2016 Real Estate Trends

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Real estate trends for 2016

Real estate trends for 2016 are looking great, which may come at a surprise to some of you considering how well the market did in 2015. Can the momentum really keep going? The short answer, according to various reports, such as Emerging Trends of Real Estate: Yes.

The last couple years were the best the housing market has seen since 2007. While 2016 is off to a slower start than 2015’s market, investors and buyers should not worry about another decline any time soon. The market does vary from location to location, year to year, but with a decreased unemployment rate, things seem to be looking up in many areas. If you are looking to buy your first home (or a new home), you will want to consider the local job market first. Furthermore, this slowed pace is just an indication of the market returning to normal conditions after years of suffering from the housing bubble.

Before we look at this year’s real estate trends, let’s look at some of the contributing factors of this growth in recent years:

  • First, millennials have different spending priorities than previous generations, and they will have a major impact on the economy, according to this report by Goldman Sachs.  As Gen Y becomes more financially savvy, they are choosing investments they can make money on. Luckily for the housing market, homes are one of those investments. Despite it taking longer for millennials to start families and purchase homes than Gen X and Baby Boomers, they are contributing to this rise in the market and actually make up a large portion of first-time buyers.
  • Locations like Austin, Seattle, Denver, San Diego and Portland are among Emerging Trends 2016’s list of top 20 markets for real estate and development. The report also attributes this to the fact that many of these locations doing well in the market are also on the Kauffman Foundation Study top 10 list for entrepreneurship. Because of this, they are seeing many young business owners relocate to these areas for more opportunities.
  • Baby Boomers are reaching or are currently in retirement age and looking to downsize. This means more real estate opportunities in both selling and buying.

While many other factors contribute to the recent rise in the housing market, such as technology and globalization, here are some key trends happening in 2016 for real estate:

  1. A great year to sell. We’ve already mentioned the impact Generation Y has had on the market, but as millennials are reaching their prime spending years looking to purchase their first home, Generation X and Baby Boomers are looking to decrease their cost of living, after already spending years as homeowners. This means their contribution is a double function on real estate. While your local market does still determine the supply and demand of homes, this seems to be a trend across the board that will impact suburban areas, especially from those looking to start a family.
  2. The spotlight is taken by 18-hour cities. Areas defined as 18-hour cities, such as Portland and Austin, are perfect for millennials looking to advance in their career. These second-tier cities are developing rapidly and typically have a lower cost of living, hence their attraction to the younger crowds. They also provide lower costs for doing business along with similar job opportunities as the big scale cities, such as New York City and San Francisco. The 18-hour cities are perfect for investors right now, and 2016 will see more real estate investment options. It’s a great time to jump on this bandwagon.
  3. More office space comes in demand. With the rise of entrepreneurship and job growth in recent years, office space is also becoming more in demand. This means less vacant rental space for realtors and an increase in rents. An open floor plan is the latest trend for offices in addition to co-working spaces, thus resulting in a change in layout and design. These factors have all been helpful in strengthening commercial properties.
  4. Mortgage rates will slowly increase. Although there is a decrease in distressed sales property, mortgage rates are expected to slowly increase. The increase will mostly seem to be manageable as homeowners will begin to get creative with alleviating the amount such as utilizing opportunities through Airbnb. It will need to be taken into consideration, though, as this could mean borrowing more money with higher interest rates. Areas with the highest mortgage rates will see fewer (or slower) sales in real estate; however, the good news is that the pressure for affordable housing is on the rise. This brings me to the next trend:
  5. New homes to be more affordable. In previous years, new-home prices have been rising much more than existing-home prices, which makes it difficult for lower- to mid-level income folk to purchase a new home. Despite the profitability of building luxury-style homes, it limits potential financial growth and entry-level sales.  This year should see a shift from this strategy as home-builders begin to create a more affordable product.
  6. Unaffordable rents posing a problem. The cost of rent is excessively high in most of the United States, which is pushing people more toward home-buying options. This may seem like a positive trend toward real estate, it is in fact a concern. Due to low credit scores, limited savings and the like, purchasing a home for renting households is not an easy solution. The housing market does depend upon multiple key factors, and affordability and the economy are among them. If individuals are spending half of their income on rent, it can predictably hurt the overall well-being of the housing market.

Whether buying or selling, you always want to pay attention to your local market to determine what is best for you. Overall, as an investor or consumer, these key real estate trends should help to guide you along and keep you in the loop of what is happening and what is to come. In addition, it’s important to stay updated on the housing market regardless if you are currently involved in real estate. Consider these, along with location, before making your next big move.

4 Ways To Improve Your Net Worth

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Your net worth can be easier to improve than you think.

Do you know your net worth?

Knowing your net worth may not seem like an important detail to know, but being aware of this piece of information helps to keep you on track with your finances and monetary goals.

So, how do you determine your net worth and what is it? Basically, your net worth is the value of your assets (bonds, savings and retirement accounts included) subtracted from your liabilities (or debts). Calculating your liabilities is fairly easy, considering is it the total amount you owe including any loans, mortgages, and the like. Assets, on the other hand, can be a little trickier to establish due to debates many have in the industry about whether or not certain items, like your home or car, are actually considered an asset due to their depreciation over time as well as costs going in for maintenance. Assets should put money in your pocket, not take it out; however, for the sake of argument, let’s say your vehicle counts toward your overall net worth.

So, if your total assets are more in value than your liabilities, you have a positive net worth. If the value of your assets are less, then your net worth is negative. Throughout your life, your net worth will fluctuate. The goal, though, is to create a steady trend up to increase your assets, decrease your debts and, therefore, enhance your net worth.

If this stresses you out and it feels like you will never have less liabilities than assets, fear not. There are many ways you can improve your net worth. Here are a few:

    1. Increase your income. Easier said than done, right? But with the growing digital age, there are many ways you can make money online simply by being on your computer. If getting a higher paying job isn’t an option for you right now, look into blogging or selling items on Ebay or Esty. These are great ways to make some extra money each month, with little costs in overhead. Plus, you can use this side business for write-offs in the home on your taxes.
    2. Pay more money toward your debt. Any chance you have to pay more money toward your debt you should take. If you are only paying the minimum payment each month credit cards, student loans, etc., adjust your budget to try to include higher payments toward this debt. For instance, you may find that over the course of a month you are spending $30 or more on just going out for coffee. Cut back on those coffee shops and use that money toward your liabilities instead. Every penny counts, and your net worth will thank you.
    3. Save a quarter of your income. If you want to increase your net worth at a faster rate, saving more will help you do this. While a common recommended amount to save is 10% of your income, 25% will give your net worth percentage the extra oomph it needs. If this seems like a lot, consider taking 10% of one paycheck and 15% of another and use that total toward either a savings account, a retirement fund or something similar.
    4. Create a passive income. They say time is money, and the less time you have to spend actually making money while simultaneously increasing your bank account, the better for your net worth. There are a few routes you can take to create a passive income. Affiliate marketing is an option (if done ethically and correctly), but you can also invest in stock and bonds. Index funds, Guaranteed Investment Contracts (GICs), dividend stocks and bonds are examples of opportunities for you to make more money through income-generating assets. If you’ve never invested in stocks, you will want to consult with a professional first.

Finally, a great book on this subject is The Millionaire Next Door. The authors are a couple of marketing professors by the names of Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko. Their book is groundbreaking because it takes a realistic look at how America’s rich got that way. What they found was that millionaires were self-employed or owned boring profitable businesses. They also famously found that millionaires made decisions based cumulative future value (for example, saving money over your lifetime by not smoking) and took aggressive advantage of tax-deferred investing strategies. If you are serious about increasing your net worth, buy, read and re-read this book.

You won’t increase your net worth over night, but you can take continuous steps to improve it so that you can reach your financial milestones much faster.

 

Investment Strategies For Recent College Grads

Investment strategies for recent college grads.

Investment strategies for recent college grads.

Investment strategies should be one of your top priorities upon graduating college.

For those preparing to graduate from college this month, this post is for you.

If you have been following us, you may have read last week’s post regarding financial mistakes to avoid upon leaving your past four years of sanctuary. This week, we would like to discuss wise investment strategies for you as you (hopefully) begin interviewing more and potentially accepting promising job offers.

If you did not study finance or economics in your undergrad and you have never consulted with a financial planner, investing may seem like a foreign concept to you.

In addition to what we discussed last week, here are some ways you can set yourself up for a promising financial future:

Create a personal spending budget.

By not having a budget for yourself, you are more likely to spend more than you make each month as you begin to see an increase in your bank account thanks to your new job. However, holding yourself accountable will prevent any slip –ups as well as promoting positive spending and saving habits for your future. When everyone tells you to start now, they really are not kidding.

Set up your Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

If you’re lucky enough to land a job that offers a 401K, be sure to always add to it to help increase its value, even if your employer matches. The more you add in now, the better for your future. If you are among the many who do not receive this as a benefit with their place of employment, open an IRA now. A summary of what to look for in a retirement savings account includes:

  • First, there are two types: the Traditional and the Roth. Contributions to Traditional IRAs are tax deductible, but withdrawals during retirement are taxed. Roth IRAs are not tax deductible, but withdrawals are generally tax-free. In other terms, you avoid taxes when you put money in to Traditional IRAs, and you avoid taxes when you take money out in Roth IRAs during retirement.
  • No-fee IRA’s. Some charge you for simply holding an account with them known as a “custodial fee.” You will want to ask your institution if they charge any fees for hosting the IRA.
  • Additional charges. Another question you will want to ask your custodian is whether or not they charge any kind of transaction fee. These are typically charged when you go through a financial adviser to purchase your mutual fund. Be sure to also inquire about other fees that may be associated like contract charges.

It’s often recommended for those starting out their investment portfolio with limited funds to begin with a Traditional IRA. A concern is that individual tax fees for Traditional IRAs could be higher but is not guaranteed. You will want to weigh out all your options with both in order to determine what is best for you.

Ignore Get-Rich-Quick Schemes.

If something seems extremely complicated, it probably is. As a newbie to the world of investing follow the K.I.S.S. rule (“Keep It Simple Stupid”). Choose one source and keep it simple. Over time, you can grow your net worth, but it will be hard to accomplish if you don’t understand what’s happening to your money.

Don’t be afraid to purchase used items first.

The goal and purpose of growing your investment portfolio is to decrease debt. As a college graduate, you will already have loans unfortunately accumulated on your shoulders upon stepping foot off that campus for the last time as a student. So, buy used items and live below your means. You will work your way to having those nicer items much faster by choosing to spend less now.

Know your assets.

In this previous post, we discussed what comprises of an asset and what does not. In summary, an asset is something that puts money in your pocket; not removes it. Consider this as you make big purchases over the next few years.

Choose the right savings account.

If you are already excellent at saving money, that’s awesome! But, did you know you can make it a little more worth your while? Have your savings pay you back by choosing the right type of account to increase your investment will waive some worries for you in the future. Some to consider are:

  • Online Savings Account: Earning potential is higher.
  • Money Market Deposit Accounts: Despite minimum balance requirements and monthly fees, the interest paid is typically higher than that of traditional savings accounts.
  • Certificates of Deposit (CDs): Another opportunity for higher interest rates paid, but limitations do apply for withdrawals.
  • Automatic Savings Plans: Can help you obtain lower banking fees.

As always, and with any choices you make, be sure to do your research and ask a lot of questions to see what fits you best.

Invest in an emergency fund.

This may not seem important, but with the economy so up and down, you will want to be prepared for the worst. I’ve heard of several stories of companies going under or downsizing, leaving individuals back on a job hunt in an increasingly competitive market. In fact, the company I did my undergraduate internship with closed down several offices, leaving no opportunities for me upon graduating. I watched co-workers one by one receive the unfortunate talk. There is also the possibility of being fired, which I have also heard of from individuals who seemingly held a strong position in their occupation. It happens, and you need to be prepared. The recommended strategy is to save six months of savings to keep you afloat in case of an emergency.

Invest in higher payments to your student loans.

Only paying the minimum on your student loans will keep them hanging over your head longer, and thus, keeping more debt in your life longer. The average time it takes for a college grads pay off student loan debt is 21 years. It doesn’t have to be this way though.


 

Make your future better and financially more stable through these tactics and tips.

Do you already have an investment strategy in place for when you graduate?