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The ‘REAL’ News about Housing Affordability

Some industry experts are claiming that the housing market may be headed for a slowdown as we proceed through 2017, based on rising home prices and a potential jump in mortgage interest rates. One of the data points they use is the Housing Affordability Index, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Here is how NAR defines the index:

“The Housing Affordability Index measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national level based on the most recent price and income data.”

Basically, a value of 100 means a family earning the median income earns enough to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home, based on the price and mortgage interest rates at the time. Anything above 100 means the family has more than enough to qualify.

The higher the index, the easier it is to afford a home.

Why the concern?

The index has been declining over the last several years as home values increased. Some are concerned that too many buyers could be priced out of the market.

But, wait a minute…

Though the index skyrocketed from 2009 through 2013, we must realize that during that time, the housing crisis left the market with an overabundance of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales). All prices dropped dramatically and distressed properties sold at major discounts. Then, mortgage rates fell like a rock.

The market is recovering, and values are coming back nicely. That has caused the index to fall.

However, let’s remove the crisis years (shaded in gray) and look at the current index as compared to the index from 1990 – 2008:

Though prices and rates appear to be increasing, we must realize that affordability is composed of three ingredients: home prices, interest rates, and income. And, incomes are finally rising.

ATTOM Data Solutions recently released their Q1 2017 U.S. Home Affordability Index. The report explained:

“Stronger wage growth is the silver lining in this report, outpacing home price growth in more than half of the markets for the first time since Q1 2012, when median home prices were still falling nationwide. If that pattern continues, it will help turn the tide in the eroding home affordability trend.”

Bottom Line

Compared to historic norms, it is still a great time to buy from an affordability standpoint.


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Buying is Now 37.7% Cheaper Than Renting in the US

If you are one of those people having a hard time choosing whether to rent or buy your home, this latest real estate news might just be the sign you are waiting for.

sale-or-rent

The results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia show that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers actually show that the range is an average of 17.4% less expensive in Honolulu (HI), all the way up to 53.2% less expensive in Miami & West Palm Beach (FL), and 37.7% nationwide!

Other interesting findings in the report include:

  • Interest rates have remained low, and even though home prices have appreciated around the country, they haven’t greatly outpaced rental appreciation.
  • Home prices would have to appreciate by a range of over 23% in Honolulu (HI), up to over 45% in Ventura County (CA), to reach the tipping point of renting being less expensive than buying.
  • Nationally, rates would have to reach 9.1%, a 145% increase over today’s average of 3.7%, for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven’t been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. If you are one of the many renters out there who would like to evaluate your ability to buy this year, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you find your dream home.

Get out of the renting rut and start owning the home you have always been dreaming of. Call me for more information about Maui real estate.


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Building Wealth: First Rung on the Ladder is Housing

How Housing Matters is a joint project of the Urban Land Institute and the MacArthur Foundation. It is “an online resource for the most rigorous research and practical information on how a quality, stable, affordable home in a vibrant community contributes to individual and community success”.

A recent story they published, The First Rung on the Ladder to Economic Opportunity Is Housing, discussed the importance of having affordable housing available to as many families as possible because:

“The ladder to economic success can stretch only so high without the asset-building power of homeownership.

Home equity provides Americans with the ability to send their children to college with less student loan debt and is the primary source of funds for retirement. Half of the assets of Americans over age 55 are in their home.”

Bottom Line

We have often posted that the net worth of a family owning a home is 45 times greater than that of a family that rents. That is not a coincidence.

For when you’re ready to make the plunge of building your wealth and owning your home, contact me and let’s go over great properties in Maui.


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Homeowner’s Net Worth is 45x Greater Than Renter’s Net Worth

Every three years the Federal Reserve conducts a Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. The latest survey, which includes data from 2010-2013, reports that a homeowner’s net worth is 36 times greater than that of a renter ($194,500 vs. $5,400).

In a Forbes article the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Chief EconomistLawrence Yun predicts that in 2016 the net worth gap will widen even further to 45 times greater.

The graph here demonstrates the results of the last two Federal Reserve studies and Yun’s prediction:

graph

Put Your Housing Cost to Work For You

Simply put, homeownership is a form of ‘forced savings’. Every time you pay your mortgage you are contributing to your net worth. Every time you pay your rent, you are contributing to your landlord’s net worth.

The latest National Housing Pulse Survey from NAR reveals that 85% of consumers believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision. Yun comments:

“Though there will always be discussion about whether to buy or rent, or whether the stock market offers a bigger return than real estate, the reality is that homeowners steadily build wealth. The simplest math shouldn’t be overlooked.”

Bottom Line

If you are interested in finding out if you could put your housing cost to work for you by purchasing a home, meet with a real estate professional in your area who can guide you through the process.