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Builder confidence in this sector reaches record high


The 55+ housing market is thriving right now as more Baby Boomers look to invest in a new nest to live out their retirement dreams.

With scores of older adults looking at new single- and multifamily builds, homebuilder confidence in this market has soared to a record high.

According to the latest from the National Association of Home Builders, builder confidence in the 55+ market reached 76 in the first quarter of 2019 – up six points from the previous quarter and the highest score since the index started more than a decade ago.

All three components of the index in both the single- and multifamily categories posted gains in Q1, with present sales, expected sales and prospective buyer traffic climbing, the NAHB revealed.

"Favorable demographics and recent declines in mortgage rates have helped support demand for 55+ housing," said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. "We expect continued growth in the 55+ housing market, provided builders are able to manage the challenges of regulatory, land acquisition and construction costs." 

Karen Schroeder, chair of NAHB's 55+ Housing Industry Council, said the market is strong, but not without its challenges.

“Overall, demand for homes in 55+ communities remain strong as more buyers and renters in that market search for simpler living arrangements," said Schroeder. "However, there are still headwinds that are impacting the market.”

Schroeder pointed to rising construction costs and a lack of skilled labor as problems for builders, factors that could drive up costs for buyers.

In order for the 55+ plus market to realize its potential, building affordable homes that appeal to this demographic is key.

Some mortgage professionals point out an answer in a little-known financing option that is specifically designed for older homebuyers.

It’s called a Reverse for Purchase or, using the official product name Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, a HECM for Purchase.

It allows an individual 62 or older to purchase a primary residence and obtain a reverse mortgage in a single transaction. With one set of closing costs, they can purchase a new home without incurring a monthly mortgage payment.

The deal requires a significant down payment, often more than half the purchase price and that equity is then used to generate the reverse mortgage.

Michael Banner, a long-time HECM for Purchase advocate and the president and CEO of Professional Mortgage Alliance, said builders that are not promoting this financing option in their marketing are missing out big time.

“You will sell a more expensive house if your client is getting a Reverse for Purchase, there is no doubt about it – statistics prove that,” Banner said. “The clients will buy more extras, and more expensive extras, due to the simple fact that they are not going to have a mortgage payment.”

Banner said builders should get in touch with a local HECM specialist for details on the product and should make sure they’re working with someone knowledgeable.

“Ask, ‘How many Reverse for Purchases have you and your company done?’ They’ve got to ask that question because this is a specialized product. If that answer is not satisfactory, they need to contact a true HECM for Purchase professional. Look on Google, YouTube, or contact the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association,” Banner said.

“Bottom line, you will sell more expensive homes, you will most certainly sell the higher options and extras, which, let’s face it, that’s where the builders profit.”

KCM Crew, May 6th, 2019

Your Fabulous New Dream Home is Now Available |MyKCM

Over the last several years, many “baby boomers” have undergone a metamorphosis. Their children have finally moved out and they can now dream about their own future. For many, a change in lifestyle might necessitate a change in the type of home they live in.

That two-story, four-bedroom colonial with three bathrooms no longer fits the bill. Taxes are too high. Utilities are too expensive. Cleaning and repair are too difficult. When they decide to travel to be with friends and family, locking up the house is too time-consuming and worrisome.

Instead, a nice ranch home with 2-3 bedrooms and two baths might better fulfill their new needs and lifestyle. The challenge many “boomers” have faced when trying to downsize to the perfect new home has been a lack of inventory.

The average number of years a family stays in their home has increased by fifty percent since 2008, causing fewer houses to come to the market. During the same time, new home builders were concentrating most of their efforts on large, luxury, expensive houses.

However, that is starting to change.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau, sales of newly built, single-family homes rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 692,000 units in March. The great news is that more of those homes were sold at the lower end of the price range.

In a press release last week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) explained that:

“The median sales price was $302,700, with strong gains in homes sold at lower price points. The median price of a new home sale a year earlier was $335,400.”

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz offered further detail:

“We saw a large gain at lower price points where demand is strong. In March of 2019, 50% of new home sales were priced below $300,000, compared to 39% in March of 2018.”

Bottom Line

If you are a “boomer” thinking of selling your old house in order to buy a new home that better fits your current lifestyle, now may be the perfect time!

The Washington Post, May 1st, 2019

A fully underwritten loan is the gold standard, but a financial statement showing your income and your sources for the deposit and down payment can strengthen your offer. (Ted Shaffrey/AP)
April 9

There’s good news and bad news for springtime home shoppers — and sellers — this year.

The good news: Mortgage rates recently dipped, making housing payments a little more affordable. More good news: The number of single-family homes for sale in the Washington region rose by 5.6 percent in February compared with February 2018, according to data from Bright MLS.

Now for the bad news for sellers: The number of homes that sold in the region declined by 5.7 percent in February compared with February 2018, which represents the seventh consecutive month of fewer sales. That slower pace of sales may mean that buyers have a little more time to look for properties. Sellers who are aware of the slowdown but still want to sell and move on may be a little more willing to negotiate, too.

But the reasons for the slowdown in sales are not so great for buyers: Years of limited numbers of homes for sale which, even with the recent increase in listings, still won’t meet buyer demand. And high housing prices reduce affordability for many prospective buyers.

The median sales price rose 4.2 percent in the metro area in February 2019 compared with February 2018 to $427,000. But in the competitive housing market in the District, prices rose by 10.6 percent in February compared with the previous year to $589,000.

The D.C. region remains tipped in favor of sellers, but each local market varies in the number of homes for sale and the number of buyers looking in that area. While the number of detached single-family homes for sale increased, the number of townhouses for sale declined by 2.2 percent and the number of condos for sale declined by 21 percent when comparing February 2019 with February 2018. In many cases, townhouses and condos offer a more affordable alternative to a detached house, so buyers looking for those property types will still likely face competition even as overall listings increase.

Depending on the neighborhood, price range and property type you’re looking at, you may have a little breathing room this spring to take your time to find your ideal home. But when you do find it, you need to be prepared to make an offer quickly. To get ready:

 Get a fully documented preapproval for a mortgage: While a quick consultation with a lender can give you an idea of your price range, to be certain that you’ll have your financing when you need it, you should request a loan preapproval. You can work with your chosen lender and provide full documentation of your income, assets and all other required paperwork to start the loan process.

The final loan approval will be contingent upon an appraisal once you have a signed purchase agreement, but you’ll have the credit qualification part of the approval in place. That can make a huge difference if you end up competing with other buyers for the home you want.

 Prepare a financial statement for the sellers: Besides price, the most important thing for sellers is to feel confident that the buyers will be able to complete the sale. Sellers worry they might take their home off the market and then be forced to relist it after a failed contract. A fully underwritten loan is the gold standard, but a financial statement showing your income and your sources for the deposit and down payment can strengthen your offer.

 Work with an experienced real estate agent: A well-connected agent with local market knowledge can help you find neighborhoods and homes that you might miss on your own. A great agent can also help you recognize good value or overpriced properties.

 Round up your offer: That sounds counter-intuitive for a buyer looking for the best deal, but if you offer $400,000 rather than $399,999, it’s more enticing to a seller as it just sounds like you are offering so much more.

Expect to spend a lot of time looking for properties online and in person this spring. The more you see, the more you’ll understand what your budget can buy and which features are the most important to you.

Jon Coile, chairman of Rockville-based multiple-listing service Bright MLS (formerly MRIS), writes occasional commentary on the Washington area housing market.