Question of the week: What was the cost of waiting?
Answer: Over the past few years we had a lot of clients who were waiting to buy a new home because they felt the market would correct at some point and they could purchase the home they wanted for less money. About once a year for the past few years our question of the week has been, “what is the cost of waiting.”
On March 2, 2018, this was the question of the week and in my answer the worst case scenario I presented, with highest cost increase and highest interest rate, has come to pass.
Instead of creating my own sales prices for the answer to this week’s question, I will use the median home price for Los Angeles County as published by the California Association of Realtors.
What was the cost of waiting to purchase a home from September 2017 to September 2018?
In September 2017, the median priced home in the county was $606,110, in September 2018 the median price rose to $634,680, and increase of 4.7%. During this same time the interest rate for a 30 year fixed rate loan for borrower with a 740 FICO score rose from 3.75% to 4.75% for the loan amounts needed to purchase the median priced home with 20% down.
With the prices and rates climbing it follows that the mortgage payment also increases. With the 20% down payment on the median price the loan amount in September 2017 was $484,890, in 2018 the loan amount rose to $507,940. As a result, the monthly payment for the median home in 2017 was $2245, this year that payment is $2650 per month, an increase of $405 per month, or about 18%.
Long-time readers of the WR&MU know the mortgage industry used debt-to-income (DTI) ratios to qualify income for mortgage applicants. The DTI is calculated by adding up the applied for housing payment (mortgage principal and interest, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, homeowners’ association if applicable, aka PITI) plus credit obligations (credit cards, auto and student loans, alimony and parental support payments, etc). Once the obligations are added together that number is divided by your gross income and the result is your debt-to-income ratio. Example: your new house payment is $3000 per month, you have $1000 per month in revolving debt and car loans for a total of $4000 per month. Your salary is $10,000 per month. Divide the $4000 in obligations and house payment by your $10,000 per month salary and your DTI is 40%.
The catchall rule of thumb for most homebuyers is that the house payment, PITI, should be around 35% of your gross income. Why 35%? Because when we add in your other credit obligations we do not want to exceed 45% of your gross income for most loan programs and many households have about 10% of their income going to other debt obligations.
Using the 35% rule of thumb, how much more income did you need to qualify for the median home in September 2018 from September 2017?
Including estimates for taxes and insurance the PITI for the median home in 2017 with 20%, a 30-year fixed rate of 3.75% was $2998 per month. Divide the PITI by 35% and we see that you needed income of about $8550 per month ($102,600 per year) to qualify for the median September 2017 home.
The September 2018 median priced home in LA County, also with 20% down but with a rate of 4.75% for a 30-year fixed rate, had PITI of $3438 per month. Still using 35% as the factor for calculating qualifying income you needed income of about $9825 per month ($117,900) in September 2018 to purchase the median price home.
Summing up, the cost of waiting that past year resulting in needing about 5% more funds for down payment, a 18% increase in your mortgage payment and you would need to earn 15% more to qualify.
The last number is the most critical, in general you need to earn 15% more in 2018 than you did in 2017 to purchase the same home.
Most people are not getting 15% raises from year to year. So how do the numbers look based not on a hypothetical but a reality?
Bill is single and approaching retirement—he plans on retiring between 2023 and 2025. He pays almost $2000 per month in rent and recently came into a financial windfall of about $200,000. We first met in March of 2017 and proceeded to have several conversations regarding his ability to qualify, and more importantly what he felt comfortable paying, for a new home. Involved in the decision process were his tax preparer, financial advisor and real estate agent. The parameters were to keep Bill’s total housing payment, PITI, at $3000 per month or lower and including closing costs not to spend more than about $120,000 to purchase his new home. This put us in a price range of about $550,000 for a new home, with a 4% interest rate our limitation was on the amount of cash to close the transaction not the monthly payment.
Bill actively entered the market looking at homes and condos that fell within his cash to spend and monthly payment parameters. You may recall that rates fell from the Spring of 2017 into the Summer and Fall, which was good news for Bill as he by using his cash to close as his limiting factor the same price homes became cheaper as the monthly payments went lower with interest rates.
Unfortunately, Bill could not find the right home for him, or by the time he made the decision to write an offer on a home another buyer had already entered escrow.
Because of the market as time went on the neighborhoods in which he was looking had rising prices, so to purchase the same house he needed more and more down payment to meet the 20% down we had budgeted.
Today, even with higher rates his ceiling of $120,000 to spend still is a sales price of around $550,000, however because of the rising prices in the market the 3-bedroom homes in that price range are now 2-bedroom homes in the same neighborhood, or perhaps even a neighborhood that is the next level lower in terms of price, location, etc.
Because of his hesitation throughout 2017 and into 2018, Bill has to either change his parameters to purchase the home he wants, or change locations where the average prices are lower, which creates a challenge for his commute to work, visiting family and where he would like to live in retirement.
We are now looking at condominiums for Bill as the prices are usually lower in the same market and we can purchase something within his cash spending restrictions as well as stay within his monthly payment restriction even with the HOA dues. In the meantime his rent has increased 5% and the landlord is considering selling the property to take advantage of current real estate prices.
Waiting has cost Bill not in cash to close or monthly payment but in size of home, location of home and/or type of home he can purchase today as opposed to one year ago.
All of which leads to a follow up question: What will be the cost of waiting, or is there one, to purchase your new home in 2019, or 2020, instead of now or the near future? A question I will explore in next week’s WR&MU.
Have a question? Ask me!
Consumer prices jumped last month. The prices consumers pay for goods and services rose 0.3% in October and year over year the general inflation index climbed 2.5%, the highest it has been in the past year, according to Consume Price Index data released this week. Leading the charge upwards in prices were gas, rent and used vehicles. This data would put upward pressure on rates, however the data used to calculate inflation by the Federal Reserve is the “core” rate of inflation—which strips out volatile gas and food prices. The core rate for October came in with a 0.2% monthly increase and the annual rate dipped to 2.1% from the prior month’s rate of 2.2%. This is a bit confusing with the two different calculations, consumers are seeing a cost of living increase of 2.5% from last year, but if they didn’t buy and gas or clothes they only saw an increase of 2.1%. Because the core rate was within expectations and the Fed’s target inflation rate mortgage rates were not impacted by the news.
Consumers are the most important part of our economy. Personal spending and consumption accounts for 65-70% or our economy, because of this retail sales data is an important indicator of the economy’s strength. The retail sales data for October were released this week and included revisions to the prior two month’s data. In the revisions retail sales in August and September went from slightly positive to slightly negative, the first back-to-back negative months since 2015. For October, the data showed the biggest increase since last fall with an increase of 0.8% for the month. As with the CPI data, the spending increase was led by gasoline prices, and helped with a surge in new auto purchases. Taking out gas and car sales and the increase in retail sales drops to a much more modest 0.3%, so good news for auto dealers who saw an increase in sales, not as good news for retailers who saw their customers spend on gas and cars instead of sweaters and meals out. Overall the news is neutral for mortgage rates, the revisions downward for August and September will likely result in a revision downward for 3rd quarter GDP growth from the initial estimate of 3.5%, which is good for rates, and the increase in total sales being led by volatile gas prices and one-off new car purchases is discounted by investors.
Rates for Friday November 16, 2018: Rates should be a bit lower today than they are, but it appears lenders are hanging on a bit to increases in the markets (higher prices equal lower rates) due to the weekend before Thanksgiving and potential volatility in the short week. Overall rates see some upward pressure easing this week due to stocks selling off and a comment from a member of the Fed board that decides rates indicating that moving forward the Fed will be very cautious—putting some question into whether there will be three rate increases as scheduled in 2019.
FIXED RATE MORTGAGES AT COST OF 1.25 POINTS LOCKED FOR 45 DAYS:
30 year conforming 4.75% Flat
30 year high-balance conforming 5.00% Flat
Please note that these are base rates and adjustments may be added for condominiums, refinances, credit scores, loan to value, no impound account and period rate is locked. Rates are based on 20% down with 740 FICO score for purchase mortgages.
Unfortunately, it often takes the misfortunes of others to appreciate the fortunes we have. Such is the case for most of us this week as we gather with family and friends for Thanksgiving. Coming together in gratitude for what we have in our lives as we observe the incredible upheaval thousands, tens of thousands, of families have had in our Southern California region via the media, both traditional and social.
Those impacted by the wildfires in Southern and Northern California are extremely grateful for one of America’s most important organizations, the Red Cross, who show up at every disaster with all sorts of assistance from arranging shelter, food, water, clothing, even dolls and toys for children. This comes at a cost, which is almost all from charitable donations.
Here is where the readers of the Weekly Rate & Market Update can help those who no longer have a home this Thanksgiving, or are displaced, due to the fires, by clicking this link and making a donation of any size: Red Cross Donations
We will have guests at our table from near, my father in-law, and far as two families from Chicago, Leslie’s cousins as well as a family spending their vacation week in Southern California whose daughter has gone to camp for several years with our daughters. I am anticipating some talk about the Cubs and Bears.
My family and I are very thankful for the support we have had over the decades from our clients, business and referral partners. As well the incredible family at Stratis Financial who work diligently to ensure our clients’ files processed, approved and funded with the utmost on professionalism and efficiency.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends wherever the holiday may take you.
Past Weekly Rate & Market Updates can be found on my blog page at my website www.DennisCSmith.com