housing market

Suffolk County NY Real Estate News - March 2013

In this Issue:*

Pending Home Sales Rise 4.5%

Home Buyers Wants Have Changed

Bernanke: Housing Market Has Hit Bottom

 

Pending Home Sales Rise 4.5%

Pending home sales in January were up 4.5 percent month-over-month, and that was above expectations for a rise of 1.9 percent.

Pending home sales were up 10.4 percent on a year-over-year basis, beating expectations for a rise of 8.2 percent.

January's number was also revised up to reflect a 1.9 percent decline, from the initial reading of a 4.3 percent decline.

Regionally, in the Northeast the pending home sales index (PHSI) were up 8.2 percent on the month, in the Midwest sales were up 4.5 percent on the month, in the South sales were up 5.9 percent, and in the West it was up a marginal 0.1 percent, and down 1.5 percent from a year ago.

In a press release, Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist said, "Favorable affordability conditions and job growth have unleashed a pent-up demand. Most areas are drawing down housing inventory, which has shifted the supply/demand balance to sellers in much of the country. It's also why we're experiencing the strongest price growth in more than seven years."

These recent pending home sales figures show that existing home supply is tight, especially in the West which is why home price increases in the region are increasing the most. Yun said he now expects 5 million home sales in 2013, down from 5.1 million.

Existing Home Inventory Chart

 

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Home Buyers Wants Have Changed

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What home buyers want when looking for their perfect abode have changed, according to a new study by the National Association of Home Builders.

The study found that home buyers are overwhelmingly much more cautious and sensitive to prices than before, but what's really interesting is what tops buyer's lists of must-haves in their new home.

It's probably not a surprise to learn that energy efficient homes are priority number one for the vast majority of home buyers. The NAHB found that Energy-star appliances are essential number one in the eyes of many buyers, followed by energy efficient laundry rooms.

High-end amenities were cited by 62% of home buyers as being more important to them than available living space – in other words, most people are more than willing to sacrifice that extra bedroom or go with a smaller living room in order to get their hands on the latest hi-tech gizmos like wireless home security and Wi-Fi controls for their utilities.

Home buyers also want style over substance, preferring French doors over regular doors, and they want luxuries like a double sink in the kitchen, and a hot tub and shower in the bathroom.

Luxuries like a golf course community and an elevator have gone out the window in the eyes of many home buyers. Consumers don't see the need for laminate countertops, nor do they have a use for wine cooler refrigerators anymore. Mind you, they'd like some outdoor space – but an outdoor kitchen is probably a little too excessive for most.

What most people are looking for is access to the right kinds of amenities and they prefer to live outside of cities and live in the suburbs. Watch a video on the NHB report.

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Bernanke: Housing Market Has Hit Bottom

Fed Chairman Ben BernankeFederal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke gave a cautiously optimistic view of the U.S. housing market recently, saying evidence suggested the market had hit the bottom over the last year and was recovering.

Mr. Bernanke was testifying before the House Financial Services Committee when he said the Fed's bond buying program appeared to be having a positive early impact on the housing market, helping homeowners refinance existing loans or buy new homes.

Bernanke said house prices had dropped 30% nationwide from their peak since the beginning of the financial crisis, but said prices of homes had crept up over the last year.

The number of foreclosures, while still too high, are declining as are the number of homeowners who are underwater, a term meaning they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are now worth.

Bernanke said the continuing improvement in the housing market would have a positive impact on the employment picture, both by directly creating more jobs in home construction and factories that make home goods, and also indirectly by improving peoples' sense of wealth.

Suffolk County is one of 62 counties in New York. The county is in the New York metro area. We can help you find real estate in any of these areas of Suffolk County: Babylon, Bellport, Centereach, Cold Spring Harbor, Commack, Dix Hills, Farmingdale, Farmingville, Greenlawn, Half Hollow Hills, Hauppague, Holbrook, Holtsville, Huntington, Islandia, Islip, Lake Grove, Lake Ronkonkoma, Lindenhurst, Melville, Oakdale, Patchogue, Sayville, and Smithtown. Just click the "Search for Suffolk County NY Real Estate" link at the top or bottom of this page.

new housing under constructionThe U.S. Department of Commercer reports construction on new U.S. homes jumped in December to the highest rate in more than four years, with gains across the country, as well as in single-family homes and buildings.

In the fresh data signaling a strengthening housing market, starts rose 12.1% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000 — the highest level since June 2008.

Economists had expected U.S. housing starts to increase to a rate of 883,000 from an original estimate of 861,000 for November, on factors such as rising building permits and confidence among home builders, as well as relatively mild weather for the season.

The DOC report released recently revised November's rate to 851,000. Data for U.S. housing starts can be volatile and is sometimes subject to large revisions.

An improving trend for housing starts echoes other recent housing data. Confidence among home builders is holding at a more-than-six-year peak, with more markets showing signs of recovery.

Housing is poised to provide a meaningful (and critical) lift to overall economic activity at a time when other growth drivers, like exports, are slowing.

The housing market has regained some footing after a historic collapse that helped push the economy into its worst recession since the Great Depression.

Last month, groundbreaking for single-family homes, the largest segment of the market, climbed 8.1 percent last month to a 616,000-unit pace.

Although mortgage rates have continually hovered near record lows in recent months, analysts remain concerned about overly stringent lending standards, as well as fallout from the ongoing fiscal uncertainty as a possible cause for rates to rise. In recent weeks, we've already seen a slight jump in rates.

For other news as it pertains to housing and the economy, check out Suffolk County NY Real Estate News under the Suffolk County NY Real Estate Categories.

Suffolk County is one of 62 counties in New York. The county is in the New York metro area. We can help you find real estate in any of these areas of Suffolk County: Babylon, Bellport, Centereach, Cold Spring Harbor, Commack, Dix Hills, Farmingdale, Farmingville, Greenlawn, Half Hollow Hills, Hauppague, Holbrook, Holtsville, Huntington, Islandia, Islip, Lake Grove, Lake Ronkonkoma, Lindenhurst, Melville, Oakdale, Patchogue, Sayville, and Smithtown. Just click the "Search for Suffolk County NY Real Estate" link at the top or bottom of this page.

Housing policies caused the financial crisis, according to Peter Wallison, a scholar at The American Enterprise Institute. Wallison lays all the blame on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with government intervention.

Questions or comments, use the comment link below. We'd love to hear from you.

Suffolk County is one of 62 counties in New York. The county is in the New York metro area. We can help you find real estate in any of these areas of Suffolk County: Babylon, Bellport, Centereach, Cold Spring Harbor, Commack, Dix Hills, Farmingdale, Farmingville, Greenlawn, Half Hollow Hills, Hauppague, Holbrook, Holtsville, Huntington, Islandia, Islip, Lake Grove, Lake Ronkonkoma, Lindenhurst, Melville, Oakdale, Patchogue, Sayville, and Smithtown. Just click the "Search for Suffolk County NY Real Estate" link at the top or bottom of this page.

Despite an improving economic picture, the housing market remains a drag on the U.S. economy. The Commerce Department says new home sales fell last month, even as median home prices continued to drop. Debate on the housing market amongst the GOP candidates for President would be welcomed by the National Association of Realtors…

Questions or comments? Use the comment link below to sound off. Your email address will NEVER be published on this site to protect your privacy.

Suffolk County is one of 62 counties in New York. The county is in the New York metro area. We can help you find real estate in any of these areas of Suffolk County: Babylon, Bellport, Centereach, Cold Spring Harbor, Commack, Dix Hills, Farmingdale, Farmingville, Greenlawn, Half Hollow Hills, Hauppague, Holbrook, Holtsville, Huntington, Islandia, Islip, Lake Grove, Lake Ronkonkoma, Lindenhurst, Melville, Oakdale, Patchogue, Sayville, and Smithtown. Just click the "Search for Suffolk County NY Real Estate" link at the top or bottom of this page.

Real Estate News - January 2012

In this Issue:*

Is Your Income High Enough For a Mortgage?

10 Tips for Reducing Credit Card Debt in 2012

Housing Market Strengthening

(Your comments are welcome at the bottom of our newsletter)

Is Your Income High Enough For a Mortgage?

Is Your Income High Enough For a Mortgage?One of the biggest problems being faced by both potential buyers and homeowners seeking to refinance is being able to prove they have enough income to be able to meet the payments. Both homeowners and buyers should keep the following in mind:

First, the only income that counts as far as your banks are concerned is taxable income, a requirement that can cause problems for numerous self-employed people and others who have to deduct business expenses when filing their tax return. Expenses for things such as mileage, meals and entertainment won't be counted by the bank, so be sure to take this into account and have all of your expense-related information ready.

Banks will look back over a two-year period to evaluate your income, but this doesn't necessarily mean you should have been employed for two consecutive years. The main thing banks want to see is that the income you have now is going to remain at the same level, and so long as gaps in employment are explained adequately, this shouldn't be a problem.

The debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is the main factor in whether or not the bank will think you can afford to repay the mortgage. Once the lender has established that a borrower's income is regular and likely to remain the same, they will then look to the DTI to decide. Unfortunately, the DTI is fairly conservative these days, with banks usually requiring a score of no more than 43% to 45%, compared to the 60% to 65% we saw just a few years ago.

Those who have especially strong credit scores, or buyers that can make a significantly large down payment may find some wiggle room in terms of the DTI, but unfortunately banks are not very flexible when it comes to income qualification.

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10 Tips for Reducing Credit Card Debt in 2012

10 Tips for Reducing Credit Card Debt in 2012Credit card issuers are once again aggressively marketing their cards, especially to consumers with good or excellent credit scores. Many people are probably seeing more credit card solicitations in their mailboxes with attractive rewards and balance transfer offers. Consumers need to guard against running up large account balances and getting themselves in a financial pinch once again.

Here are ten tips for reducing credit card debt in 2012:

1. Understand that paying off debt won't be easy. It took time to accumulate this credit card debt, and it will probably take even more time to pay it off. Do not get discouraged or give up. Eliminating debt and building a secure financial foundation for yourself or your family is worth the sacrifice.

2. Get an honest assessment of how much you owe for all credit cards debts. It may have been easier to pay the minimums without looking at the total amount that you owe, but misleading yourself only makes it worse. Write down a debt summary that includes the creditor, monthly payment, interest, balance due, credit limit and due date for each loan.

3. Contact your creditors to negotiate lower rates. The less money you pay in interest, the more money you use to pay off your bills. Unfortunately, negotiating lower rates for credit cards is now more difficult than several years ago but it doesn't hurt to try. If your lender does not offer a lower rate, shop around for another credit card.

4. Pay off the card with the highest APR first. Continue to pay the minimum on your other cards until you pay off the card with the highest rate. Then focus your effort on the card next in line. After you pay off the card, keep it open, especially your oldest cards. Losing this available credit can lower your debt utilization ratio which could lower your credit score.

5. Pay more than your minimum payment. Your minimum payment is usually only 2-5% of your balance. At this rate, it will take you many years to pay off your debt. Start with the card with the highest interest rate and try to double your minimum payment.

6. Balance transfer offers are currently very attractive so consider transferring your balance to a card with a lower rate. If your rate is above 12%, look for a card that offers 0% for at least 12 months. To take full advantage of this 0% interest, pay as much as you can above the minimum payment each month.

7. If you have a credit card balance, stop using it for anything other than necessities. Use cash instead. If you carry a balance, you are paying interest for every purchase, including clothing, entertainment or dinner. Factor that in to each purchase. For example If your APR is 15%, ask yourself if the purchase is worth paying an additional 15% in interest per year. Paying with cash will not only save money on interest, but it will also reduce the amount you spend.

8. Pay your bills on time, every time. Not only do you have to pay a late fee, but late payments can also appear on credit reports. Negative information like this can result in lower credit scores and higher interest payments.

9. If you are surprised by your current rates, check your credit report. It may contain an error that lowered your credit score, causing creditors to increase your rates. If you find an error on your credit report, contact the credit bureau to report it. They must respond to your claim in thirty days or remove the information that is incorrect or unverifiable. You can dispute by mail, telephone, or online. If the corrected error results in a higher credit score, alert your creditors to this and ask for a lower interest rate.

10. If you are in danger of missing a payment, or defaulting on your credit card loan, contact your credit card issuer as soon as possible. Your issuer may work out a payment plan with a lower rate or monthly payment if it will help keep your account out of default. If the first person you speak with can't help lower your rate or make adjustments to your account, ask to speak with a supervisor or someone who can. Persistence may be necessary to find the person who will help you. Explain that you are in debt, the steps you are taking to repay it, and what you can pay today. Document all conversations, including whom you spoke with, and the date, time, and the results.

Above all else, remember this: If you're being charged 12.99% on your Visa card balance, and you're earning 1% on your money market account, take money out of the money market to pay off the credit card faster. You'll end up with an 11.99% return.

If you're staggering under the weight of credit card debt and don't have the cash to pay it off, consider getting help from a nonprofit debt management program, such as the one offered by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

 

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Housing Market Strengthening

Housing Market StrengtheningThe year 2011 ended on a high note as economists anticipate some signs of recovery ahead. Prices appear to be reaching their trough, visible supply is on the decline, and banks are beginning – just slightly – to loosen lending standards, according to a fourth-quarter report from Capital Economics.

However, Capital Economics warns these positive signs do not point to an immediate recovery.

Taking into account the historic ratio between disposable income and housing prices, homes were undervalued by 23 percent in the third quarter. Homes have not been this undervalued since at least 1975.

Since 2006, prices have declined 33 percent, countering the sharp increases of the boom years. Therefore, "it is clear that prices don't need to fall further," Capital Economics says.

Non-distressed home prices in particular seem to have bottomed out. While home prices declined 4 percent this year, prices of non-distressed homes fell only 0.5 percent.

Having reached the bottom, however, prices will not jump far in the new year. Capital Economics predicts national home prices will remain unchanged over the next two years before seeing positive movement – a 2.5 percent increase – in 2014.

This past year has seen some positive movement in housing inventory with a 20 percent decrease in the number of homes listed for sale over the year. However, supply will remain an obstacle moving forward as the current shadow inventory is estimated at 4 million.

Demand will also continue to be an issue. However, the report notes the market has seen a slight increase in home sales, which it attributes to first-time buyers.

Banks are contributing to rising demand and supply absorption by allowing loans with loan to value ratios of 80 percent or even slightly higher, something that has not occurred since mid-2008, according to Capital Economics.

The overall economy will not help boost the housing market in the coming year as the U.S. will continue to be affected by the euro-zone crisis.

Everything seems to point to the rental market continuing to be the best-performing segment of the market in 2012.

Suffolk County is one of 62 counties in New York. The county is in the New York metro area. We can help you find real estate in any of these areas of Suffolk County: Babylon, Bellport, Centereach, Cold Spring Harbor, Commack, Dix Hills, Farmingdale, Farmingville, Greenlawn, Half Hollow Hills, Hauppague, Holbrook, Holtsville, Huntington, Islandia, Islip, Lake Grove, Lake Ronkonkoma, Lindenhurst, Melville, Oakdale, Patchogue, Sayville, and Smithtown. Just click the "Search for Suffolk County NY Real Estate" link at the top or bottom of this page.
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