Patience and Strategy: The Keys to Buying a Home in 2021
The Dunwoody market is exceptionally hot, but the question many homebuyers are facing this year: “Why is it so hard to find a house?” is happening all over the country. We’re in the ultimate seller’s market, which means real estate is ultra-competitive for buyers right now. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes homes are getting an average of 4.8 offers per sale, and that number keeps rising.
Why? Low, low inventory. Simple economoics of supply and demand. Fewer houses to sell; more buyers than homes available. And all this is partially a factor of a decline in construction.
While many homeowners paused their plans to sell during the height of the pandemic, this isn’t the main cause of today’s huge gap between supply and demand. Sam Khater, Vice President and Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, Economic Housing and Research Division, shares:
“The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes . . . That decline has resulted in the decrease in supply of entry-level single-family homes or, ’starter homes.’”
When you consider the number of homes built in the U.S. by decade, the serious lack of new construction is clear (See graph below):The number of newly built homes is disproportionately lower than the rate of household formation, which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, has continued to increase. Khater also explains:
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and current recession, the housing market was facing a substantial supply shortage and that deficit has grown. In 2018, we estimated that there was a housing supply shortage of approximately 2.5 million units, meaning that the U.S. economy was about 2.5 million units below what was needed to match long-term demand. Using the same methodology, we estimate that the housing shortage increased to 3.8 million units by the end of 2020. A continued increase in a housing shortage is extremely unusual; typically in a recession, housing demand declines and supply rises, causing inventory to rise above the long-term trend.”
To catch up to current demand, Freddie Mac estimates we need to build almost four million homes. The good news is builders are working hard to get us there. The U.S. Census Bureau also states:
The Bottom Line
If you’re planning to buy this year, the key to success will be patience, given today’s low inventory environment. Call me, Tom Florence, at 404-402-8062, and let’s talk strategy for your successful sale.
The market is tighter than ever, but interest rates remain fantastic.
“Indications suggest that interest rates will rise as we move through 2021,” said Tom Florence, managing broker of RRT Real Estate. “But they are still hovering around 3 percent — a fantastic rate for borrowing money, making it a great time to buy a home. Here’s what several others have to say.
In fact, real estate buyers have enjoyed record low interest rates for several years. Will interest rates rise in 2021?
Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com:
“Our long-term view for mortgage rates in 2021 is higher. As the economic outlook strengthens, thanks to progress against coronavirus and vaccines plus a dose of stimulus from the government, this pushes up expectations for economic growth . . . .”
“We forecast that mortgage rates will continue to rise through the end of next year. We estimate the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will average 3.4% in the fourth quarter of 2021, rising to 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2022.”
The Bottom Line
If you’re planning to buy a home, purchasing before mortgage interest rates rise may help you save significantly over the life of your home loan.
Need a reference for a mortgage broker? We can help. Call Tom Florence, managing broker RRT Real Estate, at 404-402-8062 today.
Rabbit Tales – April 2020
To state the obvious, we’re dealing with a lot of stuff right now. Teaching kids at home, social distancing, sheltering in place and the most important one, where can we find toilet paper! With all this going on I wanted to give everyone a little insight on how this market could be affecting your homes value. Note that all values below are taken from FMLS, First Multiple Listing Service.
Home Inventory levels
Through the end of March, home inventory levels across metro Atlanta and in particular Dunwoody are still at historically low levels. In metro Atlanta, there’s a 2.8 month supply of homes on the market. That’s 3.4% lower than the same time period last year. Looking at Dunwoody, there’s a 2.3 month supply, that’s 21% lower than March 2019. Consideing that anything below a 6 month supply is a sellers market, that’s good news indeed for your homes value
You would think with our shelter in place policy that showings would be down. If you think that you’re half right/half wrong. For metro Atlanta, showings are up 2% in March from the same time period of last year. In Dunwoody, showings are down 22% through March from the previous year.
Sales % to List Price
So, should you be worried about the value of your home? The good news is not at this time. Through March, sellers have averaged getting a whopping 98% of their list price. That’s for metro Atlanta and Dunwoody as well. With all the turmoil, the last 45 plus days why such a high percentage? I think its because of buyer pent-up demand. Low inventory of homes on the market has been the case since mid last year. Many solid buyers haven’t been able to buy homes yet because of being out bid or didn’t get picked in a multiple offer situations. So even in this market those buyers aren’t hesitating to making deals when the right house comes on the market.
Good news if you’re thinking of buying that new home. As of mid April, mortgage rates are hovering near record lows. On a 30-year mortgage, it’s 3.28%; on a 15-year, it’s 2.8%. This great news not only for buyers but sellers too!
RRT in the News!
From the April 10 Atlanta Business Chronicle…
Take a virtual tour of this 1928 Morningside charmer!
Located just STEPS from Piedmont Park, the Beltline and Orpheus Brewing. $649,000 We are providing safe touring experience.
If you are thinking about selling or know someone who is I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to talk.
I’ve been in this business for a lot of years and have seen a lot of ups and downs. The real estate market was extremely strong going into this crisis, and I’m confident and hopeful that it will bode well for a relatively quick rebound.
Stay well and stay safe,
It’s easy being green after all!
Earth Day is April 22! Celebrate by making some simple changes that will add green to your pocket too!
Going green is great for the environment, but that’s not the only benefit. When you make green upgrades in your home, it can also lead to some major savings. Here are some Red Rabbit Team favs:
1. Plant at tree — or two or ten! And strategically place them on the south and west sides of your home, and if possible, provide shade to your air conditioning unit. The energy savings could add up to as much as $250/yr for your cooling bills.
2. Tuck in your water heater. Wrap an insulation blanket around your water heater and lower its running cost as much as 9 percent.
3. Set the mood. Install dimmer switches in the living and dining rooms and three bedrooms to dial down electricity fees about $37 a year.
4. Replace your light bulbs with LED lights. A small upfront investment in LEDs can save hundreds of dollars (and a lot of energy)! Buy them on sale and replace them slowly.
5. Replace the weatherstripping on your doors and windows. Stop the cold air from getting in and the heat from escaping during the upcoming winter
Here are more ideas: Small Footprint and Good Housekeeping.
Dunwoody’s Lemonade Days. Here’s how it all began.
Lemonade Days opens April 24 and runs through April 28 at Brook Run Park. Before you go, take a minute to learn a bit about its history.
By Kathy Florence
This story first appeared in the Dunwoody Crier and in the Dunwoody Preservation Trust newsletter in April 2018 to recognized the 20th anniversary of the Dunwoody tornado.
First there was the wind. Then there were trees. And then lemonade.
Twenty years later and that simple sequence has proven to define so much of our city — both in its resilience and profound capacity for pulling together in time of need, and for the spectacular and treasured community celebration we enjoy each April.
The wind came in the wee hours of April 9, 1998, in the form of a series of F-2 tornados that wreaked havoc through two states and then zenithed its force onto Dunwoody. The grim aftermath was wide-spread and paralyzing.
But not for long.
In a spectacular showdown of Mother Nature vs. human nature, Dunwoody rallied. Neighbors helped neighbors; community, county and federal leaders came to assist in phenomenal ways; the churches and synagogues formed an Interfaith Action team; and a host of fearless leaders stepped forward to coordinate the efforts.
None the least of which, was Joyce Amacher. Co-founder of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust, Joyce and a team of volunteers quickly founded the Replant the Dunwoody Forest initiative with the lofty (and fully realized) goal of replanting 20,000 trees.
By the tornado’s first anniversary in April 1999, the community had much to celebrate. A ceremony was held on April 9 at Brook Run to commemorate the victims and rebuilding efforts, followed by a community-wide Mass and reception at All Saints Church, and potluck dinners organized by individual neighborhoods. That weekend was filled with the planting of 900 more trees, the inaugural Replant the Dunwoody Forest 5K through the streets of Kingsley, followed by an a community prayer service.
By April of 2000, Dunwoody had made lemonade from its calamity and Lemonade Days was born. Under the direction of the DPT, the 5K race became the Lemonade Days 5K and the event included a children’s carnival on the grounds of the Cheek-Spruill House, complete with pony rides, a petting zoo and face painting. Games, including a homemade beanbag toss and balloon-popping games were made by volunteers and children played for tiny trinket prizes. The highlight of the three-day event was a home tour of seven homes that had been destroyed and rebuilt following the tornado.
A year later, Lemonade Days 2001 opened with an outdoor art show at the Shops of Dunwoody sponsored by the Dunwoody Arts and Crafts Guild, followed by a second home tour, this one also including several historic homes. The event also repeated the road race and carnival games at the Cheek-Spruill House.
By 2004, Lemonade Days had been moved to Brook Run Park. The homemade carnival games, pony rides and an inflatable moonwalk were relocated to the grounds of the city’s new park and the celebration opened with a theater production featuring Dunwoody performers in a show created just for Lemonade Days in the now-demolished Brook Run Theater. The Fine Arts and Arts and Crafts Guild held shows and sold wares around the theater and the area of the Veteran’s Memorial. The 5K race ran through the park.
A similar line-up took place for Lemonade Days 2005 when Stage Door Player’s created the two-night Broadway-style production and the festival line-up included a rock-climbing venue, a Sunday family picnic and Sunday night musical performances.
It was in 2006 , however, that Lemonade Days as we know it today began.
A contract was signed with Peachtree Rides to bring full-scale carnival rides and midway attractions to Brook Run Park. Peachtree Rides’ owner Ray Guthrie had doubts for the success. A long-time carnival owner, he warned then-DPT Co-president Danny Ross that Brook Run was too remote to attract visitors and suggested instead the parking lot of Perimeter Mall. But Ross insisted, seeking a country fair-style event filled with corn dogs, funnel cakes and ferris wheels. Guthrie agreed, but brought only a minimal number of rides, fearing low attendance.
But the community came in droves. The days-gone-by ideals of an old-fashioned carnival resonated with families, children, teens and seniors, and Lemonade Days quickly became Dunwoody’s largest and favorite community festival.
Since that time and under the guidance of past chairs Tom McGurk, Jeff Glick, Lisa Victory and Hope Follmer, the festival has grown in scope, expanded to five days, and welcomed new features each year. The major fundraiser for the Dunwoody Preservation Trust, proceeds have funded the organization’s efforts throughout the community, including renovations to the city’s landmark Cheek-Spruill House, and have been solely earmarked to the rebuilding and refurbishment of the historic Donaldson-Bannister Farm since 2010.
A befitting testament to the mantra, “When life gives you lemons… make lemonade,” Lemonade Days is a welcome and beloved treat for springtime in Dunwoody — and its bountiful history makes it sweeter still.
Down payments: Which strategy is right for you?
Do you have the cash to make a 20 percent down payment on the home you wish to purchase?
The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders, and can advance your offer in the eyes of sellers when compared to offers where purchasers will be borrowing more .
But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available.
Smaller down payments will cost more in the short-run.
The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance — protection to your lender— until your payments cover 20% of the purchase price, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.
But it could have long-term return.
The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.
Weigh the options with your lender; a happy medium might be the answer.
A good mortgage broker or knowledgable lender can outline the best option based on your needs and plans. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down payment.
The Red Rabbit Team can suggest options for lenders and mortgage brokers that have served clients well in the past. Let us know if we can help!
Dunwoody: One ‘o’ or two?
UPDATE: Here’s a post we posted a while ago, but look what we found to add to it. Related? We have no idea, but note that Dunwody & Sons is located in Atlanta.
Two ‘o’s in Dunwoody. (But only for a post office error.)
Creek Indians settled along the banks of the Chattahoochee River, but it is Maj. Charles Dunwody — just one ‘o’ in his name— that is considered Dunwoody’s earliest pioneer. Raised in Roswell’s Mimosa Hall—which still stands today—Charles returned to the area after the Civil War. He purchased farm land, two horses and built his home at the intersection of Chamblee Dunwoody and Spalding Roads not far from a railroad stop that connected Roswell and downtown Atlanta. Dunwody raised his family there and new families settled close by.
Fifteen or so miles from burgeoning Atlanta, the area was popular for summer homes for many businessmen and their families.
The spelling error occurred with Dunwody’s petition to open a post office for the community. A clerk added an ‘o’ to the application, and the community of Dunwoody was born. Dunwoody became an official city more than 125 years later, on December 1, 2008.
Learn more Dunwoody history on this video produced by the Dunwoody Preservation Trust.
Lightbulbs: Remember when they were simple?
This may be common knowledge to most readers, but it wasn’t to the KF part of the Red Rabbit Team for a long time: Recessed ceiling lights need a reflective bulb. By reflective, I mean the type that have the silver or opaque shell along the bottom allowing all the light to go in only one direction.
We struggled for years with bulbs burning out—especially along the outside wall of our kitchen—and for good reason: The bulbs were getting too hot above the ceiling, particularly in areas where there was limited space between the ceiling and the roof’s beams. Frustrating and scary. Once I understood the importance of reflective bulbs, the situation improved greatly. Once I finally invested in LED reflective bulbs, my world became brighter still. Though I’m hesitant to believe the 10-year claims, we are rarely changing bulbs and I’m thrilled with the energy savings and knowing that they are not giving off heat in any direction.
Have you made the conversion to LED lighting?
It was a tough sell for awhile as costs were initally as much as ten times the cost of incandescent and flurescent bulbs, but that’s changing.
Costs for LEDs are going down each year. Combine that with the fact LED lights do not emit heat, last much longer and use much less energy, it’s a good time to make a switch.
There are a few additional benefits.
While early versions were panned for providing poor diffusion through a room, the technology is improving. Conversely, LEDs have always worked well for spotlighting, so they are particularly effective as under-counter or bathroom lighting. More, they are safer — no toxic materials like mercury vapor and no glass. And, bulb designs are improving; a well-stocked hardware store will provide more options than you’ll care to peruse, so bring your patience and a notepad.
But there are still a few cons.
They are not always compatible with dimmers and can flicker with some fixtures.
LEDs are cooler in color. The blue light they emit is a nice match for natural, mid-day daylight and work well in kitchens and bathrooms, but less attractive for lighting living spaces and bedrooms.
The 10,000-hour claim might not always be true. LEDs often degrade and can become less bright and less efficient over time and can even fail completely in high temperature situations.