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Posted by CBS News on Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of the Garage to Buyers
Luxuries like pools and lavish living spaces may not be as enticing to home buyers as a garage, finds a new poll by Zolo Realty, a Canadian online real estate marketplace. Zolo Realty surveyed more than 1,800 North American respondents to discover buyer behavior and desires.
Male and female home buyers gave the highest marks to properties with a garage; an en suite, main-floor bathroom; or a newer furnace or A/C unit.
Fifty-one percent of women and 41 percent of men ranked a garage a must-have when buying a home.
“Buyers aren’t foolish,” says Mustafa Abbasi, president of Zolo Realty. “Updating a kitchen and removing walls is a lot of work, but these updates are not as hard or as costly as trying to carve out a bathroom for a master bedroom or building a garage from scratch.”
The ideal home to both men and women surveyed was: A 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home with a master bedroom suite and a garage.
Why 2019 Promises to Be Better for Buyers
After inventory and affordability challenges in 2018, prospective home buyers may have better chances of scoring a property this year. Affordability will remain an issue in some high-priced markets, says realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale, but overall, the national market is looking brighter for buyers who have stayed on the sidelines. Here’s why.
More homes are for sale. For the last few years, a limited number of listings has given buyers fewer choices. But housing experts predict more robust inventory this year. “For buyers, there is going to be more inventory, so that’s a bright spot,” Hale says. “The downside of that bright spot is it might not be in their price range.” The supply of homes for sale under $300,000 may not grow significantly, but they’re also not decreasing, she adds.
Home price growth is slowing. Home prices will still rise but at a much slower pace than the last few years. Hale predicts a 2.2 percent increase in home prices this year, down from last year’s nearly 5 percent growth. “We do still anticipate rising home prices, particularly for below-median-priced homes, so buyers in that price range may have some incentive to buy sooner rather than later,” Hale says. On the flip side, “as rising costs raise the bar to homeownership, some would-be buyers will be knocked out of the market. [That means] remaining buyers may have less competition to contend with than they saw in 2018.”
Mortgage rates are lower. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has backed away from the 5 percent mark, decreasing early this year. That means lower borrowing costs for buyers. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.41 percent last week. “That’s definitely a huge opportunity for buyers because it drastically improves affordability,” Hale says. “And I think that if these low rates persist for a little while, then we’ll actually see stronger sales than we originally forecast.”
Mortgage Rates Fall to 10-Month Low
Borrowing costs were cheaper this week, as mortgage rates continued inching down. “The U.S. economy remains on solid ground, inflation is contained, and the threat of higher short-term rates is fading from view, which has allowed mortgage rates to drift down to their lowest level in 10 months,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “This is great news for consumers who will be looking for homes during the upcoming spring homebuying season. Mortgage rates are essentially similar to a year ago, but today’s buyers have a larger selection of homes and more consumer bargaining power than they did the last few years.”
Freddie Mac reports the following averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Feb.7:
- 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.41 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 4.46 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.32 percent.
- 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.84 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 3.89 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.77 percent.
- 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.91 percent, with an average 0.3 point, falling from last week’s 3.96 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.57 percent.