I was asked to comment on an article titled: Housing Hitting Bottom Means Fewest Starts Since 1945 (Update1) http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=email_en&sid=aDSgjBGniq0E. So I thought I would share my response.
While the article tells us nothing new, what it does not say is more important than what it does say. With home prices where they are at today and construction materials as low as they are, it makes more economical sense to purchase an existing home and remodel it. We have seen more home remodels this year than in the past 4 years. This is mostly due to prices on construction materials being as low as they were in 2004 and people not wanting to sell their home for less than they feel its worth. So they remodel their existing home to fit what they want in their home, converting screened-in porches into 3 season rooms is a popular remodel these days as well as basement fit-outs.
To give you some actual data on the housing situation, below is a graph showing the national median home prices from 1989 to 2008. The black line in the graph shows a 20 year historical appreciation rate of 4%. You can see that historically homes were appreciating at a gradual pace, just about 4% a year. Then in 2002, the median home price peaked just a little bit over the line, and they kept increasing until about 2006. What does this mean? Well it means that from 2002 to 2007, we were borrowing buyers from the future. People who typically would not be able to purchase a home were purchasing homes or investment properties. You see this today with the news media informing us of the number of foreclosures and delinquencies on mortgages. These individuals jumped on the opportunity to purchase a home or a second home, which at the time seemed like a great opportunity. However, some of them fell victim to mortgage fraud, over extended themselves, or were not fully informed or understood their loan terms. Whatever their situation was they had the best intentions which have now turned into a nightmare for them.
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So we borrowed some buyers from the future. What happens now? Well, we are going to see a dip below the line to make up for the overage that we took, will it mirror the upside of the curve? Experts do not seem to think so given the stimulus programs the government is trying to put in place. Two main legislatives are American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan.
Six key housing-related provisions of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009:
1. First- Time Home Buyer Tax Credit - $8,000, NO repayment
2. FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac Loan Limits
3. Neighborhood Stabilization
4. Commercial Real Estate
a. Funds for state energy programs to support commercial property owners' investment in
energy efficiency upgrades
b. Potential tax relief for small business owners: bonus depreciation & capital expenditures,
5-year carryback of net operating losses
5. Energy Efficient Housing Tax Credits and Grants
a. Homeowners will be able to claim a 30% tax credit for purchases of new furnaces,
windows, and insulation through 2010.
6. Rural Housing Service
Three key elements of the Homeowner Affordability & Stability Plan:
- Refinancing option for loans guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to help make mortgages more affordable.
- $75 billion homeowner stability initiative to assist up to 3 to 4 million at-risk homeowners.
- Support of low mortgage rates by strengthening confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
These programs will only work if people know about them and take advantage of them. I have informed my clients of these programs and blogged about them on our website blog, but if people don't take advantage of them, they are going to be ineffective.
Another part of the concern is that approximately 420K hybrid ARMs are scheduled to reset in 2009. If you are in this boat and in a financial pinch, talk with your mortgage company immediately and see what they can do for you. Do not wait until you are so far behind in payments that it is too late. I would also encourage you to talk to a real estate agent and see what the market is willing to pay for your home in the event you need to sell.
For some bright light at the end of the tunnel... In the fourth quarter of 2008, 6* states saw an increase in sales, mainly in areas where the sharpest declines in price occurred according to the National Association of REALTORS ®.
*The 6 states are California, Nevada, Arizona, Minnesota, Virginia, and Florida.
If you have not purchased a home yet, now is the best opportunity to buy. New homeowners are receiving an $8,000 credit, and they are trying to get legislative past so it can be used towards the down payment. This would be a huge help to first time homebuyers. The best part about this is that if you have not owned a home in the last three years, you are eligible as a first time homebuyer! Plus, mortgage rates are at an all time low. To put it in perspective, in 1971 gasoline was 40 cents a gallon, the stamp was 8 cents, and the mortgage rate was 7.48%. Today, gasoline is $2.65 a gallon, the stamp is 44 cents, and the mortgage rate is 5.875%.
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With everyone talking about the housing crisis or the economic crisis, let's take a second and state what CRISIS stands for a "Circumstance Requiring Immediate Shift In Strategy". We can not do what we did last year and expect the same results. We have to shift our thinking and adjust our strategies to the current economic situation. You can either shift or be shifted...that is the challenge we all face professionally right now. We have been living through the era of average, and now we are living in the "ERA OF EXTRA" - EXTRA EFFORT. Effort matters today more than ever! This is your best opportunity for the biggest professional defining moment in your life because great success is always launched by great motivation and momentum!