What Can We Expect From The 2018 Housing Market?

by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate

 

It’s the time of the year when I look deep into my crystal ball to see what’s on the horizon for the upcoming year. As we are all aware, 2017 has been a stellar year for housing across the country, but can we expect that to continue in 2018?

Here are my thoughts:

 

Millennial Home Buyers

Last year, I predicted that the big story for 2017 would be millennial home buyers and it appears I was a little too bullish. To date, first-time buyers have made up 34% of all home purchases this year – still below the 40% that is expected in a normalized market.  Although they are buying, it is not across all regions of the country, but rather in less expensive markets such as North Dakota, Ohio, and Maryland.

For the coming year, I believe the number of millennial buyers will expand further and be one of the biggest influencers in the U.S. housing market. I also believe that they will begin buying in more expensive markets. That’s because millennials are getting older and further into their careers, enabling them to save more money and raise their credit profiles.

 

Existing Home Sales

As far as existing home sales are concerned, in 2018 we should expect a reasonable increase of 3.7% – or 5.62 million housing units. In many areas, demand will continue to exceed supply, but a slight increase in inventory will help take some heat off the market. Because of this, home prices are likely to rise but by a more modest 4.4%.

 

New Home Sales

New home sales in 2018 should rise by around 8% to 655,000 units, with prices increasing by 4.1%. While housing starts – and therefore sales – will rise next year, they will still remain well below the long-term average due to escalating land, labor, materials, and regulatory costs. I do hold out hope that home builders will be able to help meet the high demand we’re expecting from first-time buyers, but in many markets it’s very difficult for them to do so due to rising construction costs.

 

Interest Rates

Interest rates continue to baffle forecasters. The anticipated rise that many of us have been predicting for several years has yet to materialize. As it stands right now, my forecast for 2018 is for interest rates to rise modestly to an average of 4.4% for a conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage – still remarkably low when compared to historic averages.

 

Tax Reform

Something that has the potential to have a major impact on housing are the current proposals relative to tax reform. As I write this, we know that both the House and Senate propose doubling the standard deduction, and the House plans to lower the mortgage interest deduction from $1,000,000 to $500,000. If passed, the mortgage deduction would no longer have value for home owners who would likely opt to take the standard deduction.

If either of the current proposals is adopted into law, the potential reduction in mortgage-related tax savings means the after-tax cost of home ownership will increase for most home owners. Additionally, both the House and Senate bills also end tax benefits for interest on second homes, and this could have a devastating effect in areas with higher concentrations of second homes.

The capping of the deduction for state and local property taxes (SALT) at $10,000 will also negatively impact states with high property taxes, such as California, Connecticut, and New York. Furthermore, proposed changes to the capital gains exemption on profits from the sale of a home (requiring five years of continuous residence as compared to the current two) could impact approximately 750,000 home sellers a year and slow the growth of home ownership.

Something else to consider is that all of the aforementioned changes will only affect new home purchases, which I fear might become a deterrent for current home owners to sell. Given the severe shortage of homes for sale in a number of markets across the country, this could serve to exacerbate an already-persistent problem.

 

Housing Bubble

I continue to be concerned about housing affordability. Home prices have been rising across much of the country at unsustainable rates, and although I still contend that we are not in “bubble” territory, it does represent a substantial impediment to the long-term health of the housing market. But if home price growth begins to taper, as I predict it will in 2018, that should provide some relief in many markets where there are concerns about a housing bubble.

In summary, along with slowing home price growth, there should be a modest improvement in the number of homes for sale in 2018, and the total home sales will be higher than 2017. First-time buyers will continue to play a substantial role in the nation’s housing market, but their influence may be limited depending on where the government lands on tax reform.

Posted on December 19, 2017 at 8:06 pm
Tania Harmon | Category: Buying, Real Estate Trends, Selling Your Home | Tagged , ,

Getting Organized Is Good for Your Home and Your Health

by Marilou Ubungen

 

For the last nine years, the HomeGain National Home Improvement Survey has been asking real estate professionals across the country the same question: What are the top 10 things a homeowner can do to get their home ready to sell?

 

And every year, the number one answer is: clean and de-clutter. In the latest survey, 99 percent of the real estate professionals queried ranked this task the most important. What’s more, they estimated that, for every dollar spent on the task, the homeowner would receive a whopping 403 percent return on their investment.

 

De-cluttering delivers big benefits to those who are not selling their homes, too. Studies show that living in a cluttered house is mentally stressful for the occupants and often leads to weight gain and other health problems.

 

So why do so many of us put off this important task? It’s hard work. It takes time. It’s physical. It’s emotional. And there are lots of decisions to make about what goes where, what gets tossed, and more. Worst of all, thinking about it makes it seem like an even bigger project than it really is—which is why experts say the best way to get started is to simply jump in.

 

The easy way to get started

The toughest part of getting organized is getting started. It’s too easy to say, “I’ll go through that closet later.” “I’ll get rid of those boxes later.” “I’ll donate those clothes later.”

 

Instead, replace “later” with “now.”

 

Grab a couple cardboard boxes and spend 90 minutes right now organizing one part of one room (a desk in your study, for example). Once you see that it’s not nearly as tough as you imagine, and actually feels satisfying and freeing, you’ll become energized and ready to take on even bigger organizing tasks tomorrow.

 

Here are some tips to keep you on track:

 

  • Tackle one room at a time.

 

  • Start with the easy stuff. Rounding up the things you know you want to toss, recycle, sell, or store.

 

  • Finish the task you start. Don’t pull everything out of a closet, for example, and then stop for the day, leaving the mess for later. Finish organizing the closet.

 

  • Get the whole family involved (these are important life lessons to pass along to your children).

 

  • Let phone calls and other disruptions wait until you’re done for the day.

 

Deciding what to keep

Once you make your way through the things you know you don’t want any more (broken appliances, unused gifts, outdated electronics, store returns, etc.), then it’s time to focus on the items that are useful, but don’t get used very often. Experts suggest two strategies. Choose the one that works best for you, or try using them in combination:

 

  • The 12-month test – If you haven’t used the item in the last year, get rid of it.

 

  • The cardboard box drill – Put items you’re not sure about in a cardboard box and set it aside. Whatever gets pulled out and used over the next two months can stay. The things that don’t get rescued should be sent packing.

 

How to handle keepsakes

Now for the toughest decision of all: What to do with those trophies, mementos, greeting cards, photos, kids’ art projects—and all the other things that trigger strong memories and emotional reactions.

 

First, go through these things and make sure they’re still things you want to keep. Some items may now remind you of a time—or a person—you want to forget.

 

Spend no more than 30 seconds reviewing each item. If you allow yourself to start wandering down memory lane, your organizing work will come to a screeching halt.

 

Take photos of items that are bulky or hard to store—especially the kids’ artwork, which tends to fall apart over time, anyway. Once you’ve captured the item in a photo, let the original go.

 

If there are keepsakes you inherited from your parents or relatives that hold no sentimental value for you, it’s time to say goodbye.

 

Stop saving so many things for your children. No matter what they say now, your kids will most likely only be interested in a few key mementos when they’re older. Designate a single memento box for each child.

 

Other people’s belongings

You should not be storing anything that doesn’t belong to you and/or the other current members of your household. Give back things you’ve borrowed. Get rid of the belongings of ex-spouses, ex-boyfriends, and ex-roommates. Get tough with your adult children; your days of providing a roof for their belongings are over.

 

Working with a professional

A professional organizer can teach you the tricks of the trade, help you make tough decisions about what to keep and what to let go, and consult with you about the best storage systems. Hiring a professional is also a good idea if you’re having trouble getting started or sticking with it. Expect to pay around $50 to $90 per hour for this kind of help.

 

Some final words of advice

While you’re getting organized, do not allow yourself to buy any non-necessities. Groceries, yes. But say no to clothes, toys, electronics, sporting goods, and other feel-good purchases.

 

When you’re done organizing, a good rule of thumb is that for every new item brought into the house, an old one has to leave.

Posted on September 28, 2017 at 1:25 am
Tania Harmon | Category: Selling Your Home | Tagged , , ,