Home Builder Confidence Hits All-Time Record

Home Builder Confidence Hits All-Time Record | Simplifying The Market

Last week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported their Housing Market Index (HMI) hit an all-time high in the 35-year history of the series with a score of 83. The index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sale expectations for the next six months, as well as the traffic of prospective buyers of new homes.

As the following chart shows, confidence dropped dramatically when stay-in-place orders were originally mandated earlier this year. Since then, it has soared back.Home Builder Confidence Hits All-Time Record | Simplifying The MarketLooking at the three-month moving averages for HMI scores, confidence increased in every region of the country:

  • The Northeast increased 11 points to 76
  • The Midwest jumped 9 points to 72
  • The South rose 8 points to 79
  • The West increased 7 points to 85

Confidence Is Validated by the Numbers

This confidence is definitely warranted. According to a recent NAHB report, single-family housing starts increased 4.1% to a 1.02 million annual rate, and single-family permits increased 6% to a 1.04 million unit rate, meaning newly constructed homes are on the rise.

A separate report from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) shows mortgage applications for new home purchases increased by 33.3% compared to a year ago. Joel Kan, Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting at MBA, commented on the numbers:

“The housing market continued to exceed expectations in August, as housing demand for new homes stayed strong and the job market continued to recover…The new home market has maintained its path of recovery throughout the summer, and record-low mortgage rates and households seeking more space will likely continue to drive demand into the fall.”

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about putting your house on the market but are afraid you may not find a home to buy, let’s connect to discuss new construction opportunities in our area.

The Cost of a Home Is Far More Important than the Price

The Cost of a Home Is Far More Important than the Price | Simplifying The Market

Housing inventory is at an all-time low. There are 39% fewer homes for sale today than at this time last year, and buyer demand continues to set records. Zillow recently reported:

“Newly pending sales are up 25.5% compared to the same week last year, the highest year-over-year increase in the weekly Zillow database.”

Whenever there is a shortage in supply of an item that’s in high demand, the price of that item increases. That’s exactly what’s happening in the real estate market right now. CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that values have increased by 5.5% over the last year.

This is great news if you’re planning to sell your house; on the other hand, as either a first-time or repeat buyer, this may instead seem like troubling news. However, purchasers should realize that the price of a house is not as important as the cost. Let’s break it down.

There are several factors that influence the cost of a home. The two major ones are the price of the home and the interest rate at which a buyer can borrow the funds necessary to purchase the home.

Last week, Freddie Mac announced that the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 2.87%. At this time last year, the rate was 3.73%. Let’s use an example to see how that difference impacts the true cost of a home.

Assume you purchased a home last year and took out a $250,000 mortgage. As mentioned above, home values have increased by 5.5% over the last year. To buy that same home this year, you would need to take out a mortgage of $263,750.

How will your monthly mortgage payment change based on today’s lower mortgage rate?

This table calculates the difference in your monthly payment:The Cost of a Home Is Far More Important than the Price | Simplifying The MarketThat’s a savings of $61 monthly, which adds up to $732 annually and $21,960 over the life of the loan.

Bottom Line

Even though home values have appreciated, it’s a great time to buy a home because mortgage rates are at historic lows.

Tips for Working with Your Spouse

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels


Working with your family — especially your spouse — can be challenging. But it doesn’t need to be. Many couples navigate working together, successfully managing a family business, and even strengthen their marriage at the same time! In fact, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, 53% of managers in family-run businesses share those duties with a spouse.

Running a business with your spouse isn’t that dissimilar from marriage: it requires effort. Here are our top tips for successfully running a business with your partner:

  1. Create healthy boundaries. That means separating home and work. Don’t carry household conflicts — like forgetting to unload the dishwasher or a disagreement over parenting — into a work environment. Save resolving conflicts for after work.
  2. Set working hours. Be specific with your spouse about when you do (and don’t!) want to discuss work-related issues. Unless it’s urgent, keep it to the office hours and use the rest of the day as family time.
  3. Equally divide work duties. Ensure that there is an equitable division of labor and each person knows their specific duties.
  4. Create your own space. Even though you may work from home, that doesn’t mean you need to be in the same room or take breaks together. You can also email your spouse to limit interruptions and keep a record of the discussion.
  5. Remember the value of your relationship. Above all else, marriage, and the strength of your relationship, comes first. That means bringing the values of marriage into your working relationship, too: trust, respect, consideration, communication, and being open to feedback and conflict resolution.

How Low Inventory May Impact the Housing Market This Fall

How Low Inventory May Impact the Housing Market This Fall | Simplifying The Market

Real estate continues to be called the ‘bright spot’ in the current economy, but there’s one thing that may hold the housing market back from achieving its full potential this year: the lack of homes for sale.

Buyers are actively searching for and purchasing homes, looking to capitalize on today’s historically low interest rates, but there just aren’t enough houses for sale to meet that growing need. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, explains:

Mortgage rates have hit another record low due to a late summer slowdown in the economic recovery…These low rates have ignited robust purchase demand activity…However, heading into the fall it will be difficult to sustain the growth momentum in purchases because the lack of supply is already exhibiting a constraint on sales activity.”

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), right now, unsold inventory sits at a 3.1-month supply at the current sales pace. To have a balanced market where there are enough homes for sale to meet buyer demand, the market needs inventory for 6 months. Today, we’re nowhere near where that number needs to be. If the trend continues, it will get even harder to find homes to purchase this fall, and that may slow down potential buyers. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, notes:

“The overall lack of sustained new listings growth could put a dent in fall home sales despite high interest from home shoppers, because new listings are key to home sales.”

The realtor.com Weekly Recovery Report keeps an eye on the number of listings coming into the market (houses available for sale) and the total number of listings staying in the market compared to the previous year (See graph below):How Low Inventory May Impact the Housing Market This Fall | Simplifying The MarketBuyers are clearly scooping up homes faster than they’re being put up for sale. The number of total listings (the orange line) continues to decline even as new listings (the blue line) are coming to the market. Why? Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research at realtor.com, notes:

“The post-pandemic period has brought a record number of homebuyers back into the market, but it’s also failed to bring a consistent number of sellers back. Homes are selling faster, and sales are still on an upward trend, but rapidly disappearing inventory also means more home shoppers are being priced out. If we don’t see material improvement to supply in the next few weeks, we could see the number of transactions begin to dwindle again even as the lineup of buyers continues to grow.”

Does this mean it’s a good time to sell?

Yes. If you’re thinking about selling your house, this fall is a great time to make it happen. There are plenty of buyers looking for homes to purchase because they want to take advantage of low interest rates. Realtors are also reporting an average of 3 offers per house and an increase in bidding wars, meaning the demand is there and the opportunity to sell for the most favorable terms is in your favor as a seller.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering selling your house, this is the perfect time to connect so we can talk about how you can benefit from the market trends in our local area.

The Surging Real Estate Market Continues to Climb

The Surging Real Estate Market Continues to Climb | Simplifying The Market

Earlier this year, realtor.com announced the release of the Housing Recovery Index, a weekly guide showing how the pandemic has impacted the residential real estate market. The index leverages a weighted average of four key components of the housing industry by tracking each of the following:

  1. Housing Demand – Growth in online search activity
  2. Home Price – Growth in asking prices
  3. Housing Supply – Growth of new listings
  4. Pace of Sales – Difference in time-on-market

The index compares the current status “to the January 2020 market trend, as a baseline for pre-COVID market growth. The overall index is set to 100 in this baseline period. The higher a market’s index value, the higher its recovery and vice versa.”

The graph below charts the index by showing how the real estate market started out strong in early 2020, and then dropped dramatically at the beginning of March when the pandemic paused the economy. It also shows the strength of the recovery since the beginning of May.The Surging Real Estate Market Continues to Climb | Simplifying The MarketToday, the index stands at its highest point all year, including the time prior to the economic shutdown.

The Momentum Is Still Building

Though there is some evidence that the overall economic recovery may be slowing, the housing market is still gaining momentum. Zillow tracks the number of homes that are put into contract on a weekly basis. Their latest report confirms that buyer demand is continuing to dramatically outpace this same time last year, and the percent increase over last year is growing.The Surging Real Estate Market Continues to Climb | Simplifying The MarketClearly, the housing market is not only outperforming the grim forecasts from earlier this year, but it is also eclipsing the actual success of last year.

Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, explains it best:

“On an aggregated level, the housing economy remains rock solid despite the shock and awe of the pandemic.”

Bottom Line

Whether you’re considering buying or selling, staying on top of the real estate market over the coming months will be essential to your success.

Is Now a Good Time to Move?

Is Now a Good Time to Move? | Simplifying The Market

How long have you lived in your current home? If it’s been a while, you may be thinking about moving. According to the latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), in 2019, homeowners were living in their homes for an average of 10 years. That’s a long time to be in one place, considering the average length of time homeowners used to stay put hovered closer to 6 years.

With today’s changing homebuyer needs, especially given how the current health crisis has altered our daily lifestyles, many homeowners are reconsidering where they’re at and thinking about moving to a home with more space for their families. Here’s why it might be a great time to make that happen.

The real estate market has changed in many ways over the past 10 years, and current homeowners are earning much more equity today than they used to have. According to CoreLogic, in the first quarter of 2020 alone, the average homeowner gained approximately $9,600 in equity. If you’re considering selling your house right now, you may have accumulated more equity to put toward a move than you realize.

Dialing back 10 years, many homeowners also locked in a fairly low mortgage rate. In 2010, the average rate was only 4.09%. This motivated homeowners to stay in their houses longer than usual to keep their rate low, rather than moving. Just last Thursday, however, average mortgage rates hit a new historic low at 2.86%. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac explains:

Mortgage rates have hit another record low due to a late summer slowdown in the economic recovery…These low rates have ignited robust purchase demand activity, which is up twenty-five percent from a year ago and has been growing at double digit rates for four consecutive months.”

Ten years ago, we couldn’t have imagined a mortgage rate under 3%. Looking at the math today, making a move into a new home and locking in a significantly lower rate than you have now could save you greatly on a monthly basis, and over the life of your loan (See chart below):Is Now a Good Time to Move? | Simplifying The MarketAs the example shows, you can save a substantial amount every month if you qualify for today’s low mortgage rate, and the savings can really add up over the life of a 30-year fixed-rate loan.

Bottom Line

As a homeowner, you have a huge opportunity to move up right now. Whether you want to save more each month or get more home for your money based on your family’s changing needs, it’s a great time to connect to discuss the market in our area. Buyers are actively looking for more homes to buy, and you can win big by making a move if the time is right for you.

Two New Surveys Indicate Urban to Suburban Lean

Two New Surveys Indicate Urban to Suburban Lean | Simplifying The Market

There has been much talk around the possibility that Americans are feeling less enamored with the benefits of living in a large city and now may be longing for the open spaces that suburban and rural areas provide.

In a recent Realtor Magazine article, they discussed the issue and addressed comments made by Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“While migration trends were toward urban centers before the pandemic, real estate thought leaders have predicted a suburban resurgence as home buyers seek more space for social distancing. Now the data is supporting that theory. Coronavirus and work-from-home flexibility is sparking the trend reversal, Yun said. More first-time home buyers and minorities have also been looking to the suburbs for affordability, he added.”

NAR surveyed agents across the country asking them to best describe the locations where their clients are looking for homes (they could check multiple answers). Here are the results of the survey:

  • 47% suburban/subdivision
  • 39% rural area
  • 25% small town
  • 14% urban area/central city
  • 13% resort community/recreational area

According to real estate agents, there’s a strong preference for less populated locations such as suburban and rural areas.

Real Estate Brokers and Owners Agree

Zelman & Associates surveys brokers and owners of real estate firms for their monthly Real Estate Brokers Report. The last report revealed that 68% see either a ‘moderate’ or ‘significant’ shift to more suburban locations. Here are the results of the survey:Two New Surveys Indicate Urban to Suburban Lean | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

No one knows if this will be a short-term trend or an industry game-changer. For now, there appears to be a migration to more open environments.

Virtual School Is Changing Homebuyer Needs [INFOGRAPHIC]

Virtual School Is Changing Homebuyer Needs [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Virtual School Is Changing Homebuyer Needs [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • With remote learning sweeping the nation this academic year, organized spaces with enough room for kids to learn effectively are high on buyer wish lists.
  • If you’re trying to make room for your family’s growing needs, multi-purpose rooms and dedicated workspaces may be features to consider in your next home.
  • Let’s connect today so you can find a home where your kids feel confident and comfortable too.

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

Fruit flies are tiny annoyances, especially when they use the food you were planning to eat as their breeding grounds. Here are some ways to get rid of fruit flies in your home—and prevent them from coming back.

  1. Clean the drains. When you’ve discarded the overripe fruit and the flies aren’t diminishing, they may be living in your drains. Boil white vinegar and pour it down every drain in the house.
  2. Make a fly trap. A small amount of apple cider vinegar (to attract the flies) plus a drop of liquid soap (to trap them in the liquid) mixed together in the bottom of a jar is a good place to start. For added fly trapping power, cover the jar with plastic wrap and poke several small holes in it. They’ll be able to get in but have even more trouble getting out.
  3. Wash produce before you store it. To minimize the risk of bringing fruit flies into your house, wash all produce as soon as you get home from the store and before you put it away, then store what you can in the fridge or in airtight containers (or invest in a handy mesh screen basket, and overturn it on top of your fruit bowl).

Monthly Home Maintenance Tips

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Keeping up with home maintenance tasks will save you money, preserve the value of your home, and prevent headaches down the line. 

Though some of these things can seem like overkill, a home is often your biggest investment. It doesn’t have to feel overwhelming to keep everything in tip-top shape. Pick a certain day you do each of these things each month, and it won’t feel like a chore. 

  • Inspect, clean, and possibly change the furnace filter.
  • Vacuum heat registers, vents, and refrigerator coils.
  • Use vinegar to clean mineral deposits from faucets and showerheads.
  • Check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Clean kitchen exhaust fan filters and fan blades. Tip: Use a degreaser (buy at an auto parts store) mixed with hot water.
  • Inspect dishwasher for leaks. If you find problems, search for info on YouTube or consider calling a plumber.
  • Pour boiling water down drains. Tip: If clogged, add a cup of baking soda. Clean your sink disposal. Try a few ice cubes along with slices of an orange for a fresh scent, and remove the rubber top and clean with an antibacterial cleaner.
  • Inspect all fire extinguishers to make sure the gauges show adequate pressure.  Most extinguishers last between 5 and 15 years.  It’s also a good time to review how to use them.