Without elaboration, the year 2017 was tumultuous on the real estate and political front. How often can one say that the forces of market dynamics are shaped by the very few, for the very many. Not often, really. And keeping consistent with last year’s predictions, the following will be referred to as “Sidney’s Pix Six”. So notwithstanding that diversion, let’s keep focused on the positive developments yet to come in 2018.
The Tortoise and the Hare paradigm
The good news for 2017 is that there was overall appreciation, the bad news of that development is that 2018 is posed to be slower given the lack of inventory. The popular website Zillow noted that housing stock fell 10.5% in the year ending November 2017. Zillow economist Rhonda Olsen stated that the low inventory “drove all the dynamics that we saw, from bidding war in the hottest U.S. housing markets, to the incredibly fast home value appreciation” across the country, but with 653,347 homes for sale ending November 2016, and in November 2017 there was 967,604, this portends a slowdown in home sales in 2018.
In my predictions last year I made a special notation of Millennials. This year is no different. It is anticipated that single Millennials will be more likely than not to own a home, versus previous generations of singles before them.
Patience is a virtue
According to David Blitzer, head of the Index Committee at S&P, “Underlying the rising prices for both new and existing homes are low interest rates, low unemployment and continuing economic growth. Some of these favorable factors may shift in 2018,” However, Blitzer cautions that optimism that prices will in fact increase in 2018, but that the rate of increase will be notably slower.
It pays to rent
The age old maxim has usually been that it’s better to buy a home then to rent. However, for all of those naysayers out there who have pestered others to own a home instead of buying, it appears that they actually may be wrong, at least for some real estate markets. “Since home prices are rising faster than wages, salaries, and inflation, some areas could see potential home buyers compelled to look at renting” particularly in expensive West Coast cities, noted Blitzer, from S&P.
Four is the Lucky number for interest rates
By all accounts and based on a wide sampling of real estate economists, mortgage interest rates on the 30-year mortgage, should hover around 4.0% to 4.5% for 2018. However, don’t get too excited, since according to my numerology friends, Number 4 is actually considered inauspicious in traditional Chinese feng shui. This is so since it sounds like “death” in Cantonese.
Affordability and race
The color line in real estate home ownership is well documented. Which is to say, that home ownership will not likely increase for the black and brown in this country. With a new HUD director put in place last year, the agenda for increasing those numbers appears only to be lip service. As it stands, the high watermark for black and brown families plateaued in 2007 with the housing bust. They have not regained thus far. According to many economists, those numbers could change direction if new programs were rolled out by the government to encourage home ownership. Growth could be accelerated if new zoning regulations made it easier for developers to offer subsided housing via co-ops, condos and high density locations for example, where the black and brown are most densely populated.
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