What Do Buyers and Sellers need to Know Now About Rising Interest RatesInterest rates have been rising, and we expect they could rise further. The primary reason is the Fed has indicated it will raise rates by scaling back or ending the quantitative easing as the economy improves. We’re not there yet, but writing from the Fed is on the wall and it’s spooked the bond markets. What Do Buyers and Sellers need to Know Now About Rising Interest Rates?

30 year mortgage rates have risen over 1% in the past 7 weeks. You’ve probably heard Realtors say “Now is a great time to buy with rates so low.” Here’s what you need to know about rising rates as a buyer or a seller.

Buyers, in the past month or two you just lost about 10% purchasing power. Your income won’t buy as much as it did back in May. Did you get a 10% raise this year? Most people didn’t, but the cost of buying a home is going up.

For most buyers the increase in rates means they’ll have to buy less home. Their income didn’t go up, so they either have to put more money down or borrow less on the same income. This isn’t a pleasing thought to many homebuyers as inventory levels have been low and prices have risen about 20% over last year. Buyers are getting squeezed at both ends, and rates may get worse.

If you’re living in an apartment or renting a home, now may be a time to get serious about your options. Prices usually stagnate this time of year. See last week’s article. However, SW Florida is adding two new companies with employees who will either be looking to rent or buy, so this will add to the pressure on the inventory. Who knows how this will affect prices. There are several variables in play for our local market.

Construction has been picking up to help with the shortage of resale homes but that takes time. Waiting to buy a home in today’s market has cost buyers dearly. They either have to pony up more money or accept that they’ll have to sacrifice the location they desire or features in the home. Of course, expectations are all relative. A buyer will afford less than a few months ago, but considerably more than back in 2005, so it’s all relative.

Sellers, don’t get too confident here either. Yes, prices have been rising, but they typically do during season. See last week’s article (June SW Florida Real Estate Market Update), or visit our Blog at http://blog.topagent.com

Buyers have just lost 10% purchasing power. Even though we have low inventory levels this means that fewer buyers now qualify for your home. They may still qualify, but for lesser homes. If rising rates knock enough buyers down the ladder it can affect the market. Our market has been doing well the past few years and prices have risen. We’ve had low rates the entire time and now that rates are rising, it will damper further increases. Until we get this economy humming like it should there is a cap to how fast prices will climb.

Nobody knows the future on the speed of prices. We do know 2 companies are coming, and many up North are buying for retirement or enjoyment. We also know rates are rising. How these positive and negative forces counter balance each other will be interesting to watch.

Our advice would be: Buyers, get your ducks in order and call us soon. Even if prices stay where they are for awhile, rising rates will hurt you.

Sellers, don’t get too cocky. Rising rates will hurt buyers, and if it hurts buyers, it could eventually hurt you as the seller. Plus, if you’re selling and buying another home, waiting to sell could cost you if you’ll be getting a mortgage on your next home.

If you’re thinking about your options, it would probably pay to sit down with us and discuss it. This is one of those times when waiting to see what happens may cost you. Or feel free to search the MLS at www.Topagent.com to see what’s out there.

Good luck and happy buying/selling!!!

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Official housing numbers for May are in and both the median and average sales price are up over 20% over last year.  The results are noteworthy and we expect the market to ride similar margins throughout the year, but the big gain in prices may have subsided for a bit. June SW Florida Real Estate Market Update.

June SW Florida Real Estate Market Update
SW Florida Home Prices

A few months ago we warned that prices were rising steadily however this is a trend we’ve seen repeat over the past several years only to watch the market cap out for the year around April-May.  In several past articles we pointed out that beginning in May we’ll be watching the month over month prices to see how the market is faring in real time.

This month we decided to post a historical price graph dating back to January 2009 illustrating the median single family home in Lee County Florida. Sometimes agents will make predictions based upon gut feelings on what they perceive is going on in the market.  While this gut feeling can be a useful tool, it can also be deceiving.  In the past I’ve spoken with different agents in a given month.  One would be super busy and another would be having a lull, for whatever reasons.  You can just guess which agent was more optimistic and which was more pessimistic that month.

We prefer to make predictions based on facts, data, and logic.  Yes we’ll throw in a feeling from the street if we hear changes in buyer’s or lending activity, but it has to be founded on some mathematical data to be meaningful.  We try to pull out numbers that are meaningful and not just stats, because as you know, anyone can make stats say about anything.

May numbers are in and they’re actually down from April’s numbers.  May’s median price was $176,330 compared to April’s $182,000.  May’s average price was $288,547 compared to April’s $292,201.  If you look at the graph you’ll see this trend has occurred each year beginning about May for the past 3 years.  Back in 2008 we predicted 2009 would be a year of bouncing along the bottom and that’s what it did.  There just wasn’t a lot of price swings.

January of 2011 was the beginning of the breakout in prices.  Listing inventory fell again in May and pending sales are up, so why didn’t prices increase?  The answer is our more expensive properties sell when we have the most affluent buyers here which is in season.  We still have strong sales all year round, but not as many higher end sales.  New pending sales have ranged from 1,465 to 1,485 from March through May.  It’d probably be higher if we had more inventory, but not necessarily the prices.

Remember, all real estate is local.  This means that even though the market may plateau for awhile, there can still be pockets where prices increase.  The whole market doesn’t march in unison.  The low end could be appreciating while the high end is suffering.  We’ve seen instances where prices get a little ahead of themselves in Cape Coral so people started buying in Lehigh because it offered more value.  Sure, Cape Coral off water has always held a premium over Lehigh, but there are limits and we saw those back in the big buildup in 2004 and 2005.

The same can be true with any area.  If waterfront prices shot up instantly in Fort Myers at some point buyers would move over to waterfront in Cape Coral.  Fort Myers may hold a premium, but there is a limit.

Next month will be most interesting to see how the numbers fare.  It really sets us up for the balance of the year if recent history has anything to say.  of course, we all know recent history can be trumped by future news, so we’re also keeping our eye on the bond markets and how that will affect interest rates, the economy, taxes, etc.

Stay tuned.  If you’re in the market to buy, heed the warnings!  Interest rates are on the rise.  Waiting will cost you money.  A month or so ago we posted on our Blog how the Fed’s pullback of QE (Quantitative Easing) may impact the stock market and affect interest rates.  You may want to check out that article (May 23) at Is Stock Market Ready to Make a Move?

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