Selling Real Estate

Do I Need a Permit for That? - Don't jeopardize a future sale.

When undertaking a remodel or home improvement project, how do you know when you need a building permit from your city government?

Cities require permits to ensure that the changes on a home go on record. The changes also are reviewed by an inspector to ensure they’re up to code. For example, if you decide to rewire your electricity panel , exposed wires could represent a safety issue to you and your home.

When homeowners sell their home, buyers and lenders will want to know if any remodels they did complied with building codes. So the permit could salvage a sale too.

“The general rule of thumb is that structural, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical work will require a permit,” notes Redfin at a recent blog post.

The Home Inspector’s File

A fence installation or repair, window installations, plumbing and electrical work, replacing the water heater or changes to the ventilation system, as well as gas and wood fireplaces all will likely require a permit for the work. Also, any additions or upgrades made to the home, typically of $5,000 or more, will likely require a permit.

On the flip side, permits likely won’t be needed for painting, installing floors or faucets, or landscaping work.

Permit requirements vary by city. Check with the local building department to be on the safe side.

Americans Have Never Felt This Good About Real Estate

Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index surged to a new high as consumers became more upbeat about buying and selling, mortgage rates, and their jobs. Five of the six components measured by the index rose month over month.

“Consumer job confidence and favorable mortgage rate expectations lifted the HPSI to a new survey high in July, despite ongoing housing supply and affordability challenges,” says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist. “Consumers appear to have shaken off a winter slump in sentiment amid strong income gains. Therefore, sentiment is positioned to take advantage of any supply that comes to market, particularly in the affordable category. However, recent financial market events following when the survey data were collected could weigh on consumer views looking ahead.”

Overall, the HPSI, based on a survey of 1,000 Americans, rose 7.2 points compared to a year ago to a record-high reading of 93.7 in July. Here are some highlights from the index’s latest readings:

  • Buying: The net share of Americans who said now is a good time to buy a home rose 3 percentage points from June to 26%, up 2 percentage points from a year ago.

  • Selling: The net share of consumers who say it’s a good time to sell rose 1 percentage point to 44%, up 3 percentage points from a year ago.

  • Home prices: The share of Americans who say home prices will go up over the next 12 months fell 1 percentage point to 37%, down 2 percentage points from a year ago.

  • Mortgage rates: The share of consumers who believe mortgage rates will drop over the next year rose 1 percentage point and is up 24 percentage points from a year ago.

  • Job stability: Americans are more confident about their job situation, with the share who say they’re not concerned about losing their job over the next year rising 8 percentage points to 81%. This is up 16 percentage points from a year ago.

  • Household incomes: The share of Americans who say their household income is significantly higher than 12 months ago rose by 1 percentage point to 21%, essentially unchanged from a year ago.

Source: “Home Purchase Sentiment Index,” Fannie Mae (Aug. 7, 2019)

Bottom Line

Consumers are feeling good about the real estate market. Since Americans are not worried about their jobs, see mortgage rates near an all-time low, and believe it is a good time to buy, the housing market will remain strong for the rest of the year.

New FHA Rule Will Ease Condo Approval Process

The long-waited Federal Housing Administration (FHA) rule regulating condominium lending was finalized Wednesday afternoon.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the parent agency of FHA, published the final regulation and the policy implementation guidance establishing a new condominium approval process.

As a way of background, under existing rules, to obtain an FHA mortgage a borrower must not only satisfy the lender and the FHA that he or she is a qualified buyer but must purchase a unit that is itself qualified for financing. 

According to the National Association of Realtors®, FHA has put its stamp of approval on many complexes, but given the universe, not nearly enough. Of the more than 150,000 condominium projects in the U.S., only 6.5 percent are approved to participate in FHA's mortgage insurance programs.   

To be approved under existing rules, condo communities must submit a pile of paperwork, be vetted by the administration, make any improvements specified by FHA, and then submit to a reexamination. Specified requirements cover the percentage of owner-occupied units, budgetary reserves, insurance coverage, and HOA dues collections. There are also location requirements related to transportation access.  FHA said its requirements were intended to "make sure that the property remains in good standing and will be desirable."

These requirements often left buyers selecting a condo only to find they could not obtain an FHA mortgage for which they were otherwise qualified. This has had implications for homeownership, especially for low-income borrowers, those with less than perfect credit scores, or with downpayments below the minimum level to obtain other financing.  This has become increasingly problematic as prices for single-family homes have escalated, making condo purchases more important as an option for entry-level buyers.

The new rule, which becomes effective on October 15, will allow a homebuyer to obtain an FHA mortgage for an individual condo unit in an unapproved condominium project if that project is completed and meets the following criteria:

  • In a development with fewer than 10 units, no more than two can be insured by FHA.

  • In a development that exceeds 10 units, a maximum of 10 percent can be insured by the FHA.

  • A minimum of 50 percent of project units must be owner-occupied.

The rule change also extends the certification period from two to three years and expands the eligibility criteria for mixed-use units.

HUD estimates the new rules will make an additional 20,000 to 60,000 condo units eligible for FHA insured loans each year.

HUD Acting Deputy Secretary and FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery said, "Today we are making certain FHA responds to what the market is telling us. This new rule allows FHA to meet its core mission to support eligible borrowers who are ready for homeownership and are most likely to enter the market with the purchase of a condominium."

BY: JANN SWANSON

Appreciation is Strong: It Might Be Time To Sell

There’s no doubt that today’s housing market is changing, and everything we see right now indicates it is time to sell. Here’s a look at why selling now is likely to drive the greatest return on your largest investment.

Home values have been appreciating for several years now, growing at a strong, steady, and impressive pace. In fact, the average annual appreciation rate since 2012 has nearly doubled the average rate from the more normal market of the 1990s (think: pre-bubble).

Average Annual Percentage Appreciation.png

Appreciation, however, is projected to shift back toward normal, meaning home prices will likely keep climbing over the next few years, but they are not projected to continue to increase at such a high rate.

Here’s What That Means for Homeowners:

As noted in the latest Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES) powered by Pulsenomics, experts forecast an average annual appreciation rate closer to 3.2% over the next five years, which is more in line with a historically normal market (3.6%). The good news is, there’s still time to take advantage of the current strength of home prices by selling your house now.

Mean Percentage Appreciation.png

Looking at the projections as they stand today, 2019 is slated to drive the strongest appreciation as compared to the upcoming few years. With average home prices still on the rise, the pace at which they are predicted to continue increasing will likely soften by 2020.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your house, now is a great time to make your move. Don’t get stuck waiting until projected home price appreciation rates potentially re-accelerate again in 2023. You’ll likely earn the greatest return on your investment by selling now before the prices start to normalize next year.

Existing Home Sales Point Toward a Good Time to Sell

Existing Home Sales.png

Some Highlights:

  • Existing Home Sales dropped 1.7% from May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.27 million in June.

  • Low inventory levels are still a factor in the market. The current supply of homes for sale is at 4.4 months, which is less than the optimal 6-month supply.

  • Median home prices were up 4.3% from June 2018, hitting $285,700. This marked the 88th consecutive month with year-over-year price gains.

Now's the Time To Move-Up and Upgrade Your Current Home

Homes priced at the top 25% of the price range for a particular area of the country are considered "premium homes." In today’s real estate market, there are deals to be had at the higher end! This is great news for homeowners wanting to upgrade from their current house.

Much of the demand for housing over the past couple of years has come from first-time buyers looking for their starter home. Many of the more expensive homes listed for sale have not seen as much interest.

According to ILHM’s Luxury Reportthis mismatch in demand and inventory of luxury and premium homes has created a Buyer’s Market. For the purpose of the report, a luxury home was defined as one that costs $1 million or more.

“A Buyer’s Market indicates that buyers have greater control over the price point. This market type is demonstrated by a substantial number of homes on the market and few sales, suggesting demand for residential properties is slow for that market and/or price point.”

The authors of the report were quick to point out that current conditions at the higher end of the market are no cause for concern.

“While luxury homes may take longer to sell than in previous years, the slower pace, increased inventory levels and larger differences between list and sold prices, represent a normalization of the market, not a downturn.”

Luxury can mean different things to different people. To one person, luxury is a secluded home with plenty of property and privacy. To another, it could be a penthouse at the center of a bustling city. Knowing what characteristics mean luxury to you will help your agent find you the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line

If you are debating upgrading your current house to a premium or luxury home, now is the time!

The "Fastest Growing Trend" in the Housing Industry

Speaking of Rentals…Don’t forget about the rental on the Silverado Trail between Pratt Ave and Deer Park Rd. A private residence with 2 bedrooms with en-suite full bathrooms, open concept 1,728 sq ft home, 200 sq ft private deck with sweeping views of the valley and vineyards, less than 5 min from downtown St. Helena, walking distance to Meadowood. Message me if you know of anyone interested. Click here for more information.

An article from CBS indicates that builders are now investing in homes to then update them and rent them out as rentals seem to be on the rise. Take a look further at the atricle here or below.

KEY POINTS

  • Demand for single-family rental homes is surging, and homebuilders are now stepping in, redesigning and re-imagining the sector — and becoming landlords themselves.

  • “We basically took an apartment and went horizontal instead of vertical,” says Mark Wolf, founder and CEO of AHV Communities.

  • “Our business is booming right now with build-to-rent feasibility work,” says consultant John Burns.

Demand for single-family rental homes is surging, and homebuilders are now stepping in, redesigning and reimagining the sector — and becoming landlords themselves.

While builders have always sold some of their new homes to investors as rentals, the strong demand has some moving into the space exclusively.

AHV Communities, partnering with Bristol Group, is putting up 250 new detached homes in fast-growing San Antonio. Pradera is a gated community with three- and four-bedroom homes, renting from about $1,800 to $2,300 per month. The community includes luxury amenities, like a pool, fitness center, community kitchen and party space, as well as a dog park and dog-washing station.

“We basically took an apartment and went horizontal instead of vertical,” AHV founder and CEO Mark Wolf said. “About 93% of the apartment stock consists of studios, one and two bedrooms, very few three bedrooms. We saw a growing need coming out of the downturn, to provide three- and four-bedroom homes to the renter society.”

Wolf, who has experience in the multifamily apartment market, saw a need for more single-family homes after the housing crash, and he says that demand has not fallen off. While the homeownership rate has risen from its historic low in 2016, it is now starting to slip again.

“We think there’s a major shift in the demographics. Empty nesters are done taking care of their homes. They want to downsize, they want portability, mobility in the lease. The millennial household formation, they’re not really dialed into taking care of a home, they want to go out and do the same thing that the boomers are doing, which is enjoy life, not work hard for their house,” said Wolf.

Last year, about 43,000 single-family homes were built for rent, the largest number in nearly 40 years according to National Association of Home Builders analysis of U.S. Census data. The built-for-rent share of housing starts is also rising, nearly double its recent historical average (from 1992-2012).

Millennials Taylor Walters and Paree Dilkes want to get out of their rental apartment and into a larger single-family home.

“So we’ve been looking online for months now, whether to buy or whether to rent, and this is definitely up our alley,” Walters said as the two toured the amenities at Pradera. They are not married and have no children, but they do have a big dog.

“That’s really the biggest thing. It’s very inconvenient to have to take him out every time he needs to go. Having a yard would be awesome, just let him out, and also a little bit more space. We have a pretty good-sized apartment right now, but just kind of the feeling of being in a house,” said Dilkes.

Renting used to come with a social stigma, since homeownership was touted as the American Dream. The average annual household income of tenants in Pradera, however, is over $100,000, meaning many of them can afford to buy a home but simply choose not to.

Walters and Dilkes considered buying, but didn’t like the way the math worked out.

“I’ve done research, read different articles on millennials buying houses, and I think the biggest thing is the hidden costs that we might incur,” said Walters.

Stephanie Dixon and her husband recently sold their San Antonio home and moved into the rental community. Their children are in college or graduated, and they wanted an easier lifestyle.

“If the water heater breaks, you know, I don’t have to replace it. I just call them. I mean, even the air filters, they came and changed my air filters yesterday. I don’t have to worry about all that, that’s extra expense,” said Dixon.

Builders are struggling right now to put up the entry-level homes that are most in demand. The high costs of land, labor, materials and regulation make low-priced homes more difficult to profit from. That partly explains the shift toward rental properties and communities.

“Our business is booming right now with build-to-rent feasibility work,” said John Burns, founder and CEO of John Burns Real Estate Consulting. “We are discussing new projects with clients almost daily. The market has become so hot that we are already having conversations about when we will conclude the market is overbuilt.”

Burns says equity money is flowing in fast, and learning quickly that they need to partner with an experienced builder. That is why homebuilders Lennar and Toll Brothers have recently started building homes specifically to sell to investors as rentals.

“Most publicly traded builders are talking about building it for others rather than taking the risk themselves, while private builders are looking at taking more risk,” Burns said.

Wolf sees the build-for-rent market as less risky, especially in the short term.

“We believe in the long-term cash flow game. So if you hold these properties for 10-plus years, or even seven-plus years, the residual cash flow is worth more than the sale one time,” said Wolf.

AHV is building another rent-only community, in New Braunfels, Texas, in partnership with American Homes 4 Rent, a single-family rental REIT. The single-family REIT space grew out of the foreclosure crisis and has now consolidated to a few big players. They own several thousand homes, but they are spread out across communities, so management is more complicated and more expensive.

“They see the, I think, the benefit and the beauty of this model to complement what they already have,” said Wolf.

Home Prices Up 5.05% Across the Country

Some Highlights:

  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently released their latest Quarterly Home Price Index report.

  • In the report, home prices are compared both regionally and by state.

  • Based on the latest numbers, if you plan on relocating to another state, waiting to move may end up costing you more!

Home Prices Up.jpg


Mid-Year Housing Market Update: Three Things to Know Today

Shifting trends and industry-leading research are pointing toward some valuable projections about the status of the housing market for the rest of the year.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, or if you just want to know what experts are saying is on the horizon, here are the top three things to put on your radar as we head into the coming months:

  1. Home prices are appreciating at a more normal rate: Home prices have been appreciating for about ten years now. Experts at the Home Price Expectation Survey, Mortgage Bankers Association, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae are forecasting continued growth throughout the next year, although it should be leveling-off to normal appreciation (3.6%), as we move into 2020.

  2. Interest rates are low: Over the past 30 years, the average mortgage rate in the United States has been 8.27%, and rates even peaked as high as 18% in the 1980s. Today, at 3.81%, the rate is considerably lower than the historical 30-year average. Although experts predict it may climb into the low 4% range in the near future, that’s still remarkably lower than our running average, suggesting a great time to get more for your money over the life of your loan.

  3. An impending recession does not mean there will be a housing crash: Although expert research studies such as those found in the Duke Survey of American CFOs and the National Association of Business Economics, are pointing toward a recession beginning within the next 18 months, a potential recession isn’t expected to be driven by the housing industry. That means we likely won’t experience a devastating housing crash like the country felt in 2008. Expert financial analyst Morgan Housel tweeted:

“An interesting thing is the widespread assumption that the next recession will be as bad as 2008. Natural to think that way, but, statistically, highly unlikely. Could be over before you realized it began.”

In fact, during 3 of the 5 last U.S. recessions, housing prices actually appreciated:

Home-Price-Change.jpg

Bottom Line

With prices appreciating and low interest rates available, it’s a perfect time to buy or sell a home. Reach out to a local real estate professional to see how you can take the next step in the exciting journey of homeownership.

Article from Keeping Current Matters

Mortgage Rates Hold Steady Despite Bond Market Weakness

Mortgage rates side-stepped today, bringing an end to a gentle but consistent move lower over the past 5 business days.  During that time the average conventional 30yr fixed rates for top tier scenarios fell about an eighth of a percentage point (0.125%).  While that only translates to about $7 per month for every $100k financed, it's a pretty decent move historically speaking.  Today's bond market momentum suggests the move could be in jeopardy. 

Bonds are the most direct source of inspiration for mortgage rates, and indeed, for rates in general.  The 10yr Treasury yield tends to track mortgage rates exceptionally well, and it was roughly 0.03% higher today.  The average lender, on the other hand, didn't change mortgage rates at all.  This has to do with the separate set of bonds specifically tied to mortgages: the aptly-named Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS).  These held steadier today for a variety of reasons.  Simply put, Treasuries had a certain set of concerns not shared by MBS.  

All of the above having been said, if Treasuries lose enough ground, mortgages will eventually be forced to follow due to the structure of the bond market.  Lenders didn't see quite enough weakness for that to happen today, but they'll be starting the day with itchy trigger fingers when it comes to bumping rates up tomorrow.

Today's Most Prevalent Rates

  • 30YR FIXED - 3.875%

  • FHA/VA - 3.625%

  • 15 YEAR FIXED - 3.5-3.625%

  • 5 YEAR ARMS - 3.375-3.75% depending on the lender


Ongoing Lock/Float Considerations
 

  • Early 2019 saw a rapid reevaluation of big-picture trends in rates and in markets in general.

  • The Federal Reserve has been a key player, and while they aren't the ones pulling the global economic strings, their response (and even their EXPECTED response) to the economy has helped rates fall more quickly than they otherwise might.

  • Based on the Fed's laundry list of concerns, the bond market (which determines rates) will be watching economic data closely, both at home and abroad, as well as trade-related concerns. The stronger the data and trade relations, the more rates could rise, while weaker data and trade wars will lead to new long-term lows.

  • Rates discussed refer to the most frequently-quoted, conforming, conventional 30yr fixed rate for top tier borrowers among average to well-priced lenders. The rates generally assume little-to-no origination or discount except as noted when applicable. Rates appearing on this page are "effective rates" that take day-to-day changes in upfront costs into consideration.

Article by Matthew Graham, Chief Operating Officer, Mortgage News Daily / MBS Live

The Cost of Waiting: Interest Rates Edition

Some Highlights:

  • Interest rates are projected to increase steadily heading into 2020.

  • The higher your interest rate, the more money you will end up paying for your home and the higher your monthly payment will be.

  • Rates are still low right now – don’t wait until they hit 5% to start searching for your dream home!

Interest Rates.jpg

What a Difference a Year Makes for Sellers

Over the last few years, many sellers have been hesitant to put their houses on the market because they feared not being able to find another home to buy.

We’ve reported on inventory shortages in the past, and it’s been a constant concern for potential buyers throughout recent years. New research shows the inventory concern is starting to decrease among potential buyers.

According to First American, the two leading obstacles to homeownership that buyers feel today are Affordability and Limited Inventory. This means the feeling that homes are less affordable has risen, while the fear of limited inventory has decreased, delivering a wealth of good news for sellers.

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At the same time, over the past 12 months, we’ve seen a steady month-over-month increase in the number of homes coming to market for purchase. In the past, the lack of listings and available inventory slowed down the real estate market. This recent increase in current inventory has many buyers and sellers now thinking it is time to make their move – and rightfully so! For the last two months, we’ve seen over 4 months of inventory become available for sale, a promising number that’s been slowly increasing this year and creating more buying opportunities.

Inventory For Sale.jpg

To further support the idea of an improving real estate market, Sam Khater, the Chief Economist at Freddie Mac says,

“…In the near-term, we expect the housing market to continue to improve from both a sales and price perspective.” 

Many experts, like Sam, believe the second half of 2019 will drive a stronger market than we saw at the beginning of the year. This is great news for homeowners who have put off getting their houses on the market and are now ready to make a move.

Bottom Line

What a difference we’ve seen over the course of this year! If you’re thinking of selling, now is the time as inventory is on the rise.

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Compass will cover all upfront costs, collecting payment for the services rendered at the time of the property's closing. By investing in your home's potential, we aim to provide a swifter, more profitable sale.

Services include:
Staging

Deep-cleaning

Cosmetic renovations

Decluttering

Landscaping

Painting

Pest control

Custom closets

And More

Curious to learn more? 

Contact me to discuss how Compass Concierge could help you.

4 Tips to Sell Your Home Faster

Since June of last year, we have seen an increase in the inventory of homes for sale month per month. Every spring and summer, the inventory increases because people want to sell their home. For those with children, they may want to be in their new home for the beginning of the school year.

If you are one of those sellers, you may find these 4 tips helpful in getting your home sold more quickly.

1. Make buyers feel at home

Declutter your home! Pack away all personal items like pictures, awards, and sentimental belongings. Make them feel like they belong in this house! According to the Profile of Home Staging by the National Association of Realtors,

“83% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.”

Not only will your house spend less time on the market, but the same report mentioned that,

“One-quarter of buyers’ agents said that staging a home increased the dollar value offered between 1 – 5%, compared to other similar homes on the market that were not staged.”

2. Keep it organized

Since you took the time to declutter, keep it organized! Before the buyers show up, pick up toys, make the bed, and put away clean dishes. It is also a good idea to put out some cookies fresh from the oven or a scented candle. Buyers will remember the smell of your home! According to the same report, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms to stage in order to attract more buyers.

3. Give buyers full access

One of the top four elements when selling your home is access! If your home is available anytime, that opens up more opportunity to find a buyer right away. Some buyers, especially those relocating, don’t have much time available. If they cannot get into the house, they will move on to the next one.

4. Price it right

As we mentioned at the beginning, more inventory coming into the market guarantees there will be some competition. You want to make sure your home is noticed. The key to selling your house in 2019 is ensuring it is Priced to Sell Immediately (PTSI). That way, your home will be seen by the greatest amount of buyers and will sell at a great price before more competition comes to market!

Bottom Line

If you want to sell your house in the least amount of time at the best price with as little hassle as possible, a local real estate professional is a useful guide. Call me today to find out what you need to do to sell your home more quickly.