Not Enough Homes For Sale?

Sold Home For Sale Sign in Front of New HouseWho would have thought that we could be entering the home selling season with a headline which says there are not enough homes for sale? After all, analysts had warned that the shadow inventory of homes held by banks would weigh down the markets for years to come. Where did these millions of homes go? Many were foreclosed upon. Others were sold by short sale rather than going through the foreclosure process as foreign and domestic investors bought millions of bargains. Also, many others were modified to help homeowners to remain in their homes as the economy has gotten stronger and provided more jobs for those who were unemployed. This stronger economy has meant that fewer home loans have moved into default in the past few years as well. On the other hand, there are still many homes waiting to be foreclosed upon.

How could we have a shortage of inventory at this juncture? Investor demand along with population growth and rising household formulation have all combined to remove excess inventory. Combine these factors with the fact that those who owe more than their homes are worth are reticent to sell. Even those who were foreclosed upon are starting to purchase again or need single family homes to rent. The question is not why is the inventory down, but will the lower inventory slow down the real estate market in the coming year? You can’t have rising home sales with not enough homes for sale. We think that two factors will increase inventory in the coming year. Rising home prices will encourage more home owners to list their homes. And builders can create inventory by building more homes. Increased building activity is expected to help pump up the economy in the coming year. If real estate demand continues to rise, expect banks to accelerate the process to get rid of homes in their inventory. In other words, we are expecting the low inventory “problem” to be self-correcting during the year — unless new demand outstrips this additional supply.
The Markets. The strong economic news released recently has caused rates on home loans to move up. Freddie Mac announced that for the week ending March 14, 30-year fixed rates rose from 3.52% to 3.63%. The average for 15-year loans increased to 2.79%. Adjustable rates were mixed but stable, with the average for one-year adjustables up slightly to 2.64% and five-year adjustables decreasing slightly to 2.61%. A year ago 30-year fixed rates were at 3.92%. Attributed to Frank Nothaft, Vice President and Chief Economist, Freddie Mac, “Fixed rates on home loans rose this week on stronger signs of jobs growth and consumer spending. The economy added 236,000 new workers in February which helped push down the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent. This helped offset the effects of the payroll tax holiday expiration and led to a 1.1 percent increase in retail sales, which was well above the market consensus forecast.”  Rates indicated do not include fees and points and are provided for evidence of trends only. They should not be used for comparison purposes.

Current Indices For Adjustable Rate Mortgages
Updated March 15, 2013

  Daily   Value Monthly   Value
  March   14 February
6-month   Treasury Security 0.12%  0.12%
1-year   Treasury Security 0.15%  0.16%
3-year   Treasury Security 0.42%  0.40%
5-year   Treasury Security 0.88%  0.85%
10-year   Treasury Security 2.04% 1.98%
12-month   LIBOR    0.764%   (Feb)
12-month   MTA    0.178%   (Feb)
11th   District Cost of Funds    0.962%   (Jan)
Prime   Rate    3.25%

Fifty percent of Americans say they expect the housing market to improve in 2013, while 16 percent say they expect it to get worse, according to a Bloomberg National Poll of 1,003 adults. What’s more, the majority of the Americans surveyed said they have big hopes that the improvement in the housing market will also help give a boost to the overall economy. “Prices are very steadily, slowly, starting to creep back up,” Eric Matheny—an attorney from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who recently purchased a new home—told Bloomberg. “The housing market is a major part of the economy, so it says something about the strength of the economy.” More Americans are expressing optimism about the trajectory of home prices too. Twenty-seven percent expect their home values to rise while 16 percent said they expect their home’s value to fall. In the previous survey, 20 percent predicted that their home’s value would rise while 20 percent had said they expected values to fall. Source: Bloomberg

Single family home tenants are 18 percent more likely than apartment tenants to stay in their current homes five years or longer, suggesting that demand for single family homes, the fastest growing rental category, will be more stable than multifamily demand, according to a new national opinion survey released by ORC International for Premier Property Management. Twenty-six percent of single family tenant plans to stay in place five years or more, compared to one out of five apartment dwellers (22 percent). Founded in 1938, ORC International is a leading global market research firm and since 2007 has conducted the CNN|ORC International poll. One factor contributing to single family stability could be high marks renters give the quality of single family property management. Some 80 percent of tenants in single family rentals said their property management was good or excellent compared to only 63 percent of apartment renters One out of four apartment dwellers (26%) rated their management as only adequate. “With the emergence of the single family rental option, American families have a new housing choice that brings them the aspects of associated with owning their own homes important to families such as living space, privacy, safe neighborhoods and the sense of community. Single family rentals can be found in virtually every community today and more and more families are choosing single family rentals either as a temporary stop on the road to becoming homeowners or as a permanent solution to their housing needs,” said Chris Clothier, director of sales & marketing and partner of Premier Property Management. Over half, 52 percent, of renters, including 60 percent of single family renters and 44 percent of apartment dwellers, said they anticipate becoming homeowners in the next five years. Families with three or more members (64 percent) and children under 13 (69 percent) were more likely to become homeowners than the 43 percent who don’t plan to become owners. Clothier said near term interest in becoming homeowners among single family tenants reflects the new roles single family rentals are fulfilling as a stepping stone to homeownership for first-time buyers and as a sanctuary for large numbers of families displaced by foreclosures but who plan to buy again when they can afford to do so. Source: ORC

The IRS no longer mails reminder letters to taxpayers who have to repay the First-Time Homebuyer Credit. To help taxpayers who must repay the credit, the IRS website has a user-friendly look-up tool. Here are four reminders about repaying the credit and using the tool:

  • Who needs to repay the      credit? If      you bought a home in 2008 and claimed the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, the      credit is similar to a no-interest loan. You normally must repay the      credit in 15 equal annual installments. You should have started to repay      the credit with your 2010 tax return. You are usually not required to pay      back the credit for a main home you bought after 2008. However, you may      have to repay the entire credit if you sold the home or stopped using it      as your main home within 36 months from the date of purchase. This rule      also applies to homes bought in 2008.
  • How to use the tool. You can find the      First-Time Homebuyer Credit Lookup tool at under the ‘Tools’ menu.      You will need your Social Security number, date of birth and complete      address to use the tool. If you claimed the credit on a joint return, each      spouse should use the tool to get their share of the account information.      That’s because the law treats each spouse as having claimed half of the      credit for repayment purposes.
  • What the tool does. The tool provides      important account information to help you report the repayment on your tax      return. It shows the original amount of the credit, annual repayment amounts,      total amount paid and the remaining balance. You can print your account      page to share with your tax preparer and to keep for your records.

How to repay the credit. To repay the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, add the amount you have to repay to any other tax you owe on your federal tax return. This could result in additional tax owed or a reduced refund. You report the repayment on line 59b on Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. If you are repaying the credit because the home stopped being your main home, you must attach Form 5405, Repayment of the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, to your tax return. Source: IRS

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