“It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.”
– Henry Ford: Founder, Ford Motor Company
IS IT REALLY TIME TO BUY?
Earlier this week, we gave you the links to four different articles that came to the same conclusion: it’s time to buy a home. Today, we want to take a closer look at one of the sources, the JP Morgan’s Market Insights report. Right from the beginning, the paper identifies the greatest challenge in today’s housing market: consumer emotion. They attempt to overcome that emotion with logical reasons why now is the time to buy a home. They break it down to the following.
One measure of housing values is the ratio of personal income to home prices. The report explains where we are today:
“Since 1966, the median price of an existing single family home in the U.S. has varied between 150% and 251% of personal income per household. However, roughly three-quarters of the time it has been in a relatively narrow band between 185% and 230%. In September 2011, the ratio was just 153%, implying that to get back to an average price to income ratio, home prices would have to rise by about 27%.”
Current Mortgage Interest Rates
With current 30 year mortgage rates, housing payments are at historic lows as compared to personal income.
“During the week of October 7, Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates had fallen to an average annual level of 3.94%. Assuming the use of a fixed rate mortgage with 20% down, this would make the median mortgage payment on a single family existing home just 6.9% of per household personal income, compared with an average of 14.4% since 1966.”
Monthly Rent vs. Monthly Mortgage Payment
Is it less expensive to own a home or rent a home? The answer to this question helps families make the decision whether or not to buy a home. The report explains:
“By the third quarter of this year, we estimate that the implied median mortgage payment had fallen to just 78% of the median asking rent…”
The paper comes to the conclusion that now is the time to buy.
“The numbers on housing have an important message for American families today, and particularly younger families setting out on life’s great adventure: Five years ago, at the peak of the home-buying euphoria, it was emphatically a time to rent. Today, when home ownership is depreciated more than ever before, the numbers tell us it is a time to buy.”
FED FOCUSES ON LIFTING AILING HOUSING MARKET
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday issued a new call about the importance of fixing the housing market, which could then have a trickle effect in strengthening the rest of the economy.
The Fed will consider buying more mortgage-backed securities to help, said Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman. Such a move could send borrowing costs even lower.
“The housing sector is a very important sector,” Bernanke said at a news conference. “Problems in that sector are a big reason why our economy’s not recovering more quickly.” The Fed is holding a two-day policy meeting – which ends Thursday – to weigh options.
Economists believe that if more people were buying homes then it could lead to a boost in consumer purchases for other sectors, from furniture to appliances. They note that the housing market has led the economy out of recessions in the past, since it creates jobs and more spending on goods and services.
The housing market continues to be bogged down by a high rate of foreclosures, which is dropping other home values. About 7.5 million homes are either in foreclosure or delinquent on their mortgage.
HOW LONG ARE LOANS DELINQUENT IN FORECLOSURE?
Loans in foreclosure have been delinquent an average of 624 days — a record high, according to Lender Processing Services’ September report.
The time loans spend in foreclosure continues to increase. For example, 40 percent of home owners with loans in foreclosure have failed to make a payment within two years, and 72 percent of home owners have failed to make a payment in a year or more.
The time from the last payment to foreclosure sale has been found to be even longer in judicial states, in which foreclosures must be approved by the courts. The time span in judicial states is averaging 761 days, six months longer than non-judicial states, LPS reports.
While loans are spending longer in foreclosure, the number of foreclosure starts is decreasing. Foreclosure starts decreased 11.2 percent in September compared to August, and foreclosure starts are 15 percent below a year earlier, LPS notes in its recent report.
The states with the highest percentage of loans in delinquency or foreclosure are:
- New Jersey
The states with the lowest: North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, and Montana.
FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS HAVEN’T VANISHED
First-time home buyers are snagging up homes at much the same pace they were before the first-time home buyers tax credit created a buying frenzy two years ago. Indeed, for the first seven months of this year first-time home buyers have made up 32 to 36 percent of the market, according to NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® statistics.
Low interest rates and fallen home values are drawing more first-time home buyers to the market, at a time when rental prices are rising. However, today’s first-time home buyers certainly are being greeted with more market challenges, everything from higher down payment standards, tougher credit requirements, and delays in securing a mortgage.
But first-time home buyers seem to be finding options to curtail some of the challenges. For example, the FHA’s 3.5 percent down payment market share has seen a large increase in the last few years, rising from 3 to 30 percent since 2006, even though tighter credit standards and higher fees took effect a year ago. Also, the USDA guaranteed loan program offers a no-down payment program that more first-time buyers are taking advantage of.
Given fallen home prices and record-reaching interest rates, why aren’t even more first-time buyers taking advantage of home ownership? They lack urgency, particularly since many first-time buyers say they expect home prices to drop further and mortgage rates to stay low. What’s more, they remain concerned about the economy and their personal finances, finds a national housing survey by Fannie Mae.
MORE SELLERS OPT FOR AUCTIONS
Home auctions are on the rise: According to PropertyAuction.com, a real estate auction Web site, from January to September of 2011 there have been 96,388 residential auctions posted on its site. Compared to last year’s 50,412home auctionsduring the same time frame, that’s a 48 percent increase.
“s housing prices continue to drop and mortgage foreclosures reach staggering levels, public auctions around the country are luring investors and first-time home buyers looking for bargains, according to auctioneers, real estate brokers, and home buyers,” RealtyTrac.com reports.
Moreover, the belief that only distressed properties top the auction block no longer seems to be the case. Many sellers looking for a quick and possibly profitable sale of their homes are seeing the upside of going the auction route rather than competing with the overloaded inventory of homes on the traditional market. Sellers are aware that first-time home buyers and property investors are currently hunting in droves for a good deal.
Some advantages of property auctions include:
A property is put in the spotlight on a specific date and time rather than being “just another listing” among thousands.
An accelerated marketing campaign, creating a unique curiosity and sense of urgency in buyers and investors due to the very small window of time the home will be on the auction block.
Competitive bidding, which can drive up the price of the sale.
A quick close, particularly for distressed properties.
And real estate companies are getting into the game. “Not only are auction transactions trending upward, but new players are entering the auction business,” RealtyTrac says. “Real estate companies are now getting into the auction business, competing with traditional auction firms … Sotheby’s, Prudential, Coldwell Banker, and other real estate brokerages are launching real estate auction divisions to tap into this ever-growing sector.”