March 2018: Housing Market Recap

Executive Vice President, Secondary Marketing

March 2018 Housing Market Recap: Sales Grow for Second Month

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March existing home sales continued to rise after February’s increase. Prices increased yet again, following a trend that has lasted for 6 years. The pace of sales picked up, with days on the market dropping sharply. There were regional differences in sales, but prices increased across the country. Lack of inventory continues to be the dominant market feature.

March existing home sales rose by 1.1 percent compared to February, but were 1.2 percent lower than March 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) March Existing Home Sales Report, released April 23rd.

Inventory rose from February to March by 5.7 percent (as you might expect with the coming of spring when more people list their homes), but it was 7.2 percent lower year-over-year, and has fallen for 34 months in a row. The supply of unsold inventory was 3.6 months, down from 3.8 months a year ago.

Home prices continued to increase year-over-year. The median price of existing homes sold in March was $250,400, up 5.8 percent from March 2017 ($236,600). We’re now at 73 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.

Days on the market (DOM) dropped to 30, compared to February’s 37. A year ago, homes typically stayed on the market for 34 days, so once again the sales pace has increased both month-to-month and year-over-year.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says closings in March eked forward despite challenging market conditions in most of the country. “Robust gains last month in the Northeast and Midwest – a reversal from the weather-impacted declines seen in February – helped overall sales activity rise to its strongest pace since last November at 5.72 million,” said Yun. “The unwelcoming news is that while the healthy economy is generating sustained interest in buying a home this spring, sales are lagging year ago levels because supply is woefully low and home prices keep climbing above what some would-be buyers can afford.”

Weather was not a big factor in regional sales. Despite some severe storms, the Northeast and Midwest saw the greatest gains in sales, while the South and West both fell. Prices rose across the board, with the West leading the increases at 7.9 percent year-over-year. The hottest metro areas (measured by days on the market/listing views per property) continued to be in California, but there were more non-CA metros in the top ten this month, with Colorado Springs, CO, Midland, TX, Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA and Columbus, OH taking places #3, #4, #7 and #8 on the list.

Think finance first! In this market, if you wait until you find a home and then look for financing, you’ll probably lose the home. Meet with a First Choice Loan Services Inc. loan originator now for a pre-underwriting approval or preapproval. You’ll find out how much loan you may qualify for and you can decide what loan program best suits your financial needs and goals. Strengthen your offer with a First Choice Priority Buyer Letter.

Timothy M. Sheahan, Jr.
Executive Vice President, Secondary Marketing

7 Ways Your Home Office Can Work for You

7 Ways Your Home Office Can Work For You


We live in a different age. For many, the days of putting on the business suit and fighting morning rush hour traffic while listening to over-caffeinated radio disc jockeys are done. With advances in technology and communication methods, the home office is a common feature in many houses. While this provides a great number of advantages to today’s lifestyle, it is not without challenges. Here are seven ways that you can make working from home work better for you!

  1. Dress the Part. Yes, part of the beauty of working from home is that suit and tie is not required; plus, you save money on those dry cleaning bills. In fact, business casual can mean your favorite pair of sweats. But, there is something to be said for dressing for success. Dress comfortably but not so comfortably that it encourages laziness. Get up and get yourself ready as if you were going to be seen. It’ll help create a routine for your day that may be missing for some working from home. We love those plaid flannel pajamas too, but trust us, you’ll tend to be more focused and on task when you’re showered and dressed for your day.
     
  2. Consider the Space. You know what best helps you be productive and what can serve as a distraction. First, think about where your office is placed in the home. Is this a high traffic area or one that will allow you privacy? Next, anticipate your needs… Is there a good chair with proper support? If not, invest in one. Do you require better lighting? Buy a lamp. Want a view? Move the desk by a window. Also, consider the supplies; have pens and paper nearby, keep applicable files and paperwork within reach, and have access to power chords that’ll keep you going. The decisions about how to make the space work best for you are best made by you.
     
  3. Stay Focused. Be sure your home office is protected. Try not to allow too many of the other activities that happen at home to invade your space. Let that load of laundry that needs folding stay in the other room until you have time for it. Those boxes that need to go into the attic can wait in the garage for a bit longer. Household chores will always be there, and if you attend to them now just to get them checked off the list, you’ll possibly never get important work-related duties done. To help, at the end of each day, write a list of tasks in order of what needs to be accomplished the next day. It will help you hit the ground running and let you crank out things quicker so you can eventually fold that load of whites.
     
  4. Take a Break. When working in a traditional office setting, the breaks are often built in. Whether a co-worker stops by to talk about the game last night or you venture into the break room for a quick snack and chat, interaction with colleagues helps you pace your day. However, when working from home, your coworker may be your cat, who is not the best conversationalist (at least, mine isn’t). Don’t be afraid to give a five to ten minute break every now and then. There’s a reason these are required by law. Play a quick game on your phone, do quick and simple exercises or read a few pages of your new book… You’ll see an improvement in your productivity when you work in some time to refresh and refocus. Set a timer so you don’t get too lost in the activity.
     
  5. Explain it Well. While a break every now and then is great, be sure others aren’t confused. Some people hear that work from home, but they seem to miss the word “work.” The situation does allow for some flexibility, but you still have duties and tasks to perform. For friends and family who think you can have 2 hour lunches or go catch a matinee, kindly explain to them that while there is some occasional ‘wiggle room,’ you still have an important job to perform and need to honor the trust placed in you to work from home.
     
  6. Use Technology. Relationships are key in life, and this includes your colleagues. While convenient, working from home can also feel isolating. We live in a world heavy on emails and texting, so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and actually call someone. Facetime or use Skype to see a friendly face to have a meeting. So much can be lost or misinterpreted in the written word. A phone conversation or a video chat can quickly clear up matters, have a project move in the right direction and improve relationships!
     
  7. Draw Lines. Working from home can be great, but it can also be all consuming. Due to the flexibility, you don’t have to keep standard “office hours,” which also means you can work longer and into the night. You don’t leave things at the office because things are in the other room. For yourself and for sake of your relationships, set boundaries and expectations. Be clear of your work hours with your loved ones and your coworkers and stick to them. If it helps to keep lines more clear, consider working remotely from a coffee shop or other public space so that there’s distinction between work and personal time.

 

At First Choice Loan Services Inc., we have a large number of our team members who work remotely. This is a unique and special feature of our culture and one way that we embody our core value of being Nimble. This flexibility that we offer our employees is also something we like to offer our clients. We do everything we can to make the home loan process simple and easy for you, even providing online resources for you so that you can take many of the steps of the mortgage journey without leaving your sofa.

Whether working on your home financing or your day-to-day job, we want to help you be productive from the home you love.

5 Benefits of Having a Pet in Your Life

5 Benefits of Having a Pet in Your Life

 

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March 23rd is National Puppy Day which is a holiday most everyone can celebrate! Like donuts, ice cream, and that second glass of wine, puppies are hard to say no to. But, unlike the other options, they come with no calories (unless you’ve been curious what a Milk Bone tastes like, but I digress…). Aside from being calorie-free, puppies and other pets can bring amazing benefits to your life.

Ice Breakers. You may not feel comfortable walking up to a random stranger and saying hello, but when they’re walking around with a cute dog, you may not be able to help yourself. It could happen at the dog park, obedience classes or just walking down the street. Questions like “What’s his name?” “How old is she?” and “Does he do any tricks?” could lead to “What’s your phone number?” “Are you free tomorrow night?” and “Will you marry me?” The dog could even be the ring barrier. Or, you could just make new friends. Friends are good too.

Physical Health. Dog owners need to take their little buddies on a walk. This, along with other games like fetch, help keep your dog healthy but also get your heart moving. In addition to a little cardio, pet owners are also shown to demonstrate lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and lower the risk of heart disease. On top of that, pets are actually shown to fight allergies instead of cause them; recent studies show that homes with infants and furry friends introduce less risks of asthma, eczema and other allergies.

Mental Health. In addition to improving physical health, having a pet in your home has also proven to help your mental health by decreasing stress, increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine (nerve transmitters for calming and pleasure), decreasing depression, and sharpening minds. How could you not feel great when you walk in the door and your pet thinks you’re a celebrity?

Life Lessons. Whether it’s just you and your pet or if you have a large family plus a pet or four, the relationships between pet owners and their four-legged children are always unique. Caring for a pet teaches children valuable lessons of schedules, responsibility and caring for another life. Studies show the work spent in training pets helps remind us the value of patience and help us strengthen our sense of empathy which, as we know, definitely come in handy in other areas of our lives.

Love. Come on… puppy or kitten, goldfish or bird, iguana or gerbil when you love a pet, it’s a member of your family. The greeting at the door, the cuddling on the couch or just the presence in the room can improve any day. Pets’ intuitive nature make them our best friends and confidants. Our lives wouldn’t be the same or as complete without the love that they provide.

So don’t let that backyard go to waste! Sure, there may be the occasional “accident” on the carpet, and you may lose a shoe or two to the chewing monster, but all in all, having a pet in your life can make every day a little brighter and your house feel more like a home.

13,397 Houses Sold Yesterday!

13,397 Houses Sold Yesterday! | Keeping Current Matters

If you read certain headlines, you might be led to believe that the housing recovery has come to a screeching halt. Naysayers are claiming that the threat of rising mortgage rates and a lack of consumer confidence are keeping Americans on the fence when it comes to purchasing real estate. That is actually far from reality.

After all 13,397 houses sold yesterday, 13,397 will sell today and 13,397 will sell tomorrow.

13,397!

That is the average number of homes that sell each and every day in this country according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Existing Home Sales Report. According to the report, annualized sales now stand at 4.59 million. Divide that number by 365 (days in a year) and we can see that, on average, over 13,000 homes sell every day.

If you are considering whether or not to put your house up for sale, don’t let the headlines scare you. There are purchasers in the market and they are buying – to the tune of 13,397 homes a day.

 

Thank you to KCM Blog for the post.

Moving Up: Was it Worth Waiting?

Moving Up? Do it Now!! | Keeping Current Matters

New reports are revealing that the number of months’ inventory of existing homes available for sale is increasing. Some of these sellers are moving up, some are downsizing and others are making a lateral move.

There is no way for us to predict the future but we can look at what happened over the last year. Let’s look at buyers that considered moving up last year but decided to wait instead.

Assume, last year, they had a home worth $300,000 and were looking at a home for $450,000 (putting 10% down they would get a mortgage of $405,000). By waiting, their house appreciated by approximately 10% over the last year (national average based on the Case Shiller Pricing Index). Their home would now be worth $330,000. But, the $450,000 home would now be worth $495,000 (requiring a mortgage of $420,000 assuming the original $45,000 down plus the additional $30,000 from the sale of their home).

Here is a table showing what the difference in monthly cost (principal and interest) would be if a purchaser had waited:

Cost of Waiting: Was it Worth It? | Keeping Current Matters

 3 dollars and 27 cents.  . Was it worth waiting a year to move up to the home of your dreams? Only you can answer that question.