The Many Benefits of Aging in a Community
There’s comfort in being around people who share common interests, goals, and challenges. That comfort in a community doesn’t wane with age – it actually deepens. Whether it’s proudly talking about grandchildren or lamenting the fact that our eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, it helps to be around people who not only understand what we’re saying but actually feel the same joys and concerns as well.
That’s why many boomers are deciding to move into an active adult community. In the latest 55places National Housing Survey, they were described by one out of three seniors as an “outgoing, social community of likeminded people.”
Bill Ness, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of 55places.com, explains:
“Baby boomers are now reaching the age when moving to an active adult community is the ideal opportunity for them…Many boomers now want to downsize, experience a maintenance-free lifestyle, and pursue more social opportunities. It’s exciting that there are so many choices for baby boomers.”
There’s still a desire, however, among many seniors to “age-in-place.” According to the Senior Resource Guide, aging-in-place means:
“…that you will be remaining in your own home for the later years of your life; not moving into a smaller home, assisted living, or a retirement community etcetera.”
The challenge is, many seniors live in suburban or rural areas, and that often necessitates driving significant distances to see friends or attend other social engagements. A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) titled Housing America’s Older Adults addressed this exact concern:
“The growing concentration of older households in outlying communities presents major challenges for residents and service providers alike. Single-family homes make up most of the housing stock in low-density areas, and residents typically need to be able to drive to do errands, see doctors, and socialize.”
The Kiplinger report also chimed in on this subject:
“While most seniors say they want to age in place, a much smaller percentage of them actually manage to accomplish it, studies show. Transportation is often a problem; when you can no longer drive, you can’t get to medical appointments or to other outings.”
Driving may not be a challenge right now, but think about what it may be like to drive 10, 20, or 30 years down the road.
There are also health challenges brought on by a possible lack of socialization when living at home versus a community of seniors. Sarah J. Stevenson is an author who writes about seniors. In a recent blog post for A Place for Mom, she explains:
“Social contacts tend to decrease as we age for reasons such as retirement, the death of friends and family, or lack of mobility.”
Thankfully, research from the same article suggests if you’re spending time with others in a community, thus reducing the impact of loneliness and isolation, there’s less of a risk of developing high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, a weakened immune system, depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and early death.
Though the familiarity of our current home may bring a feeling of warmth, comfort, and convenience, it’s important to understand that staying there may mean missing out on crucial socialization opportunities. Living with adult children, joining a retirement community, or moving to an assisted living facility can help us continue to be with people we enjoy every day.
“Aging-in-place” definitely has its advantages, but it could mean getting “stuck-in-place” too. There are many health benefits derived from socialization with a community of people that shares common interests. It’s important to take the need for human interaction into consideration when making a decision about where to spend the later years in life.
How the Housing Market Benefits with Uncertainty in the World
It’s hard to listen to today’s news without hearing about the uncertainty surrounding global markets, the spread of the coronavirus, and tensions in the Middle East, just to name a few. These concerns have caused some to question their investment plans going forward. As an example, in Vanguard’s Global Outlook for 2020, the fund explains,
“Slowing global growth and elevated uncertainty create a fragile backdrop for markets in 2020 and beyond.”
Is there a silver lining to this cloud of doubt?
Some worry this could cause concern for the U.S. housing market. The uncertainty, however, may actually mean good news for real estate.
Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, discussed the situation in a recent report,
“Global events and uncertainty…impact the U.S. economy, and more specifically, the U.S. housing market…U.S. bonds, backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, are widely considered the safest investments in the world. When global investors sense increased uncertainty, there is a ‘flight to safety’ in U.S. Treasury bonds, which causes their price to go up, and their yield to go down.”
Last week, in a HousingWire article, Kathleen Howley reaffirmed Fleming’s point,
“The death toll from the coronavirus already has passed Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, that bruised the world’s economy in 2003…That’s making investors around the world anxious, and when they get anxious, they tend to sell off stocks and seek the safe haven of U.S. bonds. An increase in competition for bonds means investors, including the people who buy mortgage-backed bonds, have to take lower yields. That translates into lower mortgage rates.”
The yield from treasury bonds is the rate investors receive when they purchase the bond. Historically, when the treasury rate moves up or down, the 30-year mortgage rate follows. Here’s a powerful graph showing the relationship between the two over the last 48 years:How might concerns about global challenges impact the housing market in 2020? Fleming explains,
“Even a small change in the 10-year Treasury due to increased uncertainty, let’s say a slight drop to 1.6 percent, would imply a 30-year, fixed mortgage rate as low as 3.3 percent. Assuming no change in household income, that would mean a house-buying power gain of $21,000, a five percent increase.”
For a multitude of reasons, 2020 could be a challenging year. It seems, however, real estate will do just fine. As Fleming concluded in his report:
“Amid uncertainty, the house-buying power of U.S. consumers can benefit significantly.”
Homeownership Rate on the Rise to a 6-Year High
Regardless of the lack of inventory on the market, the U.S. homeownership rate has climbed to a 6-year high. The United States Census Bureau reported that it increased to 65.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019, representing the highest level in the past six years. See the graph below:This increase does not come as a surprise. According to realtor.com,
“The largest cohort of the millennial generation turns 30-years-old in 2020 and they are hitting the housing market in full force. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2019, millennials made up the largest generational segment of homebuyers, growing their share of home purchase mortgages to 48 percent.”
With so many Millennials entering a homebuying phase of life and getting into the market, the Millennial Report also explains,
“Homeownership is an even bigger goal for younger generations. Of those with savings, 41 percent of Gen Z and 40 percent of younger millennials are saving to buy a home.”
Today’s low interest rates are providing a break to new homeowners too, regardless of generation, making homeownership more desirable and achievable at the same time. Freddie Mac explains,
“The combination of very low mortgage rates, a strong economy and more positive financial market sentiment all point to home purchase demand continuing to rise over the next few months.”
The increase in homeownership rate was also represented by race and ethnicity of the householders. HousingWire explains,
“The homeownership rate for black Americans in 2019’s fourth quarter rose to 44%, a seven-year high, increasing from the record low it reached in 2019’s second quarter. The rate for Hispanic Americans was 48.1%, a two-year high, the Census data showed…The rate for white Americans was 73.7%, an eight-year high.”
If you’re considering buying a home this year, let’s get together to set a plan that will help you get one step closer to achieving your dream.
The Top States Americans Moved to Last Year [INFOGRAPHIC]
- Americans are on the move, and the most recent Atlas Van Lines Migration Patterns Survey tracked the 2019 traffic flow from state-to-state.
- Idaho held on to the top spot of ‘high inbound’ states for the second time since 2017, followed by Washington State.
- New York was the country’s outbound move leader in 2019, a designation it most recently held in 2014.
Does “Aging in Place” Make the Most Sense?
A desire among many seniors is to “age in place.” According to the Senior Resource Guide, the term means,
“…that you will be remaining in your own home for the later years of your life; not moving into a smaller home, assisted living, or a retirement community etcetera.”
There is no doubt about it – there’s a comfort in staying in a home you’ve lived in for many years instead of moving to a totally new or unfamiliar environment. There is, however, new information that suggests this might not be the best option for everyone. The familiarity of your current home is the pro of aging in place, but the potential financial drawbacks to remodeling or renovating might actually be more costly than the long-term benefits.
A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) titled Housing America’s Older Adults explained,
“Given their high homeownership rates, most older adults live in single-family homes. Of the 24 million homeowners age 65 and over, fully 80 percent lived in detached single-family units…The majority of these homes are now at least 40 years old and therefore may present maintenance challenges for their owners.”
If you’re in this spot, 40 years ago you may have had a growing family. For that reason, you probably purchased a 4-bedroom Colonial on a large piece of property in a child-friendly neighborhood. It was a great choice for your family, and you still love that home.
Today, your kids are likely grown and moved out, so you don’t need all of those bedrooms. Yard upkeep is probably very time consuming, too. You might be thinking about taking some equity out of your house and converting one of your bedrooms into a massive master bathroom, and maybe another room into an open-space reading nook. You might also be thinking about cutting back on lawn maintenance by installing a pool surrounded by beautiful paving stones.
It all sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? For the short term, you may really enjoy the new upgrades, but you’ll still have to climb those stairs, pay to heat and cool a home that’s larger than what you need, and continue fixing all the things that start to go wrong with a 40-year-old home.
Last month, in their Retirement Report, Kiplinger addressed the point,
“Renovations are just a part of what you need to make aging in place work for you. While it’s typically less expensive to remain in your home than to pay for assisted living, that doesn’t mean it’s a slam dunk to stay put. You’ll still have a long to-do list. Just one example: You need to plan ahead for how you will manage maintenance and care—for your home, and for yourself.”
So, at some point, the time may come when you decide to sell this house anyway. That can pose a big challenge if you’ve already taken cash value out of your home and used it to do the type of remodeling we mentioned above. Realistically, you may have inadvertently lowered the value of your home by doing things like reducing the number of bedrooms. The family moving into your neighborhood is probably similar to what your family was 40 years ago. They probably have young children, need the extra bedrooms, and may be nervous about the pool.
Before you spend the money to remodel or renovate your current house so you can age in place, let’s get together to determine if it is truly your best option. Making a move to a smaller home in the neighborhood might make the most sense.
How to Avoid a Gender Gap When Investing in the Housing Market
When buying a home, we all want to feel like we’re making the right decision, paying a fair price, and making the best investment of our lives. According to a recent gender-based study, men and women can unknowingly walk away with very different financial outcomes when the deal closes. Thankfully, if you follow some simple ways to arm yourself with the information you need to prepare in advance, you’re more likely to feel like you’ve won when the keys to your new house are in your pocket.
Kelly Shue and Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham of the Yale School of Management showed in their recent study The Gender Gap in Housing Returns, when single women invest in the housing market, they’re generally losing out compared to their male counterparts. The report explains,
“We find that single men earn one percentage point higher unlevered returns per year on housing investment relative to single women…The gender gap grows significantly larger after adjusting for mortgage borrowing: men earn 6 percentage points higher levered returns per year relative to women. Data on repeat sales reveal that women buy the same property for approximately 2% more and sell for 2% less.”
On National Public Radio (NPR), Kelly Shue elaborated by saying,
“Women are losing about $1,370 per year relative to men because they tend to buy the same house at a higher price and sell for a lower price.”
In the grand scheme of things, $1,370 a year could be as much as an entire month’s mortgage payment for many households in the United States.
How can you make sure this doesn’t happen to you?
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way for anyone, regardless of gender. Here are a few tips on how to make sure you’re prepped and ready to enter the housing market with your best foot forward.
1. Work with a Trusted Real Estate Professional
You need someone on your side who’s going to have your best interest in mind and support your unique homeownership goals. Hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying experience an educated one. You need someone who’s going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.
2. Understand the Homebuying Process
Know the key homebuying steps in advance, so you have the best context for how the process works from pre-approval to budgeting, inspections, and more. Have a price range in mind that you can realistically afford, too, so you’re ready to make an offer that positions you for success. Ask your agent questions along the way, and partner together so you feel confident and prepared at every turn.
3. Research the Current Market
Make sure you know the current trends and insights of the housing market as well. When you find a home that’s the perfect fit, determine what other homes are selling for in the neighborhood. These numbers can vary over time based on market conditions such as inventory, appreciation, and many other economic factors. A great agent will provide you with this information and guide you through every step from start to finish.
When you have a trusted advisor on your side and you’re confident you know exactly what’s happening in the market, you’ll be in a great position to negotiate effectively. Let’s get together today to make sure you’re ready to win the homebuying deal.
Where Have All the Houses Disappeared To?
If you’re following what’s happening in the current housing market, you’ve seen how the lack of newly constructed homes is a major reason there’s a shortage of housing inventory available to today’s buyers. Another reason is that the inventory of existing homes for sale is shrinking. According to the most recent Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), sales are up 10.8% from the same time last year. That exceeds expectations and is great news.
The troubling news from the report is that the sold inventory is not being replaced. As NAR explained,
“Total housing inventory at the end of December totaled 1.40 million units, down 14.6% from November and 8.5% from one year ago. Unsold inventory sits at a 3.0-month supply at the current sales pace, down from the 3.7-month figure recorded in both November and December 2018. Unsold inventory totals have dropped for seven consecutive months from year-ago levels, taking a toll on home sales.”
The situation was also addressed in a recent Zillow article stating,
“The number of for-sale homes in the U.S. is at its lowest point in at least seven years, and the shortage appears poised to get worse before it gets better.”
Bill McBride of Calculated Risk further noted,
“Inventory always decreases sharply in December as people take their homes off the market for the holidays. However, based on the data I’ve collected, this was the lowest level for inventory in at least three decades (the previous low was 1.43 million in December 1993).”
Why is inventory falling so dramatically? I thought the housing market had softened.
A year ago, that was the case – but the market shifted again. Skylar Olsen, Director of Economic Research at Zillow, explains,
“A year ago, a combination of a government shutdown, stock market slump and mortgage rate spike caused a long-anticipated inventory rise. That supposed boom turned out to be a short-lived mirage as buyers came back into the market and more than erased the inventory gains. As a natural reaction, the recent slowdown in home values looks like it’s set to reverse back to accelerating growth right as we head into home shopping season with demand outpacing supply.”
What does this mean if you’re a homeowner thinking of selling?
Now is a great time to consider putting your home on the market. The competition (number of houses on the market) has not been this low in decades. It’s best not to wait for the inventory (both existing homes and new construction) to increase in the spring, as it always does.
The supply of homes for sale is at a historic low. Buyer demand is surprisingly strong. Now would be a great time to sell.
First-Time Buyers Are Searching for Existing Homes This Year
In the latest Housing Trends Report, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) measured the share of adults planning to buy a home over the next 12 months. The report indicates the percentage of all buyers that will be first-time buyers looking to purchase a home grew from 58% in Q4 2018 to 63% in Q4 2019.
The results revealed,
“Millennials are the most likely generation to be making plans to purchase a home within a year (19%), followed by Gen Z (13%) and Gen X (12%)…Prospective buyers in the youngest two generations are primarily first-time buyers: 88% of Gen Z buyers and 78% of Millennial buyers are reaching out to homeownership for the first time in their lives.”
With a high demand from first-time homebuyers and a shortage of inventory in the current market, selling your existing home this year might be your best move. Why? Because when homebuyers begin their search, they’re not all looking for new construction. Many are eager to find a little charm and character in a place to call home – possibly yours.
In fact, according to the same study, there is a significant demand for existing homes:
“In terms of the type of home these prospective home buyers are interested in, 40% are looking to buy an existing home and 19% a newly-built home. The remaining 41% would buy either a new or existing home.”
With showing activity up among buyers and more new construction coming to market, as a homeowner, you have the opportunity to sell your existing house now and move up into a new one, or downsize into a home that better fits your current and ever-changing needs.
Not all buyers are looking for a newly built house. If you’re ready to take advantage of low mortgage rates and a high demand for your existing home, let’s get together to determine how we will market the charming details of your current house to potential buyers.
The 2 Surprising Things Homebuyers Really Want
In a market where current inventory is low, it’s normal to think buyers might be willing to give up a few desirable features in their home search in order to make finding a house a little easier. Don’t be fooled, though – there’s still an interest in the market for some key upgrades. Here’s a look at the two surprising things buyers seem to be searching for in today’s market, and how they’re impacting new home builds.
Homebuyers Are Not Giving Up Their Garages
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recently released an article showing the percentage of new single-family homes completed in 2018. The data reveals,
- 64% of new homes offer a 2-car garage
- 21% have a garage large enough to hold 3 or more cars
- 7% have a 1-car garage
- 7% do not include a garage or carport
- 1% have a carport
Homebuyers Are Not Giving Up Their Patios
Patios are on the radar for buyers as well. Community areas are often common amenities in new neighborhoods, but as it turns out, private outdoor spaces are quite desirable too. NAHB also found that,
“Of the roughly 876,000 single-family homes started in 2018, 59.4% came with patios…This is the highest the number has been since NAHB began tracking the series in 2005.”
Homebuyers are looking for garage space and outdoor patio living. If you’re a homeowner thinking of selling a house with these amenities, it appears buyers are willing to spring for those key features. Let’s get together today to determine the current value and demand for your home.