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by Hadley Malcolm, CNBC.com
A low credit score thwarted Marie Kapelke and her husband Mike Biethan’s plans to try to buy a house early last year.
When the couple, both 26, met with a mortgage specialist in December 2013, they found out Biethan would need to improve his score in order for them to get pre-approved for a mortgage. In fact, neither of them knew their credit scores before meeting with the banker, but they were ready to buy their first home after living in Seattle for about six years.
“We found out, OK your credit score really affects your interest rate,” Kapelke says. Biethan worked to improve his score over the past year, and the two revisited homeownership in the fall. They closed on a townhouse in West Seattle last month.
With rents rising into unaffordable territory, housing inventory up and mortgage rates hovering below 4%, 2015 may prove to be the year of homeownership for millions of Millennials. Real estate website Zillowpredicts Millennials will overcome Gen X as the largest group of home buyers this year — more than half of 18- to 34-year-olds said they plan to buy a house in the next one to five years, according to a survey by Zillow last summer.
But after putting away enough savings, the biggest hurdle for Millennial buyers may be the learning curve that comes with understanding the process, as well as a host of new financial terms, trade-offs and commitments to consider.
It’s a stressful process, especially when you’ve never done it before, recent first-time Millennial buyers say. Kenny Coleman, 25, bought his first place — a loft-style apartment in Cincinnati — in December. He says the first bank he went to for a mortgage wasn’t good at explaining the financing process to a first-timer. “They used all this jargon,” he says. “And they’re talking about all these different insurances.” Coleman, who says the process took him from “complete idiot to pretty well versed” in a matter of weeks, ultimately went to a different bank that was willing to give him a fixed-rate mortgage instead of an adjustable-rate mortgage.
Heading into the popular spring selling season, some real estate companies say they’re already seeing interest spike from new buyers. Listings for townhouses and starter homes have seen more traffic in the past month on john greene Realtor’s website, says Scott Parker, vice president and sales manager.
“There are Millennials on the sidelines that when we provide the right supply on the market are going to be very curious and interested in buying,” he says.
By Adam DeSanctis, Realtor.org
Despite low inventory conditions, existing-home sales bounced back in December and climbed above an annual pace of 5 million sales for the sixth time in seven months, according to the National Association of Realtors, median home prices for 2014 rose to their highest level since 2007, but total sales fell 3.1 percent from 2013.
Total existing home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million in December from a downwardly-revised 4.92 million in November. From a year ago, December sales were higher by 3.5 percent and are now above year-over-year levels for the third straight month.
For all of 2014, there were 4.93 million sales, a 3.1 percent decline from 2013 (5.09 million). The national median existing-home price was $208,500, the highest since 2007 ($219,000) and a 5.8 percent increase from 2013 ($197,100).
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sales picked up in December to close a 2014 that got off to a sluggish start but showed encouraging signs of activity the second half of the year. “Home sales improved over the summer once inventory increased, prices moderated and economic growth accelerated,” he said. “Sales were measurably better in the second half – up 8 percent compared to the first six months of the year.”
Total housing inventory2 at the end of December dropped 11.1 percent to 1.85 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.4-month supply at the current sales pace – down from 5.1 months in November. Unsold inventory is now 0.5 percent lower than a year ago (1.86 million).
“A drop in housing supply in December raises some affordability concerns in the months ahead as minimal selection and the potential for faster price appreciation could offset the demand from buyers encouraged by a stronger economy and sub-4 percent interest rates,” says Yun. “Housing costs – both rents and home prices – continue to outpace wages and are burdensome for potential buyers trying to save for a downpayment while looking for available homes in their price range.”
ERA Lambros would like to congratulate Bill Bucher, Ed Coffman, Karen Reyner, John Sinrud, Sandra Brown, and Tillie and Tony Marshall on earning Top Producer for the month of December! Visit any of our offices in western Montana for the most professional and knowledgeable real estate agents in the business.
By Damian Maldonado – CNBC
The housing market has, by many measures, turned a corner. With the potential for interest rates to move higher, there is much to expect in 2015. Here are five trends to spot: