Your "Local" Specialist Blog

October 8th, 2015 2:16 PM
Pending Home Sales Remain Steady

Posted: 08 Oct 2015 04:00 AM PDT

Pending Home Sales Remain Steady | Keeping Current Matters
The National Association of REALTORS’ just released the results of their latest Pending Home Sales Index, which showed a small 1.4% decline in signed contracts in August. Pending sales remain strong year-over-year as they were 6.1% higher than August ’14 and have now risen for 12 consecutive months. 

What is the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI)?

NAR’s PHSI is “a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings”. The higher the Pending Home Sales Index number, the more contracts have been signed by buyers that will soon translate to sales. In every major region of the country, pending sales are up year-over-year as shown by the graph below: Pending Home Sales By Region | Keeping Current Matters

What does this mean for the market?

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR explained:
"Pending sales have leveled off since mid–summer, with buyers being bounded by rising prices and few available and affordable properties within their budget."

There is no need to worry

Yun went on to say, “Even with existing–housing supply barely budging all summer and no relief coming from new construction, contract activity is still higher than earlier this year and a year ago."

So What Does This Mean To Buyers?

There is a lot of competition out there right now for your dream home. Prices are going to continue to climb, act now before you are priced out of your future home. 

What Does This Mean to Sellers?

If you are on the fence about listing your home for sale and debating whether now is the time to move on with your plans of relocating… don't wait! There are more buyers that are ready, willing and able to buy their first, second, third, vacation, or investment property now than there has been in years! The supply of homes for sale is not keeping up with the demand of these buyers. Listing your home for sale now will give you the most exposure to buyers and the best sales price. 

Bottom Line

Whether you are planning on buying or selling a house this year, waiting to act no longer makes sense.

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Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on October 8th, 2015 2:16 PMLeave a Comment

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October 1st, 2015 9:43 AM

Renters: It is about to Get A Lot Worse

Renters: It is about to Get A Lot Worse

Posted: 30 Sep 2015 04:00 AM PDT

Renters: It is about to Get A Lot Worse | Keeping Current Matters
We often promote homeownership over renting when a family is ready, willing and able to purchase. There are both financial and non-financial benefits to owning a home of your own. Based on the headlines below, many news outlets agreed with us after they reviewed a recent report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and Enterprise Community Partners. The study states that the number of households spending 50% or more of their income on rent is expected to rise by over ten percent in the next decade. They concluded:
“Overall, this white paper projects a fairly bleak picture of severe renter burdens across the US for the coming decade.”
What do other experts think of the report? You can tell by the headlines they chose to introduce their stories:

“Renters, get ready to take it on the chin” - CNBC

“The Rent Crisis Is About to Get a Lot Worse” - Bloomberg Business

“Renters Will Continue to Struggle for the Next Decade” - World Street Journal

“Why the renting crisis could be about to get a lot worse” - Fortune Magazine

“Soaring rents are a problem that will only get worse” - Business Insider

“High rents are here to stay” - The Real Deal

Bottom Line

If you are thinking about buying a home and are financially positioned to do so, now may be better than later. You can download the entire white paper here: Projecting Trends in Severely Cost-Burdened Renters

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Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on October 1st, 2015 9:43 AMLeave a Comment

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September 13th, 2015 9:08 PM
5 Financial Reasons To Buy A Home

Posted: 08 Sep 2015 04:00 AM PDT

5 Financial Reasons to Buy A Home | Keeping Current Matters
We have reported many times that the American Dream of homeownership is alive and well. The personal reasons to own differ for each buyer, with many basic similarities. Eric Belsky, the Managing Director of the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University expanded on the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership in his paper -The Dream Lives On: the Future of Homeownership in America.

Here are the five reasons, each followed by an excerpt from the study: 

1.) Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available.

“Few households are interested in borrowing money to buy stocks and bonds and few lenders are willing to lend them the money. As a result, homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. Even a hefty 20 percent down payment results in a leverage factor of five so that every percentage point rise in the value of the home is a 5 percent return on their equity. With many buyers putting 10 percent or less down, their leverage factor is 10 or more.”

2.) You're paying for housing whether you own or rent.

“Homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord.”

3.) Owning is usually a form of “forced savings”.

“Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”

4.) There are substantial tax benefits to owning.

“Homeowners are able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from income...On top of all this, capital gains up to $250,000 are excluded from income for single filers and up to $500,000 for married couples if they sell their homes for a gain.”

5.) Owning is a hedge against inflation.

“Housing costs and rents have tended over most time periods to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation, making owning an attractive proposition.”

Bottom Line

We realize that homeownership makes sense for many Americans for an assortment of social and family reasons. It also makes sense financially. If you are considering a purchase this year, contact a local professional who can help evaluate your ability to do so.

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Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on September 13th, 2015 9:08 PMLeave a Comment

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Can Grocery Store Proximity Boost Your Property Value?

grocerystoreIs it parks, schools, city services or affordability that you should look for when searching for a home with higher than average resale value? All of these factors matter, in fact, and homeowners lucky enough to be near one popular grocery chain enjoyed a boost in their home's value.

Jennifer Von Pohlmann recently headed into the aisles at to get the lowdown on this story, and to determine whether living near a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods would provide a better boost if you had to sell.

Von Pohlmann examined home values, as well as appreciation and property taxes in U.S. zip codes with a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s. Her analysis revealed that homeowners near a Trader Joe’s have experienced better home value appreciation since their purchase, but also pay higher property taxes on average.

Here are some other details in Von Pohlmann 's findings:

  • Homeowners near a Trader Joe’s have seen an average 40 percent increase in home value since they purchased. That's compared to 34 percent appreciation for homeowners near a Whole Foods, the identical average appreciation for all zip codes nationwide.

  • Homes near a Trader Joe’s also have a higher value on average: $592,339, 5 percent more than the $561,840 average value for homes near a Whole Foods. Von Pohlmann found the average value of homes was $262,068 across all zip codes nationwide.

  • She also learned that homeowners near a Trader Joe’s pay an average of $8,536 in property taxes each year, 59 percent more than the $5,382 average for homeowners near a Whole Foods.

  • The average property tax across all zip codes nationwide was $3,239, according to Von Pohlmann.

  • For this analysis she broke down home value and property tax data for 1.7 million homes, condos and co-ops in 188 zip codes with at least one Whole Foods store (and no Trader Joe’s stores) and 2.3 million homes, condos and co-ops in 242 zip codes with at least one Trader Joe’s store (and no Whole Foods stores).

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Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on September 10th, 2015 1:53 PMLeave a Comment

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September 4th, 2015 9:10 AM
A+ Reasons to Hire A Real Estate Professional [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 04 Sep 2015 04:00 AM PDT

A+ Reasons To Hire A Real Estate Professional [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • Hiring a Real Estate Professional to buy your dream home, or sell your current house is one of the most 'educated' decisions you can make!
  • A Real Estate Professional has the experience needed to help you through the entire process.
  • Make sure that you hire someone who knows current market conditions & can simply & effectively explain them to you & your family!

Posted in:General
Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on September 4th, 2015 9:10 AMLeave a Comment

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15,315 Houses Sold Yesterday! Did Yours?

Posted: 01 Sep 2015 04:00 AM PDT

15,315 Houses Sold Yesterday! Did Yours? | Keeping Current Matters There are some homeowners that have been waiting for months to get a price they hoped for when they originally listed their house for sale. The only thing they might want to consider is... If it hasn't sold yet, maybe it's not priced properly.

After all 15,315 houses sold yesterday, 15,315 will sell today and 15,315 will sell tomorrow.


That is the average number of homes that sell each and every day in this country according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Existing Home Sales Report. NAR reported that sales are at an annual rate of 5.59 million. Divide that number by 365 (days in a year) and we can see that, on average, over 15,315 homes sell every day. The report from NAR also revealed that there is currently only a 4.8 months supply of inventory available for sale, (6 months inventory is considered ‘historically normal’). This means that there are not enough homes available for sale to satisfy the buyers who are out in the market now in record numbers.

Bottom Line

We realize that you want to get the fair market value for your home. However, if it hasn't sold in today's active real estate market, perhaps you should reconsider your current asking price.

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Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on September 3rd, 2015 4:06 PMLeave a Comment

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52% Likely to Buy in the Next 5 Years!! Are You?

Posted: 27 Aug 2015 04:00 AM PDT

52% Likely to Buy in the Next 5 Years!! Are You? | Keeping Current Matters
According to the recently released BMO Harris Bank Home Buying Report, 52% of Americans say they are likely to buy a home in the next five years. Americans surveyed for the report said they would be willing to pay an average of $296,000 for a home and would average a 21% down payment. The report also had other interesting revelations.

Those Looking to Buy

  • 74% of those looking to buy a new home will consult a real estate agent
  • 59% said they will visit online real estate websites
  • 37% will seek recommendations from friends and family
  • 78% plan to get pre-approved before seriously searching for a home

Those Who Already Own

  • 75% of current home owners set a budget before looking for a home. 16% ended up spending less while 13% went over their budget.
  • 63% of American homeowners spent under six months looking for a new home before they made a purchase.
  • 8% bought their home without participating in an active real estate search - or even any plan to buy at all - because a specific property caught their attention.
The last point is very interesting: Of those that purchased a home, 8% bought “without any plan to buy at all”. A property caught their attention and they acted on it.

Why are More People not Planning their Next Move?

Why are people that are considering a move not putting their home search to a plan, and instead, buying only when a property catches their attention? A recent article by Fannie Mae may give us that answer, there is evidence that a large numbers of homeowners are dramatically underestimating the equity they have in their current home. The report explains:
“Homeowners may be underestimating their home equity. In particular, if homeowners believe that large down payments are now required to purchase a home, then widespread, large underestimates of their home equity could be deterring them from applying for mortgages, selling their homes, and buying different homes.”

Bottom Line

Perhaps it is time to sit with a real estate professional to determine the actual equity you have in your house and take a look at the opportunities that currently exist in the real estate market. This may be the perfect time to move-up, move-down or buy that vacation home your family has always wanted.

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Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on September 1st, 2015 10:06 AMLeave a Comment

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August 27th, 2015 1:34 PM
Don’t Get Caught In The Renter’s Trap

Posted: 25 Aug 2015 04:00 AM PDT

Don't Get Caught In The Renter's Trap | Keeping Current Matters
There are many benefits to homeownership. One of top ones is being able to protect yourself from rising rents and lock in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their findings of a study in which they studied “income growth, housing costs and changes in the share of renter and owner-occupied households over the past five years in metropolitan statistical areas throughout the US.”

Don’t Become Trapped

The study revealed that over the last five years a typical rent rose 15% while the income of renters grew by only 11%. If you are currently renting, this disparity in growth could get you caught up in a cycle where increasing rents continue to make it impossible for you to save for a necessary down payment. The average renter in the United States pays 30% of their income on housing compared to that of a homeowner who can expect to spend 15%. In many metro areas the percentage of income spent on housing is even higher and continues to rise every year. Like in San Francisco, CA, where the average renter spends 59% of their monthly income on housing or nearly 65% in Boston, MA. Homebuyers who purchased their home over the same five-year period locked in their housing costs and were able to grow their net worth as home values have increased and their mortgage balances have gone down.

Know Your Options

Perhaps, you have already saved enough to buy your first home. HousingWire reported that analysts at Nomura believe:
“It’s not that Millennials and other potential homebuyers aren’t qualified in terms of their credit scores or in how much they have saved for their down payment. It’s that they think they’re not qualified or they think that they don’t have a big enough down payment.” (emphasis added)
As we have reported last week, over 60% of Millennials who recently bought a home put down less than 20%; 36% put down less than 5%. Your dream home may be more attainable than you ever imagined!

Bottom Line

Don’t get caught in the trap so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Have a professional help you determine if you are eligible to get a mortgage.

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Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on August 27th, 2015 1:34 PMLeave a Comment

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Should I Wait to Put Down a Bigger Down Payment?

Posted: 26 Aug 2015 04:00 AM PDT

Should I Wait to Put Down a Bigger Down Payment? | Keeping Current Matters
Some experts are advising that first time and move-up buyers wait until they save up 20% before they move forward with their decision to purchase a home. One of the main reasons they suggest waiting is that a buyer must purchase private mortgage insurance if they have less than the 20%. That increases the monthly payment the buyer will be responsible for. In a recent article, Freddie Mac explained what this would mean for a $200,000 house: Difference Between a 5% and 20% Down Payment | Keeping Current Matters However, we must look at other aspects of the purchase to see if it truly makes sense to wait.

Are you actually saving money by waiting?

CoreLogic has recently projected that home values will increase by 4.3% over the next 12 months. Let’s compare the extra cost of PMI against the projected appreciation: PMI vs Appreciation | Keeping Current Matters If you decide to wait until you have saved up a 20% down payment, the money you would have saved by avoiding the PMI payment could be surpassed by the additional price you eventually pay for the home. Prices are expected to increase by more than 3% each of the next five years. Saving will also be more difficult if you are renting, as rents are also projected to increase over the next several years. Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell explained in a recent report:
"Our research found that unaffordable rents are making it hard for people to save for a down payment ... There are good reasons to rent temporarily – when you move to a new city, for example – but from an affordability perspective, rents are crazy right now. If you can possibly come up with a down payment, then it's a good time to buy a home and start putting your money toward a mortgage."
Laura Kusisto of the Wall Street Journal recently agreed with Dr. Gudell:
“For some renters there may be a way out: Buy a house. Mortgages remain very affordable.”

Mortgage rates are expected to rise…

Freddie Mac is projecting that mortgage interest rates will increase by almost a full percentage point over the next 12 months. That will also impact your mortgage payment if you wait.

Bottom Line

Sit with a real restate or mortgage professional to truly understand whether you should buy now or wait until you save the 20%.

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Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on August 26th, 2015 4:25 PMLeave a Comment

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Existing-Home Sales Soar to Highest Level in Eight Years

increaseExisting-home sales increased in July, while low inventory levels and rising prices are the largest factors lowering sales to first-time buyers to their lowest share since January, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released Thursday.

Total existing-home sales rose 2.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.59 million in July from a downwardly revised 5.48 million in June. July sales were at the highest pace since 5.79 million in February 2007. Existing sales have now increased year-over-year for ten consecutive months and are 10.3 percent above the pace a year ago at 5.07 million.

The report also found that single-family home sales increased 2.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.96 million in July to their highest level since 5.08 million in February 2007. Single-family sales were 4.83 million in June, and are now 11.0 percent above the 4.47 million pace a year ago.

Source: NAHB

Many economists believe that the growth in existing-home sales can be mostly attributed to growth in the employment sector.

“In some markets, this boost has been led by job growth –a key sign that the recovery is on track,” said Selma Hepp, Trulia’s chief economist. “As millennial employment improves, young adults will continue to move out of their parent’s homes and form their own households, first as renters and then as homeowners.”

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist added, “The creation of jobs added at a steady clip and the prospect of higher mortgage rates and home prices down the road is encouraging more households to buy now. As a result, current homeowners are using their increasing housing equity towards the down payment on their next purchase."

According to the NAR, the median existing-home price for all housing types in July was $234,000, which is 5.6 percent above July 2014. This in increase marks the 41st consecutive month of year-over-year gains. The median existing single-family home price was $235,500 in July, up 5.8 percent from July 2014.

"Despite the strong growth in sales since this spring, declining affordability could begin to slowly dampen demand," Yun said. "Realtors in some markets reported slower foot traffic in July in part because of low inventory and concerns about the continued rise in home prices without commensurate income gains."

NAR reported that total housing inventory declined 0.4 percent to 2.24 million existing homes available for sale at the end of July. This total is now 4.7 percent lower than a year ago when inventory levels reached 2.35 million.

“Tight inventory across the country continues to put pressure on home prices,” Hepp said. “As more potential buyers are being pushed out of the market, home sellers may be reluctant to sell if there is a perception that they might not be able to find another home to buy–thus perpetuating the problem.”

Another decline was recorded in the percent share of first-time buyers in July for the second consecutive month. First-time buyers in July lowered to 28 percent from 30 percent in June, the lowest share since January of this year which was 28 percent.

"The fact that first-time buyers represented a lower share of the market compared to a year ago even though sales are considerably higher is indicative of the challenges many young adults continue to face," Yun said. "Rising rents and flat wage growth make it difficult for many to save for a down payment, and the dearth of supply in affordable price ranges is limiting their options."

Posted in:General
Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on August 20th, 2015 5:08 PMLeave a Comment

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