March Newsletter

Hurry! Tax Credit Expires Soon!

U.S. Market Data Overview

Note: Jan. 2018 data shown below is the most recent published by National Association of Realtors.

Sales of existing homes in January dipped for the second straight month, and saw their most significant decline on an annual basis in more than three years. Data from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) indicates that all major regions saw monthly and annual sales declines last month.

Total existing-home sales (completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops), fell 3.2% in January to 5.38 million from 5.56 million in December 2017. Sales are 4.8% lower than a year ago (largest annual decline since August 2014 at 5.5%) and sit at their slowest pace since last September (5.37 million).

NAR's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said that January’s downturn in closings underscores the housing market’s major inventory shortage. “The utter lack of sufficient housing supply and its influence on higher home prices muted overall sales activity in much of the U.S. last month,” Yun said. “While the good news is that Realtors® in most areas are saying buyer traffic is even stronger than the beginning of last year, sales failed to follow course and far lagged last January’s pace. It’s very clear that too many markets right now are becoming less affordable and desperately need more new listings to calm the speedy price growth.”

January's U.S. median existing-home price (all housing types) was $240,500, up 5.8% from January 2017 ($227,300). January’s price increase represents the 71st straight month of year-over-year gains.

American total housing inventory at the end of January grew 4.1% to 1.52 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 9.5% below a year ago (1.68 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 32 straight months. Unsold inventory sits at a 3.4-month supply at the current sales pace.

First-time buyers drive 29% of sales in January, which is down from 32% in December 2017 and 33% one year ago. The annual share of first-time buyers was 34%.

Freddie Mac data shows the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage got a boost for the fourth consecutive month to 4.03% in January from 3.95% in December. The average commitment rate for all of 2017 was 3.99%.

All-cash sales were 22% of transactions in January, which is up from 20% in December 2017 but down from 23% a year ago.

 

What's Your Credit Score?

Your credit score is a composite snapshot of your credit history. A high credit score takes time to cultivate, and is not likely to rise much in a short period of time. Generally speaking, you want to make sure you pay your bills on time, keep outstanding debt levels to a reasonable amount for each account, and avoid closing accounts you've successfully paid-off and managed. Don't lose hope if you have less than perfect credit, there are still good loan programs out there for responsible borrowers. We have a list of preferred local lenders who can help you find the best financing programs for your specific needs.

Contact us and take advantage of today's low interest rates!

Here are some great resources to learn more about credit scores, and to get a free credit score and report:

Investing in Real Estate

Today's low interest rates and rising home prices have created some great investment opportunities!

Investing in real estate has unique advantages over other types of investments. Let's take a look at some of the reasons why real estate investment should be on the "short list" for many investors:

  • Interest in mortgage loans are tax-deductible. Investors can lower their tax liability while increasing their equity.
  • Renters pay down your mortgage loan. Investors reap the benefits of rental income, which offsets your mortgage cost and build equity.
  • Real Estate values increase over the long term. Real Estate is limited and will always be in demand. 
  • 1031 exchanges are available to defer taxable income when you are ready to sell.

Many investors are taking advantage of these great market conditions. Have questions? Give us a call. We are happy to help!

The Extended Home Buyers Tax Credit offers current homeowners and first-time home buyers alike an incredible tax-saving opportunity when they buy a home through April 30, 2010. First time buyers, who haven't owned a primary residence in the past three years, are eligible for a tax credit of 10 percent of a home's purchase price, up to a maximum of $8,000. Current homeowners are also eligible for a tax credit of their own. Homeowners who have lived in their primary residence for 5 consecutive years of the past 8 are eligible for a tax credit of 10% of a home's purchase price, up to maximum of $6,500.

The following conditions apply:

  • The tax credit is only awarded on homes purchased for $800,000, or less
  • Full tax credit is available to buyers earning up to $125,000 a year, or $225,000 for married couples filing jointly
  • Partial tax credit is available to buyers earning between $125,000 to $145,000, or for married couples earning between $225,000 to $245,000.
  • Under the rules, as long as a written binding purchase contract is in effect on April 30, 2010, the buyer has until July 1, 2010 to close.

The tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the buyers tax liability, and does not have to be paid back as long as the buyer remains in their home for three years or more. This is a once-in-a-lifetime offer to have Uncle Sam help you buy a house. Don't let this opportunity pass you by!

Existing Home Sales Up From Year Ago

Existing home sales are up in 2010 compared to the same time a year ago. According to the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), existing homes sales -- including single family, condominiums, townhomes and co-ops -- were up 11.5 percent from January 2009 levels. At the current pace, NAR is projecting existing home sales of 5.05 million units for the year. Total housing inventory is down 0.5 percent to 3.27 million units nationally.

 

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun is watching the sales data very closely. "Activity should be picking up strongly in late spring as buyers take advantage of the tax credit, which is critical to absorb distressed properties reaching the market and to continually chip away at inventory," Yun said. "With a downtrend in the number of homes on the market, especially in the lower price ranges, values are beginning to firm but with great variance around the country."

Mortgage backer Freddie Mac reported an average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage of 5.03 percent in January. This is up slightly from 4.93 percent available in December 2009, but down overall from a year ago when the rate was 5.05 percent in January 2009.

Investing in Real Estate

Today's low interest rates and stabilized home prices have created some great investment opportunities!  Investing in real estate has unique advantages over other types of investments:

  • Interest in mortgage loans are tax-deductable.  Investors can lower their tax liability while increasing their equity.
  • Renters pay down your mortgage loan.  Investors reap the benefits of rental income, which offsets your mortgage cost and build equity.
  • Real Estate values increase over the long term.  Real Estate is limited and will always be in demand. 
  • 1031 exchanges are available to defer taxable income when you are ready to sell.

Many investors are taking advantage of these great market conditions. Have questions? Give us a call. We are happy to help!

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