Spring always brings warm weather, sunshine and an upbeat attitude. The home market started off slow for the beginning of 2019, but analyst believe there will be a rise in home sales Spring 2019.

The beginning of the year wasn’t what the National Association of Realtors hoped for. Pending home sales did jump 4.6% this January, however sales were 2.3% lower than a year ago. January marked the 13th straight month of year-over-year declines.

The pending home-sales index (the NAR’s tracking system that records home contract signings) did go up in January to 103.2.  Analysts believe the reopening of the partial government shutdown caused the boost from the nearly five-year low it saw in December of 2018. In the Northeast pending sales increased 1.6%, in the Midwest 2.8%, only 0.3% in the West and 8.9% in the South. The market should see the home sales from these pending contracts right around Springtime. Contracts usually stay pending on average for about 45 days until they close.

“February existing home sales should now rebound handily and with new home sales likely to head higher too, given the rising trend in mortgage demand, the gloomy housing narrative in markets and the media is set to change quite dramatically over the next few months. The market is not rolling over, and it is not a harbinger of recession in the broader economy,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macro.

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Rent is rising fast and many are turning back to owning vs. renting. According to the Unites States Census Bureau, in 2016 the decline in homeownership suddenly changed and started to rise. The Housing Vacancies and Homeownership survey reflects that homeownership rates rose from 63% in 2016 to 64.6% in 2018. Here are some of the reasons why this reversal has come to fruition.

Millennials had enough with living with mom and dad. In 2017, 22% of adults between the ages of 25 to 34 were living with their parents compared to the 11.6 % of adults between the ages of 25 to 34 that were living with their parents in 2005. This increase was due to the housing crisis, slow earnings growth, soft labor market and steep student loan debts. As of 2016, Millennials started to be in the position to financially own a home. The homeownership rate for those under 45 began to recover very quickly. This is an important statistic for the housing market because Millennials (those born after 1981) will outnumber baby boomers in the near future.

“Millennials have been on a buying spree the last few years,” Zillow Research economist Aaron Terrazas said.

The groundwork for the turning point hit in 2015 when rental rates rose nationally more than 6% from the previous year. This marked one of the rare times that rent rose faster than home prices.

“Rent appreciation was so high during that period that it essentially put fire under people’s feet to get up and buy,” Terrazas said. “People who may have been sitting on the fence would be incentivized to jump into homeownership,” according to Terrazas.

Rising house prices also led to a quick reaction as Milleanials feared they would be priced out of the market. Terrazas commented that, “driven to homeownership by fears that with homes appreciating so quickly that they would be locked out of buying a home in their desired area.”

Another fear was that interest rates could go up so those who wanted to own a home needed to lock in immediately.

“Maybe people thought ‘interest rates could go up, I should lock in now,’ ” Urban institute housing expert Laurie Goodman said.

Those that were affected by foreclosures during the 2008 recession are ready to buy again. Those that went into foreclosure are now able to obtain a mortgage( it takes seven years for your credit to be cleared of a foreclosure). Buyers who were burned during the housing bubble are no longer gun shy, they are beginning to reenter the housing market.

Overall the unemployment rate is in better shape than it was a decade ago and there are more people out there ready to invest their money.

“When there’s very low unemployment, when there’s been slow but steady wage growth, that tends to make households confident in their ability to make what will probably be their largest investment of their life,” said Ralph McLaughlin an economist at CoreLogic.

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The prediction this year is a challenging one for the housing market. Mortgage rates will increase as well as home prices making it harder to afford a new home. Along with the decrease in affordability, there will also continue to be a short supply of homes to purchase.

On the flip side, 2019 sees more entry-level homes being built and mortgage lenders are making it easier to qualify for a home loan. First time home buyers should have a better chance at purchasing their first home this upcoming year.

A great way to look for a good opportunity is to follow the market trends. Here are several housing and mortgage trends to watch for this year.

Supply and demand is always for the buyer or for the seller. The best time to buy is when the market exceeds the demand. The real estate market has been on the seller’s side now for almost a decade. There is just more buyers out there then there are homes for sale. Although this is not an ideal situation for those looking to purchase a home, the forecast does show there might be some fortune coming their way. Reports have shown that there will be a rise in the number of homes for sale in 2019.

Secondly, look at the home price trends. Are the home prices on the rise or holding steady? It is predicted that the prices of homes will rise this year but at a slower pace than in the previous years. The National Association of Realtors estimates the prices to rise 2.5% in 2019 to a median of $265,200 making the spike 2.2% less than in 2018 where the rise was 4.7% to a median of $258,700.

“Home price appreciation will slow down — the days of easy price gains are coming to an end — but prices will continue to rise,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

Another trend to watch is the rise in Mortgage rates. Again, it is predicted that the mortgage rates will rise at a slower pace in 2019. A 30-year fixed mortgage should rise half a percentage point this year according to Freddie Mac compared to the 2018 30-year fixed mortgage rate which went up just under three-quarters of a percentage point.

A shy buyer’s market can be concerning. Potential home buyer’s should gauge home ownership affordability. When the prices and rates go up, it is harder to find affordable homes.

“We do worry about affordability, particularly in some areas that have lower inventory” of homes for sale, says Randy Hopper, senior vice president of home lending for Navy Federal Credit Union.

According to Hopper this will not deter prospective home buyers from purchasing a home. He explains that a quarter or half percentage point rise will only impact a mortgage payment by $75 to $100 per month on a $300,000 home for example.

Hopper states this, “isn’t insignificant, but it’s not necessarily something that impacts the buying decision.”

As far as home prices, Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com predicts the home prices to rise at a slow pace which will cause them to fall back in line with incomes.

Look for ways the builder’s accommodate the price increases in the housing market to make a more affordable home for potential buyers. Builder’s are building new homes smaller and more affordable.

“Continuing a multiyear trend, new single-family home size decreased during the third quarter of 2018,” wrote Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, in a November blog post. “New home size has been falling over the last three years due to an incremental move to additional entry-level home construction.”

Homes built in 2018 averaged out to be about 2,320 square feet which is 4.9% smaller than the median size of new homes built in 2016.

Hopper comments, “I think for many years, the builders were focused on that $500,000-and-up market because the margins were healthier,” he says. “But they’re starting to find now that there’s so much pent-up demand in the lower-end-priced market that they can sustainably offer communities and new construction, and we’ve seen a lot of growth in that space.”

Another trend to be aware of is first-time home buyers. “First-timers have dominated the mortgage market for the past 10 years, and their share today is still high,” according to an Urban Institute report published this summer, which adds: “We don’t see this changing anytime soon.”

Currently first-time home buyers take out approximately 60% of purchase mortgages. Prior to the housing crisis, first-time home buyers only made up 40%. In fact, 80% of the growth in home sales for the past three years are from first-time home buyers.

Tian Liu, chief economist for Genworth Mortgage Insurance reports, “Between 2007 and 2015, our estimate is that roughly 3 million first-time home buyers delayed buying a home, and they’re reaching that age when they can no longer delay.” Liu says. “Their housing needs are really catching up with them. It doesn’t feel right to be raising a family in a rental apartment. They want to own their place. So I think those drivers will be very significant for the next few years.”

Look at the mortgage lending standards. Mortgage lenders want to make sure a borrower can repay their loans. During the financial crisis of 2008, lenders became strict on their lending standards.

Today, mortgage lenders are tending to relax the standards. There are less documents, lower credit scores and smaller down payments that are required.

This leads into what type of mortgages are being chosen by home buyers. When rates on fixed-rate mortgages go up, home buyers tend to choose ARMs (adjustable-rate mortgages).

Arms accept more risk from the borrower. In October of 2018 ARM’s consisted of 8.2% of compared to the 5.5% in 2017.

Last, watch for bidding wars. Even though 2019 is predicted to be a seller’s market doesn’t mean a seller can expect a bidding war. If a home is priced above the median for that area, sellers tend to not see a bidding war.

As a seller, Hale says, “if you’re in that above-median price point, you’re going to have to price competitively and offer incentives for buyers.”

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The housing market was a bit slower in the last half of 2018. Despite the slowdown in the sale and resales of homes, the job openings in the construction industry boomed in the last part of 2018.

The National Association of Home Builders and the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey reported an increase in the number of job openings in the construction field. The quits rate for the construction sector jobs increased 2.8% in the last month of 2018. This was a jump from the 2.2% reported in December of 2017. The open position rate increased from 3.9% to 4.9% from the beginning of 2018 to the last half of the year. The rate reported at the end of 2017 was just 2.1%. The cycle high was 382,000 in December of 2018 which was much higher than the 149,000 reported December 2017.

The housing market will continue to thrive making the need for more workers in the construction field. The construction industry has had an overall increase in jobs since the end of the recession. It is anticipated that in 2019 the jobs might level off but there will still be a high demand in the industry.

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A high school degree can only get you so far but coupled with a college degree or a skill set can give you further career alternatives. There is a demand for career and technical education in high school. Here are some great reason why every high school should incorporate home building as an elective.

First reason why is because it’s challenging. Taking those mathematical equations a student learns on paper and applying them in a real life situation is all together different than just applying them on a high school test. Students not only have to figure the problem out on paper but they have to make it work when building a house. According to Scott Burke, who runs a home building program at Eureka High School in Eureka, Missouri, he has seen honor students who are stumped when applying geometry principles to building homes.

Second reason, it prevents slacking. Students have to work at solving the problems to be able to build. It is much more than just doing a little homework and then taking a written test.

Third reason why is it’s useful. Students get to see a real life scenario of how a subject like geometry can be applied. Students aren’t just sitting in a class room learning the subject but they are also incorporating it into the building of a structure.

Another great reason is because it’s memorable. Students are hands-on in a project. It is easier to remember an equation when they have to apply it to building a home. Math becomes relevant to a student when they physically see the outcome of a nice new home.

The last reason why is because it promotes higher achievement. In the case of Eureka High School, the evidence has been seen that the students who are in the program have an advantage over their peers.

Students need to be thinking more outside of the box and be inspired. Text books are not as inspiring as hands on experience.

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The results are in, and according to the National Association of Home Builder’s (NAHB) Housing Trends Report, 13% of adults in the United States are going to purchase a home or new home in the next 12 months. The poll was taken during the 3rd Quarter of 2018, so that is the time period covered by the survey. These new home buyers and home buyers are unique in the fact that they are taking their time in making a decision about their home purchase. Some buyers reported already taking more than 3 months to look for a home to buy, and they have not found it yet.

What is interesting about this is that these home buyers state that they will not stop looking for a home if it takes longer than expected – less than 20% to be exact. The reasons why they are having trouble finding the exact home they want to buy is that 49% of buyers said that affordability is a factor followed by 40% looking for specific features. 38% of home buyers said that they cannot find the home at the right price with the right features in a neighborhood where they want to live.

During the last quarter of 2017 and the first 2 quarters of 2018, over 50% of home buyers said that they have been looking for the right home for over 3 months. The highest percentage was during the 4th quarter of 2017. One reason also that might be affecting the ability of home buyers and new home buyers to find a home they would like to purchase is that supply has been steadily falling in the housing market of the United States. At this time, it has truly been a seller’s market with demand substantially outpacing supply. Because of this, buyers are reporting that they are getting outbid by eager competitors with bigger resources – approximately 21% of buyers reported experiencing this frustration.

So, what will these home buyers do if they cannot find the right home? 61% of home buyers said that they will continue to look in the same location. 27% said that they will look in a bigger are and 23% said they will accept a smaller or older home if the price, location, and features are right. Just 16% said they may consider a higher price range of home to buy to get what they want. Only 18% said they would give up completely.

If you are experiencing the frustration of finding the perfect home to buy with your exact features in West St. Tammany Parish, the good news is that Ron Lee Homes will be able to help you with your purchase. We can even assist you in finding land on which to build, and we can definitely accommodate most requests for features within your specified budget. If the features you are wanting are not within your price range, we have the experience to recommend work-arounds or other options you may not have considered yet. So, to assist with all of your home buying needs, Contact Ron Lee Homes today at 985-626-7619 or email Info@RonLeeHomes.com.


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St. Tammany Parish is no surprise a great place to live. The parish houses many great restaurants, shops, communities, top schools and places for residents or visitors to enjoy.  U.S. News & World Report’s listed St. Tammany Parish Hospital as one of the top in the nation in 2014.

St. Tammany Parish Hospital opened its doors in 1954 with only 15 hospital beds and today the hospital holds 232 beds. On November 27, 2018, the public hospital hosted a ground breaking on a $53.4 million expansion. The expansion will add close to 159,000 square feet and will include a four-story build-out. The number of beds will go from 232 to 247 with all private rooms.  Once the project is completed, the semi-private rooms throughout the hospital will be converted to private rooms.

According to Joan Coffman, St. Tammany Parish Hospital President and CEO, the first floor will be where the administrative offices and conference areas are located, the second and third floor will house critical care and medical/surgical beds and the fourth floor will be as she described “shell space” for future growth.

The expansion is going to be designed so that a fifth floor could be supported according to the architect, fl+WB Architects of Covington and the contractor, Milton Womack Inc. of Baton Rouge.  There is a three-year plan, Expansion 2020 Project, that includes the recently added new parking lot, and renovation of existing patient rooms. The expense will be covered by bonds issued by the hospital.

Coffman reports that 85% of the beds at the hospital are always in use. She states, “This is because of the (population) growth of the parish, especially western St. Tammany.’’ Admissions to the hospital rose 9% from 15,656 in 2016 to 17,038 in 2017, surgeries rose 14.5% to 11,000 in 2017 and emergency room visits hit a high of more than 47,000 in 2017 making a 12% increase. The parish has also started to attract more retirees which will put a huge demand on health care in the area.

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The housing market is booming and new home construction is benefiting.  NAHB reports that private residential construction spending has increased.  This increase is across the bonewhomesareontherise2ard from single family to multi-family homes.

Mulit-family accounts for $64.2 billion which attributes to the majority of the increase. Single family was shown to also hold a steady growth with a 0.9 percent increase in the third quarter of 2018.

The Census Construction Spending data details this strong growth which is from 2010 to April 2017. The rise in construction spending comes from the high spending on multi-family. The annual nonresidential spending increase  was based on class of power newhomesontherisearticlewhich totaled $8 billion, office comes next at $7.6 billion and last is lodging totaling $4.2 billion.

There was a 1.2% gain over the past four quarters for housing starts. For the third quarter of 2018, there were 54,000 total custom starts and over the last four quarters custom housing starts totaled 175,000. The data also concludes that spending on private nonresidential construction increased 8.9 percent which is an annual rate of $463.9 billion.

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A homes outdoor space can be just as important as the indoor living space. In fact, there are scientific backed reasons that a homeowner’s outdoor space makes them happy. Several of these include, it is a space for bonding, plants can reduce stress and give off oxygen to help you breathe deeply, it can make you feel younger and it can prevent depression.

Builder’s see the importance in this concept when building most homes. According to the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) out of the new homeswithpatioshomes started in 2017, 58.6 percent included patios. This is a huge jump from 2011 where under 50 percent of new homes had patios. The SOC (Survey of Construction) also points out that patios were more common than decks by 23.8 percent in 2017.

Patios differ in size and materials throughout the United States. The average size of a patio on a new home built in 2017 was 260 square feet according to the Annual Builder Practices Survey (BPS) conducted this year. Although patios are not as common in New England and Middle Atlantic, surprisingly when it comes to new homes with patios, they are the largest nationally topping off at over 370 square feet on average. The building materials used in the two regions usual consists of poured concrete with concrete pavers, natural stone or brick pavers. In the West South-Central poured concrete is not used as much as just concrete pavers.

Over the nine Census divisions there are vast differences on the amount of new homes that were built with patios in 2017. On the high end were the West South-Central at 80 percent, the Mountain at 71 percent, the Pacific at 62 percent and the South Atlantic at 62 percent. The division under 50 percent include West North-Central, East North-Central, New England, Middle Atlanta and East South-Central.

The Northshore is definitely a perfect area for a patio and will make a great space for homeowners to relax and spend weekends and evenings in the great outdoors.

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The holidays are fast approaching and many call it the season of giving. It is a time of not only giving to friends and family but also giving to those in need. One St. Tammany mom has organized a way not only to give during the holidays but all year round. Wendy Keller and her close friend Tina Billiot started an wendykellerorganization this year called Our Friends Closet which helps students in need.

Although St. Tammany is an affluent area, there are 316 students within the St. Tammany Parish public school district that are currently homeless and a projected 1,000 or more will be homeless by the end of the school year. There are not only homeless students in need, but also students who might not be able to afford essentials.

The catalyst to Keller’s idea was her 14-year old daughter who is a student in the St. Tammany Parish public schools. One day Keller’s daughter asked her for extra hygiene products to take to school for her friends that were homeless. After calling the school office at St. Tammany Junior High, she confirmed that this was a true need.

“It ate at me,” she said. “Then, in church one Saturday the homily was ‘If not me, then who? And if not now, then when?”’wendykeller2

That is when both Wendy Keller and Tina Billiot started to collect basic hygiene supplies and made their first delivery to two schools, St. Tammany Junior High and Salmen High School.  From then on word begin to spread through social media.

Currently the Billiot’s home has a room that is filled with supplies such as socks, deodorant, shampoo, toothbrushes and even quarters for the laundromats. Crews fill the supplies up into bags and they are delivered to the schools. There is no contact with the students, all the work is done through the counselors at each school.

Our Friends Closet is now registered as a nonprofit and now delivers to schools in St. Tammany, St. Bernard, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes and Ocean Springs, Mississippi.


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