Is 2018 the year to buy your new home? Why not Arizona's Rim Country?

 

Have you been waiting for the perfect time to buy that dream home or maybe a second home to get away from it all?  Maybe you live in Phoenix or the Valley of the Sun and you have been considering a nice cabin in the woods or a small mountain home, perched on top of a hill with amazing views, surrounded by lots of outdoor recreational opportunities? 

 

Sound nice?  It is all possible in Arizona's Rim Country, and it is truly amazing.  It offers the daily grinder a respite from the faster pace and chances to relax and recreate are abundant.  Located 90 miles from the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, Payson and Rim Country offer 4 distinct seasons, lakes and streams, parks, trails, over 100 special events a year and over 3.4 million acres of Ponderosa Pine Forest, the largest in the world.  If that is not enough the Majestic Mogollon Rim rises 2,000 feet from the floor below and provides for year round hunting, fishing, camping, and much more. If this is your dream, then 2018 might just be the year to make it happen.  Cliff Potts, Broker for Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Advantage Realty in Payson says, "Don't wait too long or you might miss the boat.  The increased buyer activity has spurred price increases that appear likely to continue.  With interest rates at historic lows and the current wide selection of properties available, there isn’t a better time than now to invest in a home that will provide peace and security as well as great potential financial returns, well into the future".

 

According to Holly Amaya a writer on Real Estate trends said, "New predictions for 2018 forecast more moderate gains in home prices and rising inventory levels, while low unemployment and record levels of consumer confidence mean more buyers are feeling good about their finances.

 

A lot depends on where you live (and how much you plan to finance), but these factors combined could mean 2018 will be your year to take the buying plunge.

 

1. Rates are going up

 

After years of record-low interest rates (hello, 3%!), the Fed is finally making some noticeable increases: The rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage broke the 4% mark last year. And with economic growth continuing to carry momentum, Javier Vivas, director of economic research for realtor.com® says, "we'll see at least two to four more rate increases throughout 2018. Rates are anticipated to hit 5% by the end of the year".

 

"The big story there is that those increases will further constrict affordability," Vivas says. "The more buyers wait, the more expensive it will get to buy—not just because of home prices, but because of inflationary pressure."

 

In other words, if you want in on the American dream, now might be the time.

 

2. Prices are climbing, but not crazily fast

 

Home prices have soared over the past few years, pricing otherwise well-positioned buyers out of high-cost areas and leading some experts to cry "bubble". But in 2018, price increases are expected to moderate.

 

Vivas forecasts a home price increase of 3.2% year over year, after finishing 2017 with a 5.5% year-over-year increase. Existing-home sale prices are predicted to increase 2.5% year over year.

Of course, it all depends on where you live. While red-hot markets such as San Francisco are predicted to finally lose some steam, sales numbers and home prices are poised to climb in Southern states such as Texas, Arizona and Florida, where economic momentum continues chugging along and new construction is happening in the right price points.

 

So what does that mean? Basically, home prices will still increase, but not at the same pace as they have over the past few years.

 

3. Inventory levels will begin to increase

 

An inventory shortage has plagued the U.S. housing market since 2015, forcing some buyers to settle (a tiny house with linoleum floors for $1 million, anyone?) and keeping others out of the buying game entirely. But by fall 2018, the tides will begin to turn.

 

The majority of inventory growth will happen in the middle - to upper-tier price point, in the ranges of $350,000 and $750,000 and above $750,000, Vivas predicts.

 

New home construction is also expected to expand. But that will happen slowly, thanks to a constricted labor market, limitations on the amount of lots and land that's available, tight bank financing for building loans, and a run-up in building material prices, says National Association of Home Builders chief economist Robert Dietz.

 

"It's been a slow climb back from the recession, and now we're confronting all of these limiting factors and supply-side constraints," Dietz says.

 

It's particularly tough, he says, for builders to break ground at the entry level for first-time buyers, particularity in high-cost coastal markets such as California. That means it will take longer for those inventory levels to recover.

 

But there's a bright spot: Builder confidence is at its highest level since 1999, according to the NAHB. And that means hope is on the horizon.

 

"As we head into 2019 and beyond, we expect to see the inventory increases take hold and provide relief for first-timers and drive sales growth," Vivas says.

 

The wildcard: Taxes and politics

 

When the Republican tax plan was introduced, the proposed elimination of the mortgage interest deduction was all anyone could talk about: While the new limitations on the deduction will affect only 2.5% of all existing mortgages in the U.S., it will have a disproportionate effect on Western markets, where 20% to 30% of mortgages are above the new threshold, according to Vivas.

 

Across the board, experts agree that the new tax plan decreases incentives for homeownership and reduces the tax benefits of owning a home—particularly in highly taxed, expensive markets such as California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey. But on the flip side, that means that if fewer folks are motivated to buy, then there’s less competition for those who want in the game. Plus, some taxpayers—including renters—will see a tax cut. That increase in buyers' disposable income could spur demand from folks who are looking to build equity as a homeowner, rather than flushing away their savings in rent.

 

"Buying remains the more attractive option in the long term—that remains the American dream, and it’s true in many markets where renting has become really the shortsighted option," Vivas says. "As people get more savings in their pocket, buying becomes the better option."

 

So what does this all mean if you are wanting to buy a home in Arizona's RIm Country?  Well, the national outlook seems to be turning around.  Potts says, "Homes in Payson range from $125,000 up to homes with multi-million-dollar values.  There is a great selection of homes available, while the market is quite active under $300,000, however it requires fast action when just the right home is found.  The year ahead promises to be a continued year of appreciation of home values.  The strong real estate market in Phoenix and California will continue to send potential home buyers to Rim Country.  The market continues to offer a wide selection of existing as well as new homes coming onto the market.  So if your plan is to retire, buy that second home or maybe you're looking to move your family and open a business, 2018 seems to be ripe with opportunity. 

 

Major portions of this post are based on an article written for Realtor.com by Holly Amaya who is based in San Diego and is a writer, lawyer, and communications strategist. She writes about real estate, legal, lifestyle, motherhood, and career issues.   Follow @hollyamaya

Cliff Potts is a Broker for Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Advantage Realty located in Payson, Arizona.  For further information about the Rim Country Market please call 928-474-2337or email Cliff at

 

 To see Rim Country MLS Information visit www.paysonarea.com

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