Atlanta Home Inspectors Stay Busy Due to Affordable Housing Market

Home Opportunity Index (2005-2012)

Even though Atlanta didn’t make the top of  the most affordable homes list, the Atlanta Home Inspector  has been busy. The overall  affordability of homes nationwide was  higher last quarter. The lowest mortgage rates in history, a sustained median income, and slow-to-recover home prices throughout GA and the country, means that the request for Atlanta Home Inspections has increased, due to the abundance of real estate activity in our area!

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the quarterly Home Opportunity Index read 75.9 in 2011′s fourth quarter. More than 3 in 4 homes sold between October-December 2011, in other words, were affordable to households earning the national median income of $64,200.

Never in recorded history have U.S. homes been as affordable on a national level. Even on a regional and local level, affordability soared.

Affordability was highest in the Midwest; 7 of the 10 most affordable markets nationwide were in the nation’s heartland. 

The Top 5 most affordable U.S. cities in Q4 2011 were:

  1. Kokomo, IN (99.2% home affordability)
  2. Fairbanks, AK (97.5% home affordability)
  3. Cumberland, WV (96.9% home affordability)
  4. Lima, OH (96.0% home affordability)
  5. Rockford, IL (95.5% home affordability)

These are each considered “small markets”. The most affordable “major market” was the Youngstown, Ohio area, where 95.1% of homes sold were affordable to households earning the area’s local median income.

Not surprisingly, America’s “least affordable cities” were regionally-concentrated, too, with 7 of the 10 least affordable markets located in either California or Texas.

San Francisco (#3), Santa Ana (#4), and Los Angeles (#5) led for the Golden State but, for the 15th consecutive quarter, the New York metropolitan area took “Least Affordable Market” honors.

Just 29 percent of homes in and around New York City were affordable to households earning the area’s median income last quarter. It’s a large jump from the quarter prior during which 23 percent of homes were affordable.

The rankings for all 225 metro areas are available for download on the NAHB website.

If you plan to buy an Atlanta foreclosed home,  have a real estate professional on your side. The internet can teach you much about how the GA housing market works, but when it comes to writing contracts, you’ll want an experienced agent on your side.

Do us a favor if you or someone you know is about to buy that foreclosure home, please recommend us to them, so that they  know what “As-Is” really means. When you find your foreclosure home, make sure that you get a thorough home inspection in Atlanta, GA from the home inspector Atlanta, GA, David Lelak of IHI Home Inspections,  serving Atlanta and all of North Georgia. Call us today at 404-788-2581 for a thorough home inspection in Atlanta. We won’t let you buy the money pit.  You can also schedule your Atlanta home inspection today online.  We create Peace of Mind One Atlanta home inspection at a time.  Be sure to check out all the other reasons other customers chose IHI Home Inspections at our original website. 

High Demand on Existing Homes Provides Positive Outlook

Existing home supply

An “existing home” is one that’s been previously occupied and cannot be categorized as new construction. As Atlanta home inspection  providers we see several of both types of homes. Due to the populated areas where we provide home inspections in Atlanta, Ga there is a continuous flow of buyers in “existing home” transactions. Could this be an indicator that a housing recovery is beginning nationwide?

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the January 2012 Existing Home Sales showed  a 4 percent increase as compared to December’s revised figures. There was also a 20-month high in home resales during this January’s reports.

The good news is that demand is high in Canton, Woodstock, Roswell, Kennesaw and other surrounding cities not only for home sales, but for the services needed to complete real estate transactions. This would indicate that Marietta home inspections are on the rise, as well.  There is still a positive outlook for those who wish to sell their  homes.  Since housing stock is at a 5 year low, the demand is higher than the supply, which makes for a higher price on the homes. Higher price on the homes, means more money in the seller’s pockets.

Interestingly enough,  at the current pace of sales, today’s complete home inventory would “sell out” in 6.1 months.

Analysts say that a 6-month supply is a market in balance. Anything less is Bull Market territory.

As contract failures subside, Existing Home Sales are expected to rise even faster. Many buyers have tried to buy but could not for reasons such as: appraisals coming in lower than contract pricing, home inspection issues that could not be negotiated, and mortgage denials.

First-time buyers continue to power the home resale market. In January, 33% of all sales were made to first-time buyers, up four points from last year. This statistic suggests that renters are moving into homeownership, an important component in a sustained housing market recovery.

Given high demand and shrinking supply, we should expect for Bradshaw Farms, Bridgemill, and Harmony on the Lakes  home prices to rise in the coming months, if they haven’t already. Thankfully, mortgage rates remain near all-time lows.

Do us a favor if you or someone you know is about to buy that perfect home, please recommend us to them. When you find your dream home, make sure that you get a thorough home inspection in Atlanta, GA from the home inspector Atlanta, GA, David Lelak of IHI Home Inspections, they serve Atlanta and all of North Georgia. Call us today at 404-788-2581 for a thorough home inspection in Atlanta. We won’t let you buy the money pit.  You can also schedule your Atlanta home inspection today online.  We create Peace of Mind One Atlanta home inspection at a time.  Be sure to check out all the other reasons other customers chose IHI Home Inspections at our original website. 

 

The 10 Longest Commutes In The United States

Wow, as a home inspector in Atlanta, GA, I sure can agree with the article below… Sometimes our windshield time from one Atlanta inspection to the next is over an hour.  We have had it reach almost two hours a few times, but hey, when you get the  call for that inspection, sometimes you just have to go.  Sometimes we go from Marietta, GA over to Lawrenceville, GA…

According to the Census Bureau, more than 3.2 million U.S. workers spend over 3 hours commuting to and from work each day.

Commutes exceeding 90 minutes in each direction are known as “extreme commutes” in Census Bureau parlance. As compared to typical commute times nationwide, they’re aptly named.

The national, average commute time is just 25.1 minutes

For home buyers in Woodstock or in any U.S. city, make sure to make commute times a consideration before placing an offer on a property. The length of your daily commute will make an impact on your life.

Studies shows that shorter commutes are linked to higher levels of life satisfaction. Long commutes are linked to low levels of life satisfaction.

As ranked by the Census Bureau, here are the 10 cities with the longest average commute times, where commuting is defined as the total time to arrive at work, inclusive of all modes of transportation (i.e. automobile, train, subway, foot, or other) :

  1. New York / North New Jersey / Long Island : 34.6 minutes
  2. Washington, DC / Arlington / Alexandria : 33.4 minutes
  3. Poughkeepsie / Newburgh / Middletown, NY: 32.2 minutes
    Stockton, CA : 29.8 minutes
    Baltimore / Towson, MD : 29.7 minutes

    Poughkeepsie / Newburgh / Middletown, NY: 32.2 minutes

  4. Bremerton / Silverdale, WA : 30.8 minutes
  5. Chicago / Naperville / Joliet, IL : 30.7 minutes
  6. Winchester, VA : 30.3 minutes
  7. Atlanta / Sandy Springs / Marietta, GA 30.1 minutes
  8. Riverside / San Bernardino / Ontario, CA : 30.0 minutes
  9. Stockton, CA : 29.8 minutes
  10. Baltimore / Towson, MD : 29.7 minutes

By contrast, the shortest commute belongs to residents of Great Falls, Montana. The average commute for the city’s 58,000 residents is 14.2 minutes.

A long commute to work should not deter you from moving to a particular home or neighborhood, but your time-en-route should be a consideration. Before making an offer on a home in Bradshaw Farms , therefore, practice the rush hour commute from your potential new neighborhood in the morning, and back to it again that evening.

Then, imagine making the commute every day.

Do us a favor if you or someone you know is about to buy that perfect home, please recommend us to them. When you find your dream home, make sure that you get a thorough home inspection in Atlanta, GA from the home inspector Atlanta, GA, David & Bonnie Lelak of IHI Home Inspections, they serve Atlanta and all of North Georgia. Call us today at 404-788-2581 for a thorough home inspection in Atlanta. We won’t let you buy the money pit.  You can also schedule your Atlanta home inspection today online.  We create Peace of Mind One Atlanta home inspection at a time.  Be sure to check out all the other reasons other customers chose IHI Home Inspections at our original website. 

Banks Start To Loosen Up In Underwriting

This is great news for the Atlanta housing market and other areas.  As busy as we have been as home inspectors in Atlanta, I can believe this.  We have been extremely busy for this time of year! Right now folks are buying!

After a half-decade of tightening mortgage guidelines, banks are starting to “loosen up”.

The Federal Reserve conducts a quarterly survey of its member banks and, last quarter, not a single responding bank reported having tightened its mortgage guidelines for prime borrowers.

A “prime borrower” is defined as one with a well-documented credit history, high credit scores, and a low debt-to-income ratio.

53 banks responded to the Fed’s survey and none said that mortgage guidelines “tightened considerably” or “tightened somewhat” between September and December 2011; 50 said that guidelines remained “basicaly unchanged”; 3 said that guidelines “eased somewhat”.

Mortgage applicants sometimes remark that the mortgage approval process can be challenging. Last quarter’s Fed survey hints that looser standards are coming.

Not since before the recession have banks lowered mortgage approval standards like this and it bodes well for this year’s Woodstock  housing market. Real estate agents report that 1 in 3 home sale contracts fail with “declined mortgage applications” as a leading cause.

Looser mortgage lending standards should mean more home loan approvals for buyers, and fewer contract cancellations. This can spur the housing market forward.

Make note, though. “Looser standards” should not be confused with ”irresponsible standards”. It remains more difficult to meet bank standards as compared to 5 years. Today’s underwriters are more conservative with respect to household income, overall assets and credit scores.

Even as compared to one year ago:

  • Minimum credit score requirements are higher
  • Downpayment/equity requirements are larger
  • Maximum allowable debt-to-income ratios are lower

For buyers and refinancing households gaining approval, though, the reward is the lowest mortgage rates in a lifetime. Mortgage rates in GA continue to fall, helping home affordability reach new highs.

If you’re in the market to buy a new home or refinance one, your timing is excellent.

Do us a favor when you or someone you know is about to buy that perfect home, please recommend us to them. When you find your dream home, make sure that you get a thorough home inspection in Atlanta, GA from the home inspector Atlanta, GA, David & Bonnie Lelak of IHI Home Inspections, they serve Atlanta and all of North Georgia. Call us today at 404-788-2581 for a thorough home inspection in Atlanta. We won’t let you buy the money pit.  You can also schedule your Atlanta home inspection today online.  We create Peace of Mind One Atlanta home inspection at a time.  Be sure to check out all the other reasons other customers chose IHI Home Inspections at our original website. 

Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (January 25, 2012)

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishWednesday, the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within its current target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

The Fed Funds Rate has been near zero percent since December 2008.

For the third consecutive month, the Fed Funds Rate vote was nearly unanimous. Just one FOMC member dissented in the 9-1 vote, objecting only to the language used in the Fed’s official statement.

In its press release, the Federal Reserve noted that the the U.S. economy has “expanding moderately” since its last meeting in December 2011, adding that the growth is occurring despite “slowing in global growth” — a reference to ongoing economic uncertainty within the Eurozone.

The Federal Reserve expects moderate economic expansion through the next few quarters but is wary of “strains” from global financial markets, and these three threats to the U.S. economy :  

  1. The housing sector remains “depressed”
  2. The unemployment rate remains “elevated”
  3. Fixed business investment has “slowed”

On the positive side, the FOMC said that household spending is rising and inflation remains in-check. The group also believes that employment will gradually improve nationwide going forward.

The Federal Reserve neither introduced new economic stimulus, nor discontinued existing market programs.

Immediately following the FOMC’s statement, mortgage markets rallied, pressuring mortgage rates to fall in and around Canton. 

Mortgage rates remain near all-time lows and, for homeowners willing to pay points plus closing costs, conventional, 30-year fixed rate mortgages can be locked at below 4 percent. If you’re in the process of buying or refinancing a home in GA , it’s a good time to lock a mortgage rate with your lender.

The FOMC’s next scheduled meeting is a one-day event slated for March 13, 2012.

Do us a favor if you or someone you know is about to buy that perfect home, please recommend us to them. When you find your dream home, make sure that you get a thorough home inspection in Atlanta, GA from the home inspector Atlanta, GA, David & Bonnie Lelak of IHI Home Inspections, they serve Atlanta and all of North Georgia. Call us today at 404-788-2581 for a thorough home inspection in Atlanta. We won’t let you buy the money pit.  You can also schedule your Atlanta home inspection today online.  We create Peace of Mind One Atlanta home inspection at a time.  Be sure to check out all the other reasons other customers chose IHI Home Inspections at our original website. 

Existing Home Sales Approach Bull Market Territory

As a home inspector in Atlanta GA and as a resident as well, we are happy to be seeing a busy market.  If you’re looking to buy or sell, right now may be the best time.  Looking for a great real estate agent in Atlanta GA to work with, give us a call we know several.  We are noticing the housing market finished 2011 with strength, and is carrying measurable momentum into 2012, based on number of home inspections in Atlanta that we alone provided.  Seems local real estate experts are busy across the board. 

According to data from the National Association of REALTORS®, on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis, December’s Existing Home Sales climbed by 120,00 units overall from the month prior on its way to an 11-month high.

An “existing home” is a home that’s been previously occupied; that cannot be considered new construction.

After 4.61 million existing homes were sold in December, there are now just 2.38 million homes for sale nationwide. The last time the national home supply was this sparse was March 2005.

At today’s sales pace, the complete, national home inventory would be exhausted in 6.2 months — the fastest pace since before the recession. A 6.0-month supply is believed to represent a market in balance. 

The December Existing Home Sales report contained noteworthy foreclosure and short sale statistics, too :

  • Foreclosures sold at an average discount of 22% to market value
  • Short sales sold at an average discount of 13% to market value
  • Together, foreclosures and short sales accounted for 32% of all home sales

Clearly, “distressed homes” remain a large part of the U.S. housing market.

Furthermore, in its report, the real estate trade group also noted that one-third of homes under contract to sell nationwide succumbed to contract failure last month. That’s up from 9% one year ago.

Contract failure occurs for a multitude of reasons, most notably homes appraising for less than the purchase price; the buyer’s failure to achieve a mortgage approval; and, insurmountable home inspection issues. December’s high failure rate underscores the importance of getting pre-approved as a buyer, and of buying homes in “good condition”.

For today’s home buyer in Canton , December’s Existing Home Sales figures may be construed as a “buy signal”. Home supplies are dropping and buyer demand is rising. This is the basic recipe for higher home prices ahead.

If your 2012 plans call for buying a home, consider that home values throughout GA are expected to rise as the year progresses. The best values of the year may be the ones secured this winter.

Do us a favor if you or someone you know is about to buy that perfect home, please recommend us to them. When you find your dream home, make sure that you get a thorough home inspection in Atlanta, GA from the home inspector Atlanta, GA, David & Bonnie Lelak of IHI Home Inspections, they serve Atlanta and all of North Georgia. Call us today at 404-788-2581 for a thorough home inspection in Atlanta. We won’t let you buy the money pit.  You can also schedule your Atlanta home inspection today online.  We create Peace of Mind One Atlanta home inspection at a time.  Be sure to check out all the other reasons other customers chose IHI Home Inspections at our original website. 

Home Builders See More Sales, Higher Prices Ahead

Housing Market Index 2000-2012

Homebuilder confidence is soaring.

For the fourth straight month, the National Association of Homebuilders reports an increase in its Housing Market Index. The index climbed 4 points to 25 this month – its second four-point gain since October.

With home sales activity increasing across all four regions, the monthly HMI has now nearly doubled in value since June 2011.

The HMI is now at a 55-month high. 

The Housing Market Index itself is a composite reading; the result of three home builder surveys sent by the National Association of Homebuilders to its members monthly. Home builders report back on current single-family home sales volume; projected single-family home sales volume for the next 6 months; and current buyer “foot traffic”.

The NAHB then results compiles the surveys into a single reading.

In January, home builders reported improving sales conditions across all three categories :

  • Current Single-Family Sales : 25 (+3 from December)
  • Projected Single-Family Sales : 29 (+3 from December)
  • Buyer Foot Traffic : 21 (+3 from December)

The Housing Market Index corroborates recent U.S. government data that suggests housing is mending in GA. Both Housing Starts and New Home Sales have out-performed expectations of late, it’s been shown, and the stock of new homes for sale nationwide is dwindling.

All of this, of course, is happening as demand from buyers heats up.  Foot traffic through builder homes is higher than it’s been in more than 3 years, say the builders — a time period that includes the duration of the 2010 home buyer tax credit.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that builders expect a strong 2012.

Jobs data is improving, mortgage rates remain low, and housing momentum is building. For home buyers in Canton , however, it may spell higher home prices ahead. Big demand and small supply creates scarcity and scarcity correlates to rising prices.

If you’re shopping new homes, the best “deal” may be the one you find today.

Foreclosure Filings Fall To 49-Month Low

Annual Foreclosure Change, Top 10 States, December 2011

Foreclosure filings are fewer these days, according to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac.

In December 2011, the number of foreclosure filings nationwide fell 9 percent from the month prior. Not since November 2007 has foreclosure activity been this sparse across the country.

The drop does not appear to be seasonal, either. 

Last month’s foreclosure filings were down 20 percent from December 2010 with “foreclosure filing” defined to include any one of the following foreclosure-related events : (1) The serving of a default notice, (2) A scheduled home auction, or (3) A bank repossession. As a result of a unexpectedly strong year-end, 2011′s annual foreclosure rate was the lowest in 4 years.

One reason why the year may have closed so strongly is that Nevada, California, Michigan and Arizona — four states typically associated with high rates of foreclosures — each posted big drops in foreclosure filings between November and December, plus double-digit drops between December 2010 and December 2011.  

In fact, among the country’s top 10 states for foreclosure activity, nine showed an annual foreclosure filing reduction.

Only Delaware worsened.

It’s also noteworthy that just 4 states accounted for half of last month’s total foreclosure filings.

  • California : 25.8 percent of all foreclosure filings
  • Florida : 12.0 percent of all foreclosure filings
  • Michigan : 6.4 percent of all foreclosure filings
  • Illinois : 6.2 percent of all foreclosure filings

Foreclosures are heavily concentrated, in other words. By contrast, the last 1% of activity is spread across 14 states.

As a Canton home buyer — first-timer or investor — foreclosures can be a great way to find value.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, distressed homes typically sell at “deep discounts“ as compared to like, non-distressed homes. However, when you buy a foreclosure home from a bank, it’s different from buying a home from a “person”. Purchase contract negotiations are different and months may pass before your closing is approved.

If you’re buying foreclosure, therefore, seek the help of a professional real estate agent. Real estate agents have experience working in the process-heavy world of foreclosures and can help you come out ahead.

Pending Home Sales Index Rises Back Above 100

Pending Home Sales IndexLow home prices and mortgage rates have combined to push home affordability to record levels nationwide. Home buyers are taking advantage.

The Pending Home Sales Index rose 7 percent in November to rise to its highest level since April 2010, the last month of last year’s home buyer tax credit program. 

The Pending Home Sales Index is published monthly by the National Association of REALTORS®. It measures homes under contract nationwide, but not yet “sold”. 

In this way, the Pending Home Sales Index is different from other housing market indicators. It’s a “forward-looking” figure; a predictor of future home sales. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, more than 80% of homes under contract close within 60 days. 

By contrast, housing data such as the Existing Home Sales report and the New Home Sales report “look back”.

November marks the second straight month of Pending Home Sales Index improvement. The housing market metric made big gains of 10 percent in October 2011, as well.

On a regional basis, each part of the country showed an increase in homes under contract.

  • Northeast Region: +8.1 percent from October 2011
  • Midwest Region : +3.3 percent from October 2011 
  • South Region : +4.3 percent from October 2011
  • West Region : +14.9 percent from October 2011

However, here in Canton, we must discount the value of even the regional data, somewhat. Like else in real estate, the volume of homes going under contract vary by locality.

Throughout the West Region, for example, the region in which pending home sales increased the most from October, there are nearly a dozen states. Undoubtedly, some of those states performed better than others in terms of “homes under contract”, but we don’t have an indication of which states those were.

In addition, within each state, every city, town, and neighborhood realized its own unique market in November, and produced its own sales statistics.

For buyers and sellers throughout GA and the country, therefore, it’s more important to watch data on a local level than on a national one. Reports like the Pending Home Sales Index are helpful in showing national trends, but as an individual, what you need are local trends.

For local real estate data, be sure to ask your agent.

Nationally, Home Prices Off 18.3 Percent From April 2007 Peak

Home Price Index since April 2007 peakThe government confirms what the private-sector Case-Shiller Index reported yesterday. Nationwide, average home values slipped in October.

The Federal Home Finance Agency’s Home Price Index shows home values down 0.2% on a monthly, seasonally-adjusted basis. October marks just the second time since April that home values fell month-over-month.

The Case-Shiller Index 20-City Composite showed values down 0.7 percent from September to October.

As a home buyer in Atlanta , it’s easy to look at these numbers and think housing markets are down. Ultimately, that may prove true. However, before we take the FHFA’s October Home Price Index at face value, we have to consider the report’s flaws.

There are three of them — and they’re glaring. As we address them, it becomes clear that the Home Price Index — like the Case-Shiller Index — is of little use to everyday buyers and sellers in places like Bradshaw Farms.

First, the FHFA Home Price Index only tracks home values for homes backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgages. This means that homes backed by the FHA, for example, are specifically not computed in the monthly Home Price Index.

In 2007, this was not as big of an issue as it is today. in 2007, the FHA insured just 4 percent of the housing market. Today, the FHA is estimated to have more than one-third of the overall housing market.

This means that one-third of all home sales are excluded from the HPI — a huge exclusion.

Second, the FHFA Home Price Index excludes new home sales and cash purchases, accounting for home resales backed by mortgages only. New home sales is a growing part of the market, and cash sales topped 29 percent in October 2011.

Third, the Home Price Index is on a 60-day delay. The above report is for homes that closed in October. It’s nearly January now. Market momentum is different now. Existing Home Sales and New Home Sales have been rising; homebuilder confidence is up; Housing Starts are showing strength. In addition, the Pending Home Sales Index points to a strong year-end.

The Home Price Index doesn’t capture this news. It’s reporting on expired market conditions instead.

For local, up-to-the-minute housing market data, skip past the national data. You’ll get better, more relevant facts from a local real estate agent.

Since peaking in April 2007, the FHFA’s Home Price Index is off 18.3 percent.