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Real Estate Market

January 2014

Median Home Prices On Rise

Median prices for existing-homes grew year-over-year, despite a slowdown in existing-home sales for the month of November according to a recent report by the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). Existing-home sales, which include recently purchased single family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops declined 4.3 percent, a pace of 4.9 million units for the year. November marks the first time on 29 months that existing-home sales were below year-ago levels.

Existing Home Sales By Region

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun sees multiple forces at play. "Home sales are hurt by higher mortgage interest rates, constrained inventory and continuing tight credit," he said. "There is a pent-up demand for both rental and owner-occupied housing as household formation will inevitably burst out, but the bottleneck is in limited housing supply, due to the slow recovery in new home construction. As such, rents are rising at the fastest pace in five years, while annual home prices are rising at the highest rate in eight years."

Nationally, the median time for homes to sell was 56 days in November, a slight increase from 54 days for October, yet well below the 70 days on market registered in November 2012.

Mortgage Rate Report

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported the national commitment rate for a 30-year fixed rate conventional mortgage rose to 4.26 percent in November, a slight increase over the 4.19 percent in available in October. The reported rate was 3.35 percent in November 2012.

NAR President Steve Brown explains that new qualification rules for borrowers will soon go into effect. "New underwriting rules to protect borrowers, effective in January, will prohibit many loan features, set tighter limits on the amount of debt a borrower can have and still get a mortgage, and require that lenders accurately measure a borrower's ability to repay," he said.

"This means that qualified borrowers are getting a loan that they are very likely to be able to repay, but some borrowers may wind up paying much more for their mortgage, or not get a loan at all due to the tougher standards. The new rules may tighten credit too much, but we're hopeful regulators will make adjustments if this proves to be true."

Five Winter Staging Tips

When selling your home in the winter, the art of staging the inside becomes more important. Here are five simple tips to make your home shine even when the outside landscaping has faded:

  • Keep your house warm. In the winter people tend to turn the thermostat down to save money, however a warmer house is more welcoming to a potential buyer.
  • Clear your walkways and driveways of any snow or ice. Make it easy for buyers to get to your home.
  • Clean the windows and blinds. Letting in the natural light can brighten up a room and cheer up the home. This also brings attention to the windows and blinds so make sure they are clean even during winter. Dirty windows will make the home appear neglected.
  • Background music played softly can completely change the atmosphere, which will make the home feel cozy and keep potential buyers around longer. Select classical music to appeal to anyone.
  • Leave the light on. Before showing a home, make sure it's well lit. A well lit home is more inviting. If you're not home, consider setting up timers.

Following these simple tips can give your house that added boost in today's competitive market. For information on selling in our local market, please contact us for a free market analysis of our recent neighborhood activity. We are more than happy to answer any questions you might have!