from National Association of Realtors President William E. Brown, “Congress has less than four months to reform and reauthorize the critical National Flood Insurance Program. NAR is pleased that Congress is addressing the issue.
“NAR supports six of the seven bills that passed out of committee. We believe they represent opportunities to lower costs for homeowners, protect more at-risk properties and support a broader range of private flood insurance options.
“Unfortunately, we have strong concerns over elements of the 21 st Century Flood Reform Act that could lead to consumer confusion and market disruptions. It’s imperative that Congress work together to avoid a repeat of the challenges that emerged following the Biggert-Waters reauthorization in 2012.
“Reauthorization remains our top priority. Our Realtor® members know firsthand that this program is critical for the 22,000 communities that depend on it.
“Chairmen Hensarling (R-Texas) and Duffy (R-Wis.) and members of the House are to be commended for their attention to this issue. We look forward to working with them to improve the 21st Century Flood Reform Act as it works its way through the legislative process.”
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

What is a mortgage “Closing”?

The “closing” is the last step in the process of buying and financing a home. It’s when you and all the other parties in a mortgage loan transaction sign the necessary documents. The closing of your loan is the time when your loan becomes final and the funds are distributed and when you become owner of your new home.
Your closing will include your title insurance company, your lender, your attorney if you hire legal representation for your closing, your real estate agent and the agent for the seller.
In Maine it is customary for all the parties to sit around a table and sign all the documents at once. Sometimes the closing may take several days if the signatures of each party are collected separately. Some companies allow you to electronically sign documents, either in advance of closing or at the closing table. A closing may even be conducted by mail or even on the internet.
Regardless of who performs the closing or where it occurs, you will be committing yourselves to abide by the documents you sign that will have lasting financial implications on your life. Although it’s unlikely you will have the time to read all the loan documents, don’t sign if you suddenly realize you can’t make the payments or until you fully understand the loan terms.
Enjoy your new home!

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS

The National Association of REALTORS®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members, including NAR’s institutes, societies and councils, involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
It’s membership is composed of residential and commercial REALTORS®, who are brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors and others engaged in all aspects of the real estate industry. Members belong to one or more of some 1,300 local associations/boards and 54 state and territory associations of REALTORS®. They are pledged to a strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
Working for America’s property owners, the National Association provides a facility for professional development, research and exchange of information among its members and to the public and government for the purpose of preserving the free enterprise system and the right to own real property.
The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.

Small Is the New Big: Home Size Preference Shrinks

First-time home-buyers are shifting housing industry standards when it comes to home design preferences—and, according to the latest Home Design Trends Survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), one of the most significant changes is the end of the era of expansive property and square footage.

Small, simply, is the new big.

Smaller homes are generally more affordable, which is key for many first-time home-buyers squeezed by high home prices and student debt. Small homes, however, are scarce in most housing markets.

Aside from less living space, the architecture professionals surveyed see the following trends taking shape:

  • In-Home Accessibility
  • Single-Floor Plans
  • Open-Concept Layout
  • Informal Spaces

Source: American Institute of Architects (AIA)

 

NEW STUDY: U.S. Homeownership Rate Off

NEW STUDY: U.S. Homeownership Rate Off
Despite steadily improving local job markets and historically low mortgage rates, the U.S. homeownership rate is stuck near a 50-year low because of a perverse mix of affordability challenges, student loan debt, tight credit conditions and housing supply shortages according to new findings released at the Realtors® Sustainable Homeownership Conference.
Led by a group of prominent experts including Realtor’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, they reported a dip and idleness in the homeownership rate, its drag on the economy and what can be done to ensure more creditworthy households have the opportunity to buy a home.
“The decline and stagnation in the homeownership rate is a trend that’s pointing in the wrong direction, and must be reversed given the many benefits of homeownership to individuals, communities and the nation’s economy,” said Realtor President Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California, “Those who are financially capable and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to pursue that dream.” One of Brown’s main objectives as president of NAR is identifying ways to boost the homeownership rate in a safe and responsible way.
Credit standards have not normalized following the Great Recession. Borrowers with good-to-excellent credit scores are not getting approved at the rate they were in 2003, prior to the period of excessively lax lending standards. Safely restoring lending requirements to accessible standards is key to helping creditworthy households purchase homes.