Andy Weiser Fort Lauderdale Realtor Blog

Low Mortgage Rates: Pros and Cons

Many economists had predicted that economic growth would be accompanied by climbing interest rates for 2016. However, despite even recent implications of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, economic uncertainty has influenced otherwise.

Contrary to the forecasts, the United States has been seeing some of the lowest mortgage and interest rates since 3 years ago in 2013. The low rates are playing a role in increasing home sales as they arm buyers with more purchasing power. However, “A look at the pros and cons of this recent drop in mortgage rates shows that they may not be as unambiguously beneficial to the housing market as previous low rates have been,” says Danielle Hale, NAR’s Director of Housing Statistics.

Here are some of the pros and cons per Danielle Hale’s recent blog post:

PROS

  • This year we have experienced a rate reduction of more than 50 basis points. This drop provides buyers with more purchasing power. The reduction of 50 basis points translates to reducing monthly mortgage payments by $50 per $100,000 in home price.
  • The amount of income needed to qualify for a home loan is also reduced by approximately $1,000 due to this decrease.
  • When calculating this based off of recent median home price statistics, this means there is a reduction of $2,500 that is needed to finance a home with a 20% down payment.

CONS

  • Despite June’s Brexit vote eliciting the decline of mortgage rates along with instilling economic uncertainty, most of the rate decline had actually already occurred in Q1 of 2016. This suggests that many had concerns about the economy before the vote in the U.K.
  • The global financial news of uncertainty is making consumers less optimistic about the housing market. This slowdown of global growth may also lead to consumers being skeptical of the effect on the U.S. labor market.
  • First time buyers are currently having difficulty locating affordable options due to the slim inventory levels. Others are struggling to accumulate funds towards a downpayment due to high rents and student loan debts. Hale points out that given these challenges, the only ones who are benefitting from the low rates are those who already own a home which is in large part contributing to the gap in wealth in the U.S.

Still, “Thus far, the U.S. economy has proven resilient to the weaker global economic environment,” says Hale. “A stronger U.S. consumer, who benefits from lower financing costs, may help ensure that trend continues.”

Tips for Homebuyers in a Competitive Market

The real estate market in several parts of the United States is certainly fast-paced these days. Many homes are selling very quickly with homebuyers struggling to find the right home before someone else puts it under agreement. The pressure is real.

Buying a home can already be emotional without the added pressure of a competitive landscape. If you are experiencing a challenging home buying process, here are some helpful ways to be ahead of the competition.

Create Property Alerts

Some real estate websites, including AndyWeiser.com, have the capability of saving your search criteria and provide daily updates of new properties and price changes emailed. This is a great way to be notified daily of new properties that meet your criteria and to cut down on lost time.

Select a Fast Moving Agent

Not all real estate agent are created equal. Some work more with sellers, some with buyers and some just work part time. Make sure you align yourself with one who works well with you. In markets like the current one, it is best to select an agent who is aggressive and always available to meet you. Agents who often work with buyers will be well aware of the struggles that buyers are having in the fast-paced market. Agents who simplify the process can help you beat out competing buyers which will improve your chance to solidify a deal.

Make an Aggressive Offer

In a competitive market, you don’t always have the luxury of time to be picky. If you have toured many homes and have lost out on several occasions then you may be asking for too much in your offer. Listing agents can often times receive 10 or 20 offers on a property and have to sort through and present them to their sellers. Some buyers are offering thousands of dollars over asking prices for an increased chance of getting the property. If you want to compete, you have to keep up and move quickly.

A good real estate agent will know the best way to strategize an offer and make it as attractive as possible to sellers. Discussing your offer tactics before you select a particular home is a good idea so that your process will go much smoother. The best plan of attack is to learn your market, develop a strategy and stick to it.

Tips on Maintaining Your New Home’s Value

Most homebuyers do not have the fortune of purchasing a home and have it drastically increase in value immediately. Even if you are experiencing superb market conditions with property values on the rise, it is still crucial that you maintain your home to ensure the highest price possible when it comes time for you to sell. Here is a list of items to take into consideration as they can have a significant impact on your home’s value.

Basic Maintenance – Routine maintenance of your home will help keep or improve its value. Areas that are often forgotten about for regular care are your heating and cooling systems. In some cases these systems are connected together and a big part of maintaining them includes the replacement of filters. You should replace filters at least twice per year, but for maximum efficiency swap them out four times per year or once per season. Failure to replace the filters can lead to inefficiency, increased energy costs or other potential problems. It is also a good idea to have the motors oiled and serviced by a professional HVAC repair and service company.

Seal up Drafts – Many homes have drafts that need to be sealed up. Gaps or cracks in doorways and windows are the number one culprit for energy loss. Neglecting to close up these drafts will over work your HVAC system resulting in more wear and tear as well as higher monthly energy costs. Fixing these drafts will not necessarily increase your home’s value, but it can help maintain your systems and keep energy costs lower should buyers request your average bill amounts.

Landscaping and Exteriors – Maintaining your home’s curb appeal is very important if you are in the market to sell. Your home’s exterior is the first and last thing that buyers will see so be sure to make a great impression when they arrive and to give a positive, lasting one that they will take with them when leaving. Many experts recommend an investment of up to 10% of your home’s value into landscaping if you are planning on selling. It has been stated that this can be one of the highest returns on investment as buyers place a lot of importance on a home’s exterior.

Do Repairs the Right Way – Major home repairs like a roof, furnace, or windows should always be done professionally. These items have the most value in the eyes of a homebuyer, but only if they are done professionally. It is wise to spend your money on doing these properly so that you can recoup the most amount of money when it comes time to sell.

Is Now a Good Time to Invest in South Florida Real Estate?

South Florida has many second homes and condos where it is prone to boom and bust cycles that stem more from housing wants than needs. The population is certainly growing and demand for Florida housing is on the rise with nearly two million baby boomers retiring each year. However, is the demand growing slower or faster than the supply?

Second home ownership increases as you travel north of Miami up to 20% as you reach Palm Beach County. The large group of properties plays a big part in the fluctuation of home prices. It can be effected during an economic downturn but it also represents the desire of future American retirees that will buy while they can.

In Miami the economy is diverse with a heavy weight on finance. As you head north more jobs are found in retail and services. Healthcare is one of the largest creator of jobs in the tricounty area and is growing fast.

Regarding home prices over the past few years, there was a great increase with a continued momentum this year. The question is how much of this increase was also due to foreclosure deals? The boom of prices is always cautionary for those investing on the short term, but for those looking for a long term investment now is certainly a good time to buy.

The population is growing at an uneven pace with slower rates in Miami and faster as you move up the coast. Speculation for housing needs is as follows for the next three years. Palm Beach County should expect a 10% increase in housing needs with 30,000 owner properties and 23,000 apartments. Broward County should expect a need of 25,000 owner and 25,000 rentals and 30,000 owner and 36,000 apartments in Miami.

Retail and restaurant investments will be best in Palm Beach County as they have experienced the biggest demand growth over the past 2 years and the average income is high. However, all three counties will be in need of office space for the fast growing number of healthcare workers.

Housing Index Reports Price Growth in South Florida

Prices of homes in South Florida continue to increase at a faster pace than the national average but are still approximately 25% below the peak back in December of 2006. Specifically, prices in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties increased 6.4% in April compared to last year per data from the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Comparatively, the 20 metro areas studied showed prices rising 5.4% during the same time frame with the tricounty region outpacing the rest of the country.

“The home price increases reflect the low unemployment rate, low mortgage interest rates and consumers’ generally positive outlook,” David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P, said in a statement. Blitzer stated that political uncertainty could have a slight effect on the housing market as it can distract homebuyers in the coming months.

Meanwhile seven metro areas across the United States have set new highs for prices including Denver, Portland, Dallas, San Francisco, Charlotte, Boston and Seattle. While South Florida still has room to grow, affordability is a concern much like these other areas.

Rising costs of entry level homes is making it challenging for young professionals and families to enter the market. Condos and townhomes are still viable options, yet single families are getting more difficult to afford.

Portland Oregon had the highest annual gain in April for the 20 areas studied with a 12.3% increase. Seattle came in at 10.7% and Denver at 9.5% as runner up.

According to analysts, the Case-Shiller index is one of the best barometers for reliability of forecasting the market as it tracks prices of the same homes over time. Alternatively, Realtor boards will share a median price for homes sold in a specific month, but Case-Shiller follows the Realtor data by a month.

Despite threats of challenging affordability and political uncertainty, reports from economists are saying that home prices overall will not likely dip in the next couple of years.

Fort Lauderdale Housing Market Speeds Up for May

The Fort Lauderdale real estate market has been steady for the spring, but May has shown a spike in activity in recent reports. The number of sales for both single families and condos has increased significantly despite inventory levels holding steady according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors Association.

A total of 1,671 single family homes were sold in May which was a 9.5% increase from May of last year at 1,526 sales. Coincidentally, townhome and condo sales were also up by 9.5% from 1,434 in May of 2015 to 1,570 this year.

The increase in momentum of sales is also surge from April’s numbers as well which were somewhat moderately paced. Inventory levels have posed their challenges while prices are still increasing with median prices of condos and townhomes increasing by $10,000 up from a year ago. Single family median prices also rose significantly by $22,000.

Inventory levels showed slight increases in both property types in May. Single family homes increased 1.2% year over year while the number of condos for sale bumped up only by 0.2%.

The slim inventory and faster paced sales may be an indication that the Fort Lauderdale market is tightening up, but it is still too early in this trend to speculate if it will be the case for the balance of the year.

One thing is for sure is that it doesn’t look like prices will be falling anytime soon. Arch Mortgage Insurance Company reports that the Fort Lauderdale area has a very small chance at prices lowering in the next two year forecast. “The chance that we see prices falling [in Fort Lauderdale] is minuscule,” Ralph DeFranco, chief economist for Arch. “We are not expecting a correction.”