Orange County Real Estate and Market Update

Oct. 14, 2019

Existing-Home Sales Report Indicates Now Is a Great Time to Sell

Existing-Home Sales Report Indicates Now Is a Great Time to Sell | MyKCM

The best time to sell anything is when demand for that item is high and the supply of that item is limited. The latest Existing-Home Sales Report released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), reveals that demand for housing continues to be strong, but the supply is struggling to keep pace. With this trend likely continuing throughout 2020, now is a great time to sell your house.

THE EXISTING-HOME SALES REPORT

The most important data revealed in this report was not actually sales. In reality, it was the inventory of homes for sale (supply). The report explained:

  • Total housing inventory at the end of August decreased 2.6% to 1.86 million homes available for sale.
  • Unsold inventory is lower than the 4.3-month figure recorded in August 2018.
  • This represents a 1-month supply at the current sales pace.

According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR,

“Sales are up, but inventory numbers remain low and are thereby pushing up
home prices.”

In real estate, there is a simple guideline that often applies here. Essentially, when there is less than a 6-month supply of inventory available, we are in a seller’s market and we will see greater appreciation. Between a 6 to 7-month supply is a neutral market, where prices will increase at the rate of inflation. More than a 7-month supply means we are in a buyer’s market and can expect depreciation in home values (see below):Existing-Home Sales Report Indicates Now Is a Great Time to Sell | MyKCMAs we mentioned before, there is currently a 4.1-month supply of homes on the market, and houses are going under contract fast. The Existing Home Sales Report also shows that 49% of properties were on the market for less than a month when they were sold. In August, properties sold nationally were typically on the market for 31 days. As Yun notes, this should continue,

“As expected, buyers are finding it hard to resist the current rates…The desire to take advantage of these promising conditions is leading more buyers to the market.” 

Takeaway: Inventory of homes for sale is still well below the 6-month supply needed for a normal market, and supply will fail to catch up with demand if a sizable supply does not enter the market.

Bottom Line

If you are going to sell, now may be the time to take advantage of the ready, willing, and able buyers who are out there searching for your house to become their dream home.

Oct. 10, 2019

You Need More Than a Guide. You Need a Sherpa.

You Need More Than a Guide. You Need a Sherpa. | MyKCM

In a normal housing market, whether you’re buying or selling a home, you need an experienced guide to help you navigate the process. You need someone you can turn to who will tell you how to price your home correctly right from the start. You need someone who can help you determine what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller with a low-ball offer.

We are, however, in anything but a “normal market” right now. The media is full of stories about an impending recession, a trade war with China, and constant political upheaval. Each of these potential situations could dramatically impact the real estate market. To successfully navigate the landscape today, you need more than an experienced guide. You need a ‘Real Estate Sherpa.’

A Sherpa is a “member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering.” Sherpas are skilled in leading their parties through the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region – some of the most treacherous trails in the world. They take pride in their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes.

They are much more than just guides.

This is much more than a normal real estate market.

The average guide just won’t do. You need a ‘Sherpa.’ You need an expert who understands what is happening in the market and why it is happening. You need someone who can simply and effectively explain it to you and your family. You need an expert who will guarantee you make the right decision, even in these challenging times.

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.” 

Bottom Line

Hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one.

Oct. 7, 2019

62% of Buyers Are Wrong About Down Payment Needs

 

62% of Buyers Are Wrong About Down Payment Needs | MyKCM

According to the ‘2019 Home Buyer Report conducted by Nerdwallet, many first-time buyers still believe they need a 20% down payment to buy a home in today’s market:

“More than 6 in 10 (62%) Americans believe you must put at least 20% down in order to purchase a home.”

When potential homebuyers think they need a 20% down payment to enter the market, they also tend to think they’ll have to wait several years (in some markets) to come up with the necessary funds to buy their dream homes. The report continues to say,

“The truth: 32% of current U.S. homeowners put 5% or less down on their home, according to census data.” (as shown below):

62% of Buyers Are Wrong About Down Payment Needs | MyKCMThe lack of knowledge about the home-buying process is unfortunately keeping many motivated buyers on the sidelines.

Bottom Line

Don’t let a lack of understanding keep you and your family out of the housing market. Let’s get together to discuss your options today.

Oct. 3, 2019

3 Signs the Housing Market Is on the Rebound

3 Signs the Housing Market Is on the Rebound | MyKCM

The residential real estate market has been plodding along for most of the year. However, three recent reports show the market may be on the verge of a rebound:

1. Existing Home Sales (closed sales) are up, marking two consecutive months of growth.

2. Pending Home Sales (contracts signed) are up with each of the four major regions reporting both month-over-month growth and year-over-year gains in contract activity. Here is the month-over-month growth:

  • The Northeast rose 0.7%
  • The Midwest increased 0.6%
  • The South increased 1.4%
  • The West grew 3.1%

3. Buyer Traffic (the number of people shopping for a home) is up compared to the same time last year, and for the first time in 13 months.

  • The Northeast is up 5.9%
  • The Midwest increased 1.3%
  • The South is up 2.7%
  • The West grew 2.2%

In their most recent report, ShowingTime Chief Analytics Officer, Daniil Cherkasskiy explained:

“The trend we saw in year-over-year buyer traffic in previous months continued across the United States. For all four regions there were more showings per listing this year compared to last year, making it the most competitive August in the last five years.”

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist with the National Association of Realtors, believes the uptick in activity will continue into the future:

“It is very encouraging that buyers are responding to exceptionally low interest rates…With interest rates expected to remain low, home sales are forecasted to rise in the coming months and into 2020.”

Bottom Line

If you are thinking about selling your house, there are purchasers out there who are ready, willing, and able to buy.

Aug. 2, 2018

Selling Your Home? Here’s 2 Ways to Get the Best Price!

Selling Your Home? Here’s 2 Ways to Get the Best Price! | MyKCM

Every homeowner wants to make sure that they maximize their financial reward when selling their home, but how do you guarantee that you receive the maximum value for your house?

Here are two ways to ensure that you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a Little Low

This may seem counterintuitive, but let’s take a look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their homes a little OVER market value will leave them with room for negotiation when, in actuality, it just dramatically lessens the demand for their houses (see chart below).

Selling Your Home? Here’s 2 Ways to Get the Best Price! | MyKCM

Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price their house so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing so, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price but will instead have multiple buyers fightingwith each other over the house.

Realtor.com gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This, too, may seem counterintuitive as the seller may think that he or she will make more money by avoiding a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by real estate professionals.

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

The results of the study showed that the differential in selling prices for FSBOs, when compared to MLS sales of similar properties, is about 5.5%. Sales in 2017 suggest the average sales price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

Price your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the price you get for your house.

June 6, 2018

Selling Your House on Your Own Could Cost You

Selling Your House on Your Own Could Cost You | MyKCM

In this extremely hot real estate market, some homeowners might consider selling their homes on their own which is known as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). They rationalize that they don’t need a real estate agent and believe that they can save the fee for the services a real estate agent offers.

However, a study by Collateral Analytics 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. 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 than if they had 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 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.

Conclusions from the study:

  1. FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by Realtors using the MLS.
  2. The data suggests the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

As Dave Ramsey, America’s trusted voice on money, explains:

“Research has shown that, between mistakes, lack of negotiating skills, pricing errors and general exposure on the market, you’ll cost yourself more than the real estate commission…You’ll come out slightly better and with a lot less hassle if you use a top-shelf agent.”

May 22, 2018

How Current Interest Rates Can Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power

 

How Current Interest Rates Can Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power | MyKCM

According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at 4.61%, which is still near record lows in comparison to recent history!

The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.

Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford to buy will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.

The chart below shows the impact that rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a home within the national median price range while keeping your principal and interest payments between $1,850-$1,900 a month.

How Current Interest Rates Can Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power | MyKCM

With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5% (in this example, $10,000). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be closer to 5% by this time next year.

Act now to get the most house for your hard-earned money.

May 8, 2018

Housing Report: Cracks Appearing

Headlines are the same across the country: there are not enough homes on the market and buyers are having an extremely difficult time finding a home It has been a supply and demand issue for more than six years now, dating back to 2012. The story has not changed much for quite some time; that is, until now.

Now that a third of the year is in the rearview mirror, noticeable cracks have appeared that illustrate a cooling market. It is not as if housing has suddenly tilted in favor of buyers. No, there are still multiple offers and plenty of homes flying off the market and into escrow just moments after the FOR SALE sign is pounded into the front yard. Buyers are still frustrated by the lack of available homes on the market below $1 million. Sellers are still in the driver’s seat. Nonetheless, trends have surfaced that highlight a cooling marketplace.

CRACK – The current active inventory has increased by 15% in the past month. After a rather dismal, anemic start to the year, the active inventory in Orange County has been surging, adding 726 homes in just four weeks. That is the largest one-month gain since July 2013. There are currently 5,434 homes on the market, well below the 8,000 home long-term average; yet, the current trend is for a rapidly increasing active inventory.


CRACK – A staggering 11% of all active listings reduced their asking price within the last week. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) has a helpful red arrow pointing downward adjacent to the asking price if the asking price was reduced. In bringing up a list of homes across Orange County, there are a lot more red arrows pointing down compared to the past several years. This phenomenon is indicative of a market inundated by overpricing. Many sellers are arbitrarily pricing and not relying on the expertise of real estate professionals, so, to be successful, they have to reduce the asking price, and often more than once.

CRACK – Like Orange County, all of Southern California, as a whole, is experiencing more homes on the market compared to last year, and a lot less demand. The active inventory is up for all of Southern California for the first time since May 2015. Most counties are experiencing a higher active inventory compared to the prior year. All counties are currently facing far less demand compared to last year. The bottom line: the trend of a cooler market is not just isolated to Orange County. It is affecting all of Southern California.


Active Inventory: The active inventory added 6% more homes in the past two weeks.
The active listing inventory continued its swift climb in the past two weeks, adding 290 homes, up 6%, and now totals 5,434, its highest level since September 2017. Expect the inventory to continue to climb as the market moves deeper into the Spring and Summer Markets, peaking sometime between July and August.

Demand: Demand increased by only 1% in the past two weeks.
In the past two weeks, demand, the number of pending sales over the prior 30 days, increased by a paltry 35 additional pending sales. It now totals 2,675, the lowest demand reading for this time of the year since 2008. This lower demand level will affect the number of future closed sales for Orange County in comparison to the last few years.

The expected market time, the amount of time it would take for a home that comes onto the market today to be placed into escrow down the road, increased from 58 days to 61 in the past two weeks, transitioning from a hot, seller’s market, to a slight seller’s market (less appreciation, but sellers still get to call the shots). Last year at this time, the expected market time was at 54 days, a bit hotter than today.

Luxury End: The luxury inventory and luxury demand both increased in the last couple of weeks. 
In the past two weeks, demand for homes above $1.25 million increased by 41 pending sales, up 11%, and now totals 412. The luxury home inventory increased from 1,974 homes to 2,025, up 3%. Year over year, luxury demand is up by 14 pending sales, or 4%, and the active luxury listing inventory is up by an additional 138 homes, or 7%. With a surge in luxury demand, the overall expected market time for all homes priced above $1.25 million decreased from 160 days to 147 days over the past two-weeks. Last year the expected market time was at 142 days.
For homes priced between $1.25 million and $1.5 million, the expected market time decreased from 104 to 92 days. For homes priced between $1.5 million and $2 million, the expected market time decreased from 129 to 121 days. For homes priced between $2 million and $4 million, the expected market time decreased from 208 days to 182. For homes priced above $4 million, the expected market time increased from 386 to 456 days. At 456 days, a seller would be looking at placing their home into escrow around the start of August 2019.
Orange County Housing Market Summary:
  • The active listing inventory increased by an incredible 290 homes in the past two weeks, up 6%, and now totals 5,434. Expect the inventory to increase from now through mid-Summer. Last year, there were 5,387 homes on the market, 47 fewer than today.
  • This year, 20% fewer homes have come on the market below $500,000 today compared to last year, and there have been 27% fewer closed sales so far this year. Fewer and fewer homes and condominiums are now priced below $500,000. This price range is slowly vanishing.
  • Demand, the number of pending sales over the prior month, increased in the past two-weeks by 35 pending sales, up 1%, and now totals 2,675. Last year, there were 3,012 pending sales, 13% more than today.
  • The average list price for all of Orange County remained at $1.7 million over the past two weeks. This number is high due to the mix of homes in the luxury ranges that sit on the market and do not move as quickly as the lower end.
  • For homes priced below $750,000, the market is HOT with an expected market time of just 39 days. This range represents 35% of the active inventory and 55% of demand.
  • For homes priced between $750,000 and $1 million, the expected market time is 49 days, a hot seller’s market (fewer than 60 days). This range represents 18% of the active inventory and 23% of demand.
  • For homes priced between $1 million to $1.25 million, the expected market time is 81 days, a slight seller’s market (between 60 and 90 days).
  • For luxury homes priced between $1.25 million and $1.5 million, the expected market time decreased from 104 days to 92. For homes priced between $1.5 million and $2 million, the expected market time decreased from 129 days to 121. For luxury homes priced between $2 million and $4 million, the expected market time decreased from 208 days to 182. For luxury homes priced above $4 million, the expected market time increased from 386 to 456 days.
  • The luxury end, all homes above $1.25 million, accounts for 37% of the inventory and only 15% of demand.
  • The expected market time for all homes in Orange County increased from 58 days to 61 in the past two weeks, a slight seller’s market (from 60 to 90 days).
  • Distressed homes, both short sales and foreclosures combined, make up only 0.8% of all listings and 1.2% of demand. There are only 20 foreclosures and 24 short sales available to purchase today in all of Orange County, that’s 44 total distressed homes on the active market, up one in the past two weeks. Last year there were 81 total distressed sales, 84% more than today.
  • There were 2,614 closed residential resales in April, down by 2% from April 2017’s 2,677 closed sales. April was nearly identical to March 2018’s closings. The sales to list price ratio was 98.7% for all of Orange County. Foreclosures accounted for just 0.5% of all closed sales, and short sales accounted for 0.6%. That means that 98.9% of all sales were good ol’ fashioned sellers with equity.
April 24, 2018

House Prices: Simply a Matter of Supply & Demand

House Prices: Simply a Matter of Supply & Demand | MyKCM

Why are home prices still rising? It is a simple answer. There are more purchasers in the market right now than there are available homes for them to buy. This is an example of the theory of “supply and demand” which is defined as:

“the amount of a commodity, product, or service available and the desire of buyers for it, considered as factors regulating its price.”

When demand exceeds supply, prices go up. This is currently happening in the residential real estate market.

Here are the numbers for supply and demand as compared to last year for the last three months (March numbers are not yet available):

House Prices: Simply a Matter of Supply & Demand | MyKCM

In each of the last three months, demand (buyer traffic) has increased as compared to last year while supply (number of available listings) has decreased. If this situation persists, home values will continue to increase.

Bottom Line

The reason home prices are still rising is because there are many purchasers looking to buy, but very few homeowners ready to sell. This imbalance is the reason prices will remain on the uptick.

April 17, 2018

What Is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?

When it comes to buying a home, whether it is your first time or your fifth, it is always important to know all the facts. With the large number of mortgage programs available that allow buyers to purchase homes with down payments below 20%, you can never have too much information about Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

What is PMI?

Freddie Mac defines PMI as:

“An insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. It’s a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that is required for all conforming, conventional loans that have down payments less than 20%.

Once you’ve built equity of 20% in your home, you can cancel your PMI and remove that expense from your mortgage payment.”

As the borrower, you pay the monthly premiums for the insurance policy, and the lender is the beneficiary. Freddie Mac goes on to explain that:

“The cost of PMI varies based on your loan-to-value ratio – the amount you owe on your mortgage compared to its value – and credit score, but you can expect to pay between $30 and $70 per month for every $100,000 borrowed.” 

According to the National Association of Realtors, the average down payment for all buyers last year was 10%. For first-time buyers, that number dropped to 5%, while repeat buyers put down 14% (no doubt aided by the sale of their homes). This just goes to show that for a large number of buyers last year, PMI did not stop them from buying their dream homes.

Here’s an example of the cost of a mortgage on a $200,000 home with a 5% down payment & PMI, compared to a 20% down payment without PMI:

What Is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)? | MyKCM

The larger the down payment you can make, the lower your monthly housing cost will be, but Freddie Mac urges you to remember:

“It’s no doubt an added cost, but it’s enabling you to buy now and begin building equity versus waiting 5 to 10 years to build enough savings for a 20% down payment.”

Bottom Line

If you have questions about whether you should buy now or wait until you’ve saved a larger down payment, let’s get together to discuss our market’s conditions and help you make the best decision for you and your family.