November 2018 Housing Affordability Index

November 2018 Housing Affordability Index

At the national level, housing affordability is down from last month and down from a year ago. Mortgage rates rose to 4.99 percent this November, up 19.1 percent compared to 4.19 percent a year ago.

  • Housing affordability declined from a year ago in November moving the index down 10.6 percent from 161.0 to 144.0. The median sales price for a single family home sold in November in the US was $260,500 up 5.0 percent from a year ago.
  • Nationally, mortgage rates were up 80 basis point from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points).
  • The payment as a percentage of income was up from last month at 17.4 percent this November and up from 15.5 percent from a year ago. Regionally, the West has the highest payment at 23.8 percent of income. The Northeast had the second highest payment at 17.1 percent followed by the South at 16.8 percent. The Midwest had the lowest payment as a percentage of income at 13.7 percent.

  • Regionally, the Northeast recorded the biggest increase in home prices at 8.2 percent. The South had an increase of 3.8 percent while the West had a gain of 2.4 percent. The Midwest had the smallest growth in price of 1.6 percent.
  • Regionally, all four regions saw a decline in affordability from a year ago. The Northeast had the biggest drop in affordability of 14.4 percent. The South had a decline of 9.3 percent followed by the Midwest that fell 9.2 percent. The West had the smallest drop of 7.2 percent.
  • On a monthly basis, affordability is down from last month in all of the four regions. The Northeast region had the decline of 5.5 percent. The South had a decline of 2.0 percent followed by the Midwest with a dip of 1.8 percent. The West had the smallest dip in affordability of 0.7 percent.
  • Despite month-to-month changes, the most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 181.9. The least affordable region remained the West where the index was 105.0. For comparison, the index was 148.8 in the South, and 146.4 in the Northeast.

  • Mortgage applications are currently up while credit availability is down. Rates are higher this month but are still historically low. Home prices are up 5.0 percent while median family incomes that are growing 3.0 percent. The job market is steady. More inventory is welcome on the lower end of the market whereas there is more supply of inventory for high priced homes.
  • What does housing affordability look like in your market? View the full data release here.
  • The Housing Affordability Index calculation assumes a 20 percent down payment and a 25 percent qualifying ratio (principal and interest payment to income). See further details on the methodology and assumptions behind the calculation here.

High-Tech Home Design From CES 2019

High-Tech Home Design From CES 2019

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

As more homes get teched out, how do you make a home smart but stylish too? CES 2019—Las Vegas’ annual mega tech show—is showing off thousands of high-tech products, including a growing number to outfit a smart home.

From smart mirrors to rollable TV screens, CES 2019 vendors are evolving the look and function of many everyday household items. Particularly interesting is a gradual movement to the attention of detail in how these high-tech products are being integrated into a home’s design. It’s becoming less about having a massive monitor on display or smart speaker on your coffee table, and more about integrating and blending the tech into the home subtly.

The Rollable TV

Photo Credit: LG

The bulky, rectangular television set has long been a centerpiece of many family rooms. But LG Signature’s OLED TV R is disguising it. This rollable 65-inch television disappears into a box below a modern, silver credenza when not in use. When you do need it, it unrolls to its full height in seconds. You can also put the TV in “line view,” so that only about a quarter of the screen is showing. In this wide, rectangular view, the TV can be set to just display a clock, weather, personal photos, or other designs.

LG debuted a prototype of the wallpaper TV back at CES 2018, but it will be available to the public starting in the second half of 2019. Pricing has yet to be determined.

Not Just Any Wood

Photo Credit: Mui

That two-by-four piece of wood on the wall looks like a stylish accent that blends into the room, but it’s actually a smart home assistant. Voice-assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant, are getting stylish makeovers and embedded into more products. The Mui smart block can be controlled via voice. Homeowners can take control over music, lighting, thermostats, and more through this discreet Google Assistant. When it’s not being used, the LCD display turns off and it looks like just any other piece of wood again. When activated, words appear on the screen and you can talk to it. It’ll be available in early 2019 for $999.

Picture Frame and Wireless Charger

Tech chargers aren’t exactly the prettiest accessory to leave lying around. Enter Twelve South’s PowerPic. It’s a picture frame that doubles as a wireless charger for your devices. It appears as a typical wooden 5×7 picture frame, but it contains a hidden wireless charger behind that favorite photo being displayed. You can place an iPhone or other compatible device inside of it to start charging. (This retails for $80.)

 

A Smart Mirror

This isn’t your ordinary mirror. It’s a touchscreen mirror with Google Assistant-embedded inside. This smart mirror from Capstone Connected Home allows you to ask it anything you typically would of a standard voice assistant. You can even compose email and messages from it and type directly into the mirror. The mirror is available in various sizes, starting at 19-inch by 22-inch. It’ll be available in early 2019. Pricing has yet to be determined.

 

Mood lighting

Photo Credit: Philips Hue

Pick a mood and let your lights match it. Philips Hue offers a range of smart bulbs that allow you to take control over the lighting to fit the setting. Adjust your dining room lighting to create an ambient atmosphere for a dinner party, or turn a living room into a home theater with dimmed lights. Many of the bulbs can also now be controlled via voice, allowing you to change lighting without ever having to flip a switch.

Throwback Thursday: First-Time Homebuyers Then and Now

Throwback Thursday: First-Time Homebuyers Then and Now

In 1981 when NAR first started tracking the data, the average age of a first-time homebuyer was 29.  They made up 44 percent of all homebuyers.  Sixty-eight percent of first-time buyers were married couples, 12 percent were single female and 13 percent were single male (seven percent were other).

In contrast, in 2018, the average age of a first-time homebuyer was 46 and they accounted for 33 percent of all homebuyers.  Fifty-four percent were married couples, 18 percent were single female, 10 percent were single male, and 16 percent were unmarried couples (two percent were other).

In 1989, first-time buyers largely rented an apartment before they bought their home at 80 percent, and 15 percent lived with parents, relatives, or friends.  In 2018, the share of first-time buyers that lived in an apartment before they bought their home slipped to 71 percent while the share of those that had been living with parents, relatives, or friends previous to buying rose to 23 percent.

Why You Should Consider Staging the Staircase

Why You Should Consider Staging the Staircase

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Photo Credit: L.J. Smith Stair Systems

A great staircase can be attention-getting in your listing. Don’t forget to stage it and highlight it in your property photos to give it the attention it deserves.

“A circular staircase creates a positive first impression as people walk into the home,” says Kurt Geschwender with Geschwender Real Estate Co. “It’s a one-two punch. You’ve created strong curb appeal to move them off the street and into the house. Then you need to close them with the first impression as they enter the home. I’ve found that a buyer will mentally buy the home after they hit the front door … and that they tour the rest of the house looking for reasons why not to buy it.”

A circular staircase can be a symbol of elegance, says John Lynn, a real estate pro with 5 Star Real Estate Pros at Keller Williams Mountain Partners. “I’ve rarely seen a curved staircase in a home that wasn’t eye-catching in either its design or placement,” says Lynn. “People see a straight staircase design and think of a wide range of purposes for that staircase from basic functionality to being a home’s centerpiece for connecting life upstairs. However, a curved staircase makes a dramatic, jaw-dropping statement in a home ad appeals to home buyers on an entirely different level.”

Stage it: Add a circular table at the bottom of the stairway to enhance the circular staircase. Include a vase of fresh flowers. If there’s space, include a chair beside it. The staging below will help accent the curve of the stairway above.

Photo credit: L.J. Smith Stair Systems

Photograph it: Be sure to include a picture of the staircase in your MLS photos. Capture it from below and shoot toward the curve to show off its grandness.

Photo credit: L.J. Smith Stair Systems

Enhance it: The trend for staircases is cool iron blusters matched with warm wooden newels and handrails, says Craig Kurtz, president of L.J. Smith Stair Systems. “That marriage of wood and iron allows homeowners to ‘play’ off both materials so that the stairway complements other design elements of the home.” Make sure the style matches the rest of the home, however, Lynn says. “The shape, style, positioning and material of a staircase can be a positive or negative in the buyer’s mind depending on how it fits into the overall design of the home,” Lynn says. “I’ve noticed that most people prefer to match the materials in a staircase to existing fixtures of the home to give a consistency of theme or design. Having a staircase with a little bit of color, material or design contrast allows them to offset or even showcase the staircase in the home.”