Check out this latest news! According to the Bratton report this month, median sales prices have increased approximately 4% annually since 1997 until now. Despite the ups and downs in the market over the past few years, the average median sales price has continued to rise. We are now looking at a healthy and growing market!
Our monthly newsletter touches on the up-and-coming investment in rental properties. The demand for rental properties in Central Oregon has been booming, leading many people to ask the above question… is investing in rental properties the way to go? Read the article below for a breakdown of the risks, rewards and benefits of owning rental properties.
Investing in Rental Property:
The Risks, Rewards, and Benefits
of Owning Rental Property
All indications suggest that the rental market will continue to improve because of low vacancy rates and rising rents. In fact, the demand for rentals is predicted to far exceed supply through 2015, with some 4.5 million new renters expected to enter the market in the next five years.
One area of the real estate market that is thriving right now is rental property. In the first quarter of this year, landlords and property managers across the country have rented more apartments and homes than they have during the first quarters of the past ten years. The amount that renters are willing to pay has also jumped to a nationwide average of $991 per month.*
In certain price ranges, especially under $200,000, we are experiencing a Seller’s market. Part of the problem, is the shortage of available homes to buy. A good home, properly priced, will receive multiple offers and that drives the pricing.
With falling home prices and higher inventories, most of the public views real estate as a “buyer’s market,” in which buyers hold more of the control and sellers will more eagerly accept lower offers just to sell.
Not so fast, say buyers and sellers. More buyers are finding the sellers in the driver’s seat.
Buyer Young Hammack gave up looking for homes for a while after being outbid on three properties in California. “It’s a false buyer’s market,” Hammack says. “If you think prices are cheap, wait until you start putting offers in.”
Many sellers may be unable or unwilling to lower their home prices — mostly because they may be underwater on their mortgage — so buyers are increasingly finding lower offers than list price denied. Buyers, on the other hand, may be reluctant to agree to a deal if they don’t feel like they are getting it at a deep discount, industry insiders say.
Traditional buyers also are finding even buying a foreclosure can be difficult as they’re increasingly outbid by investors who are willing to pay cash.
“There’s a shortage of attractive inventory,” says Glenn Kelman, chief executive of Redfin Corp. “Customers just keep getting outbid on the houses that they want.”
Real estate professional Steve Capen with Keller Williams Realty in St. Petersburg, Fla., says that the homes most in demand among buyers often don’t require much repair work and are located in good school districts and choice neighborhoods near transit hubs.
“What’s selling is the cream of the crop, and they sell fast,” Capen says. “If it’s not cream of the crop, it’s getting hammered.”
Oh, we sure hope so….
It’s not usually welcome news when the landlord hikes your rent. But for the housing market, rising rents may be one of the most hopeful signs in years.
The markets for rented and purchased homes usually move in opposite directions. When the housing market is hot and more people are buying homes, rents tend to stay low or go down, because there are fewer renters.
But when high interest rates or other factors cool the housing market, more people rent. Since it takes awhile for builders to add more units, the supply-demand mismatch drives rents up.
As with many other things, that natural relationship between rented and purchased homes got upended during the recession. Everybody knows about the housing bust, which got started as builders slapped up too many homes and lenders gave mortgages to millions who couldn’t afford them and were doomed to default. In the inevitable shakeout, a record number of foreclosures
led to an oversupply of homes and a sharp pullback in lending. And many homeowners became renters. But instead of going up, rents fell, too. That’s because of the way people reacted to lost jobs and falling incomes. Young people moved back in with their parents. Others doubled or tripled up to cut living expenses. Spouses in troubled marriages toughed it out for a few more years instead of getting divorced, because they couldn’t afford two places to live. Overall, the demand for rental units went down.
Now, all those overfilled households are finally starting to get some breathing room. New renters are emerging at rates similar to the late ’90s—when the economy was on a tear—as grown kids finally wave goodbye to their parents and many others move into a place of their own. That’s pushing high vacancy rates back down toward levels they were at before the recession—and sending rents back up.
U.S. 30-year mortgage rates have jumped above 5% for the first time since last spring, in a rapid rise that could present a challenge to the still-troubled housing market.
The average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages climbed to 5.05% in the week ended Thursday, according to a widely watched survey by government-backed mortgage company Freddie Mac, up from 4.81% a week ago. It was the highest rate in the survey since April.
Rising mortgage rates are an immediate consequence of the large jump in the U.S. government’s borrowing costs in recent weeks. Mortgage rates tend to move in line with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which closed Thursday at 3.712%, up from its October low of 2.381%.
The sharp rise in mortgage rates has caught some investors and economists off guard, and will likely be watched closely by the Federal Reserve, which has been buying Treasury bonds in an effort to keep rates down and bolster economic activity.
In some ways, the rate increase reflects positive news: Rates are rising in large part because there are signs the recovery is strengthening. As the economy gains steam, investors demand higher rates to compensate for an expected uptick in inflation. And if the economy can generate stronger job and wage growth, higher rates may not be a problem for housing.
But many worry that the housing market is lagging behind other parts of the economy. One risk is that higher rates could deter buying, putting further pressure on prices and squelching hope of a housing recovery for now. Many analysts expect nationwide home prices to decline 5% to 10% in the months ahead.
Still, rates remain near historically low levels, and the market has withstood much higher rates in the past. By at least one measure, housing affordability has returned to its levels before the housing boom collapsed.
Keith Hembre, chief economist at Nuveen Asset Management in Minneapolis, says rates still need to rise 0.25 to 0.5 percentage point before they become a hindrance. “But it’s certainly not helpful,” he said.
The Obama administration announced on Friday plans to reform the housing finance market, including winding down government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and turning most of the market over to the private sector, as well as requiring larger down payments. The White House proposed three approaches to replacing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rather than offering up one final plan.
The administration’s proposal is expected to reshape the way Americans buy and own homes.
Among the plans outlined in the administration’s “white paper”:
▪ Shrinking the size of the portfolio of mortgages held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by at least 10 percent a year.
▪ Creating an insurance fund for mortgages, supported by premiums paid by lenders.
▪ Winding down government subsidies of mortgages by raising the fees charged to cover the risk of default.
▪ Raising fees for borrowers and requiring larger down payments for home loans.
The administration also recommended measures to make government-backed mortgages more expensive in order to allow the private-sector to better compete in the mortgage market. For example, it called for reducing by this fall the size of mortgages Fannie and Freddie may purchase from $729,750 to $625,500.
Some critics of the proposal are concerned that the administration’s overall plan would raise mortgage rates.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that mortgage costs likely will rise in the coming years, as government support is withdrawn and the private sector takes on a bigger role. Credit Suisse has estimated that rates on a 30-year fixed mortgage may rise as much as 2 percentage points if the government withdraws its backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Higher borrowing costs could be a thorn for a recovering housing market, since interest rates greatly affect how much buyers can afford, experts say.
“Reducing the government’s involvement in the mortgage finance market is necessary for a healthy market, but should not be done at the expense of the economy or home buyers,” NAR President Ron Phipps said in a public statement in response to the Obama administration’s plan. “Any proposal for increasing fees and borrowing costs beyond actuarially sound levels will only make it harder for working, middle-class individuals to achieve home ownership, and only the wealthy will be able to achieve the American dream.”
NAR’s economists estimate that a retreat of capital from the housing market will negatively impact the economy too. For every 1,000 home sales, 500 jobs are created for the country, NAR notes.
Geithner estimates that reducing the government’s role in the mortgage market may take five to seven years for the transition.
“Most people in Congress understand that this is a very political, contentious issue,” says David Berson, a former Fannie Mae chief economist. “It’s going to be a very volatile ride as we move toward what ultimately will be the future of Fannie and Freddie. It’s hard to know what that’s going to be.”
Our market in Central Oregon reflects similar activity. Our inventory in Bend is down 31% from the high in July and average sold prices are stabilizing. We know there is still quite a bit of distressed properties that surely must hit the market but no telling when. It is still an excellent time to buy and in many cases a great time to sell due to low inventories.
December Existing-Home Sales Jump
Existing-home sales rose sharply in December, when sales increased for the fifth time in the past six months, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
Existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 12.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.28 million in December from an upwardly revised 4.70 million in November, but remain 2.9 percent below the 5.44 million pace in December 2009.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said sales are on an uptrend. “December was a good finish to 2010, when sales fluctuate more than normal. The pattern over the past six months is clearly showing a recovery,” he said. “The December pace is near the volume we’re expecting for 2011, so the market is getting much closer to an adequate, sustainable level. The recovery will likely continue as job growth gains momentum and rising rents encourage more renters into ownership while exceptional affordability conditions remain.”
The national median existing-home price2 for all housing types was $168,800 in December, which is 1.0 percent below December 2009. Distressed homes3 rose to a 36 percent market share in December from 33 percent in November, and 32 percent in December 2009.
“The modest rise in distressed sales, which typically are discounted 10 to 15 percent relative to traditional homes, dampened the median price in December, but the flat price trend continues,” Yun explained.
Total housing inventory at the end of December fell 4.2 percent to 3.56 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 8.1-month supply4 at the current sales pace, down from a 9.5-month supply in November.
NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., said buyers are responding to very good affordability conditions despite tight mortgage credit. “Historically low mortgage interest rates, stable home prices, and pent-up demand are drawing home buyers into the market,” Phipps said. “Recent home buyers have been successful with very low default rates, given the outstanding performance for loans originated in 2009 and 2010.”
We believe one of the wild cards for 2011 is the interest rate and the other will be the foreclosure market.
Financial experts suggest that borrowers should apply for a new mortgage loan, or refinance their home loan when the time is right for their individual needs, rather than attempt to time the market. While risk takers may be enthusiastic about waiting until the last minute to lock in a low mortgage interest rate, most homeowners and homebuyers prefer to observe general mortgage market trends and focus more intently on their own finances.
Predicting a specific mortgage rate for a particular time is pretty nearly impossible, but real estate market observers have identified a few trends that they anticipate will impact the mortgage market in 2011:
1. Mortgage rates will slowly rise throughout the year
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) anticipates that rates will rise slightly in 2011, hovering around 5 percent and increasing to about 6 percent in 2012. Holden Lewis of Bankrate wrote this past fall that economists had predicted a rise in mortgage rates by the third quarter of 2010. At the end of 2010, mortgage rates began to climb out of the 4 percent range and slightly above 5 percent. While any increase in mortgage rates is unwelcome to homeowners who want to refinance or to buyers, a 5 percent mortgage rate is still historically in the low range of interest rates.
2. Overall demand for mortgages will decrease
The MBA predicts that total mortgage originations for 2011 will decline to less than $1 trillion, driven by subdued economic growth and a lack of consumer confidence.
3. Mortgage refinancing applications will drop
Mortgage refinancing has represented a large portion of all mortgage applications in any given week this year, with the refinancing applications accounting for about 80 percent of all mortgages written this year. The MBA predicts that refinancing activity will drop below 40 percent of mortgages in 2011 and decline further to 26 percent of mortgages in 2012. Not only will rising mortgage rates reduce the demand for refinancing, but the pool of qualified homeowners will shrink. Homeowners who could qualify are likely to have done so in 2010, and others have difficulty obtaining a loan approval because of reduced equity or credit or income challenges.
4. Mortgage applications for a home purchase will become a greater part of the market
The MBA predicts that stabilizing home prices and modest increases in home sales will increase the number of applications for a mortgage for a home purchase.
5. Jumbo loan mortgages will be more attractive
6. All-cash purchases will become a larger part of the market
Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, says that all-cash purchases represented about a quarter of all existing home purchases in the last four months of 2010. He anticipates all-cash purchases to continue to represent a significant portion of the market in 2011.
7. The mortgage loan process will remain slow and complex
Holden Lewis at Bankrate says even if the number of loan applications drops, lenders anticipate that the time between application and closing will continue to take as much as 60 days. In fact, many lenders recommend a loan lock of 60, 75 or even 90 days to ensure that the loan process will be complete within the lock period. One issue is simply the new level of documentation and verification that is required for a loan approval. Another issue that slows refinancing applications is the existence of a second mortgage or a home equity line of credit, which must be re-subordinated to the first loan when refinancing. Getting a lender to agree to keep the home equity loan in the second position can be time-consuming.
The bottom line
While these general mortgage trends may impact the real estate market overall, each homeowner or buyer considering applying for a mortgage should meet with a lender to determine the cost and availability of a loan that meets his or her needs.
Broderick Perkins wrote a good piece in Realty Times about why vacation rentals are a prime opportunity right now.
Right now, the languishing housing market offers some lingering upsides for those who have a pot of investment dollars to burn.
Home prices are low, financing is cheap and inventories are bulging.
The planets have aligned over vacation rental acquisitions.
The road’s been rocky for real estate in recent years, but that means it’s a buyer’s market and good time to grab a piece of the American Dream as a solid, long-term investment.
“Vacation homes are almost always a good investment,” says vacation rental guru Christine Karpinski, director of Owner Community for HomeAway.com, the global leader in vacation rentals, hosting some 540,000 vacation rental listings.
According to Karpinski, here’s why you want to move on that vacation rental now.
Prices are as low as they are going to go.
Interest rates are likewise as low as they are likely to go.
Markets are flush with inventory.
Good help is easy to find.
Vacation rentals are more popular than ever, thanks to their home-away-from-home allure but also because the Internet has made them eminently more visible.
“More and more consumers are choosing to stay in cozy condos, cabins, and chalets instead of cramped, impersonal hotel rooms when they travel. And as market demand has surged, organizations like HomeAway.com have sprung up to help connect vacation homeowners with these potential renters,” Karpinski said.
The longer you wait to buy, the more likely mortgage rates and prices will rise and the good properties will be snatched up.
For the fourth consecutive month, price reductions have increased for home listings currently on the market in the United States. The reductions are now at an all-time high of 27 percent, according to Trulia.com
The record-high reductions amount to more than $30.7 billion nationwide. In a press release, Trulia concludes that there has been “a continual and dramatic price reduction increase in many cities that began in June 2010.”
Anxious sellers, watching prices decrease, have gotten aggressive in their pricing. “We would normally expect to see a seasonal uptick in price reductions between June and October, as motivated sellers whose homes are still on the market after the summer selling season aggressively cut prices in an effort to get their homes sold before the holidays,” said Tara-Nicholle Nelson, consumer educator, Trulia.com.
This is like Christmas coming early for buyers who are hoping to capitalize on a bargain-buy before the year’s end. “Comparatively speaking, we’ve found that seasonal considerations combined with a lack of urgency on the part of would-be buyers and continued job market doldrums nationwide have led to more significant reductions during this time period than during the same time frame in 2009,” said Tara-Nicholle.
Low interest rates and great deals on houses is making this an ideal time for some buyers to purchase a home. However, while buyers may think it’s “their” market, it’s important to remember that if you’re an ill-prepared buyer, you could lose the deal of a lifetime and the home you really want.