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REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey: August 2018 Highlights

The REALTORS® Confidence Index (RCI) [1] survey gathers monthly information from REALTORS® about local real estate market conditions, characteristics of buyers and sellers, and issues affecting homeownership and real estate transactions.[2] This report presents key results about market transactions from August 2018. View and download the full report here.

Market Conditions and Expectations

  • The REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index registered at 57 (64 in August 2017).[3]
  • The REALTORS® Seller Traffic Index registered at 44 (47 in August 2017).
  • The REALTORS® Confidence Index—SixMonth Outlook Current Conditions registered at 58 for detached single-family, 48 for townhome, and 46 for condominium properties. An index above 50 indicates market conditions are expected to improve.
  • Properties were typically on the market for 29 days (30 days in August 2017).
  • Eighty-five percent of respondents reported that home prices remained constant or rose in August 2018 compared to levels one year ago (86 percent in August 2017).

Characteristics of Buyers and Sellers

  • First-time buyers accounted for 31 percent of sales (31 percent in August 2017).
  • Vacation and investment buyers comprised 13 percent of sales (15 percent in August 2017).
  • Sales of distressed properties (foreclosed or sold as a short sale) accounted for three percent of sales (four percent in August 2017).
  • Cash sales made up 20 percent of sales (20 percent in August 2017).
  • Eighteen percent of sellers offered incentives such as paying for closing costs (8 percent), providing warranty (7 percent), and undertaking remodeling (2 percent).[4]

Issues Affecting Buyers and Sellers

  • From June–August 2018, 76 percent of contracts settled on time (72 percent in August 2017).
  • Among sales that closed in August 2018, 76 percent had contract contingencies. The most common contingencies pertained to home inspection (58 percent), obtaining financing (45 percent), and getting an acceptable appraisal (43 percent).
  • REALTORS® report “low inventory” and “interest rate” as the major issues affecting transactions in August 2018.

About the RCI Survey

  • The RCI Survey gathers information from REALTORS® about local market conditions based on their client interactions and the characteristics of their most recent sales for the month.
  • The August 2018 survey was sent to 50,000 REALTORS® who were selected from NAR’s 1.3 million members through simple random sampling and to 8,386 respondents in the previous three surveys who provided their email addresses.
  • There were 4,639 respondents to the online survey which ran from September 1-11, 2018. The survey’s overall margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level is one percent. The margins of error for subgroups and sample proportions of below or above 50 percent are larger.
  • NAR weighs the responses by a factor that aligns the sample distribution of responses to the distribution of NAR membership.

The REALTORS® Confidence Index is provided by NAR solely for use as a reference. Resale of any part of this data is prohibited without NAR’s prior written consent. For questions on this report or to purchase the RCI series, please email: Data@realtors.org


[1] Thanks to George Ratiu, Managing Director, Housing and Commercial Research and Gay Cororaton, Research Economist for their data analysis and comments to the RCI Report.

[2] Respondents report on the most recent characteristics of their most recent sale for the month.

[3] An index greater than 50 means more respondents reported conditions as “strong” compared to one year ago than “weak.” An index of 50 indicates a balance of respondents

who viewed conditions as “strong” or “weak.”

[4] The difference in the sum of percentages to the total percentage of sellers who offered incentives is due to rounding.

How Many Active Listings Can you Afford to Buy in the 100 Largest Metro Areas?

Find out how many of the homes which are currently listed for sale you can afford to buy based on your income.

A typical household earning about $51,000[1] can afford to buy 36% of homes for sales in the United States, according to the REALTORS® Affordability Distribution Curve and Score (RADCS). The tool below, updated with August 2018 data, lets you find out what share of homes, which are currently listed for sale, you can afford to buy in the 100 largest metro areas based on your income.

Select a range that best describes the income that you earn. Hover over the map to see the percentage of homes which are currently listed for sale that you can afford to buy.

Dashboard 1

The NAR Research Group and REALTOR.COM have partnered to conduct an analysis of affordability at different income levels for all active inventory on the market. The result of this analysis, the RADCS, shows that a household needs to earn at least $65,000 to afford more than half of the active housing inventory. Currently, the typical household, earning $51,000 can afford to buy 36 percent of homes for sale. Compared to a year earlier, housing affordability across the United States declined in August. The main reason for the decline is that housing inventory remains very low, causing affordability to weaken in most areas of the country.

Among the 100 largest metro areas, Los Angeles-Long Beach et al., CA was the least affordable metro area in August followed by San Diego-Carlsbad, CA and Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA. In these metro areas, a household earning about $100,000 can barely afford to buy on average 12 percent of homes currently listed for sale. In contrast, the same household can afford to buy on average more than 90 percent of the housing inventory in Youngstown-Warren et al., OH-PA, Dayton, OH and Toledo, OH.

For more information, view the Realtors® Affordability Distribution Curve and Score data page.


[1] Based on Nielsen’s income distribution data

July 2018 Housing Affordability Index

At the national level, housing affordability is up from last month but down from a year ago. Mortgage rates rose to 4.75 percent this July, up 14.7 percent compared to 4.14 percent a year ago.

  • Housing affordability declined from a year ago in July moving the index down 8.2 percent from 151.2 to 138.8. The median sales price for a single family home sold in July in the US was $272,300 up 5.2 percent from a year ago.
  • Nationally, mortgage rates were up 61 basis point from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points).

  • Regionally, the Northeast recorded the biggest increase in home prices at 7.0 percent. The West had an increase of 5.3 percent while the South had a gain of 3.1 percent. The Midwest had the smallest growth in price of 2.5 percent.
  • Regionally, all four regions saw a decline in affordability from a year ago. The Northeast had the biggest drop in affordability of 10.3 percent. The West had a decline of 8.3 percent followed by the South that fell 6.8 percent. The Midwest had the smallest drop of 2.2 percent.
  • On a monthly basis, affordability is up from last month in three of the four regions. The Midwest had biggest gain of 7.9 percent. The West had an incline of 2.6 percent followed by the South with an increase of 2.1 percent. The Northeast had the only dip in affordability of 1.1 percent.
  • Despite month-to-month changes, the most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 183.6. The least affordable region remained the West where the index was 101.2. For comparison, the index was 143.0 in the South, and 142.2 in the Northeast.

  • Mortgage applications are currently down 1.8 percent and mortgage rates are continuing to rise. Credit availability has declined which is a sign that there is constriction on lending standards. Job creation is up as well as new homes sales. As inventory increases, more buyers are likely to come into the housing market. Home prices are up 4.6 percent while median family incomes are only growing 3.2 percent.
  • What does housing affordability look like in your market? View the full data release here.
  • The Housing Affordability Index calculation assumes a 20 percent down payment and a 25 percent qualifying ratio (principal and interest payment to income). See further details on the methodology and assumptions behind the calculation here.

 

 

 

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