The cost of low housing inventory and rising interest rates.

The cost of low housing inventory and rising interest rates.

The real estate market, nationwide, has enjoyed the benefits of lower home prices coupled with lower interest rates for the past ten years. Unfortunately, that is about to come to an end. The costs of rising home prices, low housing inventory and rising interest rates are starting to impact housing across the country. There are a few areas throughout the country that are busting with inventory, but many areas with low inventory are presenting buyers with a conundrum.

When interest rates fell at the beginning of the 2008 recession, buyers were able to jump into the market and pick up great deals. There were plenty of foreclosures, and they were followed by short sales. Distressed properties presented buyers with great opportunities to get their dream home at a lower price, and lower interest rate which offered a lower mortgage payment. Even fair market prices were down because of the recession and the impact of distressed properties. As the economy has turned into a healthy economy again, those benefits are about to change.

The cost of low housing inventory and rising interest rates: Low Inventory and the psychological factors.

Low inventory can create a major problem. For instance, when there are 1,000 buyers and 200 houses available, tension forms in the market. Buyers get into multi-offer situations often causing them to pay more for a home than the list price, and creating a higher mortgage payment than they wanted when the search began. It’s stressful and can create anger, hurt feelings and often animosity among the parties involved.

The season may be partly responsible for some of the low inventory. Granted, it is Winter, and homes may sit a little longer during the colder months, but according a RealtyTrac study released in the Fall of 2015, January, February and December are three of the top five selling months nationwide. There may be other factors keeping some homes on the market.

Low housing inventory has a psychological impact on buyers. For instance:

  • Buyers get frustrated because they can’t find anything, and they quit looking.
  • Buyers get tired of racing out to see the latest listing only to find that it’s in terrible shape, in a less desirable neighborhood, or that it has three offers before they opened the door.
  • Buyers get irritated at the long process and fail to keep their financial data up to date, and then they don’t have the required documentation available when a deal comes along.
  • Buyers can get depressed and lose hope because they get outbid on deal after deal.
  • Buyers can’t find homes available in the area they wish to live.
  • Buyers adopt a “why-bother” attitude and continue to rent.

When things like this happen, fewer buyers are in the market and the homes that are available sit longer than normal. It gives the appearance that something is wrong in the local market, when in reality, it can be the psychological impact of low inventory on frustrated buyers.

The cost of low housing inventory and rising interest rates: Low inventory and higher interest rates

Add higher interest rates to low inventory and you have another major challenge for buyers and sellers. Sellers wishing to capitalize on low inventory are trapped when interest rates increase. Higher interest rates reduces a buyer’s buying power, and in turn, can cut the buyer pool. Lower buying power changes what a buyer looks at in the process. Let me show how this works. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say the buyer is not putting any money down and the buyer is working with a 3.92% interest rate. I’m also going to ignore the added cost of taxes and insurance. This will be a purely principal and interest scenario.

The buyer’s dilemma

  • A buyer has been pre-qualified for a loan with a mortgage payment of $946. That’s a perfect payment amount for the buyer. At the time of pre-qualification, the buyer was qualified to buy a $200,000 3 bedroom 2 bath detached home. In the process of working through low inventory, the buyer can’t find a good home in the $200K price range.
  • A month goes by and interest rates have increased to 4%. In order to keep the The cost of low housing inventory and rising interest payment at the $946 range, the buyer’s buying power drops to $198,000. That’s not too bad, but it may be a little less of a house than the buyer wants.
  • Interest rates are on the rise and within two weeks, they are at 4.25%. Now the buying power is $192,500. Remember, inventory is low and there is a huge number of buyers for properties under $200,000. Competition increases as buying power drops.
  • Another frustrating month goes by with low inventory, and now interest rates are 4.75%. The buyer’s buying power has slipped to $181500. The volume of buyers has increased, but inventory has not. The flurry of contracts thrown at every listing make it nearly impossible to win a bid without forfeiting contingencies that would protect the buyer.
  • Finally, interest rates climb to 5% and the buyer’s buying power drops to $176000. Multi-offer wars are happening everywhere and buyers are buying homes they don’t want in neighborhoods they don’t like, but there is nothing else they can do if they want to own their own home.

This scenario played out before the market downturn in 2008. I’m not saying that we’re heading for another housing bubble, but even without the other issues that caused the last bubble to burst, we’re in a tricky place for buyers. The greatest struggle they have with low housing inventory and rising interest rates is buying power. The higher the rate, the lower the buying power.

The cost of low housing inventory and rising interest rates: Mortgage payments

Another issue that plagues buyers when interest rates increase is the mortgage payment. If our buyer is qualified to buy the $200,000 house at a higher interest rate, the buyer will also find that he has a higher mortgage payment as rates climb.

Our $200,000 buyer would love to keep the mortgage payment at $946, but as interest rates increase, his payment will also increase. The desirable $946 payment rises to $$999 if rates rise to 4.38% when he finally buys. If it goes as high as 5%, that same $200,000 home, will cost the buyer $1,074 a month. Waiting a few months increased the payment $128 a month, or $1536 a year.

The cost of low housing inventory and rising interest rates: Long-term costs of waiting.

In our scenario above, there is a hidden cost that buyers rarely think about. What is the long-term costs of waiting too long to buy a home as interest rates rise. Let’s go back to our $200,000 purchase at 3.92%. If the buyer stays in that home for 30 years, the long-term cost of the home will be $340,427 in principal and interest. Fortunately, a high percentage of buyers move every 5 years.

Most will never realize that cost, but let’s say our buyer does stay through the entire 30 years, and lets say the buyer was qualified to buy the house at $200,000, but interest rates climbed to 5% by the time of the purchase. That 1.08% climb will cost the buyer an extra $46,085 dollars over the life of the loan. When it is all said and done, he will have paid $386,512 for his $200,000 house. Also, his mortgage payment is no longer $946. It ends up being $1074.

The time-value of money has an adverse relationship with interest rates. When rates fall, buyers can buy more and when interest rates climb, buyers can buy less. During the lower rates of the past ten years, buyers could causally look for a home over several months and even years. Today, if a buyer sees a home he likes, that meets his needs and is in his price range, he better move on it. Three months from now, it may be out of his price range or not available.

When you’re ready to buy or sell, give Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., a call. We are your local real estate sales pros, and we’re here to help you make something great happen.




Warren County, VA Real Estate Market Review – 2017

Warren County, VA Real Estate Market Review – 2017

The Warren County, VA real estate market ended 2017 on an upbeat note. The positive numbers are up, the negative numbers are down and the area appears to have put the recession behind it.

Warren County, VA Real Estate Market: Good to Great Numbers

The average sales price for 2017 was $246,398. That is an 4% increase from 2016. That number looks even better when you look back over the past five years. The 2017 average sales number is 26% higher than 2013. Go back to the worst days of the recession and it shows where the market has been. The current average sales price is 56% higher than the market lows of 2011. That’s an incredible improvement.

The graph for the past five years looks like a staircase. The five-year sales average Warren County, VA Real Estate Market Review - 2017was:

  • 2017 – $246,398
  • 2016 – $237,142
  • 2015 – $221,741
  • 2014 – $206,222
  • 2013 – $195,034

Those numbers show a consistent move forward. If you go back to the beginning days of the recession, there is an even greater and steeper staircase.

  • 2012 – $177,538
  • 2011 – $157,652
  • 2010 – $165,657
  • 2009 – $176,432

The broad picture shows how far the market has fought back to become healthy again. In the worst days of the recession. The current sales average is still 10% off of the 2007 highs. The market started to shows signs of the coming recession in 2008, and the decline continued until 2012.

Warren County, VA Real Estate Market: More Good News

One of the easiest ways to decide market health is to look at distressed properties. Distressed properties are made up of short sales and foreclosures (REO). In 2007, there was one foreclosure in Warren County, VA. That is stunning in light of where the market went in the ten beyond 2007.

Warren County, VA Real Estate Market Review - 2017The 2017 distressed properties were 8%. That was down from 2016, which was 12%. Travel back to 2011, which was the deepest part of the recession for Warren County, VA, and you see that 53% of real estate sales were distressed properties.

When the recession took hold of the Warren County, VA real estate market, distressed properties increase exponentially until they peaked in 2011. Then in 2012, they began to reverse their course. Warren County has fallen in line with its neighboring counties. Winchester/Frederick County, VA saw 6% distressed properties for 2017, and Shenandoah County, VA saw 7%. That puts Warren County right in the middle, and that’s a sign of an improving and healthy market.

Warren County, VA Real Estate Market: Days on the Market

One more positive number in the Warren County, VA real estate market is days on the market. Warren County has followed a similar stair-step pattern in days on the market over the past 9 years. The past five years have been very consistent with numbers ranging from a low of 84 and a high of 98. Mix in the 2009-2012 market and it’s a different story. Those numbers ranged from 108-156.

Days on the market is one of the numbers that can, or may not, show market health. There are a lot of things that affect days on the market. Things such as property condition, location, list price, neighborhood or neighbors all contribute to the days on the market. When a home is listed to high, it is likely to sit. If the neighbors have a vicious dog, that may scare away buyers with small children. A property that is hard to see can sit longer than one that is easy to show. There are too many variables with days on the market to consistently make it a market health predictor.

When you’re ready to list your home, or to buy a new home, in the Warren County, VA real estate market, be sure to give Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., a call. We are your local real estate sales pros. Let’s get together and make some great happen.


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Canter Estates Subdivision in Stephens City, VA – Real Estate Review – 2017

Canter Estates Subdivision in Stephens City, VA – Real Estate Review – 2017

The Canter Estates subdivision in Stephens City, VA had a solid real estate market in 2017. Like many of its neighboring subdivisions, all the right numbers are up, and the unwanted numbers are down. That is consistent with the broader Frederick County, VA real estate market.

Canter Estates Subdivision in Stephens City, VA: Good numbers

The good numbers in the Canter Estate subdivision are price, distressed properties and Canter Estates Subdivision in Stephens City, VA - Real Estate Review - 2017days on the market. The average home sale in 2017 was $330,386. That is a 4% increase in sales price. Where the average sales price really shines is in the growth over the past five years. There is a 12% improvement in average sales price from 2013.

Each year since 2013, the average sales price has inched its way into positive territory. The average sale price in 2013 was $290,836, $301,240 in 2014, $311,423 in 2015 and $316,874 in 2016. Each year since 2012, an incremental change has taken place that has helped the Canter Estates subdivision regain its prominent place as one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Stephens City, VA.

Homeowners who purchased before the 2008 recession are finally seeing their value come back to near pre-recession values. There is still improvements to be made before the subdivision completely returns to those days of sometimes inflated values, but as of January 1, 2018, the average home sale price is still 10% below the 2007 market average. The local real estate market took a 37% hit with the market collapse in 2008.

Canter Estates Subdivision in Stephens City, VA: More good numbers

Distressed properties are a sign of a market in trouble. The 2017 distressed properties in the Canter Estates subdivision was 12.5%. That is higher than the local market average, but it may be more of an anomaly than a trend. It may also be the last heaving of the past market collapse.

The 2016 distressed number was 3%. That is a below average number. Also, in 2015 Canter Estates Subdivision in Stephens City, VA - Real Estate Review - 2017there were no distressed properties. But from 2014 backward gives a view where the market went during the downturn and where it is today. Those numbers were:

  • 2014 – 14.3%
  • 2013 – 20%
  • 2012 – 46%
  • 2011 – 33%
  • 2010 – 56%
  • 2009 – 30%.

In those numbers, you can see the wild ride the neighborhood had during the down days of the recession. The 12.5% number for 2017 is consistent with the whiplash nature of distressed property sales in the Canter Estates subdivision, but the overall market has made monumental improvements in the past five years, and this neighborhood is no different in those improvements.

Days on the market have been consistent over the past five years with only slight deviations along the way. The 2017 average was 35 days. That is two days above 2016, but here again, it is nominal. There is no changing trend to point to while trying to form an opinion of effect.

Overall, the Canter Estates subdivision is a highly desirable neighborhood with beautiful large homes of many styles. It is close to multiple highways which make it a great place for commuters to live. It is also a sprawling neighborhood with large yards, sidewalks for evening strolls and quick access to shopping, schools and parks.

When you’re ready to buy or sell in the Canter Estates subdivision, give Cornerstone Business Group, Inc. a call. We are your local real estate sales pros and we’re here to help you succeed.

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Don’t wait too long to buy a house. It may cost you more than money.

Don’t wait too long to buy a house. It may cost you more than money.

One of the most common questions Realtors deal with is related to “how much house” a buyer can afford. The first place to start when you want to buy a house, is the lender’s office. A lender is a great resource in the home buying process because the lender can determine what buying power a home buyer is capable of. Then, with that information in hand, a buyer knows what price he/she should be shopping in. It would be terribly frustrating to shop for a $400000 house if a buyer’s buying power is $232000.

Don’t wait too long to buy a house: The cost of waiting.

There is second issue buyers should also consider when they start the process to buy a house. That is time and interest. Time and interest rates can work for you, or they can work against you. A buyer may start the process qualified to buy a $232000 house at 4.5%Don't wait too long to buy a house. You may find that you can't afford what you could before., but what happens if he lingers for 6 months and interest rates inch up over that time? Let’s say rates climb to 6%. That $232000 house will now be out of his buying range. Now, he can only afford to buy a $196147 priced home, but his house payment will be the same as the $232000 house.

Don’t wait too long to buy a house: Even small changes will hurt your purchase.

Even if the rate only went up 1% to 5.5%, the buyer’s buying power slips to $207119. No one wants to rush into buying a house, but being too causal in home buying process may cost you. In this scenario, the buyer lost nearly $25000 in buying power. If it went to 6%, he lost $35853 in buying power. It’s very likely that the $36K loss in buying power is not going to produce the house he envisioned when he started the search.

Don’t wait too long to buy a house: Time really is money. Your money.

Time really is money when the market is showing increases in housing prices and interest rates. Every increment up means less buying power. A buyer needs to be focused on finding the right house within his/her price range within a reasonable time. If not, he/she might be settling for less house at the same monthly costs.

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