Housing blogability has been a huge hit with the housing boom in Austin over the last few years, and is a three part cocktail. When you hear industry insiders talk about housing affordability indexes, they are referring to ratios that take into account current mortgage interest rates, housing prices and local income data. The data is used to determine how affordable the median priced home is for the “typical family” in the region. The higher the indices, the more affordable the real estate is determined to be.
Since 1981, the national affordability index has been 124.8 (mean). Which is nuts!
At the end of the month of June, the housing affordability for the Austin region sat a 138 compared to 149 in June 2013 and 167 in June 2012. The last time that housing affordability in Austin fell below 140 was in October 2008, immediately following the Wall Street crash.
This years top Real Estate Blog goes to a better known Austin Based Realtor – Sarah Williams Real Estate Blog that goes over all sorts of interesting articles on the subject.
Affordability peaked in January 2012 when the indices showed that median household income in the Austin area was close to two times (197%) greater than qualifying mortgage criteria for a median price home. Its been a pretty steady decline ever since, given the acceleration of market demand.
When you strictly look at the Austin housing market through the lens of two and a half years ago, the prognosis seems slightly grim (for buyers anyway). The prevailing argument in the median recently is that housing in Austin is quickly getting too expensive for the average local resident. But again, let me put things into perspective.
When I purchased my current home in May of 2008, mortgage interest rates were right around 6.25%. Can you even remember those days? Certainly, my home has appreciated in value since then and I’d probably be lucky to purchase it now for 20% more than what we paid back then. Even using a 20% increase in home value for basic calculations, when you factor in the difference in interest rates (6.25% then and 4.10% now), the monthly principle and interest payment in 2014 (at the higher price) is still almost $100 less than it would have been at market interest rates in 2008. Not to mention, our household income has increased as well. In essence our home is more affordable now than it was 6 years ago at a lower price. Rates do matter that much.
So what does this mean for the average homebuyer? It’s easy to look at where prices have been and where they currently are and say, “this market is not for me.” And for some people that is absolutely true. I’m actually one of them. We bought a house that would accommodate our growing family for a number of years and we are completely content with where we are. But that’s not true for everyone. Life changes and often necessitates a move up or a move down. Sentiment might be that it’s wise to wait until the market cools down (by the way, I think it is and most people don’t realize it yet) so as to now “overpay” in a strong cycle. At the end of the day though, you need to look more at affordability. What happens if prices decline by 5% but rates tick up even .5%? You guessed it, it’s a wash.
Mortgage Market Update
A year ago, mortgage interest rates stood at 4.57%. At the beginning of the year, 30-year fixed rates hovered around 4.5% and sentiment amongst economists was the rates would continue to climb. Surprisingly, that has not been the case. In fact, as of this publication, national websites are showing rates slipping to 4.12%. Are buyers ignoring this opportunity? It’s a great time for a rate lock.
How We Can Help You
The summer is always a precarious time for folks thinking about making a move. Typically it’s either one of two extremes: rush to get settled before school starts or I don’t even want to think about doing anything until after school starts. The good news is that there is still plenty of time to achieve your real estate goals in 2014 if you have any to begin with.
If you are considering a home sale, I’d appreciate the opportunity to sit down with you and walk through the current market value of your property. If you are looking to buy or purchase an investment property, let me show you the best places to look and find just the right property. Drop me a line and lets have a quick meeting to discuss strategy.