As rising rents sweep the country, the channel between the cost of owning and the cost of renting continues to slim. According to the latest Florida Atlantic University national index, today’s active rental prices make for a great time to purchase a home.
“We are not where we were in 2012, when nearly any purchase was a sound financial decision,” said Ken Johnson, Ph.D., real estate economist and index authors, in a recent press release. “However, overall, we are now in a situation where aggressive marketing from sellers combined with due diligence and sound negotiation from buyers is creating a housing market that’s more in line with what we’ve seen historically.”
The index, called the Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent (BH&J) Index, shows that 15 of the 23 cities studied are set in buy territory, while another five are only marginally in rent territory. This news only further fortifies the positive outcome of the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which showed home prices rising at the highest annual increase since June 2014, roughly 5.8 percent year-over-year. Out of the 23 cities studied in the BH&J index, the only urban places to show discouraging market conditions are Dallas, Denver and Houston.
“The scores for Dallas, Denver and Houston have worried us for some time now,” said Eli Beracha, Ph.D., co-author of the index and assistant professor in the T&S Hollo School of Real Estate at FIU. “The last time we saw scores of this magnitude, housing market crashes soon followed.”
The overall verdict seems to be, if you can afford to buy in, the time to do so is now.
To reach their finding, the FAU index incorporated property appreciation from housing markets around the country. This data is joined by rental, maintenance and alternative investment data streams. Together, these factors can indicate when (and why) housing markets might change direction.
For more information, visit http://business.fau.edu/buyvsrent
Homeowners in Generation X are making a comeback after coming up in the housing crash, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recently released Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study for 2017. More Gen X homeowners—who were most dogged by the downturn—are set to sell this year, having regained enough equity lost in the recession.
“Gen X sellers’ median tenure in their previous home was 10 years, which puts many of them selling a property they bought right around the time home values were on the precipice of declining,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “Fortunately, the much stronger job market and 41 percent cumulative rise in home prices since 2011 have helped a growing number build enough equity to finally sell and trade up to a larger home. More Gen X sellers are expected this year, and are definitely needed to ease the inventory shortages in much of the country.”
Gen X has taken a backseat to millennials in recent years, who have been the primary source of opportunity in housing, Yun says. More activity on the part of Gen X homebuyers and sellers this year opens up new prospects in the market.
According to the survey, the share of Gen X homebuyers grew to 28 percent—the largest percentage since 2014—but is behind the share of millennial homebuyers, 34 percent, and the share of baby boomer homebuyers, 30 percent. The trend toward multigenerational living is going strong, driven by baby boomers housing adult children who either have not moved out or moved back in after moving out.
“The job market is very healthy for young adults with a college education, but repaying student debt and dealing with ever-increasing rents on an entry-level salary are forcing many to either shack up with several roommates or move back home,” says Yun. “This growing trend of delayed household formation is one of the main contributors to the nation’s low homeownership rate.”
Student loan debt is also an issue for Gen Xers and younger boomers, though Gen Xers have the biggest burden, with a student debt load of $30,000—more than millennials’ $25,000 and boomers’ $10,000, according to the survey. Student debt plays a major role in the ability to save for a down payment on a home; in fact, 55 percent of millennial homebuyers, 29 percent of Gen X homebuyers and 9 percent of boomer homebuyers report student debt has stifled their savings.
“Repaying student debt also appears to be slowing some current homeowners who went to graduate school and now can no longer afford to sell and trade up because of their loans,” Yun says. “Nearly a third of homeowners in a NAR survey released last year said student debt is preventing them from selling a home to buy a new one.”
Gen Xers aside, there are shifts occurring in the millennial generation. One significant movement, according to survey, is the presence of children: 49 percent of millennial homebuyers have at least one child, prompting more home-buying activity in the suburbs.
“Millennial buyers, at 85 percent, were the most likely generation to view their home purchase as a good financial investment,” says Yun. “These strong feelings bode well for even greater demand in the future as more millennials settle down and begin raising families. A significant boost in new and existing inventory will go a long way to ensuring the opportunity is there for more of them to reach the market.”
What hasn’t changed, according to the survey, is the need for a real estate professional. Ninety percent of those surveyed worked with a real estate professional to buy or sell a home—92 percent of millennial homebuyers and 90 percent of millennial sellers, and 88 percent of Gen X homebuyers and 89 percent of Gen X sellers.
“Homebuyers reported being most surprised by mortgage insurance, followed by bank fees and points, taxes, title insurance and appraisal fees.”
“Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.”
“Pending sales bounded last month as enough buyers fended off rising mortgage rates and alarmingly low inventory levels to sign a contract.”
“The main storyline in the early months of 2017 will be if supply can meaningfully increase to keep price growth at a moderate enough level for households to absorb higher borrowing cost. Sales will struggle to build on last year’s strong pace if inventory conditions don’t improve.” (emphasis added)
“While it's not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”
“Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.”
“Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.”
“It's likely that you'll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you'll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford. Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.”