REAL ESTATE WATCH
by AL REX, CPA & Realtor
After seeing prices increase by 19% in 2013, most people in the real estate business felt that 2014 would be more of a normal year, with modest appreciation in home values and a market which had both sellers and buyers on even ground. We all expected to see an increased number of homes for sale with buyers having plenty to choose from, and thought that “multiple offers” were something of the past. Another factor of a normal year is that we start seeing the number of homes for sale increase from January all the way through the summer. This is the market we anticipated for the early months of 2014.
The reality is we have even less homes for sale today than we did last year at this time, making this the lowest inventory level seen in over ten years. It’s not totally clear as to why we are not seeing a higher number of homes on the market, but we do have a strong buyer demand that is fueled by low mortgage rates. And this strong buyer demand, coupled with a low number of homes for sale, translates to our zip code being once again in a “seller’s market.”
So what does that mean to you? Well if you are carrying a lot of debt on your home and have not been able to refinance in the past, possibly because you’ve had less than 20% equity, this demand for homes may run up the values and give you the equity needed for a refinance. Even though we did see an increase in mortgage rates from the “sixty-year record low” of last year, thirty-year rates are still hovering in the mid-to-low 4% range. And most agree, it’s not a matter of “if” interest rates will go up, but “when.” So if you have not refinanced in the last few years, now may be a good time.
If you are thinking of selling your home in order to upsize or downsize, now would absolutely be a good time. Why? Unless your next home purchase will be all cash, making that move now should land you one of those loans in the mid-to-low 4% range. The result will save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan. In addition, having a low interest rate helps you apply more of your payment towards principal, enabling you to more rapidly pay off your loan.
We’re not sure how long the inventory will remain low, but whether you’re staying, selling, or buying, this seller’s market is expected to remain at least into the summer.