February 2017 Newsletter

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A recent article in the Wall Street Journal interviewed retiree on the surprises of retirement.  Many were surprised at how their savings held up, while others said household expenses were steeper than expected.  Are you prepared to answer the questions of today’s retiree?  A great article to really have a perspective on today’s retiree.  Click Here to read the full article.

Things are moving forward with our Annual Conference in Wilmington, NC Nov. 14-16, 2017.  A fantastic speaker line-up is developing so please visit the Conference Page to learn more about Early Bird rates and sign up. This will be a conference not to be missed!

Sincerely,

Andre’ Nabors Chair, The AARC



AARC Board Announces 2017 Conference – Wilmington, North Carolina

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The American Association of Retirement Communities (AARC) Board of Directors and Conference Planning Committee is excited to announce that Wilmington North Carolina has been chosen as the site of the 2017 Annual Conference slated for November 14th – 16th.

Wilmington is a scenic riverfront town only minutes to the beaches of Southeast North Carolina and is the most easily accessible city on the North Carolina Coast.

This year’s program will highlight industry leaders in retiree recruitment, relocation and development.  To further add to the 2017 Program there will be an offsite “learning lecture and tour” as well as added breakout sessions and targeted roundtables to foster idea exchanges and identify “best practices”.

Early, Early Bird Registration is open – Visit the Conference Page to Learn More and Sign Up

See you in Wilmington, North Carolina November 2017!

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Existing-Home Sales Jump in January – Home Sales up 3.3%

News Release, Realtor.com | February 22, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 7.52.33 AMWASHINGTON (February 22, 2017) — Existing-home sales stepped out to a fast start in 2017, surpassing a recent cyclical high and increasing in January to the fastest pace in almost a decade, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All major regions except for the Midwest saw sales gains last month.

Total existing-home sales 1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, expanded 3.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.69 million in January from an upwardly revised 5.51 million in December 2016. January’s sales pace is 3.8 percent higher than a year ago (5.48 million) and surpasses November 2016 (5.60 million) as the strongest since February 2007 (5.79 million).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says January’s sales gain signals resilience among consumers even in a rising interest rate environment. “Much of the country saw robust sales activity last month as strong hiring and improved consumer confidence at the end of last year appear to have sparked considerable interest in buying a home,” he said. “Market challenges remain, but the housing market is off to a prosperous start as homebuyers staved off inventory levels that are far from adequate and deteriorating affordability conditions.”

The median existing-home price 2 for all housing types in January was $228,900, up 7.1 percent from January 2016 ($213,700). January’s price increase was the fastest since last January (8.1 percent) and marks the 59th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory 3 at the end of January rose 2.4 percent to 1.69 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 7.1 percent lower than a year ago (1.82 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 20 straight months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.6-month supply at the current sales pace (unchanged from December 2016).

Properties typically stayed on the market for 50 days in January, down from 52 days in December and considerably more a year ago (64 days). Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 108 days in January, while foreclosures sold in 51 days and non-distressed homes took 49 days. Thirty-eight percent of homes sold in January were on the market for less than a month.

“Competition is likely to heat up even more heading into the spring for house hunters looking for homes in the lower- and mid-market price range,” added Yun. “NAR and realtor.com®’s new ongoing research — the Realtors® Affordability Distribution Curve and Score — revealed that the combination of higher rates and prices led to households in over half of all states last month being able to afford less of all active inventory on the market based on their income.”

Inventory data from realtor.com® reveals that the metropolitan statistical areas where listings stayed on the market the shortest amount of time in January were San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., 43 days; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., 47 days; San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif., 55 days; Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., 57 days; and Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn., Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif., and Greeley, Colo., all at 58 days.

NAR President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California, cautions about another source that could possibly drag down inventory for would-be buyers in coming months. “Supply and demand imbalances continue to be burdensome in many markets, and now Fannie Mae is supporting a Wall Street firm’s investment in single-family rentals,” he said. “This will only further hamper tight supply and put major investors in direct competition with traditional buyers. Instead, the GSEs should lower overly burdensome fees(link is external) and help qualified borrowers become homeowners.”

First-time buyers were 33 percent of sales in January, which is up from 32 percent both in December and a year ago. NAR’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers — released in late 2016 4 — revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 35 percent.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate(link is external) for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage decreased slightly in January to 4.15 percent from 4.20 percent in December. The average commitment rate for all of 2016 was 3.65 percent.

All-cash sales were 23 percent of transactions in January, up from 21 percent in December but down from 26 percent a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 15 percent of homes in January, unchanged from December and down from 17 percent a year ago. Fifty-nine percent of investors paid in cash in January.

Distressed sales 5 — foreclosures and short sales — were 7 percent of sales in January, unchanged from December and down from 9 percent a year ago. Five percent of January sales were foreclosures and 2 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 14 percent below market value in January (20 percent in December), while short sales were discounted 10 percent (unchanged from December).

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales grew 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million in January from 4.91 million in December 2016, and are now 3.7 percent above the 4.86 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $230,400 in January, up 7.3 percent from January 2016.

Existing condominium and co-op sales leapt 8.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 650,000 units in January, and are now 4.8 percent higher than a year ago. The median existing condo price was $217,400 in January, which is 6.2 percent above a year ago.

January existing-home sales in the Northeast jumped 5.3 percent to an annual rate of 800,000, and are now 6.7 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $253,800, which is 2.5 percent above January 2016.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales decreased 1.5 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million in January, and are 0.8 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $174,900, up 6.5 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South in January rose 3.6 percent to an annual rate of 2.31 million, and are now 3.1 percent above January 2016. The median price in the South was $201,400, up 9.2 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West ascended 6.6 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million in January, and are now 8.4 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $332,300, up 6.8 percent from January 2016.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.



Housing Outlook 2017: Eight Predictions From The Experts

Samantha Sharf/Forbes Staff, January 3, 2017

In so many ways 2016 was an unprecedented, volatile and, for some, excruciating 12 months. And the housing market was not immune to the year’s whims. At the start experts anticipated a pick up in building activity, instead builders are still not producing enough homes. Meanwhile, home prices appreciated beyond expectations and mortgage rates toyed with record lows before crossing 4% for the first time in two years. “If the expectation was that the market would transition smoothly from deep red hot recovery to normal–that certainly didn’t happen,” says Svenja Gudell, chief economist at real estate data firm Zillow.

Nevertheless, Gudell and others argue that on balance 2016 was a pretty good year for housing. National prices finally crossing the previous 2006 peak, mortgage rates remained historically low and there were some signs that Millennials, a generation which some feared would never buy homes, are beginning to enter the market. Through it all the election loomed large. In 2017 we’ll see how profound it’s effects.

Here are eight things housing experts expect to see in 2017:

1. Prices will continue to rise–but more slowly.

OCA-RisingInterestRates-v2bPrices rose every month last year (through October) with the largest gains coming in the later half and a 5.61% increase in national. Experts expect prices will continue their climb, but gains will slow. “We believe price increases will hold steady despite slowing sales growth, because homebuyer demand is stronger now than it was at the same time last year, and because we foresee a small uptick in homes for sale,” notes Nela Richardson, chief economist at real estate brokerage Redfin.

“With the current high consumer confidence numbers and low unemployment rate, affordability trends do not suggest an immediate reversal in home price trends,” noted David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in the December release of the Case-Shiller home price index. “Nevertheless, home prices cannot rise faster than incomes and inflation indefinitely.”

Redfin expects the median home sale prices to gain 5.3% in 2017 compared to 2016, which would not be a major change from the 5.5% year-over-year gain expected to close out this year. Zillow is forecasting the median home value to rise 3.2% from $192,500 between November 2016 to November 2017. Zillow’s home value index rose 6.5% in the year ending November 30th.

2. Affordability will worsen.

Wages are expected to grow in America’s big cities this year, but the share of homes affordable to someone earning the median income is not. This trend, which has stymied many aspiring to buy their first home over the past few years, will be intensified by a continued shortage in low- to moderate-priced inventory and rising mortgage rates. “The irony of the modern housing market is that the places where we are seeing wage growth are places where people can’t live because they are too un-affordable. There is a mismatch,” says Nela Richardson, chief economist at real estate brokerage Redfin.

A decade ago a mismatch like this would not have been so apparent because buyers could get subprime loans, but now high credit is a requirement. The percent of new listings in the lowest price tier of the market has declined nearly every month in the last five years. Experts agree that even if builders are more active this year, they are unlikely to significantly add to the starter home stock in 2017.

3. Mortgage rates will be volatile.

The two major political events of 2016 set mortgage rates moving in opposite directions. In June, the British vote to exit the European Union put rates near a record low. In November, the U.S. election of Donald Trump had the opposite effect, sending rates above 4% for the first time in two years. By historic standards rates are still low. In 2017 experts expect movement, but differ on where for the 30-year fixed rate will land. Estimates out there range from between 3.75% and 4.6%–not so far from where it is today.

“Mortgage rates going up is a bit of euphoria and optimism over [Trump’s] promise to lower taxes, increase infrastructure spending and drive 4% econ growth,” says Richardson. “As more details materialize and we get a realistic assessment, we will see rates bump around.” Notes Gudell: “If you squint at line you will see nice upward trend, but it will happen at a volatile pace.”

In December the Federal Reserve bumped short term interest rates o between 0.50% and 0.75%, the second hike in a decade. The 25 basis point move left rates low by historic standards and on did not have a huge impact on mortgage rates. However, the Fed’s policy makers indicated they anticipate three hikes in 2017, which could have a larger effect. That’s up from the two officials projected before Donald Trump was elected. That said, Fed projections can be taken with a grain of salt: they also originally thought they would hike three times in 2016.

4. Credit availability will improve–maybe.

By and large early Trump administration priorities are not expected to deal directly with housing. However, the president-elect and his team have made it clear that they hope to roll back much of the post-crisis financial regulation laid out in the Dodd-Frank Act. In theory, this could open up banks to lend more freely to wide-range of would be buyers. Though not everyone is convinced this type of lending is the direction banks would go with any new found freedom. Meanwhile, there is speculation that Trump would return government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to private control. Investors have cheered the possibility, but some housing economists worry such a move would further restrict who could get credit to buy a home.

5. Supply will improve but remain short.

Declining inventory was without a doubt the defining feature of the housing market in 2016. It led to price appreciation, as well as a hyper fast market for buyers and discouraged would-be-sellers who feared entering the buying fray. A complete turnaround is unlikely in 2017, but there are some signs the coming year could see a small bump in housing supply–at least on the new home front.

Homebuilder sentiment picked up late last year, as many expect Trump to be a friend to the industry. Meanwhile, strong demand should also encourage building. “Controlling for the number of households in the U.S., housing starts are still only 55% of the 50-year average,” wrote Trulia Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin. “The historical view looks like there’s also more room for housing starts to grow.” Construction, however, is unlikely to improve the affordability picture because there is a growing premium for new homes and most building in recent years has been on the high-end, since builders feel they can get a better return there.

When it comes to existing homes a phenomenon Richardson calls “rate lock” may constrain inventory. Homeowners who locked in a mortgage below 4% are likely to stay in low priced homes rather than upgrade, a pattern that last emerged when rates briefly rose in 2013.

6. More Millennials will become homeowners–and renters.

According to Zillow half of all buyers are under age 36. Not every economist agrees with this assessment, however it is clear that Millennials will continue to make up a large and growing portion of the buyer pool. Of course much of this is due to the fact that Millennials–adults born after 1980–are now the largest adult generation and make up the greatest percentage of the workforce. Redfin expects Millennial homebuyers will move from the coasts to “inland markets” where starter homes are more affordable.

7. Competition will grow fiercer.

In 2017 sellers will maintain the edge over buyers as demand is expected to increase. In 2016 the typical homes stayed on the market for just 52 days, about a week faster than in 2015 and the fastest year since Redfin began measuring in 2009. The brokerage expects 2017 to be even faster.

8. Political uncertainty will be replaced with policy uncertainty.

Experts agree that three of President-Elect Donald Trump’s policy priorities could meaningfully impact the housing market: his pledges to spend more on infrastructure, to cut taxes and to crack down on immigration. The consensus is that in the very short term any moves in these three ares could have a neutral-to-positive impact on the housing market. Over the longer term, however, opinions vary widely. For more on that debate read: How President Trump Could Affect The Value Of Your Home.



COST OF LIVING COMPARISON

Center for Carolina Living

The Carolinas’ balanced tax policy and lower cost of living are refreshing changes from many other states. Review the chart below and you will see the difference!

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This chart represents an index of cost data collected by the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association for six major categories of consumer expenditures.

Categories include grocery items, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services. The information should be viewed only as a reasonable indication of relative costs.

Our intention is to inform you on how costs-of-living in various cities around the country compare with cost levels you might expect living in the Carolinas.