Is this another housing bubble?

 Real Estate Market  Comments Off on Is this another housing bubble?
Nov 082018
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

Rapidly rising home prices preceded the housing crash 10 years ago during which some homes lost more than 50% of their value. Prices bottomed out a couple years later and have been rising steadily ever since. The strength of the recovery has some folks asking if we’re entering another housing bubble. Let’s look at the data.

Home prices nationally have risen 57% since the 2011 trough and are at record highs in some markets. However, the recovery hasn’t been uniform, and some markets still haven’t fully recovered. In addition, in order to assess market frothiness, it’s important to look at not only what homes cost, but also what homebuyers can afford.

Corelogic did that through its Market Conditions Indicator, which considers both home prices and average incomes. When rising home prices outpace incomes for a metropolitan area, the index labels the area overvalued. According to this index, about one-third of US metros currently are overvalued. This includes most Texas metros, including Austin, San Antonio, DFW, and Houston.

So, what does this mean? According to Corelogic, it probably doesn’t indicate a bubble yet. Before the last crash, two-thirds of metros nationally were overvalued. Market forces could be equilibrate metros if home prices stabilize. However, if for the next couple of years we experience additional price growth, we could enter bubble territory again.

Fannie housing index says it’s a good time to buy

 Real Estate Market  Comments Off on Fannie housing index says it’s a good time to buy
Oct 312018
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

Fannie Mae’s housing index fell slightly last month, but it remains on trend, suggesting the housing market continues to strengthen slowly. The good-time-to-buy component of the index rebounded strongly last month, gaining 5 points. Apparently, the strong economy has buoyed homebuyer sentiment enough to overcome rising interest rates. However, the component still is significantly lower than earlier in the year and is down year-over-year.

The good-time-to-sell component remained flat last month; however, it’s still trending higher and is well within reach of its recent all-time high.

Surprisingly, the components that measure personal finances both fell last month. The net share of respondents who said their income is significantly higher than last year fell by 4 points, and the net share who feel confident about job security fell 1 point. However, this last component is strongly positive (+79%), so the decrease probably isn’t meaningful. The right track/wrong track component widened to 21 points in favor of the economy being on the right track, and that could explain the strength of the good-time-to-buy component.

Neither the home price nor mortgage rate component of the index showed any surprises. Respondents still overwhelming expect home prices and mortgage rates to rise in the next year, and the net share expecting a rise increased for both components last month.

Fannie housing index shows market still strong

 Real Estate Market, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on Fannie housing index shows market still strong
Jun 302018
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

Fannie Mae’s housing index rose to another record high last month despite the continued divergence of attitudes about buying and selling a home. The good-time-to-sell indicator rose 1 point last month and now stands at +46 while the good-time-to-buy indicator fell by 1 point and stands at +28. A positive reading means more consumers think it’s a good time to buy or sell than not, so both indicators still suggest strength in the housing market.

The good-time-to-sell indicator has been rising steadily over the past year and is 14 points higher year-over-year. The good-time-to-buy indicator has been relatively flat over the past year, which is good news given the increase in mortgage rates and home prices over the same period.

One possible contributor to the still positive good-time-to-buy indicator is consumers’ attitudes about renting. An overwhelming majority still say they would buy rather buy than rent if they were going to move. In addition, consumers expect rents to rise faster than home prices over the coming year, meaning waiting to buy a home could be an expensive choice.

Respondents continue to report strong personal financial conditions. Again this month they expressed an increased sense of job security, and more reported that their incomes had increased significantly in the last year. Both indicators also are higher year-over-year.

Cool map helps you decide whether to rent or buy

 Real Estate Market, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on Cool map helps you decide whether to rent or buy
May 192018
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

For many, the decision whether to rent or buy can be a confusing one. I’ve found a multitude of surveys and tools that claim to help you with the decision, but with so much information, analyzing your own situation can be overwhelming.

I came across an interesting Web site the other day that analyzes the rent vs buy data in an easy-to-digest format – a US map using shading to indicate whether buying or renting makes more sense. The map presents the results on a county-by-county basis, and you can zoom in to see the specific results for your county.

The map also allows you to choose a breakeven point – the point at which buying and renting are equally advantageous. Set this to the number of years you think you would live in the same location, and the map resets the shading to show you areas where buying or renting is better.

Finally, it’s important to consider the assumptions used to produce the map. The producers used US Census data to determine average rents and home prices. For the “buy” scenario, the producers assumed a 20% down payment, a 4.5% mortgage rate, and $2000 in closing costs. The last two could be a bit low depending on your situation, and unfortunately, many folks don’t have 20% for a down payment. Give me a call if you want me to calculate the breakeven point for your specific situation.

Record number say good time to sell a home

 Real Estate Market, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on Record number say good time to sell a home
May 182018
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

Fannie Mae’s housing index soared to a record high last month despite a negative reading from one of the index’s key components. The net share of respondents who said now is a good time to sell a home increased 6 points from last month to 45%. This good-time-to-sell sentiment has been on a steady rise for the last couple years, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have resulted in additional home inventory for sale, which remains very low.

Respondents also reported stronger personal financial conditions. They expressed an increased sense of job security, and more reported that their incomes had increased significantly in the last year.

The net share of respondents who think home prices will continue to rise jumped 7 points this month, and the average expected increase was 3.9%. While that might seem a negative for homebuyers, respondents said they expect rents to rise an average 5.7% over the same period.

The one black mark in the survey was the net share of respondents who think now is a good time to buy. That component fell 3 points last month. It’s likely the combination of higher prices, higher mortgage rates, and fewer homes for sale contributed to the fall. However, these same factors may increase buyers’ sense of urgency even if they don’t think it’s a good time to buy.

The main reason homeowners won’t sell their homes

 Real Estate Market, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on The main reason homeowners won’t sell their homes
May 012018
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

Survey after survey recently has shown that homeowners think it’s a good time to sell their homes. Recently, we reported an all-time high, 65% of respondents, ascribed to that sentiment in a Fannie Mae survey. A recent ValuedInsured survey said the percentage is 79%. So, if it’s such a good time to sell, why aren’t more homes for sale?

Pundits have speculated about many reasons, but one of the top suggestions has been the interest rate effect. Most homeowners have been able to finance or refinance their homes at very low interest rates. Now that rates are higher, they don’t want to trade in that low mortgage payment for a higher one.

This may be a valid concern for some folks, but in the ValueInsured survey, only 18% of respondents cited it. The overwhelming majority, 79%, said they weren’t selling because of the price they’d end up paying for a new home. In the same survey, 61% of respondents said they’re waiting for home prices to become more “reasonable” before moving.

I can see why homeowners would be nervous given reports of bidding wars and nearly double-digit yearly price increases in some markets. Unfortunately, when everyone feels nervous at the same time, it exacerbates the home inventory shortage, which leads to more price increases and more bidding wars.

This “time the market” argument seems like a serious hurdle to seeing more homes for sale. However, I suspect just a moderation of home price increases could calm nerves a bit. If homeowners could predict the price of their replacement homes, we could see an easing of the shortage.

Homebuyers undeterred by higher mortgage rates

 Interest Rates, Real Estate Market, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on Homebuyers undeterred by higher mortgage rates
Mar 062018
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

With mortgage rates up about 3/4 of a point since last fall, industry waggers are starting to wonder how higher rates are going to affect the housing market. The conclusions of a recent survey by Redfin say not much.

Redfin asked prospective homebuyers what they would do if rates rise above 5%. Only 6% said they would stop looking for a home. An additional 27% said it would slow their plans. However, that was almost balanced by the 21% who said it would speed up their search, and another 21% said they would keep looking, but would look at cheaper homes.

This result indicating higher rates will have a limited effect is consistent with historical evidence. Freddie Mac reviewed the six instances since 1990 that mortgage rates have risen at least 1%. On average, existing home sales fell only 5% and housing starts fell 11%. During one period, sales and starts actually rose.

The conclusion is that rising mortgage rates by themselves have a limited effect on the demand for homeownership. Home seekers at the margins, especially first-time homeowners, may no longer be able to qualify, but most potential homebuyers just adjust their plans and keep looking for their dream homes.

One note: the Freddie review didn’t consider instances of rising mortgage rates coupled with rapidly rising home prices, the situation that exists in a number of metro areas today.

Fannie says consumers stoked about housing

 Real Estate Market  Comments Off on Fannie says consumers stoked about housing
Feb 242018
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

Fannie Mae says consumers are stoked about housing. Does this portend an active spring home season?

Fannie’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index rose to an all-time high in Jan with 5 of the 6 survey components improving. Interestingly, the only component that didn’t improve was the percentage of households saying their income rose significantly over the last year. That result may change as the tax cuts kick in.

Of the components that rose, the main driver was respondents’ belief that home prices will keep rising. 58% said prices will rise whereas only 6% believe they will fall.

Respondents also believe this is a good time to buy a home (by a 59% to 32% margin) and a good time to sell (by a 65% to 27% margin). The good time to sell reading was also an all-time survey high. It will be interesting to see if this translates into more housing inventory this spring.

Finally, I thought it was interesting given the recent rise in mortgage rates that the share of respondents thinking rates will rise remained fairly constant. I suspect that component also may change in the coming months.

Could fewer cash sales be good 1st-time homebuyers?

 Investment, Real Estate Market, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on Could fewer cash sales be good 1st-time homebuyers?
Sep 162015
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

Based on the most recent data from Corelogic, cash sales of homes fell for the 29th consecutive month in May to 31.9% of total sales, which represents the lowest share since 2008. The percentage of cash sales peaked in Jan 2011 at 46.5%. Prior to the housing crisis, cash sales averaged about 25% of the market.

While this statistic may reflect a healing housing market on a national level, it’s interesting to view the data on a more local level. Cash sales still represent almost half of all sales in FL, GA, NY, and NJ. Given that the strengthening dollar is dissuading cash sales to foreign buyers, it’s likely these elevated percentages still indicate distress in these markets. In TX, the share of cash sales has dropped to 28%.

One positive takeaway from declining cash sales is it may indicate less competition from investors for a tight housing inventory. Given that investors tend to purchase lower-priced homes, this may open up more inventory for first-time homebuyers.

Are we heading for another housing crash?

 Real Estate Market  Comments Off on Are we heading for another housing crash?
Jun 252015
 

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or steve@LoneStarLending.com.

By G. Steven Bray

The recent run-up in home prices has led some to speculate that another bubble is forming. And bubbles tend to end spectacularly, like the 2008 housing crash. What are the chances of another crash?

The biggest difference between today’s housing market and the pre-crisis market is the level of leverage. Before the crash, mortgage debt amounted to 63% of real estate value. Today, that leverage rate is down to 44%. Thus, the market today should be more insulated from a rapid decline in prices.

Much of the decline in mortgage debt is the result of the elimination of delinquent debt through foreclosures, short sales, and other mechanisms. It also appears to be the result of the elimination of most of the no-money down payment loan programs that ruled in the pre-crisis era.