Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Whitney L. Fite, the president of Angel Oak Home Loans LLC, for his top five factors for Atlanta’s housing market.
5. Mortgage guidelines and overall availability of credit continue to loosen, providing flexible solutions for new homebuyers. There are more opportunities for borrowers to purchase a home with lower credit scores, smaller down payments and flexible guidelines. This combination could create a domino effect for the real estate market.
4. Mortgage interest rates are again near historical lows, and Atlanta remains very affordable compared to many major cities, resulting in one of the highest affordability indexes in the country. Home sales in Atlanta are expected to rise 11 percent in 2015 compared to 2014. Interest rates below 4 percent, increasing rental rates and a healthier local job market are some of the key factors convincing more consumers to consider homeownership.
3. With the rise in rent, hundreds of thousands of potential first-time homebuyers will likely enter the market, led by the Millennials. Millennials have received a lot of attention lately as the generation whose below-normal homeownership rates are changing the landscape of the U.S. real estate market. First-time homebuyers accounted for approximately 29 percent of overall home purchases in 2014, where historically it is around 40 percent. The Federal Housing Administration’s reduction in the annual mortgage insurance premiums will likely have a positive impact on springing first-time homebuyers into action. I believe that 2015 could be the “Year of the Millennial” in real estate.
2. The increase in home inventory is one of the greatest reasons for the early year surge in Atlanta home sales. Atlanta MLS resale inventory is up 8.7 percent versus the same time last year, even as the absorption rate remains at four months. Atlanta new home permits were up 14.5 percent last year, compared to 3 percent nationally. With how problematic housing inventory has been in the past, such an increase is a good sign for Atlanta going forward.
1. Finally, job growth is accelerating. Atlanta is considered one of the top 10 cities for relocation, with several large companies recently relocating their corporate headquarters to the area. In 2014, the number of new jobs created in Atlanta was actually higher than the immigration of new residents. We are beginning to see income growth, and as that trend continues, more people will likely enter the housing market.
All of those factors add up to Atlanta being considered one of the 10 hottest housing markets for buyers and investors in 2015.
Whitney L. Fite is president of Angel Oak Home Loans LLC and has over two decades of real estate loan origination experience. Prior to Angel Oak Home Loans, Whitney served as Vice President, Area Production Manager at Regions Mortgage, and served in branch leadership positions at Opteum Mortgage and Homebanc Mortgage, where he consistently ranked among the top five loan originators in Georgia.