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With 2016 almost halfway over, now’s a good time to take a look at the housing market. On a national scale, it’s doing well. Of course, there are certain markets faring better than others. It’s no secret Houston’s market is seeing some challenges, given the state of the oil industry.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the Houston market is holding pretty steady. In April, home sales in the $150,000 to $250,000 range increased 7.8%, but those $500,000 or more decreased 15.7%. Single-family homes rose 21% compared to April 2015. Active listings grew since March, but inventory fell flat. Homes stayed on the market seven days less than in March, but four days more than April 2015. Single-family home sales are up a total of 1.6%.
As far as the country as a whole, The Fiscal Times’ article, “10 Trends Driving the Housing Market Now,” provides good insight into the current state of the national housing market. We’ve summarized their findings below.
1. Home prices continue to escalate.
In many places around the country, home prices are rising faster than wages. In the first quarter of 2016, the average home buyer spent more than 30% of his income on mortgage payments — a 4% increase since 2015.
2. Home buyers have an easier time getting mortgages.
Due to less stringent guidelines from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, lenders can now offer loans to borrowers who can’t put down 20%. More than 75% of purchase loan applications closed in March.
3. Large institutional investors are on the way out.
Smaller investors, who have been deterred from the stock market, are entering the market as landlords. They’re buying single-family homes or vacation rentals for investment purposes. Meanwhile, large investors are purchasing less, thanks to higher home prices, but they’re still acting as landlords instead of selling their properties.
4. You see less cash buyers.
In January 2011, cash buyers accounted for 47% of the market, but they’ve decreased significantly since then. CoreLogic estimates they’ll fall to 25% by mid-2017.
5. Inventory is limited.
Sellers are enticed by higher home values to list their properties, but inventory is still fairly low for starter homes since fewer distressed properties are up for sale. While builders created about 650,000 new homes last year, which was the most since 2008, that number is still well below the national historic average.
6. Townhomes are gaining ground.
The appeal of walkable urban areas is drawing both first-time home buyers and Baby Boomers looking to downsize. Townhomes are proving to be great starter homes and great retirement options for people wanting to enjoy city life. In fact, they currently account for approximately 12% of all new home construction.
7. Buyers aren’t dissuaded by rising rates.
Since the federal government has been so slowing increasing mortgage rates, home buyers are able to take the rate increases. The rates right now are the lowest they’ve been in three years, staying around 3.6% for a 30-year mortgage.
8. Hot markets are leveling out.
If the housing crisis taught us anything, it’s that double-digit growth of home prices over a long period of time cannot be sustained. Some of the country’s fastest growing markets are slowing down, and the threat of a housing bubble is less likely since most buyers purchased their homes with cash or vetted loans.
9. Homes are selling quickly.
Trulia released findings that 25% of properties sell within 30 days after being listed. Starter homes are the hottest, both in sales and increased prices, which has made it a little tougher on first-time buyers to enter the market.
10. Everyone’s moving to the burbs.
Well, not everyone, of course. Rent has increased so much, and the prices of homes in urban areas are so high, that more than 50% of home buyers expand their search for single-family homes to the suburbs. Suburbs closer to cities and ones that offer similar amenities to bigger cities tend to be the most popular.