Category Archives: national association of realtors

10 Lessons to Learn as the Housing Market Recovers

10 Lessons to Learn as the Housing Market Recovers.

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December Housing Report Suggests AR Market Returning to Normal Levels

December 2010 Housing Market Report

The Arkansas Realtors® Association released its December 2010 Housing Market Report today marking the end of tumultous year for the Arkansas housing market. 

“The report confirms what we’ve been saying all year – the end of the first time homebuyers tax credit created an exaggerated dip in the Arkansas housing market,” said Amy Glover Bryant, Director of Communications for the Association.  “We knew that once the tax credit ended their would be a slow down in sales activity; however, we believe this month’s report represents a return to what we would categorize as normal numbers.”

Today’s report shows that Arkansas home sales were down less than 5 percent from 2009.  For the month,  home sales are down less than 1 percent as compared with December 2009 sales.  The average price for a single-family home in Arkansas rose in 2010 by slightly less than 1 percent.   

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said sales nationally are on an uptrend. “December was a good finish to 2010, when sales fluctuate more than normal. The pattern over the past six months is clearly showing a recovery,” he said. “The December pace is near the volume we’re expecting for 2011, so the market is getting much closer to an adequate, sustainable level. The recovery will likely continue as job growth gains momentum and rising rents encourage more renters into ownership while exceptional affordability conditions remain.”

The following are links to the full Arkansas Realtors Association report for 42 counties in Arkansas (excel or PDF):

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/12295076/ARA_%20Housing_market_report_for_December_Media.xls
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/12295076/PDF%20of%20Dec%20Report.tif

 The following is a link to the full NAR release on December sales: http://www.realtor.org/press_room/news_releases/2011/01/sharp_rise

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House to House: Mortgage Interest Deduction Pays Dividends for Home Owners

           

House to House: Mortgage Interest Deduction Pays Dividends for Home Owners

Mortgage Interest Deduction Pays Dividends for Home Owners

Although recent reports of plans to eliminate or modify the mortgage interest deduction are widely exaggerated, the National Association of Realtors® will remain actively engaged to ensure that the nation’s 75 million home owners will continue to receive this important benefit.

            The Deficit Reduction Commission has released its recommendations toward reducing the U.S. deficit, which include modifying a number of popular tax breaks, including the mortgage interest deduction. President Obama created the 18-member, bipartisan commission earlier this year to identify ways to balance the budget by 2015. The commission does not have any legislative power, and the Arkansas Realtors® Association says that the commission’s report is just the first step of a lengthy process.

            “Now that the report has been published, it is reviewed by members of Congress who will decide if they want to incorporate any recommendations into legislation, although they are not required to do so,” said West Memphis Realtor® Mike Ford, Legislative Chairman, Arkansas Realtors® Association.

            “If altering the MID ever becomes a discussion point in Congress, the Realtor® community stands ready to defend it. The MID is both a powerful incentive for home ownership and one of the simplest provisions in the tax code.”

            The MID allows an individual to deduct mortgage interest paid on mortgage debt of up to $1 million. The deduction is available for interest on mortgages for a principal residence and one additional property. Individuals claiming the MID also must itemize their taxes.

            “The federal policy choice to support home ownership has been in the Internal Revenue Code since its inception,” said National Association of Realtors® President Ron Phipps. “We see no valid reason to undermine that basic decision. Indeed, we believe that the only viable tax system is one that would continue to nurture home ownership.”
            NAR estimates that any paring back of MID, whether at once or over time, would reduce home values by an average 15 percent. Phipps called that level of wealth destruction “unacceptable,” particularly since “this loss of value is never fully recouped” and it would come at a time when the U.S. economy can’t turn around without a stable housing sector.
            Phipps drew on NAR analyses of previous efforts to change tax policy, including 1986, 1996, and 2005 tax reform efforts, to show the detrimental impact changes such as curtailing deductions or turning some of them into credits would have on housing and the economy. Those analyses made clear that the changes were proposed without fully understanding their negative impact on households and communities.
            “Calling home ownership the American Dream is not a mere slogan,” said Phipps, “but rather it expresses a bedrock value. Owning a piece of property has been central to American values since Plymouth and Jamestown. Homes are the foundation of our culture, the place where families eat and learn together, the basis for community life. The cottage with a picket fence is an iconic part of our heritage.”

            The ability to deduct the interest paid on a mortgage can translate into significant savings at tax time. For example, a family who bought a home this year with a $200,000, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, assuming an interest rate of 4.5 percent, could save nearly $3,500 in federal taxes when they file next year.

            According to the most recent IRS tax return data available, 65 percent of families who claim the MID earn less than $100,000 per year. “Home owners already pay 80 percent to 90 percent of U.S. federal income tax, and among those who claim the MID, almost two-thirds are middle-income earners,” said NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “If the tax break is modified or eliminated, home values could fall 15 percent nationwide, as buyers discount the value of the MID in their purchase offers.”

            The ARA believes the MID saves the average home owner thousands of dollars at tax time and helps American home buyers get into their first house.

            “In today’s market, eight out of 10 home buyers must borrow money to buy a home,” said Ford.  “For aspiring home owners who don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings to buy a home outright, tax benefits like the mortgage interest deduction help them begin building their future through home ownership.”

♦♦♦

 House to House is written by Amy Glover Bryant, APR and distributed weekly by the Arkansas Realtors® Association

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Regulating Real Estate Professionals

If you have ever bought or sold real estate, you have undoubtedly employed the services of a real estate agent to guide and assist you through the process. Consumers are often uncertain who regulates real estate professionals.

Many real estate professionals are subject to two sets of rules. First, each jurisdiction has a governmental agency, typically referred to as the real estate commission, charged with the authority to issue licenses to real estate professionals and enforce related state laws and regulations. Additionally, many real estate professionals, after obtaining a license, choose to become members of a REALTOR® association, whose mission is to promote the profitability and success of its members. Those licensees agree to abide by a strict Code of Ethics, and the local REALTOR® association is responsible for assuring that members adhere to the Code.

Real Estate Commissions

Each jurisdiction has a real estate commission whose primary mission is to protect the public from unqualified real estate practitioners. As such, the real estate commission has the authority to implement and enforce real estate licensing laws. In keeping with this authority, the real estate commission serves various important functions, including:

• Authority to Issue a license, and monitor real estate activities.

• Establish requirements for maintenance of a real estate license, such as continuing education.

• Conduct investigations into alleged violations of jurisdiction licensing laws and regulations based on complaints filed by the public or on the real estate commission’s own motion.

• Perform routine audits of trust accounts.

• Enforce licensing laws and take disciplinary action against licensees who have been found in violation, including revoking their ability to practice licensed real estate activities in a respective jurisdiction.

Members of the public who suspect a real estate licensee has violated the licensing laws can direct their complaint to the real estate commission of the respective jurisdiction, which will then review the allegations and determine what action, if any, is appropriate for the jurisdiction to pursue.

REALTOR® Associations

Membership in a REALTOR® association is entirely voluntary, but carries with it the responsibility for each REALTOR® member to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics. Real estate professionals join their local REALTOR® association and, as part of their membership, they automatically become members of both the state REALTOR® association, and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The NAR Code of Ethics, which establishes a public and private standard of behavior for REALTOR® members when dealing with the public and other real estate professionals, is enforced at the local level through the local REALTOR® association. It is therefore the function and authority of the local REALTOR® association to:

• Conduct hearings into alleged violations of the NAR Code of Ethics.

• Take disciplinary action against a REALTOR® member, which can include the ordering of fines or revocation of a real estate professional’s membership in the REALTOR® association.

Similar to filing a complaint with the state real estate association, members of the public can also contact their local REALTOR® association and file a complaint where they suspect a violation of the Code of Ethics has occurred. It is important to understand, however, that a REALTOR® association does not have any authority over a real estate professional’s license, as this is the exclusive jurisdiction of the respective real estate commission. REALTOR® associations only discipline REALTOR® members for violations of the NAR Code of Ethics. For all other alleged wrong doing, consumers should contact the respective real estate commission or consult with an attorney.

In conclusion, real estate professionals are held to high standards under which they must conduct their business. The real estate commission enforces its license laws, while members of a REALTOR® association must agree to follow the NAR Code of Ethics. If a real estate professional fails to adhere to these standards, appropriate action can be taken.

This article was written by the National Association of REALTORS®, in collaboration with the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials.

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NAR Home Buyer and Seller Survey Shows Value of Long-Term Home Ownership

Home buyers today have affirmed a long-term view of home ownership, the typical seller is experiencing positive returns and the vast majority of home owners see their property as a good investment, according to the latest consumer survey of home buyers and sellers. The study was released here today at the 2010 REALTORS® Conference & Expo.

The 2010 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers is the latest in a series of large national NAR surveys evaluating demographics, preferences, marketing and experiences of recent home buyers and sellers.

Although typical sellers had been in their previous home for eight years, up from seven years in the 2009 study, first-time buyers plan to stay for 10 years and repeat buyers plan to hold their property for 15 years.

NAR 2010 President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz., said the pattern of home buyers taking a long-term view has solidified over the past few years. “This underscores two simple facts – home ownership encourages stability, and the longer you own, the better your investment.”

Even with several years of price declines, the typical seller who purchased a home eight years ago experienced a median equity gain of $33,000, a 24 percent increase, while sellers who were in their homes for 11 to 15 years saw a median gain of 40 percent.

“Sellers who purchased at the top of the market and had to sell in a short time frame were hurt by the price correction, but the vast majority who are able to stay for a normal period of home ownership generally built enough equity to make a trade-up purchase,” Golder said. “Despite swings in the housing market in recent years, the fact is most long-term owners see healthy gains in the value of their property.”

House flipping is virtually nonexistent in today’s market. “The primary exception is for experienced investors, many of whom pay cash and are making renovations or improvements after a careful study of properties, neighborhoods and market demand,” Golder explained. “The house flipping and quick gains which occurred during the boom period were abnormal, driven by risky, easy-money financing that should never have been allowed in the market.”

In the 2006 study, covering sellers during the close of the housing boom, 6 percent of sellers had owned their property for less than a year and a total of 30 percent had owned for three years or less. In the 2010 study, only 3 percent had owned their home for less than a year and a total of 11 percent had owned for three years or less.

Paul Bishop, NAR vice president of research, said the lion’s share of buyers view their home as a good investment. “Eighty-five percent of recent home buyers see their home as a good investment, and nearly half think that investment is better than stocks,” he said. “Even with the turmoil created by the housing boom and bust, this indicates the long-term view of home ownership as a fundamental goal and value remains sound. In fact, the single biggest reason most people buy a home is the simple desire to own a home of their own, cited by 31 percent of respondents, including 53 percent of first-time buyers.”

The next biggest reasons for buying, identified by all home buyers, were desire for a larger home, 9 percent; a change in family situation and the home buyer tax credit, cited by 8 percent each; a job-related move, 7 percent; and the affordability of homes, 6 percent. Twelve other categories were 5 percent or less.

The number of first-time home buyers rose to a record high 50 percent of all home sales from 47 percent in the 2009 study, building on success of the home buyer tax credit which began in 2009. The previous cyclical high for first-time buyers was 44 percent in 1991; records date back to 1981.

The profile shows the median age of first-time buyers was 30 and the median income was $59,900. The typical first-time buyer purchased a 1,540 square foot home costing $152,000, with 93 percent using the first-time buyer tax credit.

First-time buyers who made a downpayment used a variety of sources: 74 percent used savings, 27 percent received a gift from a friend or relative, typically from their parents, and 9 percent received a loan from a relative or friend. Eight percent tapped into a 401(k) fund, and 6 percent sold stocks or bonds. Ninety-five percent chose a fixed-rate mortgage.

The shares of entry-level buyers receiving a gift or loan were modestly higher than 2009 when 22 percent received a gift and 6 percent a loan from a relative or friend. “It appears more parents were motivated to help their children to take advantage of the home buyer tax credit and very favorable affordability conditions,” Bishop said.

Fifty-six percent of entry level buyers financed their purchase with an FHA loan, while another 7 percent used the VA loan program. Forty-two percent said financing their first home was more difficult than expected and 9 percent had been rejected by a lender.

Fifty-eight percent of all buyers are married couples, 20 percent are single women, 12 percent single men, 8 percent unmarried couples and 1 percent other.

Bishop noted that women buyers have accounted for roughly one out of five transactions since the late 1990s, and single men have been at the one in 10 level since 1981. “A modest increase in the share of single men buyers may result from the home buyer tax credit, but this is the highest share for single men in the history of the study,” he said.

Buyers searched a median of 12 weeks and viewed 12 homes. Fourteen percent of buyers own two or more homes.

The typical repeat buyer was 49 years old, earned $87,000, and purchased a 2,000 square foot home costing $215,000.

The median downpayment of all home buyers was 8 percent, ranging from 4 percent for first-time buyers to 14 percent for repeat buyers.

The median age of home sellers was 49 and their income was $90,000. Sellers moved a median distance of 18 miles and their home was on the market for 8 weeks, down from 10 weeks in the 2009 survey. Half traded up in size, 28 percent bought a comparably sized home and 21 percent traded down.

Sixty-four percent of sellers chose their agent based on a referral or had used the same agent in the past. Reputation was the most important factor in choosing an agent, cited by 35 percent of respondents, followed by trustworthiness at 23 percent. Eighty-four percent of sellers are likely to use the same agent again or recommend to others.

Forty-four percent of sellers offered incentives to attract buyers, such as home warranties or assistance with closing costs. The typical home sold for 96 percent of the listing price, compared with 95 percent in the 2009 profile.

Home buyers thought the most important services agents offer are helping find the right house, and negotiating sales terms and price. Buyers also most commonly choose an agent based on a referral from a friend, neighbor or relative, with trustworthiness and reputation being the most important factors.

Buyers use a wide variety of resources in searching for a home: 89 percent surf the Internet, 88 percent use real estate agents, 57 percent yard signs, 45 percent attend open houses and 36 percent look at print or newspaper ads. Although buyers also use other resources, they generally start the search process online and then contact an agent.

When asked where they first learned about the home purchased, 38 percent of buyers said the Internet; 37 percent of buyers from a real estate agent; 11 percent a yard sign or open house; 6 percent from a friend, neighbor or relative; 4 percent home builders; 2 percent a print or newspaper ad; 2 percent directly from the seller; and less than 1 percent from a home book or magazine.

Eighty-five percent of home buyers who used the Internet to search for a home purchased through a real estate agent, while 70 percent of non-Internet users were more likely to purchase directly from a builder or from an owner they already knew in a private transaction.

Local metropolitan multiple listing service websites were the most popular Internet resource, used by 59 percent of buyers; followed by Realtor.com, 45 percent; real estate company sites, 43 percent; real estate agent websites, 42 percent; other websites with real estate listings, 41 percent; and for-sale-by-owner sites, 15 percent; other categories were smaller.

Seventy-seven percent of all buyers purchased a detached single-family home, 9 percent a condo, 8 percent a townhouse or rowhouse, and 6 percent some other kind of housing.

Commuting costs continue to factor strongly in buyer decisions, with three-quarters of buyers saying transportation costs were important.

Environmentally friendly features remain a significant factor: 88 percent of buyers said that heating and cooling costs were important, 71 percent desired energy efficient appliances, and 69 percent wanted energy efficient lighting.

Fifty-two percent of all homes purchased were in a suburb or subdivision, 18 percent were in an urban area, 17 percent in a small town, 11 percent in a rural area and 1 percent in a resort or recreation area. The median distance from the previous residence was 12 miles.

Not surprisingly, for-sale-by-owner transactions reached a record low, accounting for 9 percent of sales in the 2010 study, down from 11 percent in 2009. The share of homes sold without professional representation has trended down since reaching a cyclical peak of 18 percent in 1997. “In a market as challenging as today, it’s clear most home sellers need professional assistance,” Bishop said.

As seen in previous studies, many FSBO properties were not placed on the open market. Factoring out private sales between parties who knew each other in advance such as family or acquaintances, the actual number of homes sold on the open market without professional assistance was a record low 5 percent – the rest were unrepresented sellers in private transactions. The market share of open-market FSBOs is half of what it was six years ago – 10 percent were sold on the open market in 2004.

The median home price for sellers who used an agent was $199,300 vs. $140,000 for a home sold directly by an owner, but there were important differences. The median income of unassisted sellers was $64,000, in contrast with $93,200 for agent-assisted sellers. Unassisted sellers were much more likely to be selling a somewhat smaller home, and they were more likely to be in a rural area. Combined, these factors suggest a lower value for FSBO properties.

The most difficult tasks reported by unrepresented sellers are getting the right price, preparing and fixing the home for sale, understanding and performing paperwork, and selling within the planned length of time.
NAR mailed an eight-page questionnaire in July 2010 to a national sample of 111,004 home buyers and sellers who purchased their homes between July 2009 and June 2010, according to county records. It generated 8,449 usable responses; the adjusted response rate was 7.9 percent. All information is characteristic of the 12-month period ending in June 2010 with the exception of income data, which are for 2009. Because of rounding and omissions for space, percentage distributions for some findings may not add up to 100 percent.
The 2010 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers can be ordered by calling 800-874-6500, or online at http://www.realtor.org/prodser.nsf/Research. The study is free for NAR members though the end of 2010 but costs $125 for non-members.

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This year, NAR is teaming up with two great organizations – New Orleans Habitat for Humanity® and Rebuilding Together® New Orleans – to rebuild and restore homes for deserving families. Kent Dover, Cindy Magnoni Meyers and Andy Meyers from the Arkansas Realtors® Association sent these photos back to the Little Rock office.

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House to House: Today’s Home Buyers Experience Significant Benefits, Savings

Buying a home can be a life-changing decision and one that many people take seriously, especially in this market. Part of becoming a responsible homeowner is weighing every aspect of the decision before buying, including lifestyle preferences, job and financial situation and affordability. Fortunately for anyone who’s considering buying a home right now, current housing affordability conditions can benefit today’s buyers for years to come.

According to economists at the National Association of Realtors®, NAR’s housing affordability index could potentially reach an all-time high of near 200 in the second half of this year. That means that a household making the median income today would have twice the income necessary to buy a median-priced home in the U.S. Historically, over the past 40 years the average affordability index was 118.

The Arkansas Realtors® Association says housing affordability has increased recently due to rock bottom mortgage rates – the lowest on record. Rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage are hovering around 4.4 percent. The average wage rate has made modest gains- as well. Despite the high unemployment rate, the average wage rate rose three percent in 2009 and is up 1.2 percent this year-to-date.

“For people who are ready to buy, today’s housing affordability is really helping them invest in their future through homeownership,” said Andy Meyers of Meyers Realty in Hot Springs and President-elect of the Arkansas Realtors® Association. “On a nationwide basis, the affordability conditions have risen to compelling levels. In Arkansas, as in the rest of the country, it truly is a buyer’s market. Prices are low and there are plenty of fantastic homes from which to choose.”

Today’s affordability conditions are saving buyers thousands of dollars a year. Consider a buyer who purchased a median-priced home five years ago with an FHA mortgage. With the required 3 percent down payment for an FHA mortgage, their monthly payment would have been $1,650. Today, with the current interest rate and median prices, that buyer would pay a monthly mortgage of $1,150. That equals a $500 savings per month or a $6,000 savings per year.

“The savings today’s buyers are receiving are not a one-time benefit,” said Meyers. “Buyers with fixed-rate mortgages will save money every year they are living in their home. This is truly an example of how homeownership builds wealth over the long term.”

In addition to favorable affordability conditions, there have been 763,000 private sector job creations from the beginning of the year to August. NAR says affordability and job creation are a move in the right direction for the housing market.

“Of course, jobs must return to the market for many Americans to even consider homeownership,” said Meyers. “But buyers who have reviewed their finances and believe they are in a secure position to become homeowners have an opportunity to take advantage of affordability conditions in today’s market and enjoy the social and financial benefits of homeownership for years to come.”

Want to learn more about the benefits of home ownership? Ask your local Realtor® or visit http://www.ArkansasRealtors.com for a list of 10 Reasons You Should Buy A Home Now.

♦♦♦

House to House is written by Amy Glover Bryant and distributed weekly by the Arkansas Realtors® Association.

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