What’s in store for 2014?

Sorry to start out 2014 with a bad-news post…but writing about all sides of the real estate market is how I roll!

fha logoOn December 31, 2013, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) reduced the loan limits for its single-family insurance program in 652 counties, while increasing them in 89 counties. The changes result from the expiration of provisions of the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008.

In Palm Beach County, the FHA loan limit for 2013 was $423,750…which meant that a buyer could obtain an FHA insured loan for $423,750. Typically, buyers choose the FHA loan route for 2 reasons: 1) they have little to no down payment, or, 2) their credit score would not enable them to obtain convention financing.

With an FHA loan, a buyer could purchase a home with as little as 3.5% down. On the aforementioned 2013 limit, that would have been a home sales price of about $439,000.

But starting now, the maximum loan amount for an FHA buyer is only $345,000! A $94,000 reduction…almost 20%! This new loan limit will translate into a new maximum purchase price of about $358,000.

Lets look at what effect these new limits would have had if we overlay the 2014 limits on to 2103 loans.

In 2013, there were 2301 FHA home sales (about 5% of the total sales) reported in MLS statistics. Of those 2301, 127 of them fell above the 2014 limits. This doesn’t necessarily mean that those 127 sales would not have happened in 2014 limits were in place, but in my 15+ years of experience I have found that the great majority of FHA buyers do not have much money for the down payment and that is why they pay the higher fees and higher interest rates associated with FHA as FHA is about the only game in town for this type of buyer.

So lets assume that 20% of those FHA buyers could have financed the loan another way…that leaves 100 sales between $357,000 and $439,000 that would not have been possible (or will not be possible this year). No matter how you interpret it, losing 5% of your prospective buyer pool is not good for home sellers in 2014.

Another interesting and potentially impactful statistic: in 2013 there were 767 all cash sales in the $357k-$439k range. This equates to 43% being cash sales. The all cash sale market is expected to contract again this year as investors/hedge funds continue to scale back on purchases as prices have risen 25% or more since the bottom in mid 2011.

All-in-all, I foresee a tightening of the real estate market going forward this year. I am of the opinion that sales prices will be flat-to-negative. But on the flip side…for the (non FHA) buyer, buying sooner rather than waiting will be advice I will be comfortable giving seeing as how interest rates are expected to continue climbing (with the next ‘taper’ on the horizon) and underwriting rules are going to be getting tougher.

If you’d like to discuss your options as a seller or buyer in this market give me a call at 561.602.1258

Thanks for reading, Steve Jackson

And come to visit us in our new office (We are now a REMAX franchise). we’re located on the SW corner of Hypoluxo and Jog in the Charleston Square Plaza. 6582 Hypoluxo Rd., Lake Worth 33467


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