Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Millennials in the Housing Market

For those selling your home, you may have seen an influx in Generation Y, or “Millennial” buyers flocking to your open house in recent years. Yet, with the most recent U.S. Census confirming that Millennials have surpassed the Baby Boomers, it’s no surprise the number of Millennial home buyers is on the rise.

So what does this mean for the housing market? According to Realtor.org, “For the third straight year, the largest group of recent buyers were Millennials, who composed 35% of all buyers, more than the combined amount of younger and older Baby Boomers at 31%”.

Millennials are a new brand of home buyer. Contrary to previous generations, Millennials are delaying marriage and family to a later time in life. Whereas, home buying is at the forefront of their priorities. Seen as a smart investment, these young purchasers are seeking the stability and security of home ownership.

In most markets, Millennials are finding that renting is more expensive than buying - even after considering the fees and taxes associated with buying a home. By paying on a mortgage rather than monthly rent, they are not only saving money, but allowing for more flexibility in their lifestyle. As Casey Bond with GO Banking Rates states, “When you own your home, you can stay as long as you like. You can have pets. You can paint your living room hot pink.” There’s no worry of losing your security deposit or relying on someone else to maintain the property.

With special programs for first time home buyers, there is less stress associated with a down payment. By taking advantage of FHA backed loans, Energy Efficient Mortgage programs among many others, Millennials were able to finance their purchase with a median down payment of just 7 percent. For those considering buying your first home, revisiting your finances, evaluating your housing needs and contacting a trusted Realtor will start you off in the direction!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Real Estate Pulse:
Existing Home Sales Continue to Rise

The lack of homes on the market, price jumps and bidding wars does not stop buyers from closing on the homes of their dreams.

In April 2016, the number of homes sold shot up 4.9%, year over year to 471,000 purchases across the United States of America, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales were up 11.9% in April from March, likely because of the season change.  Spring and summer are the most active time of year for home sales. The reports only looked at existing homes, not new construction and there were no seasonal adjustments taken into consideration for seasonal fluctuations. Just clean cut data.

Looking at Florida's townhouse-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 10,738 last month, down 5.3 percent compared to April 2015.  However, the closed sales data reflected fewer short sales and cash-only sales in April: Short sales for townhouse-condo properties declined 43.2% while short sales for single-family homes dropped 35.9%. Closed sales may occur from 30 to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.  Net sum of these numbers reflect far more owner occupied buyer/seller transactions.  

“The strong momentum from the start of the year has definitely continued,” says Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com’s chief economist.
He was encouraged by the rise in the share of first-time home buyers, to 32% of the market. That’s a small bump from 30% for both the previous month and a year ago, according to the report. Although, still somewhat below what is considered a healthy share of 40%, Smoke says.

“Where we have the most shortage of homes for sale is with the affordably priced homes,” he says.

Despite the challenges, home flew off the market shelves. They were typically on the market for only 39 days in April, compared to 47 in March. That is about the same time on the market as this time 2015.
The median price of an existing home was $232,500 in April, a 6.3% increase from 2015, according to the report. Single-family homes went for a bit more at a median of $233,700, while condos sold for a bit less at $233,300.

The positive growth we're seeing in sales for homes priced above the $150,000 mark is being offset by a continuing decline of homes for sale in the most affordable price ranges," said Florida Realtors® Chief Economist Brad O'Connor. "This trend is due in part to the ongoing decline in listings and sales of distressed properties.  In April, distressed sales accounted for less than 12% of all closed Multiple Listing Service (MLS) sales in Florida – the lowest such percentage we've recorded since the initial stages of the downturn last decade."

Inventory was at a 4.5-months' supply in April for single-family homes and at a 6.3-months' supply for townhouse-condo properties, according to Florida Realtors. According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.61 percent in April 2016, down from the 3.67 percent average recorded during the same month a year earlier.

An increase in new listings, rising median prices and fewer days to a contract make for a growing and sustainable Real Estate Market that should only continue to rise. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Why Use a Realtor in a Competitive Real Estate Market


With the housing demand exceeding the supply in markets across the U.S., homebuyers may be facing quite the challenge to find the perfect home this spring.  The total housing inventory at the end of February 2016 was 1.88 million, 1.1 percent lower than last year leaving us with an unbalanced market between home buyers and sellers.  In Tampa, there are less homes than buyers and clearly we are in a seller's market.
In competitive markets such as these, it is incredibly important that homebuyers and sellers work with a Real Estate Professional. Realtors who have the National Association of Realtors Accredited Buyer’s Representative designation specialize in working directly with buyer-clients. Helping them through the challenges of finding their ideal home and securing that home by way of negotiating purchase prices and contracts is the top priority. The National Association of Realtors, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. "When there is more demand than inventory homes sell quickly, prices rise and bidding wars can start," said NAR President Tom Salomone, broker-owner of Real Estate II Inc. in Coral Springs, Florida.
A Realtor is a home buyer’s upper hand; they understand local markets and can negotiate on behalf of their buyer-clients.  Sellers are able to expect a price premium for their homes now, of course as long as we are not over market value, and over anticipated appraisal value. It is a fine line.Salomone adds, "Buying a home is often one of the biggest decisions of a person’s life, and having a Realtor in their corner is the ultimate advantage. They are there to guide consumers through the complexities of this life changing transaction." 
 Here are 5 reasons why you should work with a Realtor:
 Ethical Representation – Every Realtor must adhere to a strict code of ethics. As a Realtors' client you can expect honest and ethical representation and treatment throughout the transaction process. Their first obligation is always to you, the client.
 Expert Guidance– A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best contract and avoid costly delays or mistakes on either side of the process.Buying and selling a home usually requires multiple contracts, forms, reports, disclosures, technical documents and jargon. You want to work with a professional who knows all these items and can decipher it all for you, and be sure that you are being fairly dealt with.  
 Objective Opinion – By understanding both your needs and search criteria, desired area, a Realtor can provide information on local developments, utilities, zoning, schools and more.  Realtors can use data to help you determine if the property has what you need and also point out additional neighborhoods you don’t know much about that may also suit your housing needs better than you thought!  For a seller, it is introducing the same information to a buyer audience. 
Search Power – Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. A Realtor can help you find properties not listed on home search sites and can help you avoid dated advertisements. Perhaps the property is still being advertised, but is no longer available. Let a Realtor help save you time and effort! If you are selling, a realtor can maximize the exposure you desire to sell your home quickly, especially if you have a marketing department as part of the agent's sphere of influence.
 Negotiation Skills for Buyers, Sellers – There are many factors in discussing a deal on a property. A Realtor will look at every angle from your perspective. A good example would be drafting a purchase agreement that allows enough time for you to complete inspections on the property before you are bound to completing the purchase.
A home is much more than its structure. And for most people is the largest investment they will ever make. Having a concerned but objective Realtor helps you stay focused on the issues most important to you while they seamlessly guide you through the home buying and selling process as seamlessly as possible. 


Friday, April 29, 2016

Real Estate Buyers: Why a VA loan? Why not?!

Real Estate Buyers:

Why a VA loan? Why not?!


When you are looking for the best, lowest mortgage rate, the VA home loan is where it’s at. The VA loan program is the most powerful home loan program on the market for many veterans, service members and military families (Active Duty, Retired, and Disabled). These flexible, government backed loans are offered with significant benefits that open the doors of home ownership to veterans who might otherwise grapple (or not) to obtain a mortgage on a new home purchase.


VA loans feature competitive rates and terms to qualified borrowers with little to no money out of pocket.  According to Ellie Mae, VA mortgage rates continuously beat conventional rates by 25 basis points (0.25%) or more on any given day, with gaps as wide as 150 basis points for some borrowers with less-than-perfect credit scores.  March marked the 23rd month in a row in which VA mortgage rates being lower than conventional rates. Astonishing!

Not only do you save on rates and payments, but you also save on mortgage insurance too! In contrast to conventional loans, VA mortgages never require mortgage insurance (PMI), regardless of the down payment, making overall borrowing costs significantly lower with VA loans.

Worried about getting approved?  Don’t be. If you are shopping for a VA loan you will see that not only are mortgage rates low, but lenders are approving mortgage applications more than usual. Since earlier in the decade, lenders have been loosening their guidelines and approving home loans more aggressively.

Still trying to decide if a VA loan is best for you? Here is a recap of the benefits as well as some additional tidbits to help educate you on just why you should absolutely take advantage of this benefit offered if eligible.


1.    VA loans can be used for either a purchase or refinance of a home. Because the Department of Veteran Affairs guarantees the VA loan against loss, mortgage lenders can make lower interest rates available to VA loan applicants.

2.    VA loans allow for 100% financing. There is no down payment or mortgage insurance requirement.

3.    A VA loan is also assumable, which means that a VA home can be sold with its VA financing attached. In the future, having an assumable loan at today’s rates makes selling you home very attractive to a buyer in the market.

4.    You will have access to the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL).  This program allows you to refinance (without reverification of credit) into a lower interest rate as well as convert an adjustable rate mortgage into a fixed rate mortgage. Not even a home appraisal is required to get approved!  These are incredible features otherwise not available in the mortgage industry.

5.    Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is a significant benefit to qualified active military members. Lenders can count your BAH as effective income, which means you can use BAH to pay some or all of you monthly mortgage costs! BAH varies on pay grade, your geographic location and number of dependents.

6.    No Prepayment Penalty! A VA loan allows borrowers to pay off their home loan at any given point without having to worry about penalties for doing so. With the absence of a prepayment penalty, borrowers are free to consider future home purchases or refinancing options!

In 2015, a total of 631,142 home loans were guaranteed by the VA, the largest year in the history of the program! The success has been felt nationwide as VA purchases and VA refinanced loans increased in all 50 states.

The VA loan continues to be a lifeline for Veterans and military families looking to achieve the dream of home ownership!   

      -  SI Real Estate Tampa Bay                 
                                                                                         
                        
   


Friday, April 8, 2016

5 Ways Sellers Prepare Homes for the Spring Market



It’s no secret that spring is the busiest time for home buying and selling. Homeowners planning to put their homes on the market should start preparing NOW!  Following these few easy tips can make for a much smoother selling experience.
If you are a prospective home seller, here are a few guidelines to help you get ready for the Spring Market:

Minimize Clutter
Don’t you love walking into a newly furnished model home? The open, clear, fresh new home is one you can picture yourself living in instantly.  What you don’t see in this model home is a stack of magazines on the table, perhaps a stack of mail or even children’s artwork casually hanging on the refrigerator. While everyone has clutter, buyers want to see the model home version of your home for sale. A home they can envision living in.  Putting away single framed family photos, clearing off shelves and counters can also help reduce clutter instantly.  

Start Packing!
As you begin to clear away the clutter, pack it.  It may sound crazy to begin packing months before a move date, but since you eventually will need to, you may as well begin organizing yourself now.  Besides, you home may sell very quickly!  Garages, closets, attics, storage areas are all good examples of areas you can begin packing sooner rather than later.

Minor Repairs
To ensure the home is maintaining that model home look and feel, you may need to make some minor repairs or spruce up areas.  Perhaps the grout in the bathroom could use some cleaning or some fresh caulk.  Cleaning or replacing light fixtures, doorknobs or other fixtures can also give an occupied home a fresh clean look.  Fresh paint should always be considered, however painting the front door may give an overall neat and tidy appearance.

Do Your Homework
If you plan to buy another home, you will need to decide if you are going to sell your home first or if you are going to make an offer on a new home before putting yours on the market. Once that is determined you may also want to consider consulting a lender to determine your financial capabilities. They can also assist you with the transition from one home to another.

Interview Real Estate Professionals
Your listing agent will make a huge difference in how quickly your home sells. Talk to several agents to see which may have the experience needed to guide you through the process.  Check with professionals in your market and in your price range.  An agent with a great marketing plan and solid local knowledge is important.  Talk to friends to get recommendations and choose someone who seems knowledgeable and can present you with the best detailed market analysis.   Work with someone who answers the phone and returns calls!    

If you spend the winter months preparing for listing or purchasing, you’ll find yourself ready to move now as the spring housing market is bustling!   




Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Real Estate Season: Hot Springtime Demand About to Start!

Real Estate Season - Home Buying and Selling
Hot Springtime Demand About To Start! 
 
The first month of each year when home buying starts to heat up is always April. Experts at the Florida Association of Realtors are expecting the next 4 months (April to July) to have the highest number of buyer and seller transactions all year. Considering real estate transactions have already started this year off at an extremely fast pace, it is exciting to think about the upcoming spring season of 2016. 

Sellers will remain in the driver’s seat at all pricing levels. Inventory of homes around $100 to $125K are sparse and extremely competitive, down 8.6% since January of last year. At this price point, there are typically investor type properties needing work and / or updating. You can also find homes and townhomes that attract first time homebuyers looking to step into the real estate market. Overall inventory has been sub 4 month levels all year long here in Florida, almost all of 2015 as well.
Even though we expect a lot of new listings to come on the market in the next 30-60 days (normal in the spring), we also predict buyers to be out in droves. In fact, the number of new buyers looking under $400K should drastically outnumber the new inventory that pops up. This will further reduce inventory and further increase home prices throughout the entire state. Daren Blomquist, chief economist researcher for RealtyTrac, explains that “homes tend to sell faster in the spring because of demand”. This is nearly always true as springtime is when schools wind down, everyone has a firm grasp on their finances/budgets, tax returns, and the first quarter of the year is coming to a close.
So how much more activity level in the Florida housing market could we see exactly? Since homes have been selling quickly all year long, we are not sure how much faster homes could be sold. Forbes real estate offers this advice to buyers who are about to start looking in the spring buying season: “buyers should be prepared to move quickly, exceed the asking price and be flexible. Pay a compliment to the space you are considering and connect with the owner, who may be willing to sell to someone who will occupy the house rather than to an investor”. Wow we have come a long way since the recession… Forbes is now recommending wooing the seller in order to persuade them to accept your offer over someone else’s! To put demand into a statistical perspective, in just 12 months’ time, demand has driven the median price for single family home resales in Florida up 8.2% to $213,800. Bob Walters, chief economist for Quicken Loans says the inventory woes and subsequent rising prices are due to “a decade of pent-up demand”.
 
On the finance side of things, Interest rates have increased three times in March. Although they have been raised several times, they are still holding below 4%. Since the Fed keeps offering these extremely attractive rates, there is a growing sense of urgency to purchase very soon! The entire real estate / housing industry knows interest rates simply cannot stay this historically low for much longer. Low rates compounded with the normal increase in demand for the spring housing market will be a perfect storm to motivate buyers into an action plan who were otherwise on the fence. Increasing competition and reducing inventory even further could very well happen! To coincide with all of this new buyer demand, if you are a seller or may be thinking of selling your home you absolutely should not wait. Start preparing your home ASAP for listing, and taking care of minor things that a home inspector may find. You should also spruce up the exterior of your home with some landscaping maintenance, paint or pressure washing depending on your home’s needs. A little curb appeal will go along way with potential buyers. You will sell your home even faster and for an even better price! Will suggest more in another listing blog coming soon. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Real Estate Pulse 2016: Short Supply Continues to Push Home Prices Up

Real Estate Pulse 2016: Short Supply Continues to Push Home Prices Up


It’s no secret that for the past 6-8 months the supply of single family homes has been well below average. Here in the Florida market, the lack of homes to purchase is causing a buyer frenzy. Specifically in the Tampa Bay and Miami housing markets, the shortage is readily apparent. Prices have shot up already in the beginning of 2016 as both first time home buyers and move up buyers struggle to find what they want without paying a supply shortage premium. Shoppers are also having to compete with other buyers when they do locate a property that fits their needs.

Closed sales in the first part of 2016 have drastically outnumbered the amount of properties put on the market in Tampa Bay as well as statewide in Florida. This has further reduced the supply of available homes, forcing prices to jump up in a hurry. All of the large counties in our area: Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Pinellas have less than a 3 month supply of available homes. Real Estate inventory target is a 6 month supply in order to maintain a healthy supply/demand balance. There are an abundance of buyers looking in our Tampa Bay market at the moment, and they are having to compete if they want to secure a contract. Example:  SI Real Estate is are currently working with a repeat client of ours who is looking for a new property to add to his portfolio. We are finding that homes priced correctly are selling in days; multiple offer scenarios can and do exceed listing prices.  One single family house popped up a few days ago we were interested in for this client. The listing agent advised to submit our best and highest offer by that evening. He also said it would need to be above asking price since they already have offers at full listing price. As you can imagine, sellers in this housing market are securely in the driver’s seat… dating back to about 2013. Many of our clients are getting in now to list and sell their homes at the highest possible prices in nearly a decade! A strong spring real estate market is predicted for spring 2016. Let's see if it happens! 

The market is definitely jumping. Sellers are rejoicing with all of the action and buyers are having to act quickly on resales as well as for new builder inventory! Savvy buyers looking for a new home also realize they should have representation in builder transactions for finding all available discounts and negotiating the best deal on their behalf.
Some of the January 2016 data that has been released is extremely impressive: median prices of single family homes in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Hernando saw an average 22% increase in sales prices from January of 2015 to January of 2016. Hillsborough 21.3% for a median price of $194,000, Pinellas jumped 23.6% to $193,500 and Hernando spiked 23.8% to $130,000. This is the 50th month in a row that the statewide median price went up. Just let that sink in!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Florida’s housing market 2015: Report Card

Now that the Real Estate industry has final numbers from 2015, they are releasing that data and the subsequent results of last year. As we have reported many times throughout the last 12 months, 2015 was a very strong year in the housing market. After reflecting on 2015, FL Realtors President Matey Veissi states “Florida’s economy is in growth mode, more jobs are being created and mortgage interest rates remain at historically low levels which will continue to drive the state’s housing market in 2016.” Let’s see what else the 2015 FL housing market report says and the impressive numbers it contains. We are going to grade the major indicators we talk about and how we feel they did in the last year’s market.
 
Total closed sales on existing homes is always a leading indicator for housing market experts. In 2015, there were 274,769 resale transactions! That is an increase of 12.4% from 2014, which is enormous. On the pricing side of resales, there was another sharp increase (real estate agents love to see this). Specifically, the median price of sold homes was up 10.1% over the previous year for an average of $196,000. Double digit percentage increases in sold homes and average sales prices is huge, and solidifies all of the positive outlooks for the current year. FL Realtors Chief Economist Dr. O’Connor predicts to see “home prices continue to rise at an elevated pace in 2016, as much of the state is in the midst of an inventory shortage that is likely to persist throughout the year”. When supply is down, prices shoot up! The NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) released their own statistics which document how new home construction faired in 2015. NAHB reports there was a 9.9% increase in new home sales from 2014 to 2015. Nearly identical to the increase in resales. So we are going to give the number of closed homes sales on the resale side a grade of B+ and on the new home sales side a grade of B. Finally, the average sales price earned a solid A-.
Short sales were everywhere here in Florida between 2010 and 2014. Even Tampa was hit really hard with many owners trying to unload their mortgages they could no longer afford. Short sale activity is another leading indicator of the housing market, determining how healthy it is. More great news here, because the numbers from 2015 are both positive and mind boggling. Short sales for condos and townhouses were down a staggering 44.6% in 2015. Nearly half as many short sales as 2014 clearly shows us how strong the housing market was last year. Short sales for single family homes were also down heavily, dropping 34.1% from the previous year totals. These kind of numbers earned short sale statistics an A+ from the SI Real Estate team.
The slightest housing market indicator we are reflecting on is interest rates. When interest rates are attractive, they persuade buyers to take out a mortgage. They also determine how much house you can afford. 30 year fixed interest rates in 2014 averaged 4.17%, and in 2015 they dipped down to average 3.85%. Rates in the 3’s are nearly unheard of, and way below the average of the 90’s and early 2000’s. The fact that so many new homes as well as resales were sold last year can be largely attributed to the extremely attractive interest rates banks were offering. In 2016, rates will remain incredibly attractive to help keep the housing market surge front and center. The 2015 rates earned another A+ on the housing market report card.
2015 Report Card Summary:
Closed Home Sales (resales): B+
Closed Home Sales (new homes): B
Average Sales Price: A-
Short Sales: A+
Interest Rates: A+

- SI Real Estate Tampa Bay
Nibal Elsaadi, Licensed Real Estate Broker

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Real Estate and Housing Predictions for 2016

SI Real Estate Tampa Bay is excited to see what 2016 has in store for the housing market.

We were pleasantly surprised with the uptick in real estate activity in 2015. Of course everyone is turning the page to the New Year, and consumers are contemplating what to expect in the housing market. The professionals here at SI Real Estate fully believe this year will be an even better one, eclipsing the fantastic turn-around last year that took place throughout the US. Some of the key reasons for this that we are going to talk about: interest rates/lending, inventory, and pricing.
Interest rates have been historically low since the recession began. They are still extremely attractive, even with the negligible increase last month. Yes there should be at least a couple more increases in 2016, but they will likely be small bumps like the quarter point increase in December. This is not expected to affect the attitude of home buyers and will actually help strengthen the economy. Lending benchmarks became stricter after the housing market burst, but they are finally relaxing a tad (as we feel they should). The high benchmarks that needed to be met effectively ruled out a ton of potential home-owners due to blemishes, mostly stemming from the economic crash. Credit scores that were below the extremely high standards of lenders was another issue that plagued parties trying to buy real estate. Luckily, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been working to lower their acceptable threshold for credit scores, though they are still historically high overall.
Available inventory has been thin for the past 400+ days here locally in Tampa, with many major cities echoing the same trends. This is for both new home sales and resale homes. Prices have been trending up due to the low inventory we are seeing. Now that home values have risen to a comfortable level, more listings are coming into the market place as sellers can take advantage. Here in Tampa, there is still only a 4 month supply of homes available, well below the 6 month target for the housing market. We expect low inventory numbers to remain through the first half of this year, as more buyers come to look for Florida properties to purchase.
Housing prices are up across the board including new homes, resales, and rental prices. Builders have been steadily raising their prices over the last 12 plus months. We have seen new pricing sheets released by some builders for 2016, all of which reflect increases. This trend makes a lot of sense considering the inventory shortages and the surge of new home sales locally and nationally. Home builders see this as an opportunity to increase profits, as they should.  Our professional experiences in the industry reflects price increases in every sector of the market.  Sellers can expect a higher price point for their homes and are not in a hurry to take the first offer they receive. Buyers are willing and able to pay more for a home than in years past. Investors are paying more this year for assets they could have picked up for significantly less in 2012-2014. Since investors are having to pay more for properties they turn around and rent, they have been raising rent prices accordingly. Pricing trends are not artificially high and we expect continued growth throughout 2016.
As we all recognize, the housing market has recovered and the number of potential buyers and sellers participating is rising every day. The MLS is populated with new listings and transactions, which is fantastic to see. Although inventory is lower than we would like, and prices are rising… the market is very attractive for any type of participant. Projection: Real estate expectations will result in a stellar year nationally and in the Tampa Bay area as there is notable momentum carrying through from 2015! 6 real estate economists from inman.com agree with our prediction too. Their latest article published 2/2/2016 echoes the same sentiments that we do- 2016 will be another great year for the housing market! If you want to read their article and predictions, go here: http://www.inman.com/2016/02/02/6-economists-forecast-2016-housing-market/
-SI Real Estate Tampa Bay

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Real Estate Pulse: Recapping 5 years!

Real Estate Pulse:  Recapping 5 years!
Active Housing Market keeps persuading buyers and now sellers

The last 5 years of the real estate market has been a wild ride to say the least. In 2010, first time home buyers increased dramatically over the norm due to the large tax credit given out by the federal government.  That triggered the highest number of first time buyers ever. While this group accounted for half of the homes purchased in 2010, the other key players were the international (cash) investors who were purchasing the rock-bottom-priced inventory. This same group of investors and first time home buyers were the main consumers of real estate through 2012.  By this time, the excess inventory had been purchased one way or another.     
In 2013, values of homes were finally catching up and or exceeding the mortgage pay off(s).  Finally sellers and their listings began trickling into the market. This segment of the housing market was previously stagnant and was on the side lines for many years. Finally they can list and sell their homes for a value that exceeded the mortgage, or at least minimally met the mortgage value, depending on when they actually bought their homes. It was a hot year.  Sellers, buyers and builders were moving along. There was so much pent up demand for real estate, homes and people had frugal fatigue.  
In 2014 during the second year of the housing recovery… there was a shift. Only 33% of home purchases were made by first time buyers, which was a near record low. So now let’s look at factors and trends that have been helping to reshape the market here locally in Tampa Bay as well as nationally in 2015.
If you have been reading SI Real Estate Tampa’s blog this year, you have seen the extremely positive news and supporting statistics reflecting an exceptionally active housing market.  Many factors have contributed to this explosion.  Interest rates at historic lows, rising rent costs, move-up buyers, and of course rising home values.
One of the largest factors in this market shift (that cannot be overstated enough) is the extremely attractive interest rates on mortgages. Interest rates remain irresistible to close out 2015, yes even with the quarter point increase recently! Everyone knows this is coming to an end very soon (projected 1 point rate increase in 2016), so there is a huge sense of urgency to buy now while the rates are still at historic lows. Brian Teyssier, a realtor in Pittsburgh, echoed this same sentiment “the increased rental fees coupled with low interest rates and the fact FHA lowered their down payments- it’s a no brainer for those people that were renting to move their (five year) plan up.” Our real estate team here in Tampa could not agree more.
Another dominant reason to purchase right now is rising rent cost. At a certain point, it no longer makes financial sense to rent.  We reached that point early on this year and that trend is being echoed in most major metropolitan areas. So long as you can qualify for a mortgage, the buy option is simply a much better choice at this point and cannot be ignored. It now costs more to rent than to own your home! It has actually been a hot topic when talking with our buyers. No reason to pay $1600-$2000 in rent every month when you can own the same property for a mortgage that is less than rent! According to Zillow, “home values will increase by 2.5% at the conclusion of 2015, but rentals will outpace that figure, increasing 3.5%.”  As we are wrapping up the year, that estimation in our local Tampa market seems to be incredibly conservative!  

In addition to the first two factors, there are also an abundance of move up buyers who are now ready to list and sell their existing homes. They are then seeking an upgraded and/or larger home for their growing families. Most were not able to do this before now because their homes were worth less than what they owed the bank. Additionally, baby boomers are downsizing and enjoying a simpler life now that the kids have their own lives and places to live.  Everyone is back in the housing market!  
The last factor in the housing market resurgence we want to address is a hugely overlooked segment of the population, millennials.  Who said millennials are not interested in buying homes!? Not so!  The housing market has been seeing an increase in buyer activity from the millennial age group. Millennials (ages 18-33) are usually an overlooked segment of the housing market due to the recession hitting this group particularly hard. The overwhelming majority of millennials have not been able to get to the home buying phase of their lives. A few of the factors that caused this road block: rising rent costs, increased student loan debts, decreased post college job opportunities and flat wage growth.
These obstacles were improved for millennials in late 2014 noting a 60% better job growth compared to the overall US and unemployment dropping to 6%. This led to an increasing amount of 18-33 year olds looking for homes to buy. Realtor.com’s housing forecast for 2015 included a prediction that “millennials were more likely to buy a home in 2015 than any other” generation. We do not have the final numbers for 2015 yet, but we suspect realtor.com may have been right. No doubt this helped the turnaround we have been watching take place this year. 
With the economy, job wages, and labor market all going in positive directions… it is easy to see why the housing market is so attractive. More buyers, sellers and builders than we have seen in a long, long time! Confidence in the housing market, confidence in income, and confidence in the economy are leading to record numbers of houses sold this year, seemingly almost every month! We fully expect 2016 to keep the momentum robust. Stay tuned to SI Real Estate Tampa Bay for the latest updates!