NAR released a summary of existing-home sales data showing that housing market activity this February, bounced back and was up 11.8 percent from January 2019. Despite the month over month gains, sales of existing-homes dropped 1.8 percent from February 2018. February’s existing home sales reached a 5.51 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, the highest since March 2018.
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $249,500 in February, up 3.6 percent from a year ago. This marks the 84th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.
Regionally, all four regions showed growth in prices from a year ago. The Midwest had largest gain of 5.4 percent followed by the Northeast with a gain of 3.8 percent. The West had an increase of 3.0 percent followed by the South with an incline of 2.5 from February 2018.
February’s inventory figures are up from last month 2.5 percent to 1.63 million homes for sale. Compared with February of 2018, there was a 3.2 percent increase in inventory levels. It will take 3.5 months to move the current level of inventory at the current sales pace. It takes approximately 44 days for a home to go from listing to a contract in the current housing market, up from 37 days a year ago.
From January 2019, three of the four regions showed inclines in sales while the Northeast was unchanged. The West had the biggest gain of 16.0 percent followed by the South with an incline of 214.9 percent. The Midwest had the smallest increase of 9.5 percent.
Two of the four regions showed declines in sales from a year ago and the Midwest was flat. The Northeast had the only gain in sales of 1.5 percent. The West had the biggest decline of 7.9 percent followed by the South with the smallest drop of 0.4 percent. The South led all regions in percentage of national sales, accounting for 43.4 percent of the total, while the Northeast had the smallest share at 12.5 percent.
In February, single-family sales were up 13.3 percent and condominiums sales were unchanged to last month. Single-family home sales fell 1.4 percent and condominium sales were down 5.0 compared to a year ago. Single-family homes had an increase in price up 3.6 percent at $251,400 and condominiums modestly rose 3.1 percent at $233,300 from February 2018.
The master suite is a place where relaxation should be paramount. A calming color scheme and carefully staged space can do exactly that. Staging and real estate professionals submitted some of their favorite staging photos and tips for our new slideshow, How I Staged It: The Makings of a Master Retreat.
Staging not only results in a quicker sale but also tends to increase the home’s value too, according to the newly released 2019 Profile of Home Staging report conducted by the National Association of REALTORS®. One quarter of buyers’ agents say that staging a home increased the dollar value of a home between 1 to 5 percent compared to similar homes on the market that weren’t staged. Seventeen percent of agents said that staging increased the home’s dollar value between six to 10 percent.
Which rooms are the most important to focus on in the house?
Staging the living room was found to be the most important for buyers (47 percent), followed by staging the master bedroom (42 percent) and staging the kitchen (35 percent). For inspiration on sprucing up the master bedroom, view our slideshow: How I Staged It: The Makings of a Master Retreat
The least important area to stage? The guest bedroom, according to buyer agents. Only 8 percent of buyer agents said it was important to stage a guest bedroom in the home.
Homeownership has been associated with positive social outcomes, and is also the largest source of wealth among homeowning households. In 2016, the median net worth among homeowners was $231,400, with housing wealth making up 85 percent of wealth (average net housing wealth was $197,500).
Housing wealth contributes positively to the homeowner’s and children’s economic condition, because home equity can be tapped for expenditures such as investing in another property (which can generate rental income), home renovation (which further increases the home value), a child’s college education, emergency or major life events, or expenses in retirement.
Housing wealth (or net worth or equity) is built up over time via the home price appreciation and the principal payments that the homeowner makes on the loan. The chart shows the change in housing wealth (equity) as of 2018 for a home buyer who purchased a typical single-family existing home in the United States 5, 10, 15, or 30 years ago. Over these holding periods, most of the wealth gains are from the appreciation in home values. For example, if one purchased a home five year ago (2013), a home buyer would have typically gained $79,488 in wealth (equity), of which $64,200, or 81 percent is from the home price appreciation ($197,400 in 2013 to $261,600 in 2018). Homeowners who move typically do so in 10 years, so a homeowner who bought a home 10 years ago (2008) would have $91,081 in home equity gains as of 2018). The longer the holding period, the larger the increase in wealth due to home price appreciation and the cumulative principal payments, which reduce the loan balance.
If you had purchased a home just five years ago in these metro areas, here are the typical gains in home equity that you have due to home price appreciation and the principal payments you’ve made:
Metro areas with home equity gains of $200,000 or over for a home purchased 5 years ago:
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Sta. Clara: $620, 410
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward: $393,561
Boulder, CO: $264,395
Anaheim-Sta. Ana-Irvine, CA: $218,773
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA: $216,613
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA: $205,659
Metro areas with lowest equity gains (loss) for a home purchased 5 years ago:
Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ: ($8,593)
New Jersey City-White Plains, NJ-NY: $3,336
Cumberland, MB-WV: $6,215
Trenton, NJ: $7943
Elmira, NY: $8,705
Use this data visualization to explore the typical increase in housing wealth across metro areas as of 2018 if you purchase a home 5, 10, 15, 30 years ago. These are typical gains and are illustrative of the magnitude of the wealth gains over time. Actual wealth gains will vary by property:
 Lawrence Yun and Nadia Evangelou, Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing, Realtor® University The Journal of the Center for Real Estate Studies; https://realtoru.edu/real-estate-studies/journal/
 Federal Reserve Board, 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances
 Brad Finkelstein, 7 reasons why consumers are tapping into home equity, The American Banker, June 26, 2018; https://www.americanbanker.com/7-reasons-why-homeowners-are-tapping-into-their-home-equity
 The price appreciation can be thought of as ‘capital gains’ while the principal payments can be thought of as a conversion from liquid asset (cash) to an illiquid asset (house).
 To be clear, these are changes in wealth or home equity between two time period or over n holding periods. If one wants the level of the home equity at a point in time, one has to add the down payment.
 These calculations are illustrative of the magnitude of the housing wealth gains; actual change in home equity will vary by home.
Great lighting is definitely stealing more of the spotlight in kitchen design lately. Pendant lights that hang from the ceiling above your kitchen island—usually in a row of two or three–is really a place to show off lighting to dress up your kitchen.
Some designers refer to pendant lights as the jewelry of your kitchen. They add a little decorative sparkle to catch the eye.
Blown glass pendants are one of the top trends. This is a clear glass light fixture with an exposed Edison light bulb inside. Glass pendants in geometric shapes, like a glass boxed pendant or a glass sphere, are popping up in more kitchens lately.
Glass pendants can be a great choice for smaller kitchens or kitchens within an open floor plan. That’s because the see-through glass doesn’t disrupt the line of sight in your kitchen space. The lighting adds just enough statement and shine to accent that kitchen island.