With several weeks still left of summer, the nights are getting cooler and fall is definitely in the air. Developers, communities, and destination marketing organizations are gearing up for the fall and winter show season and your time to plan is now. Potential retirees are still looking for those perfect locations to relocate and a showing off your fall colors may just win their hearts.
Remember, there’s still time to register for the annual conference in Daytona Beach, but Early Bird Pricing ends soon! We’re so excited to help you “Fuel Up for Retiree Recruitment,” with sessions such as Capturing and Converting Buyers and Technology Trends For Today, Tomorrow and Beyond. We look forward to seeing you November 7-9!
Retiring to a new city or state can be hardest on your pocketbook. Think through the impact a new place will have on your budget before relocating in retirement. Check out “8 Factors to Consider when Choosing a Retirement Location.” U.S. News & World Report
Rachel Baker Chair, The AARC
Inventory Drought Pushes New-Home Sales to 9-Month Low
National Association of Realtors | August 24, 2018
The shortage of homes for-sale continues to depress sales. Sales of newly built, single-family homes dropped last month and are now at the lowest level since last October, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. This follows on the heels of the National Association of REALTORS®’ report earlier this week that showed existing-home sales also dipped in July, reaching their sluggish pace in more than two years.
“A lack of overall housing inventory is pushing up home prices, which is hurting affordability and causing prospective buyers to delay making a home purchase,” says Randy Noel, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.
New-homes sales were at a 627,000 rate in July, about 1.7 percent lower than June sales. However, sales are now 7.2 percent higher than a year ago.
“Although this month marks the lowest sales pace since last October, we continue to see solid housing demand due to economic strengthening and positive demographic tailwinds,” says Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington, NAHB’s senior economist. “Builders need to manage rising construction costs to keep their homes competitively priced for the newcomers to the housing market.”
The median price of new homes was $328,700 in July, which is 1.8 percent higher than a year ago.
Regionally, new-homes sales were up in the West (10.9 percent month-over-month) and the Midwest (up 9.9 percent month-over-month). However, those gains could not offset a 52.3 percent decline in the Northeast and a 3.3 percent drop in the South last month. “Year-to-date, sales in the Northeast are down 14.5 percent as the region deals with the impact from tax reform and persistent affordability issues,” NAHB notes in its release.
The slowdown in housing is getting the Federal Reserve’s attention, as reflected in the minutes of the central bank’s last meeting, which was released this week. Ward McCarthy, Jefferies LLC economist, noted:
“Housing activity in general has retreated from levels that were temporarily boosted by 2017 natural disasters—hurricanes and wildfires—that forced displaced households to seek alternative housing. The housing sector is also undergoing an adjustment to affordability that is less attractive than it was for most of the cycle, as well as changes in the treatment of SALT deductions in the federal tax code. That is the bad news. The good news is that there is no evidence of the type of imbalances that could cause a sharp downturn, such as heavy inventories and/or rising mortgage default and delinquency rates. We also note this is not the first temporary slowdown in housing activity this cycle.”
Jumbo Loans May Be More Practical for Average Buyers
Realtor Magazine| August 23, 2018
Large-balance mortgage loans called “jumbo” loans are becoming less expensive than conforming loans. Traditionally, jumbo loans have carried higher interest rates, but since mid-2013 that has been gradually changing. Jumbo loan rates have been less expensive to borrow than a conforming mortgage loan by an average of 33 basis
points during the first quarter, according to CoreLogic, a real estate data firm, on its Insights Blog.
Jumbo loans are those that exceed the high-balance conforming loan limit, which the Federal Housing Finance Agency set at $453,100 for most of the U.S. in 2018. Areas designated as high-cost may stretch up to $679,650.
CoreLogic researchers say one of the reasons that the jumbo-to-conforming rate difference has seen the gap decline is the increase in guarantee fees, also known as g-fees. These are fees on loans bought by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for conforming and high-balance conforming loans. The average g-fee has nearly tripled since 2010, jumping from 22 basis points to 57 basis points in 2017.
“Since jumbo loans are too big to be purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, those fees have little or no impact on the note rate of the jumbo loans,” CoreLogic notes on its Insights Blog. “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are pricing the credit risk of conforming loans, while banks are pricing the credit risk of jumbo loans. Thus, increase in guarantee fees has the effect of raising interest rates for conforming loans with little or no impact on the mortgage rates for jumbo loans.”
Researchers also note that lenders are requiring higher credit standards to get a jumbo loan, which has lowered the credit risk to lenders and given them more incentive to issue them. The average credit score for buyers with a 30-year fixed-rate jumbo loan is 18 points higher than for buyers with conforming loans.
Total housing starts inched up 0.9 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million units, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department.
The July reading of 1.17 million is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts held firm, up 0.9 percent to 862,000 units. Meanwhile, the multifamily sector—which includes apartment buildings and condos—rose 3 percent to 306,000.
“Builder confidence remains solid, although it has fallen back somewhat in recent months due to rising construction costs in 2018, including lumber,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel, a custom home builder from LaPlace, La. “As builders grapple with higher costs, one positive development is that lumber prices have shown signs of easing the past two months off their record high levels posted in June.”
Some projects are experiencing construction start delays due to cost concerns, with the number of single-family units authorized but not started up 25 percent since July 2017.
“Supply-side challenges including increases in material prices and chronic labor shortages are affecting affordability in many markets,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “However, consumer demand remains strong due to a growing economy and job market and favorable demographics. Moreover, on a year-to-date basis, single-family construction has shown steady progress, up 7.2 percent, while 5+ multifamily production is up 3.4 percent as well.”
Regionally, combined single- and multifamily housing starts in July rose 11.6 percent in the Midwest and 10.4 percent in the South. Starts fell 4 percent in the Northeast and posted a 19.6 percent decline in the West due to affordability constraints in the coastal markets.
Overall permits, which are often a harbinger of future housing production, rose 1.5 percent to 1.31 million units in July. Single-family permits posted a modest gain of 1.9 percent to 869,000. Multifamily permits were relatively unchanged, up 1.7 percent to 410,000.
Looking at regional permit data, permits rose 5.9 percent in the Northeast, 5.8 percent in the Midwest and 1.2 percent in the West. Permits edged 0.3 percent lower in the South.