According to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index report for January, home prices grew by 4.50 percent year-over-year as compared to January 2014’s year-over-year price growth rate of 10.50 percent. This was the lowest rate of home price growth since 2012.
Analysts said that although slower growth in home prices could be good news for home buyers, national wage growth is not keeping pace with home price growth. The Labor Department reports that wages are growing at an annual rate of approximately two percent. Other obstacles to home buyers include strict mortgage standards and likely increases in mortgage rates during 2015.
Highest and Lowest Home Price Growth Rates in January
The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports that January’s five highest rates of year-over-year home price growth were:
The five cities with the lowest year-over-year rates of home price growth were:
Chicago, Illinois – 2.50% Minneapolis, Minnesota – 2.20% New York, New York – 2.10% Cleveland, Ohio – 1.60% Washington, D.C. – 1.30%
No cities included in the 20 city index recorded no or negative growth rates on a year-over-year basis. David Blitzer, S&P Index Committee Chair, cited growing labor markets, current low mortgage rates, lower fuel prices and low inflation as positive influences on U.S. housing markets.
The Case Shiller 20-City Housing Index report for January was also impacted by severe weather conditions that reduced demand for homes. The 20-City Index has climbed by 29 percent since reaching March 2012 lows.
Pending Home Sales Rise
In other housing related news, pending home sales indicate that home sales are increasing as the peak spring and summer buying season gets underway. The National Association of Realtors® reported that its pending home sale index reading increased by 3.10 percent to 106.9 in February.
This was the highest reading since June 2013 and was up 12.00 percent over February 2014. Pending home sales are sales for which a contract has been signed, but the sale has not closed. Pending home sales are considered an indicator of future home sales.
If you are thinking about listing your home for sale, one of the biggest factors that may be holding you back from pulling the trigger on this decision is the value of your home. You may have a decent idea about the value of your home by researching other listings in your community, but you may not be able to pinpoint a fair asking price that would get your home sold quickly without leaving money on the table. The fact is that your knowledgeable real estate agent will provide you with a valuation up-front, and this can help you to make a more informed decision. There are several components to the valuation that you may need to know more about.
The Layout Of The Home
When a real estate agent is preparing a market valuation, he or she will initially tour your home to get a feel for the layout. Factors like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the size of the living areas, if the kitchen is closed off or open to the home and more will all impact desirability and therefore value. Because of this, it is not always easy for a homeowner to determine value with accuracy, and the insight of a knowledgeable and experienced agent is important.
The Square Footage Of The Home
Your real estate agent will know the average price per square foot of homes in the area, and this price per square foot can be applied to your own home. However, keep in mind that there is a difference based on one or two-story homes. Generally, one-story homes will have a higher price per square foot than two-story homes. Other factors such as the condition of the home and special features will come into play.
The Condition And Special Features
When you receive a valuation for your home, the real estate agent will give you additional value for special features that have broad market appeal or for an improved condition over other homes in the community. For example, if your home is in an older community and you have recently updated the kitchen, you may have a value based on a higher price per square foot than other homes in your area.
The fact is that the average price per square foot of similar homes in the area will come into play for your valuation, but there are adjustments made for different features and for the condition of the home. You can learn more about the value of your home by speaking with your real estate agent.
Last week’s economic reports included reports on new and existing home sales and FHFA’s monthly home price index for properties associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages. The details:
New Home Sales Surge, Existing Home Sales Drop
According to the Department of Commerce, new home sales rose in January to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 539,000 which exceeded the expected rate of 455,000 sales and the revised figure of 500,000 sales of new homes in December 2014. This was a 7.80 percent increase over December’s figure and was the first time since 2008 that new home sales met or exceeded the benchmark of 500,000 sales for two consecutive months.
Sales of new homes were close to 25 percent higher than for January 2015, and analysts said that more jobs and relatively low mortgage rates could boost the traditionally busy spring and summer home buying season.
The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of previously owned homes rose by 1.20 percent in February to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million sales against expectations of 4.94 million sales of previously owned homes. Extreme winter weather was cited as a cause for the decline in sales.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® said that the average price for pre-owned homes rose to $202,600, which represents a 7.50 percent increase year-over-year. Wages are rising at an average of 2.00 percent annually and rents are rising at an average of 3.50 percent annually. This is creating affordability issues for renters and would-be homebuyers as their incomes are not keeping pace with escalating housing and rental prices. The share of first-time home buyers rose by 1.00 percent in February, but analysts said that historically the market share for first-time buyers averages about 40.00 percent.
FHFA: Home Price Index Falls by 0.30 Percent
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that home prices for sales of homes associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages fell by 0.30 percent year-over-year in January to an increase of 5.10 percent year-over-year as compared to January 2014’year-over-year increase of 5.40 percent.
Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall
Mortgage rates fell last week. Freddie Mac reported average rates for fixed rate mortgages fell by none basis points with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaging 3.69 percent and the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaging 2.97 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by five basis points to an average of 2.92 percent. Discount points also fell from 0.50 percent to 0.40 percent.
Weekly jobless claims fell to 282,000 new claims against an expected reading of 290,000 new claims and the previous week’s reading of 291,000 new jobless claims. This reading supports reports of expanding labor markets that may give would-be home buyers the confidence to buy homes.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales, Non-Farm Payrolls and the National Unemployment Rate along with regularly scheduled releases on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims.
If you are a homeowner, you should always be thinking about ways that you can boost the resale value of your home. Whether you are planning on putting the home on the market, or simply want to be prepared for the future, there are upgrades that can make your property more desirable. Give your home the attention it deserves and you’ll be prepared for whatever may come down the line.
Go Solar With A Home Solar Installation
There’s no doubt that solar power is big in today’s housing market. It’s an excellent resource that will save you money on your utility bills. You could even find yourself in a situation where the power company is actually buying energy from you. It’s also a move that is environmentally-friendly. If you feel a responsibility to the world around you, you will have the peace of mind that comes with reducing your carbon footprint. As energy becomes scarce, solar power is something you can count on. Future buyers will benefit as well.
Install An HVAC System That Does It All
When it comes to your heating and cooling, install a system that will meet all of your needs. Keep your home at a comfortable temperature throughout the year at the touch of a button. Choose an energy saver model that uses the most feasible type of energy source in order to trim costs. When you have a modern system with automation capability, you should see a difference in your utility bills. You’ll also have a huge selling feature to show off when prospective buyers come knocking at your door.
Make the Most of Your Existing Space
Take the space that you have and make sure that you utilize it to its full potential. Whether you create an attic bedroom or a finished basement, making better use of your space will increase your home’s appeal. When it’s time to sell, buyers want to see possibilities and appreciate it more when the work has already been done for them. Give them options and let them make the space their own.
Turn to the Experts for Advice
Call your real estate professional today to further assist you with questions and solutions when considering the resale value of your home. You’ll be able to tap into a vast store of knowledge about what works and what doesn’t before investing in any upgrades.
Your home may be one of your largest assets, and you certainly want to take steps to get the highest price possible for it when you list it on the market to sell. In addition, you may have plans to purchase a new home or to take other similar steps when list your home, so you may need to your house to sell quickly. Staging your home is a great way to present it in the best possible light for potential buyers to see. While there are dozens of staging tips and ideas that you may use, there are a few that are rather simple and affordable for most to complete.
Give Each Room a Single Purpose
If your home is like most, there may be several rooms that have multiple uses. For example, you may have a work desk placed in the master bedroom, or a section of the living room may be designated as a kids’ play area. While this may be functional for how your family lives, it can confuse buyers. Buyers need to be able to walk into a room and imagine their own family living in the area. They may not have a need or use for a desk in the master bedroom, and this can confuse the use of the space. In addition, it also can make a room look smaller and more cramped than it is.
De-Clutter Your Rooms
In addition to defining a single use for each room in your home, you should also de-clutter your rooms. Depending how long you have lived in your home and how significant your periodic spring cleaning sessions have been, this can be a major undertaking. As a good rule of thumb, items that have not been used in more than six months may need to be donated or tossed away. The exception to this rule is seasonal items, like winter coats, pool toys or holiday décor. Keep in mind that buyers will open cabinets, drawers and closets, so your cleaning session should be thorough and not superficial.
Pack Away Personal Belongings
A final step to take is to pack away personal belongings. Everything from religious symbols like crosses to a family photo over the mantel should be packed in boxes. Your goal is to make your home look like any family could live there rather than to make it look like your home. Only decorative items that have a broad or universal appeal should remain.
When a home is properly staged, it may feel as though your home is not your own and even as though you are camping out in your own home. Keep in mind that staging can help you to sell your home as quickly as possible and to get the highest bid possible. Therefore, your effort is well worthwhile.