Kentucky REALTOR® News
Bobby Allen Hunton, 65, of Bowling Green passed away January 20 at Hospice of Southern Kentucky surrounded by family.
The Bowling Green native was born December 6, 1954 to the late Bobby Gene and Eleanor Jean (Miller) Hunton. Bobby was active in many professional and civic organizations including the following: former president of Winelectric, owner and electrician at Southern Electric and Lighting, Realtor at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, cofounded Hope for Homeless in 2012, and co-founder of Stuff the Bus in 2005. He was active in the REALTOR® Association of Southern Kentucky being honored as 2013 Realtor of the Year and serving as its 2014 President.
He served Kentucky REALTORS® as a board member having been elected Director at Large in 2018, serving as Region 2 Director, and as the Chair of the Bylaws Committee.
Bobby was a 1972 graduate of Warren Central High School and went on to receive a B.S. in Engineering at Western Kentucky University. He was also a Kentucky Colonel and a member of Calvary Baptist Church.
Survivors include his wife, Judy Barks Hunton; siblings, Mark Hunton (Ladonna), Teresa Young (Dennis), and Susan Yoakem (John); special friend, Ron Ragan; several nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
Funeral services will be held Thursday at 1 p.m. at the J.C. Kirby & Son Lovers Lane Chapel in Bowling Green with visitation from 2 until 8 p.m. Wednesday and after 9 a.m. Thursday.
As quoted in a 2016 interview with the Bowling Green Daily News, Bobby saw firsthand what students needed in school supplies when he was a student at the old Rockfield Elementary School. "I saw how teachers had to take their own money to buy school supplies for the kids. ... They don't make enough money to do what they do." In lieu of flowers, donations of school supplies or monetary donations to Stuff the Bus will be accepted at the funeral home.
Kentucky REALTORS® (KYR) announces a new initiative for 2020 that will allow REALTORS® to get further involved and give back to their Kentucky communities. The Community, Economic Development & Housing Affordability Grant Program (CODE) is a way for local REALTOR® Associations to play a leadership role in making their communities a better place to live and work.
National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) President Vince Malta gave the charge to REALTORS® to drive community development, promote housing affordability, and spur economic development. NAR’s Strategic Priority for 2020 also promotes enhancing the value of membership allowing us to, ‘own who we are’ and “lift as we climb”.
KYR President Lester Sanders said “the CODE Grant Program is a way for KYR to give back to its membership, directly affecting local communities and individuals. This initiative is just one of many ways that KYR continues to advocate for the citizens of Kentucky”, he said.
During 2020, KYR will make $60,000 in grant funding available to qualified programs and projects across Kentucky. This will entail $10,000 in funding for a project(s) within each of the state association’s six regions. Initiatives that drive economic growth, make quality of life improvements and support homeownership are the focus of this program. Grants may be used for community enhancements such as recreation areas that have an economic impact, projects that foster collaboration between stakeholders to develop plans to revitalize blighted, unused, or underused commercial space, or perhaps host educational activities to address affordable housing issues.
It is Sanders’ hope that as one of Kentucky’s largest and most influential trade associations, KYR can provide significant leadership in its communities to drive economic growth, promote community development and help more Kentuckians realize the American Dream of Homeownership.
2017 set the bar as the year to beat for home sales in the Commonwealth. With booming economic growth seen in the U.S. over the past eighteen months, it didn’t take long to top those marks set just two years ago. The closed listings level topped 50,000 homes sold for the first time in Kentucky history. December sales that topped the 2018 mark by almost 13% pushed 2019 Kentucky home sales to 50,891. This crested over the previous record (49,574 in 2017) by 2.5%. Steadily increasing prices due to rising demand ushered the total sales volume mark into record territory as well. $10.4 billion in residential real estate changed hands in 2019.
The consensus forecast of the National Association of REALTORS® called for 2.0% GDP growth, a 3.7% unemployment rate and a 3.8% average mortgage rate in 2020. Home prices in the U.S. are projected to rise by 3.6% in 2020 after a 5% gain in 2019.
“Sales prices continue to rise, but I am hopeful that we will see price appreciation slow in 2020,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Builder confidence levels are high, so we just need housing supply to match and more home construction to take place in the coming year.”
The median home price in Kentucky for December was up over 7% from the previous year at $175,000. This is the fifth consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The year-to-date figure for 2019 stands at $172,335, which is 5.6% higher than last year’s mark of $163,169.
December’s days-on-market (DOM) figure rose 8% over last year’s mark to 147 days. This increase is indicative that homes that have been on the market for some time are finally selling as demand is steadily increasing without an adequate supply of newly listed homes to satisfy consumers.
Lester Sanders, 2020 President of Kentucky REALTORS®, says that increasing home prices highlights the issue of housing affordability that the association is trying to bring to the forefront in 2020. “Kentucky’s communities can suffer even when the housing market is buzzing”, Sanders said. “REALTORS® will continue to advocate for Kentuckians to reduce the cost of buying a home and protecting homeowners’ rights.”
Homes available for sale remain under the ideal level of a 6-month supply. The December figure of 4.8 months of inventory is down 4.7% from last year’s figure.
Kentucky REALTORS® is proud to announce that the statewide participation total for the second annual Kentucky REALTOR® Ring Day reached $20,901.29. This total is cumulative from the state REALTOR® association and fourteen different local REALTOR® associations across the Commonwealth.
Leading the way again this year was the Paducah Board of REALTORS®. The area total raised there reached $8,984.08 thanks to a matching donation from that board of $2,500.
2019 KYR President, Rip Phillips, is pleased that so many REALTORS® are choosing to give back to their communities in this way. “It’s great to see REALTORS® out in the community and putting a face to the giving spirit we try to embody all year through. We’re proud of our track record of investing time in the places we live and work. Spreading a little Christmas cheer in the process is just an added bonus.”
The Salvation Army has been helping coordinate “Ring Days” for different organizations for years, but this event marked the second time that Kentucky REALTORS® and other REALTOR® local associations teamed up to help with the kettle campaign. Kettles were staffed at retail outlets where shoppers were greeted and invited to donate.
Fourth-quarter home sales in Kentucky began with a strong October. Year-to-date home sales through October stands at 43,353 units and was an almost 5% increase over the 2018 total of 41,352. A strong October sales mark of 4,496 (up 8.4% over 2018) holds the state near record-breaking territory. Sales volume in the Commonwealth saw nearly a billion dollars in inventory change hands. The figure of $940 million was up an impressive 16.8% over October 2018 ($805 million).
Across the nation, total existing-home sales increased by 1.9% from September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million in October. Despite lingering regional variances, overall sales are up 4.6% from a year ago (5.22 million in October 2018). Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®, said this sales increase is encouraging and he expects added growth in the coming months. “Historically-low interest rates, continuing job expansion, higher weekly earnings and low mortgage rates are undoubtedly contributing to these higher numbers,” said Yun. “We will likely continue to see sales climb as long as potential buyers are presented with an adequate supply of inventory.”
The median sales price in Kentucky was up 8.3% over October 2018 at $175,500. Year-to-date that total is up approximately 5% (at $172,553) from last year’s mark of $163,321.
October’s days-on-market (DOM) figure inched back up once again to 101 days. This is an increase of 6% over last year’s 95 days in October of 2018. Year-to-date, it is taking homes an average of 103 days to go under contract once listed.
Rip Phillips, President of Kentucky REALTORS®, reports that Kentucky’s market outperformed the south region of the U.S. in October. “Sales in the south are up about 7%”, he said. “The state of Kentucky, fueled by this robust and growing economy, showed an increase of almost eight-and-half percent. The affordability here is also allowing people to enter the market that previously could not do so. Lower mortgage rates are keeping the cost of owning a home stable even while the sale prices are steadily increasing.”
The inventory number for the state slipped slightly to 4.3 months. This is down just 2.5% over last October’s total of 4.4 months. Most economists believe a balanced housing market offers a 6-month inventory level.
The pace for home sales in Kentucky continues to pick up steam entering the fall season. September’s year-to-date home sales figure stands at 40,999 units. This is a 1.9% increase over the 2018 year-to-date figure of 40,214. A very strong September market experienced by counties in central and southern Kentucky has pushed this figure into year-end record territory. The Lexington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS® experienced a 17% increase in year-over-year sales last month. As a whole, the Commonwealth saw 4,719 transactions take place in September. This is up 5.4% from last year’s figure of 4,463 marking the second-highest September sales number on record.
Unlike Kentucky, existing-home sales across the nation fell 2.2% from August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million in September. Despite the decline, overall sales are up 3.9% from a year ago (5.18 million in September 2018). Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said that despite historically low mortgage rates, sales have not commensurately increased, in part due to a low level of new housing options. “We must continue to beat the drum for more inventory,” said Yun, who has called for additional home construction for over a year. “Home prices are rising too rapidly because of the housing shortage, and this lack of inventory is preventing home sales growth potential.”
The median home price in Kentucky inched up from the previous month but is 4.7% over September of 2018 at $143,653. This is the fifth consecutive month of year-over-year increases. Year-to-date that figure stands at $138,403, which is 3.7% higher than last year’s mark of $133,317.
September’s days-on-market (DOM) figure plummeted over 13% to 97 days. This is down from 110 days in September of 2018 and marked the first time that number has dropped below 108. The decrease in the amount of time it is taking for homes in the Bluegrass to go under contract is indicative of the shortage of homes on the market currently being experienced in Kentucky.
Rip Phillips, President of Kentucky REALTORS®, says that most markets in Kentucky bucked the national trend and saw an increase in sales this month. “Kentucky’s economy is really humming right now. Low unemployment coupled with confidence in the future is allowing the REALTOR® community to help Kentuckians with the great wealth-building activity of purchasing a home.”, he said.
The inventory number for the state has held below 4 months for seven consecutive months in 2019. The September figure of 3.89 months is up just 2 weeks from last month’s number but is almost 14% over the September 2018 figure of 4.42 months. Most economists believe a balanced housing market offers a 6-month inventory level.
Five years ago (August 2015) homes in the Commonwealth took an average of 139 days to go under contract. This past August, homes stayed on the market an average of just 96 days. That is the shortest timeframe for August on record. 5,329 homes were sold in August compared to 5,485 homes in August of last year, a 3% decrease. Year-to-date figures are trending higher, however. So far in 2019, 36,251 homes have sold which is an increase of 1.4% over 2018’s August YTD figure of 35,751. To date, 2019 is ahead of 2017’s record-year pace of 35,814 homes sold.
Nationally, pending home sales increased in August, a welcome rebound after a prior month of declines, according to the National Association of Realtors®. “It is very encouraging that buyers are responding to exceptionally low interest rates,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “The notable sales slump in the West region over recent years appears to be over. Rising demand will reaccelerate home price appreciation in the absence of more supply.” The National Association of Realtors® is forecasting home sales to rise 0.6% in 2019 and another 3.4% in 2020.
The median home price in Kentucky was up 5.5% over August of 2018 at $142,233. This is the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year increases. Year-to-date that figure stands at $137,775 which is 3.5% higher than last year’s figure of 132,866.
August’s days-on-market (DOM) figure dropped at 96 days. This marks the first time that number has dropped below 100. This is the second-lowest DOM figure on record behind July of 2018 (95 days).
Rip Phillips, President of Kentucky REALTORS®, says that the market is rife with opportunities to help solve a housing affordability problem. “Legislators and communities alike can impact the housing shortage issue. From easing zoning and regulatory restrictions to making financing more affordable, REALTORS® are always a part if the discussion to help the consumer fulfill the dream or homeownership”, he said.
The inventory number for the state has held below 4 months for six consecutive months again this year. The August figure of 3.32 is up only slightly from last month’s number and is down over 7% over the August 2018 figure of 3.56 months. Most economists believe a balanced housing market offers a 6-month inventory level.
Rising prices do not yet seem to be hampering home sales as the figure rebounded from a slight dip in June. 5,471 homes were sold last month compared to 5,078 homes in July of 2018, a 7% increase. Year-to-date figures are also trending higher. So far in 2019, 30,863 homes have sold. This is up nearly 2% over 2018’s July YTD figure of 30,344 and just 87 homes (.25%) below that of July 2017’s number. 2017 was the highest year on record in Kentucky with 2018 ending a close second.
Nationwide, existing-home sales rose 2.5% from June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.42 million in July. Overall sales are up 0.6% from a year ago (5.39 million in July 2018). “Falling mortgage rates are improving housing affordability and nudging buyers into the market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. However, he added that the supply of affordable housing is severely low.
The median home price in Kentucky last month was up 8.5% over July of 2018 at $146,325. This is the third straight month of year-over-year increases and the largest jump of 2019. “The shortage of lower-priced homes have markedly pushed up home prices. Clearly, the inventory of moderately-priced homes is inadequate, and more home building is needed,” said Yun. “Some new apartments could be converted into condominiums thereby helping with the supply, especially in light of new federal rules permitting a wider use of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgages to buy condo properties.”
July’s days-on-market (DOM) figure stands at 97 days. The only other month when homes sold faster was last July when the statewide DOM figure reached the all-time low of 96. Contributing to this low number is the Northern Kentucky Association REALTORS® market. That area saw its lowest DOM month in July when homes went under contract, on average, in just 28 days.
Rip Phillips, President of Kentucky REALTORS®, says that the strong economy is causing the demand for housing to persist. “More Kentuckians than ever are wanting to buy homes right now”, he said. “Low inventory has been an ever-present theme this year and is becoming problematic for homebuyers looking at the $150k - $250k price range. The homes that meet that need are selling fast.”
The inventory number for the state sits at under 4 months for the fifth consecutive month. July’s figure of 3.21 is down 19% over the July 2018 figure of 3.82 months. Most economists believe a balanced housing market offers a 6-month inventory level.
OPINION by Robertson "Rip" Phillips, 2019 President of Kentucky REALTORS®
As an association representing approximately 11,300 real estate professionals in Kentucky, we have heard loudly from our members for years that they not only cannot afford to insure themselves but in many cases, their families. REALTORS® are sole proprietors and working small business owners.
According to the US Department of Labor, 2.07 million people are employed in Kentucky. Seven percent of the total employed workforce in the U.S. are independent contractors. For Kentucky that is approximately 145,000 – (roughly the populations of Bowling Green, Owensboro, and Hopkinsville combined) who do not have access to the often more affordable health care insurance option available to those employed by larger companies through a vehicle known as Association Health Plans (AHPs). Who are Kentucky’s independent contractors? In real estate professions, these individuals are auctioneers, appraisers, plumbers, home inspectors, and REALTORS®, to name a few. Studies indicate that a decreasing number of these individuals are covered by private health insurance. As a second-career REALTOR®, a huge obstacle for me when entering this industry was the lack of health care coverage provided by an employer. In my case, individual insurance was a tremendous financial burden and I was thankful to be able to attain coverage under my wife’s employer’s plan in order to make the commitment to a new career as an independent contractor. Unfortunately, not all aspiring REALTORS® or independent business owners are as fortunate.
At the Federal level, Congress passed legislation in 2018 to expand the current laws around AHPs that would give independent contractors (working owners and sole proprietors) the ability to participate in AHPs, just as their small business counterparts have enjoyed for years. Early this year, and with much appreciation, we acknowledged the wisdom of the Kentucky General Assembly to conform Kentucky’s insurance laws with the federal rules making Kentucky one of the first states to be able to create these plans for this category of businesspeople. Kentucky’s lawmakers were strong in their views on this as the senate was unanimously in favor and 81 of the 100 members of the House in Kentucky’s General Assembly voted to pass this legislation which was recently signed into law by Governor Bevin.
Unfortunately, a lawsuit filed by 12 state attorneys general is challenging the rule. In March a federal judge in Washington, D.C., struck down a U.S. Department of Labor rule which would have opened Association Health Plan options to Realtors® and other U.S. small business owners, and that has stopped the forward motion of these new rules in their tracks.
Those opposed to the new rule changes believe the new laws for AHPs would sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and that if the new rules are upheld at the federal level, the new health plans could discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions through expensive riders and increased premiums. This is simply inaccurate, as AHPs are specifically forbidden to deny coverage to individuals based on health factors. The cost of small group market plans typically has been 8 to 18 percent higher than they are for large employer plans depending on the insurance market. Seventy percent of the National Association of REALTORS® members surveyed also indicated that they did not qualify for a premium tax credit under the Affordable Care Act. The ACA requires the “employer” to have two or more employees. A working owner without employees is considered both an employer and an employee under the federal Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), but not under the ACA.
Being part of an AHP provides the individuals who choose to be their own bosses - and their families - with the opportunity to purchase health care at a more affordable cost since AHPs and the subsequent rules would allow state-based plans to provide health coverage to working owners with no employees. We applaud Kentucky’s General Assembly for attempting to move Kentucky forward in addressing the health care dilemma faced by so many Kentuckians and we are hopeful that the outcome of the federal lawsuit will be to uphold the rules Congress established to allow these plans to be created in all the states. In our opinion, this is not a partisan issue, but one of free-market competition that will always benefit the informed consumer. I am optimistic that hard-working Kentuckians will be offered freedom and flexibility through another option to satisfy their health insurance needs and give them the ability to choose a plan that best suits their needs.
Recently, the Kentucky Real Estate Commission unveiled proposed changes to certain administrative regulations relating to advertising and signage that have been unchanged for many years. Among the changes were “clarifications” and new definitions for a variety of terms.
On July 10, Kentucky REALTORS® Government Affairs Committee discussed the definitions and advertising requirements found in 201 KAR 11:011, 201 KAR 11:105, and 201 KAR 11:461. The committee made four recommendations for changes to the newly proposed regulations.
Kentucky REALTORS®’ President Rip Phillips delivered these comments at the public hearing held on July 23 in Frankfort. The comment period for these proposed regulations ended July 31. The recommendations provided by KYR are:
- Definition of “Single Agency” – KYR recommends that the Commission leave the definition of “Agency” as is and remove the definition of “Single Agency”. The KYR Government Affairs Committee feels the term “Single Agency” would be confusing and would, therefore, cause members to noncompliant with this part of the regulation.
- Definition of “Family Relationship” - KYR recommends to the Commission the removal of the phrase “regardless of distance of relationship” in the definition of “Family Relationship” due to this potentially becoming an issue in small communities and areas of Kentucky. The Kentucky REALTORS would like to propose the new definition of “Family Relationship” read as follows: “any known familial relationship between a licensee and party”.
- Regulation Related to Advertising - KYR recommends that the addition of the phrase “or written” to Section 3(4). The new Section 3(4) would now read as follows: Advertisements that include an audiovisual presentation shall include an audible or written announcement of the content required by Section 2(2) of this administrative regulation at the beginning of the advertisement. KYR’s Government Affairs Committee feels this is needed due to the fact that audiovisual presentations are often short in nature. If the person making the audiovisual presentation were required to say everything in Section2(2) instead of displaying it on the screen, the video would last much longer. For this reason, the KYR Government Affairs Committee would like to see the words “or written” added to Section 3(4).
- Regulation Related to Advertising - In Section 8 of the newly proposed advertising regulation, the language states that “the Commission shall begin enforcement of Section 3 sixty (60) days after the effective date of this administrative regulation.” KYR recommends a six (6) month effective date. Our proposal would read as follows: “Section 8. Effective Dates. The Commission shall begin enforcement of Section 3 six (6) months after the effective date of this administrative regulation”. Our members felt sixty (60) days was not an adequate amount of time to become compliant the newly proposed Advertising regulation.
Newly filed administrative regulations changes under 201 KAR 11.220, 11.210, 11.190, 11.170, and 11.002 that address mandatory E & O insurance, licensing & renewal for brokers and agents, procedures for filing complaints and requirements for education providers will be reviewed by the KYR Government Affairs Committee to determine if any comments and/or recommendations for changes to them are needed. If so, KYR will recommend those changes at a hearing now scheduled for August 21st at 10am in Frankfort. Anyone interested in attending and being involved is encouraged to attend. Of course, KYR will update its membership on any progress made during this important process.
KYR believes that the continued growth of the relationship between the Kentucky Real Estate Commission and Kentucky REALTORS® serves to strengthen an industry vital to the Kentucky economy. We appreciate the Commission members’ willingness to serve their profession and the citizens of Kentucky.
NOTE: Anyone interested in reviewing the proposed regulations or learning more about the hearings and public comment period may visit the KREC website at krec.ky.gov.