Monday, February 20, 2012

Home Affordability Climbs to its Highest Level Ever

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index came out with the latest figures for housing affordability. Housing affordability rose to a record high during the fourth quarter of 2011, which means a home buyer’s purchasing power is greater than it ever has been before.

The index showed that 75.9 percent of all new and existing homes sold in the fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,200, according to the index. That marks the highest percentage recorded in the index’s 20-year history.

"While today's report indicates that home ownership is within reach of more households than it has been for more than two decades, overly restrictive lending conditions confronting home buyers and builders remain significant obstacles to many potential homes sales, even with interest rates at historically low levels," says Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

See more here:

30-Year Rates Continue to Hold at Record Lows

30-Year Mortgages Rates Continue to Hold at Record Lows

Fixed-mortgage rates continue to hover at record lows, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage staying at the record low of 3.87 percent since the first week of February, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the most popular choice among home buyers, has been below 4 percent for the past 11 weeks.

See more details at the National Association of Realtors' web site:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Pending Sales in Massachusetts is up 39.44% in January 2012

 The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR) reported today that the number of single-family homes put under agreement in January went up again for the ninth straight month compared to the same time in 2011. Condominium pending sales were also up from the same time last year.
The fact that we have been experiencing a very mild wither with minimum snowfall has kept home buyers out there looking - and placing properties under agreement. Compare that with last year when we were buried with snow, which keeps the buyers from venturing out of their homes (or apartments).

By the weather isn't the only thing driving the real estate market. The continued improvement in the unemployment rate and more confidence in the economy in general reassures potential home buyers that they won't be losing their job anytime soon. The low mortgage interest rates combined with lower housing prices has made homes more affordable than any other year since the early 1970's.

The number of single-family homes put under agreement in January was up almost 40% percent compared to the same time last year (*2,041 homes in 2011 to 2,846 homes in 2012). That is a huge increase that can't just be contributed to a milder winter. This is the ninth straight month of year-over-year increases. On a month-to-month basis, single-family homes put under agreement went up almost 2 percent from 2,794 homes in December.

The number of condos put under agreement in January was up 25.77 percent compared to January 2011 (*846 units in 2011 to 1,064 units in 2012), another big increase.  On a month-to-month basis, condos put under agreement were up less than one percent at 0.66 percent from 1,057 units in December.

What does this mean to you? Well, if you are thing about placing your home on the market, this is a good time to do it. The inventory of homes is at a low point right now, which means less competition for your home. Less competition means you should be able to sell your home quicker and for more money.

About Pending Sales:
A pending sale or a sale “under agreement” is when the buyer and seller agree on the terms of the sale of a home and have a signed purchase and sale agreement, but have yet to close and be recorded as such.  MAR is the only organization which compiles this statewide information from Multiple Listing Services each month.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Home Affordability Offering Up 40-Year Deals

   Home affordability is at 1971 levels, due to falling home prices and record low mortgage rates, pushing home ownership in reach to more families, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Home owners are bringing in nearly double the median income they need to cover the cost of an average home, HousingPredictor reports.
 "With interest rates at historically low levels and markets across the country beginning to improve, home ownership is within reach of more households," Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said in a statement. 
    However, some consumers are finding more stringent lending standards for getting a mortgage a roadblock to home ownership.

Questions About Market Value of a Home

Question: Hi Jim, Why is this house priced almost $20,000 than it's assessed for? I know they bought it on 2005 for $350,000, but at today's market it seems unrealistic. It has no garage which would have to be built! I know this is not your listing, but do you know anthing else about it? It's been on the market since November 2011 and already has been reduced, but I believe it is not enough of a reduction. Thanks so much. - Kathy
In reference to the follow property:

 Answer: Kathy,

The assessed value of a home has no relationship to the market value of a homes. The way the town determines assessed value differs from the way a Realtor or an appraiser determines value because it is done for tax purposes. Plus, assessments are usually 2 years behind market value, and many times don't include any recent upgrades.

This particular home is actually under agreement, but they are continuing to show it for back up offers. It is a short sale, which means they are selling it for less than what the seller owes to the mortgage holder. According to public records, the seller still owes more than $300,000 to the lender. There no way of knowing what the current offer is on the property, but it is property close to the current list price.

No, it doesn't have a garage, but that doesn't matter to many people. It is in a nice neighborhood, has a good size lot, and has no neighbors in back of the property, so it is a desirable home. It is also in very good condition and shows very well, which many buyers are willing to pay a little more for. The inventory of available single family homes on the North Shore is actually quite low right now, partially due to the time of year, but also because the market is very busy. This is keeping home prices stable, and in some areas we are even seeing slight increases in value. Danvers, MA only saw a 1.45% drop in home prices in 2011, and most of that happened at the beginning of the year. Towards the end of the year the prices were starting to edge up.

I am always available to answer any questions you might have. It doesn't matter if I am the listing agent or not. Let me know if you would like to see any home on the market.


Jim Armstrong
Armstrong Field Real Estate
Mobile 978-394-6736