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Homeownership

Homeowners still believe owning is a sound investment, believe in the American Dream

Despite an economic reality focused on paying off massive debts, today’s young adults still believe becoming homeowners is the American dream.

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An entire generation of homeowners precedes us and likewise a generation before them – men and women who believed in family and felt that buying a home complete with a front lawn, flower garden and a white picket fence represented the American Dream. A recent National Housing Pulse Survey discovered that today’s 21st century millennials hold fast to the same basic mindset concerning homeownership as their parents and grandparents. What’s more, despite an economic reality that is more focused on paying off massive student loans and college debt, today’s young adults still think that now is as good a time as any to purchase a home.

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Good news for Realtors

The survey results bear out a positive message for realtors who are able to use the data to track concerns and home-ownership issues among consumers in the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas. Among the more significant findings:

  • More than eight in 10 Americans believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision
  • Fully 68% of those surveyed believe that now is a good time to buy a home
  • 71% percent believe they could sell their house for what they paid for it, a jump of 16 percentage points from 2013

National Association of Realtors President Chris Polychron echoes those sentiments and feels that homeownership is indeed a part of the American fabric. “This survey proves that [the American] dream is alive and thriving in our communities.”

Polychron, who also serves as Executive Broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Arkansas remarked further that, “…anyone who is able and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to pursue that dream in a safe, responsible way, which is why NAR advocates homeownership issues and educating potential buyers about achieving their property investment goals.”

Dark clouds still overhead

Although the NHP survey offers encouraging news to realtors across the United States, it can’t mask the fact that the majority of first-time potential homeowners carry a heavy financial burden on their shoulders. In fact, the 2015 survey underscores several perceived obstacles to owning a home:

  • 78% of survey participants look at college debt and student loans as the main obstacle in making a home purchase affordable
  • 76% of participants said they have a full-time job but still don’t earn enough money to purchase a home
  • 74% believe they do not have enough money for a down payment and closing costs

The silver lining

Far from presenting a message of doom and gloom, the NAP data reveals that Millennials tend to have a more upbeat and positive view about the future of the nation.

An estimated 42 percent of Millennials feel that the country is headed in the right direction compared to only 20 percent among those aged 50 and older.

**The 2015 National Housing Pulse Survey is conducted by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NAR’s Housing Opportunity Program. The telephone survey polled 1,000 adults nationwide in the 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas. An additional 250 interviews were conducted with millennial adults (born after 1981) from the same geography. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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Homeownership

Remodeling projects like these increase a home’s value the most

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Knowing which remodeling projects to tackle when a home is being put on the market can save a lot of wasted effort and money.

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If you’re looking to help your clients to identify which projects to tackle before putting their home on the market, look no further: the National Association of Realtors surveyed thousands of real estate agents, industry professionals, and consumers on interior and exterior house remodeling projects, and these are the best projects for upping a home’s value before listing it on the market, ranked on the most value and cost recovery a homeowner can get.

  • Refinishing hardwood floors. Start from the bottom to earn top dollar. Refinishing floors transform a home from worn-out and aging to vibrant and inviting, and only costs about $2500 according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). The project also increases a home’s value by that same amount, meaning a homeowner can recover 100 percent of the costs. Pretty sweet deal.
  • Upgrading insulation. Because it’s what’s inside that counts. This project costs about $2100 based on NARI Remodeler’s estimate and increases a home’s value by $2000 according to Realtors surveyed. That’s a 95% cost recovery.
  • Adding new wood floors. If you don’t have wood floors to refinish, add them in! This costs about $5,500 according to NARI Remodelers, and the increased sales value is $5000. A homeowner can recover 91% of costs from a new wood floor addition.
  • Replacing HVAC system. A new HVAC system adds energy efficiency and refreshes the entire home, and NARI Remodelers estimate doing so costs $7000. The increased value for sellers is $5000 according to NAR REALTORS, meaning an easy breezy 71% cost recovery for homeowners.
  • Converting a basement into a living area. Not only is this cost and space-efficient, it’s also undeniably trendy. A basement makeover costs about $36,000 according to NARI Remodelers estimate and increases value for sellers by $25,000 according to Realtors surveyed. That comes out to a cost recovery of 69%.

Which projects are the most costly?

In case you’re curious, these are some of the most expensive remodeling projects:

  • New master suite. More like master $uite – this costs about $112,500 with a cost recovery of 53%. 
  • Converting an attic into a living area. Cute idea, but also a $65,000 one with a 61% cost recovery. One might say the price is through the roof.
  • Complete kitchen renovation. This project costs an estimated $60,000 with a 67% cost recovery. Even more if you want to throw in a brick oven, and you probably do.
  • New bathroom. With an estimated cost of $50,000 and a 52% cost recovery, make sure you aren’t flushing money down the drain with your bathroom addition!

These trends change over the years, so make sure your knowledge is up to date locally since we all know local trends trump national. Hopefully today you’ve garnered some ammo to help clients better understand how to improve their home’s value!

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Homeownership

Marriage is happening later in the US and the reason is not what you think

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) It’s seemingly later and later that Americans are getting married. You may have ideas as to why, but the reasoning is not what you think.

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As we know, homeownership is a cornerstone of American family life. Homes provide long-term financial stability as a major investment for homeowners. Furthermore, they also provide a strong environment in which to raise a family; so many of us have fond memories of running around our backyards or cozying up in the family room. So, it stands to reason that homeownership and marriage are tied together; many couples will buy a home soon before or soon after marriage.

With all that said, some of the following statistics may be alarming, as it points to a trend that may play into the delay of homeownership.

Lots of data gathered over the past few years shows Americans are marrying later and later, if at all, according to a report from The Guardian. Today, Half of American adults are married, compared to 75% in 1960. The disparities are mostly consistent with class divisions.

Per the Guardian article, “26% of poor adults are married, compared with 51% in 1990.” That same study found 39% of the modern working class of adults are married, but that number was 57% in the 90s.

Education is closely tied with financial status, so an education disparity is also present. Today, 50% of adults with a high school are married; that rate was over 60% 25 years ago.

As the Guardian puts it, “Young people are increasingly seeing marriage as a “capstone” rather than a “cornerstone” event, a crowning achievement once other goals have been reached, rather than a launchpad for adulthood.”

That achievement is financial stability, and many more Americans are feeling a financial crunch.

There’s data to back this up, too. For example, a poll found “nearly half of never-married adults with incomes under 30k say being financially insecure is a major reason” behind their lack of marital commitment to a partner.

Part of a steady income is a steady job, and past Pew Research found 78 of never-married women wanted a future partner to have a steady job.

A decline in manufacturing jobs is contributing to this as well, per some economic research on the subject, which may help to explain how the steepest drops in marriage rates come from the lower and middle class.

It’s not unreasonable to speculate that major living costs factor into that decision as well. For example, with real estate prices going up around the country, especially in major cities with strong job markets, the capstone that is owning a home is pushed farther away from the average American.

If marriage and homeownership are so closely tied together, the delay of one may also contribute to a delay in the other.

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Homeownership

How buyers are competing in a tight housing market

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) It’s a seller’s market with housing supply at an all-time low. Here’s what buyers are doing to increase their chances of buying a home.

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family in their living room with moving boxes during the competitive housing market

Home inventory is at an all-time low in most places around the country. Most people believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is responsible. Families are staying put in their homes, rather than looking for a new place to live. Sellers and realtors are winning in this highly competitive market, making us wonder how buyers are faring.

Cash is king

According to the NAR, cash sales are up by an average of 21%. Buyers are hoping that cash makes their offer more attractive. Closing without a loan has a lot of benefits to the seller. The sale is more likely to close, as it isn’t dependent on a loan. Plus, there are fewer costs involved in the closing. Since 2013, cash sales haven’t been trending upward, so this is an interesting turn for sellers. Buyers who make cash offers reduce the risk of getting rejected by the seller.

Buyers making larger down payments

Sellers also benefit when buyers make a 20% down payment or more. A higher down payment increases the chance of getting a loan. According to the NAR, almost 50% of buyers are making a down payment of at least 20%, which is up from 40% of buyers in 2011. Buyers avoid mortgage insurance premiums, which makes it a win-win for everyone.

Buyers aren’t even offering or negotiating

The third way buyers are coping in this market is to back off and not even make an offer when they know a home already has competition. Why get your hopes up, only to have them dashed when you can’t negotiate?

Will supply return?

The good news is that the housing supply outlook is on the increase. As vaccinations roll out and people feel safer to show their home, more homes should come on the market. Housing permits are up, too. This should help even out the market and give buyers a better chance to find a home.

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