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LA Digs - Northeast LA Real Estate Blog

Welcome to LA Digs, the real estate and Northeast Los Angeles community blog written by Realtors Tracy King and Keely Myres.

Here, we share tips, market updates, and local news bits to keep you informed on what's happening in Northeast Los Angeles and the surrounding neighborhoods. Read on to learn about the latest in your neighborhood!

How Changing Mortgage Rates Can Affect You

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate has been bouncing between 6% and 7% this year. If you’ve been on the fence about whether to buy a home or not, it’s helpful to know exactly how a 1%, or even a 0.5%, mortgage rate shift affects your purchasing power.

The chart below helps show the general relationship between mortgage rates and a typical monthly mortgage payment:

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Even a 0.5% change can have a big impact on your monthly payment. And since rates have been moving between 6% and 7% for a while now, you can see how it impacts your purchasing power as rates go down.

What This Means for You

You may be tempted to put your homebuying plans on hold in hopes that rates will fall. But that can be risky. No one knows for sure where rates will go from here, and trying to time them for your benefit is tough. Lisa Sturtevant, Housing Economist at Bright MLSexplains:

“It is typically a fool’s errand for a homebuyer to try to time rates in this market . . . But volatility in mortgage rates right now can have a real impact on buyers’ monthly payments.”

That’s why it’s critical to lean on your expert real estate advisors to explore your mortgage options, understand what impacts mortgage rates, and plan your homebuying budget around today’s volatility. They’ll also be able to offer advice tailored to your specific situation and goals, so you have what you need to make an informed decision.

Bottom Line

Your ability to buy a home could be impacted by changing mortgage rates. If you’re thinking about making a move, let’s connect so you have a strong plan in place.

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What Does it Mean to be in a Seller's Market?

Even though activity in the housing market has slowed from the frenzy we saw over a year ago, today’s low supply of homes for sale is still a sellers’ market. But what does that really mean? And why are conditions today so good if you want to list your house?

It starts with the number of homes available for sale. The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows housing supply is still astonishingly low. Today, we have a 2.6-month supply (this is nationally, although a very similar trend in our Northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods) of homes at the current sales pace. Historically, a 6-month supply is necessary for a ‘normal’ or ‘neutral’ market in which there are enough homes available for active buyers (see graph below):

What Does This Mean for You?

When the supply of homes for sale is as low as it is right now, it’s much harder for buyers to find one to purchase. That creates increased competition among purchasers and keeps upward pressure on prices. And if buyers know they’re not the only one interested in a home, they’re going to do their best to submit a very attractive offer. As this happens, sellers are positioned to negotiate deals that meet their ideal terms. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, says:

“Inventory levels are still at historic lows. Consequently, multiple offers are returning on a good number of properties.”

Right now, there are still buyers who are ready, willing, and able to purchase a home. If you list your house right now in good condition and at the right price, it could get a lot of attention from competitive buyers.

Bottom Line

Today’s sellers’ market holds great opportunities for homeowners ready to make a move. Listing your house now will maximize your exposure to serious, competitive buyers. Let’s connect to discuss how to jumpstart the selling process.

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Navigating Home Prices in 2023

Over the past year, home prices have been a widely debated topic. Some have said we’ll see a massive drop in prices and that this could be a repeat of 2008 – which hasn’t happened. Others have forecasted a real estate market that could see slight appreciation or depreciation depending on the area of the country. And as we get closer to the spring real estate market, experts are continuing to forecast what they believe will happen with home prices this year and beyond.

Selma Hepp, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, says:

While 2023 kicked off on a more optimistic note for the U.S. housing market, recent mortgage rate volatility highlights how much uncertainty remains. Nevertheless, the continued shortage of for-sale homes is likely to keep price declines modest, which are projected to top out at 3% peak to trough.”

Additionally, every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts regarding their five-year expectations for future home prices in the United States. Here’s what they said most recently:

 

So, given this information and what experts are saying about home prices, the question you might be asking is: should I buy a home this spring? Here are three reasons you should consider making a move:

  1. Buying a home helps you escape the cycle of rising rents. Over the past several decades, the median price of rent has risen consistently. The bottom line is, rent is going up.

  2. Homeownership is a hedge against inflation. A key advantage of homeownership is that it’s one of the best hedges against inflation. When you buy a home with a fixed-rate mortgage, you secure your housing payment, so it won’t go up like it would if you rent.

  3. Homeownership is a powerful wealth-building tool. The average net worth of a homeowner is $255,000 compared to $6,300 for a renter.

Experts are projecting slight price depreciation in the housing market this year, followed by steady appreciation. Given that, you may be wondering if you should move ahead with buying a home this spring. The decision to purchase a home is best made when you do it knowing all the facts and have an expert on your side.

Bottom Line

Reach out to a local real estate professional to make the most informed decision about your next move.

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Why Today’s Housing Market Isn’t Headed for a Crash

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67% of Americans say a housing market crash is imminent in the next three years. With all the talk in the media lately about shifts in the housing market, it makes sense why so many people feel this way. But there’s good news. Current data shows today’s market is nothing like it was before the housing crash in 2008.

Back Then, Mortgage Standards Were Less Strict

During the lead-up to the housing crisis, it was much easier to get a home loan than it is today. Banks were creating artificial demand by lowering lending standards and making it easy for just about anyone to qualify for a home loan or refinance an existing one.

As a result, lending institutions took on much greater risk in both the person and the mortgage products offered. That led to mass defaults, foreclosures, and falling prices. Today, things are different, and purchasers face much higher standards from mortgage companies.

The graph below uses data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) to help tell this story. In this index, the higher the number, the easier it is to get a mortgage. The lower the number, the harder it is.

This graph also shows just how different things are today compared to the spike in credit availability leading up to the crash. Tighter lending standards have helped prevent a situation that could lead to a wave of foreclosures like the last time.

Foreclosure Volume Has Declined a Lot Since the Crash

Another difference is the number of homeowners that were facing foreclosure when the housing bubble burst. Foreclosure activity has been lower since the crash, largely because buyers today are more qualified and less likely to default on their loans. The graph below uses data from ATTOM to show the difference between last time and now:

So even as foreclosures tick up, the total number is still very low. And on top of that, most experts don’t expect foreclosures to go up drastically like they did following the crash in 2008. Bill McBride, Founder of Calculated Risk, explains the impact a large increase in foreclosures had on home prices back then – and how that’s unlikely this time.



“The bottom line is there will be an increase in foreclosures over the next year (from record level lows), but there will not be a huge wave of distressed sales as happened following the housing bubble. The distressed sales during the housing bust led to cascading price declines, and that will not happen this time.”

The Supply of Homes for Sale Today Is More Limited

For historical context, there were too many homes for sale during the housing crisis (many of which were short sales and foreclosures), and that caused prices to fall dramatically. Supply has increased since the start of this year, but there’s still a shortage of inventory available overall, primarily due to years of underbuilding homes.

The graph below uses data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to show how the months’ supply of homes available now compares to the crash. Today, unsold inventory sits at just 2.7-months’ supply at the current sales pace, which is significantly lower than the last time. There just isn’t enough inventory on the market for home prices to come crashing down like they did last time, even though some overheated markets may experience slight declines.

Bottom Line

If recent headlines have you worried we’re headed for another housing crash, the data above should help ease those fears. Expert insights and the most current data clearly show that today’s market is nothing like it was last time.

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What Buyer Activity Tells Us About the Housing Market

Though the housing market is no longer experiencing the frenzy of a year ago, buyers are showing their interest in purchasing a home. According to U.S. News:

“Housing markets have cooled slightly, but demand hasn’t disappeared, and in many places remains strong largely due to the shortage of homes on the market.”

That activity can be seen in the latest ShowingTime Showing Index, which is a measure of buyers actively touring available homes (see graph below):

The 62% jump in showings from December to January is one of the largest on record. There were also more showings in January than in any other month since last May. As you can see in the graph, it’s normal for showings to increase early in the year, but the jump this January was larger than usual, and a lot of that has to do with mortgage rates. Michael Lane, VP of Sales and Industry at ShowingTime+, explains:

“It’s typical to see a seasonal increase in home showings in January as buyers get ready for the spring market, but a larger increase than any January before after last year’s rapid cooldown is significant. Mortgage rate activity this spring will play a big role in sales activity, but January’s home showings are a positive sign that buyers are getting back out there . . .”

It's important to note that mortgage rates hovered in the low 6% range in January, which played a role in the high number of showings. What does this mean? When mortgage rates eased, buyer interest climbed. The jump in home showings early this year makes one thing clear – while rates may be volatile right now, there are interested buyers out there, and when mortgage rates are favorable, they’re ready to make their move. 

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