Where Homeowners Have The Most Extra Cash

Your financial health isn’t really about how much money you make. It’s more about how much you have left over once you’ve paid all your bills. After all, if you make $1 million a month but also spend $1 million, you’re still struggling financially. And no one likes worrying about money. For that reason, a recent analysis took a look at the 50 biggest cities in the country and – based on household income, home prices, and cost of living – tried to determine where homeowners were able to live most comfortably. Fortunately, the results show that in 44 of the 50 cities included the average homeowner had money leftover at the end of the month. But surprisingly, the hardest places for Americans to put away a little extra cash weren’t necessarily the most expensive places to live. In fact, cities in the Midwest and South were among the toughest, rather than pricier areas on the coasts. For example, Detroit, Memphis, New Orleans, and Cleveland were four of the six cities where residents showed a negative balance. Philadelphia also made the list. The number one spot, however, was Miami, where a high cost of living and a low median income make it a tough place to save. More here.

Are Unequal Housing Markets Good For Buyers?

Income inequality is a hot topic these days. But what about housing market inequality? Well, a recent analysis looked at 50 of the largest metropolitan areas with an eye for which had the biggest city-wide disparity between high-end homes and the lowest-priced available homes. The results may surprise you. That’s because, the housing markets with the widest range between the high and low end of the market aren’t necessarily the markets that would immediately come to mind. In other words, cities like San Francisco – which features some of the country’s highest priced homes – were more equal than Midwestern cities where the cost of living is much lower. In fact, the number one most unequal housing market was Detroit, where the home values range from $32,000 to $431,000. Salt Lake City, on the other hand, was the most equal market, with median prices between $191,000 to $597,000. In this case, inequality might just be better for buyers. That’s because, the most unequal markets offer a wider range of prices for buyers to choose from, which means home buyers at all ends of the spectrum will have an easier time locating something that fits their budget. More here.

Cautious Buyers May Be Overestimating Costs

Affordability is the top concern for potential home buyers entering the summer season. That’s not a surprise. With prices and mortgage rates up, it’s natural that Americans who are hoping to buy might be leery when seeing news of rising housing costs. But, though affordability conditions are challenging in some markets, buyers may have some misconceptions that are adding unnecessary stress and anxiety. For example, according to the results of one recent survey, potential home buyers see saving for a down payment as the biggest obstacle preventing them from buying a house. But, at the same time, they overestimate the amount of money they’ll need to put down in order to buy. The survey found 58 percent of participants said they are planning for a 20 percent down payment. But though that may be the recommended down payment amount, it isn’t required. The National Association of Realtors, for example, found that the median down payment for first-time buyers has been at 6 percent for the past three years. In other words, though home buyers are right to take seriously the costs and responsibilities of becoming a homeowner, they may want to explore all of their options before deciding they can’t afford to buy. More here.

Pending Home Sales Slow Slightly In April

Between the time an offer is accepted and the deal is closed, a home’s sale is typically referred to as pending. That’s because, there’s a chance, during this period, that the sale won’t go through, as there are a number of hurdles yet to clear. The buyer’s loan and financing have to be finalized and steps like the home inspection and appraisal can also alter the terms of the deal or end it altogether. In short, buying a home is a major transaction and there’s usually a few weeks between the contract signing and closing. For that reason, the National Association of Realtors tracks pending home sales each month, as they can be a good indicator of what future home sales will look like. According to their most recent report, pending sales fell 1.3 percent in April, with most regions flat from the month before. The slight decline was mostly due to a drop in the Midwest. Still, the report is an indication that inventory levels in much of the country are holding sales back. With a fewer-than-normal number of homes for sale, buyers are having more difficulty locating the right house and, as a result, the number of home sales has not matched the level of demand. More here.

What Is The Most Prosperous City In The US?

Prosperous is defined as “successful in material terms; flourishing financially.” And, while money isn’t everything, it’s safe to say we all want to be successful and wouldn’t mind flourishing financially. So where in the country is the best place to live if you want some prosperity? Well, the answer might surprise you. That’s because a new study – looking at factors such as population, median income, home values, share of inhabitants holding higher education degrees, poverty rate, and unemployment – determined that Odessa, Texas was the the top city for prosperity, beating out heavy hitters like Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Charleston. So what about Odessa makes it the most prosperous city in America? Well, from 2000 to 2016, the city experienced a 38 percent spike in income growth, home values rose 91 percent, and the poverty rate dropped by 36 percent. Those are some impressive numbers but the story behind the story is that Odessa benefited from a surge in crude oil production, which boosted the city’s fortunes and lifted it to the top spot on the list. More here.

Rising Incomes Help To Offset Affordability Challenges

After the financial crisis and housing crash, there were plenty of homes for sale but very few interested buyers. Americans were financially unstable and worried about keeping their jobs. And while they may’ve liked to buy a home, it wasn’t the right time. Gradually, though, Americans became more secure in their jobs and more interested in buying a home. But, at the same time, the housing market also began bouncing back. And with prices higher and mortgage rates beginning to rise, Americans wanted to buy but began to worry about whether or not they could afford it. This year, with inventory low, prices rising, and mortgage rates creeping up, buyers face some challenges. Fortunately, though, new research shows incomes are also on the rise. The National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Opportunity Index, for example, shows Americans are making more money, which is helping to offset declining affordability. In fact, median family income is up from $68,000 last year to $71,900. And, at that income, 61.6 percent of recently sold homes were affordable. More here.

Housing Outlook Says Take The Long View

If you spend any time following the real estate market or economy, you know there’s no shortage of data. Nearly every day there’s a new report detailing some corner of our economic lives, whether it’s consumer spending, mortgage rates, jobs, or home sales. But reading the day-to-day news reports can sometimes give you a distorted view of what’s really happening. That’s because monthly updates on the housing market’s ups-and-downs can be more volatile than a look at annual results. And so it’s important to take a big-picture view of the market from time to time. For example, Fannie Mae’s most recent Economic and Housing Outlook says, despite a slower-than-expected first quarter, the economy will continue to grow. And, according to Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, home sales will also continue to improve, despite a more challenging environment for buyers. “Soft residential investment last quarter should prove temporary, as home sales resume their slow upward grind, with inventory shortages playing friend to prices but foe to affordability and sales.” More here.

What Buyers Should Know About Home Inspections

After finding a house to buy and making an offer, one of the next steps in the process is to get the home professionally inspected. This is done for a couple of reasons. One, it provides the home’s buyer with necessary information about the health and upkeep of the home’s various systems. But, additionally, it can be used to negotiate a fair price for the home. For example, if you made an offer on a house, then discovered during the inspection there were issues that might mean costly repairs, your offer could then be renegotiated to account for the previously unknown problem. In short, getting the house inspected is an important protection for buyers, who likely don’t have the expertise to thoroughly evaluate things like the home’s plumbing and electrical systems. But more than just a checklist, the inspection is also a good opportunity for buyers to get to know the house they’re buying and learn more about the condition of the home and the steps they’ll need to take to maintain it. For that reason, it’s a good idea, if possible, for buyers to be present during the inspection, so they can ask questions and get tips on properly caring for their new home. More here.

Income Has Risen But Will It Lead To Home Sales?

A rising number of Americans surveyed for Fannie Mae’s monthly Home Purchase Sentiment Index say their income is higher than it was last year at this time. But has more money made them more likely to buy or sell a house?

READ MORE