In our Metro Atlanta Real Estate News for June 2015:
Buyers Still Positive On Metro Atlanta Housing
Buyer’s views toward Metro Atlanta housing have not varied much over the past year, and they are still positive on homeownership as a good financial investment.
According the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s 2015 housing survey, U.S. households, on average, expect home-price growth to continue at a 4.4% pace for the next year, comparable to the average year-ahead expectation reported in last year’s survey.
Last year’s survey was the first in the series, with this year’s survey getting administered to 1,205 U.S. heads of household in February 2015.
Survey respondents were asked for the current value of a typical home in their zip code, and what they expected the value of that home to be in one year and in five years.
With regard to longer-term expectations, the average expected annualized change in home prices over the next five years was 2.9%. These figures were slightly lower than the corresponding figures in the 2014 survey, where the mean expected annualized change in home prices over the longer horizon was 3.1%. Overall, respondents expected home price growth to continue, but at a slower pace at a horizon beyond one year.
The survey found that more than 60% of both renters and owners think that buying property in their zip code is a (very or somewhat) good investment, while only about 10% think it is a bad investment.
When it comes to renters answering this question, there was little difference in how they answered compared to 2014.
Here in Metro Atlanta, owners seem to have become more bullish since last year’s survey. The proportion of owners who think that Metro Atlanta housing is a good investment increased from 58.5% in the 2014 survey to 63.2%, while the proportion thinking that Metro Atlanta housing is a bad investment declined from 11.9% to 9.8%.
5 Things About the Current Metro Atlanta Home Buying Season
Many analysts are saying the Metro Atlanta housing market has normalized amid the pickup in activity since the recession doldrums. But all is not well for people trying to buy–especially if they’re first-time buyers or on the lower end of the price spectrum. Here’s what you need to know to compete as 2015’s spring Metro Atlanta home buying season swings into the home stretch.
Inventory is Still Short
There are a lot of potential buyers in the market, but supply of available homes for sale is just not enough to satisfy demand, which is causing prices to be on the high side. As of the end of April, the number of available homes for sale—both newly constructed and previously owned—was well below the six-month supply considered a balanced market: 5.3 months for pre-owned homes and 4.8 months for new ones, according to NAR.
Prices Are on the Rise
Inventory constraints coupled with demand for real estate are pushing prices up. In many locations around the Metro Atlanta area, homes are selling at or above their list price. Don’t expect the price gains to go away. Freddie Mac predicts an average home price gain of 4.5% in 2015 (on a national basis), while the National Association of Realtors is now forecasting that homes will rise by 6.7% this year.
Competition is Easing from Investors
For buyers the good news is, in 2015 there’s less competition shaping up from investors in general. In the depths of the housing crisis, institutional investors were the big winners, snapping up single-family homes by the thousands. But they’re less of a force today. In the first quarter of 2015, a total of 14,621 single-family homes were sold to institutional investors nationwide (defined as entities that purchase at least 10 properties per year), according to RealtyTrac. That’s about 3.4% of all sales, down from 6.2% a year ago, and the lowest share for institutional investors in four years. All-cash deals are also down: of non-owner-occupied buyers, 44.7% were all-cash, compared to 61% a year ago and also the lowest level in four years.
Lower Priced Homes are Moving Fast
Markets are moving slightly faster than they were last year, so it’s going to be a little more difficult overall for homebuyers to find a home they want in a reasonable time frame. Homes priced at the lower end of the market are moving quickest: only 50% of homes priced in the lower one-third were still on the market after two months, compared with 65% of higher-priced homes.
Financing Eases, But Mortgage Rates Are Rising
In the worst days of the housing crisis, it was tough to get credit. These days credit availability is at its highest level since the housing downturn, but watch out: interest rates have stayed at historic lows for months now, and Freddie Mac is predicting increased volatility. This past week, rates rose to the highest level in 2015. (See our next article below).
Where Metro Atlanta Mortgage Rates Are Moving
With summer now in full swing (even though the calendar hasn’t officially welcomed it yet), more potential home buyers are looking around. There is good news as Metro Atlanta mortgage rates remain at near historic lows, although they are rising, according to Freddie Mac.
Although existing home sales slipped 3.3% to a seasonally-adjusted pace of 5.04 million units, sales are up 6.1% on a year-over-year basis. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index also posted a solid gain of 5% over the 12-months ending in March 2015.
The average 30-year fixed mortgage sits at 3.87 percent this week, an increase from 3.84 percent the previous week. The recent boost has brought Metro Atlanta mortgage rates to their highest levels of 2015.
15-year fixed rates this past week averaged 3.11 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.05 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed rate averaged 3.21 percent.
5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) averaged 2.90 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.88 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.96 percent.
1-year Treasury-indexed ARM’s averaged 2.50 percent this week with an average 0.3 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.51 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.41 percent.
However, a year ago, 30-year rates averaged 4.21 percent. The rise in Metro Atlanta mortgage rates was due to positive housing data as U.S. home sales climbed 7 percent in April. Overall lower mortgage rates are playing a role in bringing out local home buyers. The historic low for 30-year rates was 3.31 percent in November 2012.