Now’s the Time to Move-Up and Upgrade Your Current Home!
July 14, 2019
Homes priced at the top 25% of the price range for a particular area of the country are considered “premium homes.” In today’s real estate market, there are deals to be had at the higher end! This is great news for homeowners wanting to upgrade from their current house.
Much of the demand for housing over the past couple of years has come from first-time buyers looking for their starter home. Many of the more expensive homes listed for sale have not seen as much interest.
According to ILHM’s Luxury Report, this mismatch in demand and inventory of luxury and premium homes has created a Buyer’s Market. For the purpose of the report, a luxury home was defined as one that costs $1 million or more. "A Buyer’s Market indicates that buyers have greater control over the price point. This market type is demonstrated by a substantial number of homes on the market and few sales, suggesting demand for residential properties is slow for that market and/or price point.”
The authors of the report were quick to point out that current conditions at the higher end of the market are no cause for concern. "While luxury homes may take longer to sell than in previous years, the slower pace, increased inventory levels and larger differences between list and sold prices, represent a normalization of the market, not a downturn.”
Luxury can mean different things to different people. To one person, luxury is a secluded home with plenty of property and privacy. To another, it could be a penthouse at the center of a bustling city. Knowing what characteristics mean luxury to you will help your agent find you the home of your dreams.
Bottom Line: If you are debating upgrading your current house to a premium or luxury home, now is the time!
Should I Refinance My Home?
July 7, 2019
With the recent lower interest rates, many homeowners are wondering if they should refinance. To decide if refinancing is the best option for your family, start by asking yourself these questions:
Why do you want to refinance? There are many reasons to refinance, but here are three of the most common ones:
Lower your interest rate and payment – This is the most popular reason. If you have a 5% interest rate or higher, it might be worth seeing if you can take advantage of the current lower interest rates, hovering below 4%, to reduce your monthly payment and overall cost of the loan.
Shorten the term of your loan – If you have a 30-year loan, it may be advantageous to change it to a 15 or 20-year loan to pay off your mortgage sooner.
Cash-out refinance – With home prices increasing, you might have enough equity to cash out and invest in something else, like your children’s education, a vacation home, or a new business.
Once you know why you might want to refinance, ask yourself the next question: How much is it going to cost? There are fees and closing costs involved in refinancing, and Lenders Networkexplains: "If you were to refinance that loan into a new loan, total closing costs will run between 2%-4% of the loan amount.” They also explain that there are options for no-cost refinance loans, but be on the lookout: "A no-cost refinance loan is when the lender pays the closing costs for the borrower. However, you should be aware that the lender makes up this money from other aspects of the mortgage. Usually pay charging a slightly higher interest rate so they can make the money back.”
If you’re comfortable with the costs of refinancing, then ask yourself one more question: Is it worth it? To answer this one, we’ll use an example. Let’s assume you have a $200,000 home loan. A 4% refinance cost will be $10,000. If you want to lower your interest rate from 6% to 4%, then refinancing is going to save you $244 per month. To break even ($10,000/$244), you need to continue owning your home for over 40 months.
Now that you know how the math shakes out, think about how much longer you’d like to own your current home. If you plan to stay for more than 3 years, then maybe it is advantageous for you to refinance.
If, however, your current home does not fulfill your present needs, you might want to consider using your potential refinance costs for a down payment on a new move-up home. You will still get a lower interest rate than the one you have on your current house, and with the equity you’ve already built, you can finally purchase the home of your dreams.
Bottom Line: There are many opportunities for growth in the current real estate market. To find out what’s right for your family, let’s get together to help you understand your options and guide you toward the best decision.
Know What to Expect at Your Home Inspection
June 30, 2019
So you made an offer and it was accepted. Now, your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. How to Choose an Inspector: As your agent we do have a short list of inspectors that we have worked with in the past that we can recommend to you. HGTVrecommends that you consider the following five areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:
1. Qualifications – find out what’s included in your inspection and if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
2. Sample Reports – ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. In most cases, the more detailed the report, the better.
3. References – do your homework – ask for phone numbers and names of past clients who you can call to ask about their experiences.
4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations often means that continued training and education are provided.
5. Errors & Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human, after all, and it is possible that they might have missed something they should have seen.
Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof or crawling around in the attic and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace and chimney, the foundation, and so much more!
Bottom Line: They say, ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money into a home of your own. Work with a professional who you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.
Millennials Are Increasing the Demand for Condominiums
June 23, 2019
When deciding to buy a home, people are presented with many different options. The type of home you buy depends on your needs, budget, and in many cases, the desired maintenance level. For many millennials, their choice has been buying a condominium!
According to CoreLogic, “Last year about 43% of all condo home-purchase mortgage applications were submitted by FTHBs… Similarly, the data show condos were more popular with young homebuyers and empty nesters. For instance, 21% of all condo home-purchase mortgage applications were submitted by buyers aged 18 to 30, compared with just 17% of all single-family home-purchase mortgage applications by the same group in 2018.” With home prices increasing year-over-year, it makes sense millennials are buying condos instead of a single-family house. As a result, the demand for this type of home has been increasing.
As this graph explains, “The younger millennials are the largest cohort and are likely to drive much of the condo demand in the coming years”.
Bottom Line: If you are a millennial considering buying a home, understand that there are many options available. You may find yourself in a condominium as your first home. If you would like to determine which type of home best fits your needs, let’s get together to evaluate your options!
5 Reasons to Sell Your House This Summer
June 16, 2019
Here are 5 compelling reasons listing your home for sale this summer makes sense.
1. Demand Is Strong: The latest Buyer Traffic Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase… and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other for the same home. Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.
2. There Is Less Competition Now: Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in most of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers.
Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in his or her home was six, but that number has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. Many homeowners have a pent-up desire to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years due to a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners are granted the freedom to move.
Many homeowners were reluctant to list their home over the last couple of years for fear that they would not find a home to move in to. That is all changing now as more homes come to market at the higher end. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until additional inventory comes to market before you to decide to sell.
3. The Process Will Be Quicker: Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. Buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. This makes the entire selling process much faster and simpler. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to 43 days. (Last numbers available.)
4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up: If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has created a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, it will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own! According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 4.8% over the next year. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.
5. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life: Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should? Only you know the answers to these questions. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to start living the life you desire. That is what is truly important.
Renting or Owning, What Is Better for You?
June 9, 2019
In a real estate market where home prices are rising, many have begun to reexamine the idea of buying a home, choosing instead, to rent for a while. But often, there is a dilemma: should you keep paying rent, knowing that rent is rising too, or should you lock in your housing cost and buy a home?
Let’s look at both scenarios and analyze the pros and cons of each:
Renting: With the housing market crash in 2008, many homeowners lost their homes and became renters. According to Iproperty Management, “the number of households renting their home … rose from 31.2% of households in 2006 to 36.6% in 2016”. Some choose to rent because it is more convenient for their lifestyle. Those whose job requires frequent moves need the flexibility that a 6-12 month lease agreement gives them so they can move to their next assignment! Many renters believe that renting is cheaper because they do not have to pay for maintenance and repairs. (Not true! Landlords work those expenses into your rent and other fees). Another reason many rent is that they feel like they cannot afford the down payment and closing costs required to buy a house, due to their inability to save much after paying their monthly expenses.
That can be true! Nearly 1 in 4 renters spend at least half their household income on rent. In 2017 the “severely” burdened renters’ rate was 24.7% with 24.9% reporting they were “moderately” burdened. Renting also brings some financial disadvantages. Homeowners can take advantage of tax deductions that let them claim their property taxes and mortgage interest. Additionally, there is a big risk that your rent will go up every time you renew your lease, as we know the median asking rent has been increased steadily since 1988!
One of the major challenges with renting is that you don’t have a space to call your own. When you rent, you are paying your landlord’s mortgage, and therefore they are the beneficiaries of the equity gained from paying that mortgage.
Now let’s explore the other side: Homeownership: In the past, we have mentioned the many financial and non-financial benefits of becoming a homeowner. So, let’s just focus on the one big difference between renting and owning, the ability to lock in your housing cost!
Assuming you will have a fixed-rate mortgage, your costs are predictable! You will know exactly what your mortgage payment will be for the next 15-30 years. The homeownership rate in 2018 was 64.4%, and has been on the rise. Those households locked in their housing cost rather than wait for their landlord to raise their rent again!
What are the disadvantages of owning a home? Well, it is a long-term financial commitment! It is not easy to pack quickly and move. You will need time and good planning to do it in a short amount of time.
Unless you have a homeowner’s association (HOA) (and you pay an HOA fee) or a home warranty, you will be responsible for maintenance and taking care of the home. This may range anywhere from regular landscaping to major repairs.
Bottom Line: Like everything in life, there are pros and cons. What is better for you depends on your situation! If you are interested in becoming a homeowner and want to discuss the pros and cons, let’s get together to help you review your current situation and answer any questions you may have!
Time for Your Dream Home, Gen X!
June 2, 2019
During the housing market crash, Gen X homeowners lost more wealth than other generations. However, things are changing now! A strong economy, increasing home prices, and the recovery of the housing market are helping this generation to regain their lost wealth.
According to Pew Research Center, “Their fortunes have rebounded more than those of other generations during the post-recession economic expansion and as home and stock prices have risen. Since 2010, the median net worth of Gen X households has risen 115%. In fact, in 2016, the most recent year with available data, the net worth of a typical Gen X household had surpassed what it was in 2007 ($84,200 vs. $63,400)”.
The same report also mentioned, “15% of Gen X’s homeowners were ‘underwater’ on their homes in 2010 (meaning they owed more than they owned). By 2016 only 3% were underwater.”
As a result of homes regaining market value and their increasing net worth, many Gen Xers are presented with the opportunity of selling their current home in order to move up to the house they always dreamed of!
The report also provided some highlights about their purchase:
Greatest share that purchased a multi-generational home (16%).
Largest share that purchased a detached single-family home (88%).
Highest median household income ($111,100).
Bought the most expensive homes of all the generations.
Job-related relocation was identified as the primary reason to buy.
But this generation is not only buying- they are selling too!
Largest share of home sellers (25%).
Highest median household income among sellers ($123,600).
Tenure in the previous home was a median of 9 years.
House too small was indicated as the primary reason to sell.
91% sold the home using a real estate professional.
Bottom Line: If you are a Gen Xer who would like to know exactly how much your house is worth today so you can move up to the home of your dreams, let’s get together to analyze your current circumstances.
Multigenerational Homes Are on the Rise
May 26, 2019
As loved ones start to get older, we start to wonder: how long will they be able to live alone? Will they need someone there to help them with daily life? There’s a reason to ask those questions now more than ever, as the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78 years old! As a result, 41% of Americans in the market are searching for a home that can accommodate a multigenerational family. The graph below shows the number of people by generation that purchased a multigenerational home because they will either be taking care of an aging parent or they just want to spend time together.
Of those buyers, 26% indicated they will be taking care of an aging parent, and 14% said they want to spend time with an aging parent. These numbers do not come as a surprise. According to Pew Research Center, 64 million Americans (20% of the population) lived in a multigenerational household in 2016 (Last numbers available).
An increasing number of studies affirm the benefits of being part of a multigenerational household. These benefits aren’t just for the grandchildren, but for the grandparents as well. According to these two resources:
TheUniversity of Oxford: "Children who are close to their grandparents have fewer emotional and behavioral problems and are better able to cope with traumatic life events, like a divorce or bullying at school.”
Boston College: "Researchers found that emotionally close ties between grandparents and adult grandchildren reduced depressive symptoms in both groups.” This research gives helpful insight into why 41% of Americans are in the market to buy a multigenerational home.
Bottom Line: If you have a home that could accommodate a multigenerational family and are thinking about selling, now is the perfect time to put it on the market! The number of buyers looking for this type of home will only continue to increase.
A Lack of Inventory Continues to Impact the Housing Market
May 19, 2019
The housing crisis is finally in the rear-view mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up and distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen to their lowest point in years. The market will continue to strengthen in 2019.
However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory! Buyer demand naturally increases during the summer months, but supply has not kept up.
Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject:
Danielle Hale, Chief Economist of Realtor.com "Heading into spring, U.S. prices are expected to continue to rise and inventory is expected to continue to increase, but at a slower pace than we’ve seen the last few months as fewer sellers want to contend with this year’s more challenging conditions… A buyer’s experience will vary notably depending on the market and price point they’re targeting.”
Bottom Line: If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time! Demand for your house will be strong at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price!
Starting the Search for Your Dream Home? Here Are 5 Tips!
May 12, 2019
In today’s real estate market, low inventory dominates the conversation in many areas of the country. It can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared.
In a realtor.comarticle entitled, "How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind,” the author highlights some steps that first-time homebuyers can take to help carry their excitement of buying a home throughout the whole process.
1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search: One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach. This step will also help you narrow your search based on your budget and won’t leave you disappointed if the home you tour, and love, ends up being outside your budget!
2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’: Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now? Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like and then qualify them as ‘must-haves’, ‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help keep you focused on what’s most important.
3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood You Want to Live In: Every neighborhood has its own charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, the article suggests test-driving the area. Make sure that the area meets your needs for "amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”
4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It: Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that would best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code, doesn’t mean that you need to tour every listing in that zip code. An example from the article says, "if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”
5. Document Your Home Visits: Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy to document what you love and don’t love about each property you visit. Making notes on the listing sheet as you tour the property will also help you remember what the photos mean, or what you were feeling while touring the home.
Bottom Line: In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home.
2 Trends Helping Keep Housing Affordable
May 5, 2019
Two positive trends have started to emerge that impact the 2019 Spring Housing Market. Mortgage interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate loan have dropped to new lows, right as reports show that wages have increased at their highest rate in decades!
These two factors have helped keep housing affordable despite low supply of houses for sale driving up prices. First American’s Chief Economist, Mark Fleming, explains the impact, "Ongoing supply shortages remain the main driver of the performance gap as the housing market continues to face an inventory impasse – you can’t buy what’s not for sale. However, an unexpected affordability surge, driven primarily by lower-than-anticipated mortgage rates, rising wages and favorable demographics, has boosted housing demand.”
Mortgage interest rates had been on the rise for most of 2018 before reaching their peak in November at 4.94%. According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates last week came in at 4.20%.
Average hourly earnings grew at an annual rate of 3.2% in March, up substantially from the 2.3% average pace seen over the last 10 years.
These two factors contributed nearly $6,000 worth of additional house-buying power for median households from February to March 2019, according to First American’s research. Fleming is positive about the prolonged impact of lower rates and higher wages. "We expect rising wages and lower mortgage rates to continue through the spring, boosting housing demand and spurring home sales.”
Bottom Line: Low mortgage interest rates have kept housing affordable throughout the country. If you plan on purchasing a home this year, act now while rates are still low!
With Inventory Low: Will Your Dream Home Need Some TLC?
April 28, 2019
According to a new survey from Move.com, the wave of first-time homebuyers hitting the market this summer has resulted in an interesting statistic. Nearly 60% of buyers searching for a home this spring are willing to consider buying a fixer-upper, with 95% believing that the projects needed will increase their new home’s value!
Realtor.com’s Chief Economist, Danielle Hale, pointed to low-inventory at the entry-level price range for the increase in willingness to renovate.
"The combination of rising home prices and limited entry-level homes for sale is prompting many home shoppers to consider homes that need renovating.
Replete with inspiration at their fingertips – like Pinterest, Instagram, and various home renovation TV shows – some home shoppers are comfortable tackling home renovation jobs to find a home that balances their needs with their budget.” Just over half of all respondents who said they would be willing to buy a home in need of some TLC, would also spend more $20,000 to make the home fit their needs.
The most common ‘expected’ renovation is a kitchen remodel which can run anywhere from $22,000 for a minor remodel to $66,000 for a major remodel.
This isn’t a new trend by any means. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, home improvement project spending reached a new high in 2018.
"Americans spent $336.9 billion on remodeling projects, up 7.4% from the $313.6 billion a year earlier.”
Home renovation television shows have given many buyers hope that they could renovate a home they can afford into their dream home! Bottom Line: If you are one of the many Americans considering buying a home this spring, let’s get together to help you find a house with the potential to be your dream home!
How Quickly Can You Save Your Down Payment?
April 21, 2019
Saving for a down payment is often the biggest hurdle for a first-time homebuyer. Depending on where you live, median income, median rents, and home prices all vary. So, we set out to find out how long it would take to save for a down payment in each state.
Using data from HUD, Census and Apartment List, we determined how long it would take, nationwide, for a first-time buyer to save enough money for a down payment on their dream home. There is a long-standing ‘rule’ that a household should not pay more than 28% of their income on their monthly housing expense.
By determining the percentage of income spent renting in each state, and the amount needed for a 10% down payment, we were able to establish how long (in years) it would take for an average resident to save enough money to buy a home of their own. According to the data, residents in Kansas can save for a down payment the quickest, doing so in just over 1 year (1.12). Below is a map that was created using the data for each state:
What if you only needed to save 3%? What if you were able to take advantage of one of Freddie Mac’s or Fannie Mae’s 3%-down programs? Suddenly, saving for a down payment no longer takes 2 to 5 years, but becomes possible in less than a year in most states, as shown on the map below.
Bottom Line: Whether you have just begun to save for a down payment or have been saving for years, you may be closer to your dream home than you think! Let’s get together to help you evaluate your ability to buy today.
Renters Paying Substantially More While Owning Costs Less
April 14, 2019
In a recent Insights Blog, CoreLogic reported that rent prices have skyrocketed since 2005. Meanwhile, the typical mortgage payment has actually decreased.
"CoreLogic’s national rent index was up 36% in December 2018 compared with December 2005, while the typical mortgage payment was down 4% over that period.”
Why the difference between the costs of renting versus owning?
It makes sense that rents have risen. However, how did mortgage payments decrease? CoreLogic explained: "It’s mainly because mortgage rates back in December 2005 were significantly higher, averaging 6.3% for a fixed-rate 30-year loan, compared with 4.6% in December 2018. The national median sale price in December 2005 – $190,000 – was lower than the $220,305 median in December 2018, but because of higher mortgage rates in 2005 the typical monthly mortgage payment was slightly higher back then – $941 – compared with $904 in December 2018.”
Additionally, a recent report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed that purchasing a home requires less of your monthly paycheck.
According to the Economists’ Outlook Blog, NAR’s February 2019 Housing Affordability Indexshowed that the "percentage of income needed” to pay the typical mortgage has decreased the last three months.
November – 17.3%
December – 16.9%
January – 16.2%
February – 15.9%
Bottom Line: What does this all mean to the current housing market? We think First American said it best in a post last week: "The mortgage rate-driven affordability surge has arrived just in time… Rising affordability has already benefited home buyers and, if the lower rate environment persists, we’re in for a great spring home-buying season.”
Why Pet-Friendly Homes Are in High Demand
April 7, 2019
One of the many benefits of owning your own home is the freedom to find your ‘furever’ friend. By pointing out the aspects of your home that make it ‘pet-friendly’ in your listing, you’ll attract these buyers, rather than alienating the 68% of American households that have a pet!
If you are one of the many homeowners looking to list your home for sale, how do you stand out to the millions of pet parents searching for their dream home?
Whether a dog person, a cat person, or someone who prefers the company of another pet species, 99% of pet owners say that they consider their animal to be family. When finding a home, 95% of animal owners believe it is important that a housing community allows animals.
A study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that there are many aspects of the home buying, selling and owning experience that have been greatly impacted by our love for our pets.
This should come as no surprise, as $72 billion was spent on pets in the U.S in 2018. NAR’s President William E. Brown shed some light on the impact of pet owners and their home search.
"It is important to understand the unique needs and wants of animal owners when it comes to homeownership. REALTORS® understand that when someone buys a home, they are buying it with the needs of their whole family in mind; ask pet owners, and they will enthusiastically agree that their animals are part of their family.”
The Power of Pets When Choosing the Right Home
89% of pet owners say they would not give up their pet due to a housing restriction
81% of Americans say their pets play a role in their housing situation
31% of animal owners have refused to put in an offer on a home because it wasn’t a good fit for their animals
19% of Americans say they would consider moving for their pet
12% percent have moved for their pet
New home builders have actually begun installing retractable pet gates that tuck away neatly inside door jams as a highly requested feature in new homes to attract pet-parents.
So, if you are a homeowner looking to sell in today’s pet-friendly environment, point out the features of your home that will attract pet owners:
Fully fenced in backyard – (91% of pet owners ranked this as the most important feature of a home to accommodate their pet)
Locations of dog parks/walking paths/pet-friendly beaches in the area (71% ranked this as the top feature of any neighborhood they would consider)
Proximity to veterinarians/groomers/pet supply stores (31%)
Bottom Line: Americans love their pets and will look for pet-friendly features in the home they wish to buy, so take advantage of this knowledge by pointing out your home’s ability to meet their needs.
What to Consider When Choosing Your Home To Retire In
March 31, 2019
As more and more baby boomers enter retirement age, the question of whether they should sell their homes and move has become a hot topic. In today’s housing market climate, with low available inventory in the starter and trade-up home categories, it makes sense to evaluate your home’s ability to adapt to your needs in retirement.
According to the National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents (NAEBA), there are 7 factors that you should consider when choosing your retirement home.
1. Affordability: "It may be easy enough to purchase your home today but think long-term about your monthly costs. Account for property taxes, insurance, HOA fees, utilities – all the things that will be due whether or not you have a mortgage on the property.” Would moving to a complex with homeowner association fees actually be cheaper than having to hire all the contractors you would need to maintain your home, lawn, etc.? Would your taxes go down significantly if you relocated? What is your monthly income going to be like in retirement?
2. Equity: "If you have equity in your current home, you may be able to apply it to the purchase of your next home. Maintaining a healthy amount of home equity gives you a source of emergency funds to tap, via a home equity loan or reverse mortgage.” The equity you have in your current home may be enough to purchase your retirement home with little to no mortgage. Homeowners in the US gained an average of over $9,700 in equity last year.
3. Maintenance: "As we age, our tolerance for cleaning gutters, raking leaves and shoveling snow can go right out the window. A condominium with low-maintenance needs can be a literal lifesaver, if your health or physical abilities decline.” As we mentioned earlier, would a condo with an HOA fee be worth the added peace of mind of not having to do the maintenance work yourself?
4. Security: "Elderly homeowners can be targets for scams or break-ins. Living in a home with security features, such as a manned gate house, resident-only access and a security system can bring peace of mind.” As scary as that thought may be, any additional security is helpful. An extra set of eyes looking out for you always adds to peace of mind.
5. Pets: "Renting won’t do if the dog can’t come too! The companionship of pets can provide emotional and physical benefits.” Consider all of your options when it comes to bringing your ‘furever’ friend with you to a new home. Will there be necessary additional deposits if you are renting or in a condo? Is the backyard fenced in? How far are you from your favorite veterinarian?
6. Mobility: "No one wants to picture themselves in a wheelchair or a walker, but the home layout must be able to accommodate limited mobility.” Sixty is the new 40, right? People are living longer and are more active in retirement, but that doesn’t mean that down the road you won’t need your home to be more accessible. Installing handrails and making sure your hallways and doorways are wide enough may be a good reason to look for a home that was built to accommodate these needs.
7. Convenience: "Is the new home close to the golf course, or to shopping and dining? Do you have amenities within easy walking distance? This can add to home value!”
How close are you to your children and grandchildren? Would relocating to a new area make visits with family easier or more frequent? Beyond being close to your favorite stores and restaurants, there are a lot of factors to consider.
Bottom Line: When it comes to your forever home, evaluating your current house for its ability to adapt with you as you age can be the first step to guaranteeing your comfort in retirement. If after considering all these factors you find yourself curious about your options, let’s get together to evaluate your ability to sell your house in today’s market and get you into your dream retirement home!
Your Tax Refund Is The Key To Homeownership!
March 24, 2019
According to data released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Americans can expect an estimated average refund of $3,143 this year when filing their taxes. This is down slightly from the average refund of $3,436 last year.
Tax refunds are often thought of as ‘extra money’ that can be used toward larger goals. For anyone looking to buy a home in 2019, this can be a great jump start toward a down payment!
The map below shows the average tax refund Americans received last year by state.
Many first-time buyers believe that a 20% down payment is required to qualify for a mortgage. Programs from the Federal Housing Authority, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all allow for down payments as low as 3%. Veterans Affairs Loans allow many veterans to purchase a home with 0% down.
If you started your down payment savings with your tax refund check this year, how close would you be to a 3% down payment? The map below shows what percentage of a 3% down payment is covered by the average tax refund by taking into account the median price of homes sold by state.
The darker the blue, the closer your tax refund gets you to homeownership! For those in Oklahoma looking to purchase their first homes, their tax refund could potentially get them 85% closer to that dream!
Bottom Line: Saving for a down payment can seem like a daunting task. But the more you know about what’s required, the more prepared you can be to make the best decision for you and your family! This tax season, your refund could be your key to homeownership!
Do 46 Million Millennials Know They Are Mortgage Ready?
March 17, 2019
Many have written about the millennial generation and whether or not they, as a whole, believe in homeownership as part of attaining the American Dream.
Millennials have taken longer to obtain traditional milestones than the generations before them, such as getting married, having kids, and buying a home. However, that does not mean that they do not still aspire to achieve those things. History shows that people tend to buy their first home around age 30. Nearly 5 million millennials will turn 30 in the next two years. This will continue to fuel demand for housing.
This is also one of the many reasons why the millennial homeownership rate has continued to grow over the past few years. 48.4% of Americans between the ages of 30-34 now own a home.
There are over 46 million millennials (33% of the generation) who are considered “Mortgage Ready”, meaning they meet the qualifications to be approved for a mortgage today!
a FICO Score ≥ 620
a Back-End Debt to Income Ratio ≤ 25%
no Foreclosures or Bankruptcies in the last 7 years
no severe delinquencies in 1 year
Rob Chrane, CEO of Down Payment Resource, commented on the findings of the report, "We now know there are millions of buyers with the income & credit necessary to qualify to buy a home. The biggest question is: Do they know it? …Unfortunately, many renters don’t investigate homeownership simply because they don’t believe it’s an option.”
The good news is that more and more millennials are realizing that they can afford a home now. Even so, more can be done to increase awareness of low down payment programs to attract even more of this generation.
New data from realtor.com shows that in December, millennials accounted for 42% of all new home loans originated in the month. This is more than any other generation.
Bottom Line: If you are one of the many millennials who may be “Mortgage Ready” but are unsure what your next steps should be, let’s get together to help guide you on your path to homeownership!
Want To Increase Your Family’s Wealth? Here’s How!
March 10, 2019
Everyone should realize that unless you are living somewhere rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s. Buying your own home provides you with a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to use your monthly housing costs to increase your family’s wealth.
Every month that you pay your mortgage, you are paying off a portion of the debt that you took on to purchase your home. Therefore, you own a little bit more of your home every month in the form of home equity. As your home’s value increases, you also gain home equity.
Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over 100 economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. They are asked to project how residential home prices will appreciate over the next five years for their Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES).
The latest data from their Q1 2019 Survey revealed that home prices are expected to round out the year 4.3% higher than they were in January. For the next 5 years, home values will appreciate by an average of 3.21% a year. This is great news for homeowners! For example, let’s assume a young couple purchased and closed on a $250,000 home in January of this year. Simply through their home appreciating in value, those homeowners can build their home equity by over $40,000 over the next five years.
Let’s look at the potential equity gained over the same period of time at some higher price points:
In many cases, home equity is a large portion of a family’s overall net worth.
Bottom Line: Whether it’s your first or your fifth, if your plan for this year includes buying a home, let’s get together to help you understand where prices are headed in our area.
What Credit Score Do You Need To Buy A House?
March 3, 2019
There are many misconceptions about the credit score needed to buy a house. Recently, it was reported that 24% of renters believe they need a 780-800 credit score to be considered for a mortgage. The reality is they are misinformed! Only 25% of the Americans have a FICO® Score between 740 and 800. Here is the breakdown according to Experian:
16% Very Poor (300-579)
18% Fair (580-669)
21% Good (670-739)
25% Very Good (740-799)
20% Exceptional (800-850)
Randy Hopper, Senior Vice President of Mortgage Lending for Navy Federal Credit Unionsaid, “Just because you have a low credit score doesn’t mean you can’t purchase a home. There are a lot of options out there for consumers with low FICO® scores,”
There are many programs available with low or no credit score requirement. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) now requires a minimum FICO® score of 580 if you want to qualify for the low down payment advantage. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not set a minimum credit score requirement, but most lenders require a score of at least 640. Veterans Affairs (VA) loans have no credit score requirement.
As you can see, none of them are above 700! It is true that the average FICO® score for all closed loans in January was 726, but there are plenty of people taking advantage of the low credit score requirements. Here is the average FICO® Score of closed FHA Loans since April 2012 according to Ellie Mae:
As you can see, that number has been dropping for the last seven years. As a matter of fact, the average FHA Purchase FICO® Score reported in January 2019 was 675!
One of the challenges is that Americans are unsure about their credit score. They just assume that it is too low to qualify and do not double check. Credit.com confirmed that only 57% of individuals sought out their credit score at least once last year.
FICO® reported, “Since October 2009, the average year-over-year FICO® Score has steadily and consistently increased, from a low of 686 in 2009 to the latest high of 704 as of 2018.” Here is the increase in the average US FICO® Score over the same period of time as the graph earlier.
Bottom Line: At least 84% of Americans have a score that will allow them to buy a house. If you are unsure what your score is or would like to improve your score in order to become a homeowner, let’s get together to help you set a path to reach your dream!
3 Reasons Why We Are Not Heading Toward Another Housing Crash
February 24, 2019
With home prices softening, some are concerned that we may be headed toward the next housing crash. However, it is important to remember that today’s market is quite different than the bubble market of twelve years ago.
Here are three key metrics that will explain why:
HOME PRICES: A decade ago, home prices depreciated dramatically, losing about 29% of their value over a four-year period (2008-2011). Today, prices are not depreciating. The level of appreciation is just decelerating.
Home values are no longer appreciating annually at a rate of 6-7%. However, they have still increased by more than 4% over the last year. Of the 100 experts reached for the latest Home Price Expectation Survey, 94 said home values would continue to appreciate through 2019. It will just occur at a lower rate.
MORTGAGE STANDARDS: Many are concerned that lending institutions are again easing standards to a level that helped create the last housing bubble. However, there is proof that today’s standards are nowhere near as lenient as they were leading up to the crash. The Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center issues a quarterly index which, "…measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates that lenders are willing to tolerate defaults and are taking more risks, making it easier to get a loan.”
Last month, their January Housing Credit Availability Index revealed: "Significant space remains to safely expand the credit box. If the current default risk was doubled across all channels, risk would still be well within the pre-crisis standard of 12.5 percent from 2001 to 2003 for the whole mortgage market.”
FORECLOSURE INVENTORY: Within the last decade, distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) made up 35% of all home sales. The Mortgage Bankers’ Associationrevealed just last week that: "The percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of the fourth quarter was 0.95 percent…This was the lowest foreclosure inventory rate since the first quarter of 1996.”
Bottom Line: After using these three key housing metrics to compare today’s market to that of the last decade, we can see that the two markets are nothing alike.
Why A Normal Market is Just What We Need
February 17, 2019
The housing market has been hot for a while now. Homes have been flying off the shelves as fast as they have been listed. Buyers have been competing in bidding wars just to find a home to buy, let alone find their dream home. This ‘seller’s market’ has driven home prices to new heights. Home price appreciation averaged over 6% across the country.
However, home price growth has recently started to cool down. The latest report from CoreLogic shows that home prices have only risen by 4.7% over the last 12 months.
Many buyers and sellers planning to enter the housing market this year have started to wonder if we are headed towards another housing crash. Ralph McLaughlin, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic, recently stated in an interview, "There’s no reason to panic right now, even if we may be headed for a recession. We’re seeing a cooling of the housing market, but nothing that indicates a crash.
The real elephant in the room here is housing supply.”
The simple answer is we are returning to a ‘normal’ market. The inventory of homes for sale more closely matches the demand in the market. The added supply means fewer buyers are outbidding each other. Therefore, prices are experiencing less upward pressure. McLaughlin went on to explain, "If there are a lot of homes on the market and suddenly no one wants to buy them, you’ll get into a downward spiral of price competition. Right now, however, we’re in the opposite situation, there isn’t an over-abundance of homes on the market.”
As more renters looking for their piece of the American Dream enter the housing market, demand for housing will continue to grow. The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University estimates over 30 million new households will enter the market from now through 2040.
"There’s the natural life cycle of young people getting older and starting to do adult life things which include … buying a house and that’s a lot of potential inertia that could last indefinitely.”
Bottom Line: Home prices will start to appreciate by historical norms as we continue to head towards a more ‘normal’ market, rather than the over 6% seen over the course of the last couple of years. This is great news! Homeowners looking to sell their home will have buyers, as more buyers will be able to afford them!
How to List Your Home for the Best Price
February 10, 2019
If your plan for 2019 includes selling your home, you will want to pay attention to where experts believe home values are headed. According to the latest Home Price Index from CoreLogic, home prices increased by 4.7% over the course of 2018. The map below shows the results of the latest index by state.
Real estate is local. Each state appreciates at different levels. The majority of the country saw at least a 2.0% gain in home values, while some residents in North Dakota and Louisiana may have felt prices slow slightly.
This effect will be short lived. In the same report, CoreLogic forecasts that every state in the Union will experience at least 2.0% appreciation, with the majority of the country gaining at least 4.0%! The prediction for the country comes in at 4.6%. For a median-priced home, that translates to over $14,000 in additional equity next year! (The map below shows the forecast by state.)
So, how does this help you list your home for the best price? Armed with the knowledge of how much experts believe your house will appreciate this year, you will be able to set an appropriate price for your listing from the start. If homes like yours are appreciating at 4.0%, you won’t want to list your home for more than that amount!
One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is pricing their homes too high and reducing the price later when they do not get any offers. This can lead buyers to believe that there may be something wrong with the home, when in fact the price was just too high for the market.
Bottom Line: Pricing your home right from the start is one of the most challenging parts of selling your home. Once you decide to list your house, let’s get together to discuss where home values are headed in your area!
Whose Mortgage Do You Want to Pay? Yours or Your Landlord’s?
February 3, 2019
There are some people who haven’t purchased homes because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. However, everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.
As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained in their article, "12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich”: "While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”
With home prices rising, many renters are concerned about their house-buying power. Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist at MBA, explained: "The spring homebuying season is almost upon us, and if rates stay lower, inventory continues to grow, and the job market maintains its strength, we do expect to see a solid spring market.”
As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings,’ which allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person building that equity.
As mentioned before, interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 4.46% last week.
Bottom Line: Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.
The KonMari Method: Helping You Prep Your House For Sale
January 27, 2019
One of the biggest challenges sellers face when listing their house is decluttering. Cleaning out some of the more personal decorating choices allows buyers to imagine themselves living in the house.
Those planning to sell soon are in luck! Marie Kondo, the inventor of the KonMari Method of Tidying Up, has gained popularity with her new Netflix series. She gives some great tips for sorting through years of accumulated possessions that we all collect in our homes.
"The KonMari Method™ encourages tidying by category – not by location – beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and, finally, sentimental items. Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go.”
When you subjectively look at all of your belongings, you can sort through the ones that mean the most to you. Not only will you increase space for more joy-bringing items in your new home, but you will also have a much easier time packing remaining belongings!
"Remember, tidying up isn’t about getting rid of stuff. It is about creating an environment that sparks joy and improves your quality of life.”
When selling your house, first impressions matter! Before you or your agent schedule a photographer to take photos for your listing, make sure to tour your home with fresh eyes. Look for any imperfections that a buyer might notice. When you sort through your more sentimental items, consider packing them away to ensure that you know where they all are. That way, they are safe during open houses and showing appointments. This will also cut down on the amount of packing you need to do right before you move!
Bottom Line: Whether you are selling your house to move up to a larger one, downsizing, or moving in with family, only bring the items that truly spark joy for you. This will not only help cut down on the items you move, but also ensures that you’re off to a great start in your new home!
Selling Your Home? Make Sure the Price is Right!
January 20, 2019
If you’ve ever watched “The Price is Right,” you know that the only way to win is to be the one to correctly guess the price of the item you want without going over! That means your guess must be just slightly under the retail price. In today’s shifting real estate market, where more inventory is coming to market and home values are projected to appreciate at lower rates, homeowners will not be able to price their homes as aggressively as they were able to just last year.
They will have to employ the same strategy: be the closest without going over!
As we have explained before, pricing your home at or slightly below market value actually increases the number of buyers who will see your home in their search!
Over the last six months, more inventory has come to market while the months’ supply of inventory available has dropped. This means that the demand for homes to buy is still very strong throughout the country!
Homeowners who make the mistake of overpricing their homes will eventually have to drop the price. This leaves buyers wondering if the price drop was caused by something wrong with the homes when in reality nothing was wrong, the price was just too high!
Bottom Line: If you are thinking about listing your home for sale this year, let’s get together to properly price your home from the start!
Excited About Buying A Home This Year? Here’s What to Watch
January 13, 2019
As we kick off the new year, many families have made resolutions to enter the housing market in 2019. Whether you are thinking of finally ditching your landlord and buying your first home or selling your starter house to move into your forever home, there are two pieces of the real estate puzzle you need to watch carefully: interest rates & inventory.
Interest Rates Mortgage interest rates had been on the rise for much of 2018, but they made a welcome reversal at the end of the year. According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates climbed to 4.94% in November before falling to 4.62% for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage last week. Despite the recent drop, interest rates are projected to reach 5% in 2019. The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power. Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford to buy will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.
The chart below shows the impact that rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a $400,000 home while keeping your principal and interest payments between $2,020-$2,050 a month.
With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5% (in this example, $10,000).
Inventory A ‘normal’ real estate market requires there to be a 6-month supply of homes for sale in order for prices to increase only with inflation. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), listing inventory is currently at a 3.9-month supply (still well below the 6-months needed), which has put upward pressure on home prices. Home prices have increased year-over-year for the last 81 straight months.
The inventory of homes for sale in the real estate market had been on a steady decline and experienced year-over-year drops for 36 straight months (from July 2015 to May 2018), but we are starting to see a shift in inventory over the last six months. The chart below shows the change in housing supply over the last 12 months compared to the previous 12 months. As you can see, since June, inventory levels have started to increase as compared to the same time last year.
This is a trend to watch as we move further into the new year. If we continue to see an increase in homes for sale, we could start moving further away from a seller’s market and closer to a normal market.
Bottom Line: If you are planning to enter the housing market, either as a buyer or a seller, let’s get together to discuss the changes in mortgage interest rates and inventory and what they could mean for you.
Is the Recent Dip in Interest Rates Here to Stay?
January 6, 2019
Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage climbed consistently throughout 2018 until the middle of November. After that point, rates returned to levels that we saw in August to close out the year at 4.55%, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
After the first week of 2019, rates have continued their downward trend. As Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist Sam Khater notes, this is great news for homebuyers. He states, "Mortgage rates declined to start the new year with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipping to 4.51 percent. Low mortgage rates combined with decelerating home price growth should get prospective homebuyers excited to buy.”
In some areas of the country, the combination of rising interest rates and rising home prices had made some first-time buyers push pause on their home searches. But with more inventory coming to market, continued price growth, and interest rates slowing, this is a great time to get back in the market!
Bottom Line: Even a small increase (or decrease) in interest rates can impact your monthly housing cost. If buying a home in 2019 is on your short list of goals to achieve, let’s get together to find out if you are able to today.
Buying A Vacation Property? Now Is A Good Time!
December 30, 2018
Every year around this time, many homeowners begin the process of preparing their homes in case of extreme winter weather. Some others skip winter all together by escaping to their vacation homes in a warmer climate.
For those homeowners staying at their first residence, AccuWeather warns: "The late-week cold shot should fade next week, but this is a warning shot for winter’s return late in the month and early February.”
Given this, it’s time to go and stock up on winter weather supplies! However, if you’re tired of shoveling snow and dealing with the cold weather, maybe it’s time to consider obtaining a vacation home!
It’s time to take advantage of the equity in your home. As the latest Equity Report from ATTOM Data Solutions stated: "Nearly 14.5 million U.S. properties (are) equity rich — where the combined estimated amount of loans secured by the property was 50 percent or less of the property’s estimated market value — up by more than 433,000 from a year ago to a new high as far back as data is available, Q4 2013. The 14.5 million equity rich properties in Q3 2018 represented 25.7 percent of all properties with a mortgage.”
This means that over a quarter of Americans who have a mortgage would be able to use some of their home equity to make a significant down payment toward a vacation home, and many are doing just that! According to the same report by NAR: "33% of vacation buyers purchased in a beach area, 21% purchased on a lakefront, and 15% purchased a vacation home in the country.”
Many homeowners who are close to retirement will use some of their equity to purchase vacation homes, which may eventually become their permanent homes post-retirement!
Bottom Line: If you are a homeowner looking to take advantage of your home equity by investing in a vacation home, let’s get together to discuss your options!
Homeownership Remains a Huge Part of the American Dream
December 23, 2018
As we head into 2019, many news outlets and housing experts warn that the housing market may slow down. Over the last six years, the inventory of homes for sale has been near historic lows, which has been the force behind increasing home prices.
This has been great news for sellers as many of them have been able to capitalize on the demand in the market and sell their homes quickly and at a great profit.
One of the big reasons why inventory has remained so low for so long is that an entire generation of home buyers is finally buying! The millennial generation (ages 19-35) has been the driving force behind bidding wars in many areas of the country as they ditch their renter lifestyles and put down roots in new communities.
First American recently released a study entitled “How ‘Renter’ Millennials Will Transform the Housing Market.” In their study, they explained that: "…As more millennials age into their early-to-mid thirties, and begin to get married, have children and form households, they will continue to be the primary drivers of homeownership demand.”
Because of this, it is safe to say that one aspect of 2019’s housing market that WILL NOT slow down is the demand for housing from young renters who are no longer satisfied living in someone else’s homes. According to the latest Housing Vacancies and Homeownership Report from the Census Bureau, home buyers under 35 are already out-buying older Americans. The chart below shows the year-over-year change in homeownership rate by those under and over the age of 35.
The national homeownership rate spiked to its highest level in 2004 and then steadily declined until the second quarter of 2016 when it reversed course. Homebuyers under the age of 35 are the reason for that shift.
More than half of the purchase mortgages originated by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2018 were to first-time homebuyers. In fact, "according to Census Bureau and First American calculations, over the next 10 years, aging millennials are expected to purchase at least 10 million new homes. By 2060, it is estimated millennials will have produced more than 20 million first-time home buyers.”
Bottom Line: If you are a homeowner who is nervous that the demand for your home will slow, don’t worry! If your home is priced competitively, there will be demand for years to come as this generation of renters is finally able to buy!
4 Quick Reasons NOT to Fear a Housing Crash
December 16, 2018
There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the real estate market heading into 2019. That uncertainty has raised concerns that we may be headed toward another housing crash like the one we experienced a decade ago.
Here are four reasons why today’s market is much different:
1. There are fewer foreclosures now than there were in 2006 A major challenge in 2006 was the number of foreclosures. There will always be foreclosures, but they spiked by over 100% prior to the crash. Foreclosures sold at a discount and, in many cases, lowered the values of adjacent homes. We are ending 2018 with foreclosures at historic pre-crash numbers – much fewer foreclosures than we ended 2006 with.
2. Most homeowners have tremendous equity in their homes Ten years ago, many homeowners irrationally converted much, if not all, of their equity into cash with a cash-out refinance. When foreclosures rose and prices fell, they found themselves in a negative equity situation where their homes were worth less than their mortgage amounts. Many just walked away from their houses which led to even more foreclosures entering the market. Today is different. Over forty-eight percent of homeowners have at least 50% equity in their homes and they are not extracting their equity at the same rates they did in 2006.
3. Lending standards are much tougher One of the causes of the crash ten years ago was that lending standards were almost non-existent. NINJA loans (no income, no job, and no assets) no longer exist. ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages) still exist but only as a fraction of the number from a decade ago. Though mortgage standards have loosened somewhat during the last few years, we are nowhere near the standards that helped create the housing crisis ten years ago.
4. Affordability is better now than in 2006 Though it is difficult to afford a home for many Americans, data shows that it is more affordable to purchase a home now than it was from 1985 to 2000. And, it requires much less of a percentage of your income today than it did in 2006.
Bottom Line: The housing industry is facing some rough waters heading into 2019. However, the graphs above show that the market is much healthier than it was prior to the crash ten years ago.
What Makes a House a Home For You?
December 9, 2018
We frequently talk about why it makes sense to buy a home financially, but more often than not the emotional reasons are the more powerful or compelling ones.
No matter what shape or size your living space is, the concept and feeling of a home can mean different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, the emotional reasons why we choose to buy our own homes are typically more important to us than the financial ones.
1. Owning your home offers stability to start and raise a family From the best neighborhoods to the best school districts, even those without children at the time of purchase may have this in the back of their minds as a major reason for choosing the location of the home that they purchase.
2. There’s no place like home Owning your own home offers you not only safety and security, but also a comfortable place that allows you to relax after a long day!
3. You have more space for you and your family Whether your family is expanding, an older family member is moving in, or you need to have a large backyard for your pets, you can take all this into consideration when buying your dream home!
4. You have control over renovations, updates, and style Looking to actually try one of those complicated wall treatments that you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit for your apartment building? Or maybe you want to finally adopt that puppy or kitten you’ve seen online 100 times? Who’s to say that you can’t do all of these things in your own home?
Bottom Line: Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a move-up buyer who wants to start a new chapter in your life, now is a great time to reflect on the intangible factors that make a house a home.
The Difference Having a Professional on Your Side Makes
December 2, 2018
In today’s fast-paced world, where answers are a Google search away, there are some who may wonder what the benefits of hiring a real estate professional to help them in their home search are. The truth is, with the addition of more information, comes more confusion.
Shows like Property Brothers, Fixer Upper and the dozens more on HGTV have given many a false sense of what it’s like to buy and sell a home.
Now more than ever, you need an expert on your side who is going to guide you toward your dreams and not let anything get in the way of achieving them. Buying and/or selling a home is definitely not something you want to DIY (Do It Yourself)!
Here are just some of the reasons you need a real estate professional in your corner: There’s more to real estate than finding a house you like online! There are over 230 possible steps that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to ensure you achieve your dream?
You Need a Skilled Negotiator In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer, to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.
What is the home you’re buying or selling worth in today’s market? There is so much information out there on the news and on the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively and correctly price your home at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a lowball offer?
Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises: "When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”
Hiring an agent who has his or her finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.
Bottom Line: Today’s real estate market is highly competitive. Having a professional who’s been there before to guide you through the process is a simple step that will give you a huge advantage!
24% of Renters Believe Winter is the Best Time to Buy a Home
November 25, 2018
In real estate, the spring is often seen as the ideal time to buy or sell a house. The term “Spring Buyer’s Season” exists for a reason, as renters and those looking to move on from their current home thaw out from the winter and hit the market ready to buy. According to Bank of America’s annualHome Buyer Insights Report, 41% of renters surveyed agree that spring is the best time to buy a home. The surprising result, however, is that when ranking the seasons, winter comes in second at 24%.
In many areas of the country, the spring and summer are the most competitive seasons for buyers. Families with children often want to move over the summer to make sure that their kids are ready for school in the fall. This often leads those families who haven’t found homes to buy to push pause on their search in the fall and winter months.
This creates a great environment for buyers to find a home with less competition. According to moving.com, scheduling a move during the winter months also comes with the best price.
“If you define ‘best’ by cost then, generally speaking, you are more likely to save on a move during the late September to April window. Demand for movers usually slows down during this time frame and rates are low.”
There are also many benefits to listing your house for sale during the winter months as well!
As we recently mentioned, buyers who are out in the winter are serious about wanting to find a home, and there is traditionally less competition on the market which gives you greater exposure to those buyers.
Bottom Line: As always, the best time to buy or move all depends on each individual buyer or seller’s goals and needs. If you are one of the many who would like to make a move this winter, let’s get together to create a plan to make it happen!
Buyers: Don’t Be Surprised by Closing Costs!
November 18, 2018
Many homebuyers think that saving for their down payment is enough to buy the house of their dreams, but what about the closing costs that are required to obtain a mortgage?
By law, a homebuyer will receive a loan estimate from their lender 3 days after submitting their loan application and they should receive a closing disclosure 3 days before the scheduled closing on their home. The closing disclosure includes final details about the loan and the closing costs.
But what are closing costs anyway? According to Trulia: “Closing costs are lender and third-party fees paid at the closing of a real estate transaction, and they can be financed as part of the deal or be paid upfront. They range from 2% to 5% of the purchase price of a home. (For those who buy a $150,000 home, for example, that would amount to between $3,000 and $7,500 in closing fees.)”
Keep in mind that if you are in the market for a home above this price range, your costs could be significantly greater. As mentioned before, Closing costs are typically between 2% and 5% of your purchase price. Trulia continues to give great advice, saying that: "…understanding and educating yourself about these costs before settlement day arrives might help you avoid any headaches at the end of the deal.”
Bottom Line: Speak with your lender and agent early and often to determine how much you’ll be responsible for at closing. Finding out that you’ll need to come up with thousands of dollars right before closing is not a surprise anyone is ever looking forward to. Need help selecting the right lender? No problem, I can help with that too!
Further Proof It’s NOT 2008 All Over Again
November 11, 2018
Home sales numbers are leveling off, the rate of price appreciation has slowed to more historically normal averages, and inventory is finally increasing. We are headed into a more normal housing market.
However, some are seeing these adjustments as red flags and are suggesting that we are headed back to the same challenges we experienced in 2008. Today, let’s look at one set of statistics that prove the current market is nothing like the one that preceded the housing crash last decade.
The previous bubble was partially caused by unhealthy levels of mortgage debt. New purchasers were putting down the minimum down payment, resulting in them having little if any equity in their homes.
Existing homeowners were using their homes as ATMs by refinancing and swapping their equity for cash. When prices started to fall, many homeowners found themselves in a negative equity situation (where their mortgage was higher than the value of their home) so they walked away which caused prices to fall even further. When this happened, even more homeowners found themselves in negative equity situations which caused them to walk away as well, and so a vicious cycle formed.
Today, the equity situation is totally different. According to a new report from ATTOM Data Solutions more than 1-in-4 homes with a mortgage have at least 50% equity. The report explains: "…nearly 14.5 million U.S. properties were equity rich — where the combined estimated amount of loans secured by the property was 50 percent or less of the property’s estimated market value…The 14.5 million equity rich properties in Q3 2018 represented 25.7 percent of all properties with a mortgage.” In addition, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 30.3% of homes in the country have no mortgage on them.
Almost 50% of all homes have at least 50% equity. If we take both numbers, the 30.3% of all homes without a mortgage and the 17.9% with at least 50% equity (25.7% of the 69.3% of homes with a mortgage), we realize that 48.2% of all homes in the country have at least 50% equity. Bottom Line: Unlike 2008, almost half of the homeowners in the country are sitting on massive amounts of home equity. They will not be walking away from their homes if the housing market begins to soften.
Thinking of Selling Your Home? Here’s Why You Need A Pro in Your Corner
November 4, 2018
With home prices on the rise and buyer demand still strong, some sellers may be tempted to try and sell their homes on their own without using the services of a real estate professional.
Real estate agents are trained and experienced in negotiation and, in most cases, the seller is not. Sellers must realize that their ability to negotiate will determine whether or not they get the best deal for themselves and their families.
Here is a list of just some of the people with whom the seller must be prepared to negotiate with if they decide to For Sale by Owner (FSBO):
The buyer who wants the best deal possible
The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interests of the buyer
The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
The buyer’s lender if the structure of the mortgage requires the sellers’ participation
The title company if there are challenges with certificates of occupancy (CO) or other permits
The town or municipality if you need to get the CO permits mentioned above
The buyer’s buyer in case there are challenges with the house your buyer is selling
Bottom Line: The percentage of sellers who have hired real estate agents to sell their homes has increased steadily over the last 20 years. Let’s get together to discuss all that we can do to make the process easier for you.
Are You Spending TOO Much on Rent?
October 28, 2018
Chances are if you are renting you are spending too much of your income on your monthly housing expense. There is a long-standing ‘rule’ that a household should not pay more than 28% of their income on their rent or mortgage payment. This percentage allows the household to save money for the future while comfortably covering other expenses. According to new data released from ApartmentList.com, 49.5 million renters in the United States were cost-burdened in 2017, meaning they spent more than 30% of their monthly incomes on rent. This accounts for nearly half of all renter households in the country and is up 3.1 million from 2007.
When a household is cost-burdened by their monthly housing expense, they are not as easily able to save money for the future. This is a big factor for many renters who dream of owning their own homes someday.
But there is hope for those who are able to save at least a 3% down payment! The percentage of income needed in the US to buy a home is significantly less than renting at 17.1%!
The chart below compares the historic percentage of income needed to rent and buy from 1985-2000 to the first quarter of 2018. As you can see, the cost of renting has climbed above historic numbers while the cost of buying dropped over the same period of time.
Bottom Line: If you are one of the many renters who is spending too much of their monthly income on rent, consider saving money by getting a roommate, moving into a less expensive apartment, or even moving in with family. These are all ways to save for a down payment so that you can put your housing costs to work for you!
Where are Home Values Headed over the Next Few Years?
October 21, 2018
There are many questions about where home prices will be next year as well as where they may be headed over the next several years to come. We have gathered the most reliable sources to help answer these questions:
The Home Price Expectation Survey – A survey of over 100 market analysts, real estate experts, and economists conducted by Pulsenomics each quarter.
Zelman & Associates – The firm leverages unparalleled housing market expertise, extensive surveys of industry executives, and rigorous financial analysis to deliver proprietary research and advice to leading global institutional investors and senior-level company executives.
Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) – As the leading advocate for the real estate finance industry, the MBA enables members to successfully deliver fair, sustainable, and responsible real estate financing within ever-changing business environments.
Freddie Mac – An organization whose mission is to provide liquidity, stability, and affordability to the U.S. housing market in all economic conditions extending to all communities from coast to coast.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) – The largest association of real estate professionals in the world.
Fannie Mae – A leading source of financing for mortgage lenders, providing access to affordable mortgage financing in all markets always. Here are their projections of prices going forward:
Bottom Line: Every source sees home prices continuing to appreciate – just at lower percentages as we move through the next several years.
Pre-Approval: Your 1st Step in Buying a Home
October 14, 2018
In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes outnumbers the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.
Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.
Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the ‘My Home’ section of their website: "It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”
One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you through this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”
Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:
Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time
Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.
Bottom Line: Many potential homebuyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores necessary to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so.
Are We About to Enter a Buyers’ Market?
October 7, 2018
Home sales are below last year’s levels, home values are appreciating at a slower pace, and there are reports showing purchasing demand softening. This has some thinking we may be entering a buyers’ market after sellers have had the upper hand for the past several years. Is this really happening?
The market has definitely softened. However, according to two chief economists in the industry, we are a long way from a market that totally favors the purchaser: Dr. Svenja Gudell, Zillow Chief Economist: "These seller challenges don’t indicate we’re suddenly in a buyers’ market – we don’t expect market conditions to shift decidedly in favor of buyers until 2020 or later. But buyers certainly are starting to balk at the rapid rise in prices and home values are starting to grow at a less frenetic pace.”
In addition, Pulsenomics Inc. recently surveyed over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment & market strategists and asked this question: "When do you expect U.S. housing market conditions to shift decidedly in favor of homebuyers?” Only 5% said the market has already shifted. Here are the rest of the survey results:
Bottom Line: The market is beginning to normalize but that doesn’t mean we will quickly shift to a market favoring the buyer. We believe Ivy Zelman, author of the well-respected ‘Z’ Report, best explained the current confusion: "With the rate of home price appreciation starting to decelerate alongside the uptick in inventory…we expect significant debate about whether this is a bullish or bearish sign. In our view, the short-term narrative will probably be confusing, but more sustainable growth and affordability will likely be the end result.”
New Home Sales Up 12.7% From Last Year
September 30, 2018
According to the latest New Residential Sales Report from the Census Bureau, new construction sales in August were up 3.5% from July and 12.7% from last year! This marks the second consecutive month with double-digit year-over-year growth (12.8% in July).
The report also showed that builders have ramped up construction with an increase in new construction starts and completions. The summer months are often a busy time for builders as they capitalize on the warmer weather to be able to finish projects. Below is a table showing the change in starts, completions, and sales from last August.
Other notable news from the report is that the percentage of new construction sales in the $200-$299K range has continued to break away from the $300-$399K range. This shows that builders are starting to build lower-priced homes that will help alleviate some of the inventory challenges in the starter and trade-up home categories. The chart below shows the full breakdown.
Bottom Line: What does this mean for buyers and sellers? If you are thinking of buying or selling in today’s market, you no doubt have heard that there is a shortage of existing homes for sale which has been driving home prices up across the country. The additional new construction coming to the market could help alleviate this shortage, but we are still not back up to pre-crisis levels.
What’s Going On With Home Prices?
September 23, 2018
According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insights Report, national home prices in August were up 5.5% from August 2017. This marks the first time since June 2016 that home prices did not appreciate by at least 6.0% year-over-year.
CoreLogic’s Chief Economist Frank Nothaft gave some insight into this change, “The rise in mortgage rates this summer to their highest level in seven years has made it more difficult for potential buyers to afford a home. The slackening in demand is reflected in the slowing of national appreciation, as illustrated in the CoreLogic Home Price Index. National appreciation in August was the slowest in nearly two years, and we expect appreciation to slow further in the coming year.”
One of the major factors that has driven prices to accelerate at a pace of between 6-7% over the past two years was the lack of inventory available for sale in many areas of the country. This made houses a prized commodity which forced many buyers into bidding wars and drove prices even higher.
According to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Existing Home Sales Report, we are starting to see more inventory come to market over the last few months. This, paired with patient buyers who are willing to wait to find the right homes, is creating a natural environment for price growth to slow.
Historically, prices appreciated at a rate of 3.7% (from 1987-1999). CoreLogic predicts that prices will continue to rise over the next year at a rate of 4.7%.
Bottom Line: As the housing market moves closer to a ‘normal market’ with more inventory for buyers to choose from, home prices will start to appreciate at a more ‘normal’ level, and that’s ok! If you are curious about home prices in your area, let’s get together to chat about what’s going on!
The True Cost of NOT Owning Your Home
September 16, 2018
Owning a home has great financial benefits, yet many continue to rent! Today, let’s look at the financial reasons why owning a home of your own has been a part of the American Dream for the entirety of America’s existence.
Realtor.comreported that: “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…as people get more savings in their pockets, buying becomes the better option.”
What proof exists that owning is financially better than renting? 1. In a previous blog, we highlighted the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership:
Homeownership is a form of forced savings.
Homeownership provides tax savings.
Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost.
Buying a home is cheaper than renting.
No other investment lets you live inside of it.
2. Studies have shown that a homeowner’s net worth is 44x greater than that of a renter. 3. Less than a month ago, we explained that a family that purchased an average-priced home at the beginning of 2018 could build more than $49,000 in family wealth over the next five years. 4. Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of taxes and home repairs, but every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs are already baked into the rent payment – along with a profit margin! Bottom Line: Owning your home has many social and financial benefits that cannot be achieved by renting.
Mortgage Interest Rates are Still Going Up… Should You Wait to Buy?
September 9, 2018
Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased by close to a quarter of a percent over the last several weeks. Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Association of Realtors are all calling for mortgage rates to rise another quarter of a percent by next year.
In addition to the predictions from the four major reporting agencies mentioned above, the Federal Open Market Committee recently voted “unanimously to approve a 1/4 percentage point increase in the primary credit rate to 2.75 percent.” Historically, an increase in the primary credit rate has translated to an overall jump in mortgage interest rates as well.
This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact that they may no longer be able to get a rate below 4%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows. Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades:
Bottom Line: Though you may have missed the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.
Home Prices: The Difference 5 Years Makes
September 2, 2018
CoreLogic recently released their Home Price Index Report. One of the key indicators used in the report to determine the health of the housing market was home price appreciation. CoreLogic focused on appreciation from July 2013 to July 2018 to show how prices over the last five years have fared. The graph below was created to show the 5-year change in price from July 2013 to July 2018 by price range.
As you can see in the graph, the highest price appreciation occurred in the lowest price range with 48% growth, while the highest priced homes appreciated by 25%. This has been greatly fueled by the lack of inventory of homes available at the lower price ranges and high demand from first-time buyers looking to enter the market.
Where were prices expected to go? Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over 100 economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists and asks them to project how residential home prices will appreciate over the next five years for their Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES).
According to the Q3 2014 survey results, national homes prices were projected to increase cumulatively by 19.5% by December 2018. The bulls of the group predicted home prices to rise by 27.8%, while the more cautious bears predicted an appreciation of 11.2%.
Where are prices headed in the next 5 years? Data from the most recent HPES shows that home prices are expected to increase by 20.0% over the next 5 years. The bulls of the group predict home prices to rise by 31.2%, while the more cautious bears predict an appreciation of 9.3%.
Bottom Line: Every day, thousands of homeowners regain positive equity in their homes. Some homeowners are now experiencing values even greater than those before the Great Recession. If you’re wondering if you have enough equity to sell your house and move on to your dream home, let’s get together to discuss conditions in our neighborhood!
5 Real Estate Reality TV Myths Explained
August 26, 2018
Have you ever been flipping through the channels, only to find yourself glued to the couch in an HGTV binge session? We’ve all been there, watching entire seasons of “Love it or List it,” “Million Dollar Listing,” “House Hunters,” “Property Brothers,” and so many more all in one sitting.
When you’re in the middle of your real estate themed show marathon, you might start to think that everything you see on TV must be how it works in real life, but you may need a reality check.
Reality TV Show Myths vs. Real Life: Myth #1: Buyers look at 3 homes and decide to purchase one of them. Truth: There may be buyers who fall in love and buy the first home they see, but according to the National Association of Realtors the average homebuyer tours 10 homes as a part of their search.
Myth #2: The houses the buyers are touring are still for sale. Truth: Everything is staged for TV. Many of the homes being shown are already sold and are off the market.
Myth #3: The buyers haven’t made a purchase decision yet. Truth: Since there is no way to show the entire buying process in a 30-minute show, TV producers often choose buyers who are further along in the process and have already chosen a home to buy.
Myth #4: If you list your home for sale, it will ALWAYS sell at the open house. Truth: Of course, this would be great! Open houses are important to guarantee the most exposure to buyers in your area but are only a PIECE of the overall marketing of your home. Keep in mind that many homes are sold during regular showing appointments as well.
Myth #5: Homeowners decide to sell their homes after a 5-minute conversation. Truth: Similar to the buyers portrayed on the shows, many of the sellers have already spent hours deliberating the decision to list their homes and move on with their lives/goals.
Bottom Line: Having an experienced professional on your side while navigating the real estate market is the best way to guarantee that you can make the home of your dreams a reality!
The Net Worth of a Homeowner is 44x Greater Than A Renter!
August 19, 2018
Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts their Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. Their latest survey data, covering 2013-2016 was recently released.
The study revealed that the median net worth of a homeowner was $231,400 – a 15% increase since 2013. At the same time, the median net worth of renters decreased by 5% ($5,200 today compared to $5,500 in 2013). These numbers reveal that the net worth of a homeowner is over 44 times greater than that of a renter.
Owning a home is a great way to build family wealth: As we’ve said before, simply put, homeownership is a form of ‘forced savings.’ Every time you pay your mortgage, you are contributing to your net worth by increasing the equity in your home. That is why, for the fifth year in a row, Gallup reported that Americans picked real estate as the best long-term investment. This year’s results showed that 34% of Americans chose real estate, followed by stocks at 26% and then gold, savings accounts/CDs, or bonds. Greater equity in your home gives you options! Bottom Line: If you want to find out how you can use the increased equity in your home to move to a home that better fits your current lifestyle, let’s get together to discuss the process.
What Does the Recent Rash of Price Reductions Mean to the Real Estate Market?
August 12, 2018
Last week, in a new report from Zillow, it was revealed that there has been a rash of price reductions across the country. According to the report:
There are more price cuts now than a year ago in over two-thirds of the nation’s largest metros
About 14% of all listings had a price cut in June
Since the beginning of the year, the share of listings with a price cut increased 1.2%
This is the greatest January-to-June increase ever reported, and more than double the January-to-June increase last year
Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas further explained: “A rising share of on-market listings are seeing price cuts, though these price cuts are concentrated at the most expensive price-points and primarily in markets that have seen outsized price gains in recent years.”
What this DOESN’T MEAN for the real estate market… This doesn’t mean home values have depreciated or are about to depreciate. A seller may put a home worth $300,000 on the market for $325,000 hoping a bidding war will occur and an overanxious buyer will pay more than its actual value. That has happened often over the last few years. If the seller gets no offers and reduces the price to $300,000, it doesn’t mean the home dropped in value. It is still worth $300,000. Home prices will continue to appreciate over the next 12 months. In this same report, Terrazas remarks: “It’s far too soon to call this a buyer’s market, home values are still expected to appreciate at double their historic rate over the next 12 months, but the frenetic pace of the housing market over the past few years is starting to return toward a more normal trend.”
What this DOES MEAN for the real estate market… This does mean that sellers should be more conservative when it comes to the price at which they list their homes – especially sellers in the upper end of each market. Sellers have been listing their homes at inflated prices hoping a super-hot market will deliver a buyer willing to pay virtually any price to ensure they don’t lose the house. That strategy has worked somewhat successfully over the last two years. However, the time that strategy would have worked may have passed. Again, quoting Aaron Terrazas in the report: “The housing market has tilted sharply in favor of sellers over the past two years, but there are very early preliminary signs that the winds may be starting to shift ever-so-slightly.”
Bottom Line: Prices are not depreciating. However, if you want to sell your house quickly and with the least amount of hassles, pricing it correctly from the beginning makes the most sense.
Rent or Buy: Either Way You’re Paying A Mortgage!
August 5, 2018
There are some people who have not purchased homes because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize, however, that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.
As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich”: "While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”
With home prices rising, many renters are concerned about their house-buying power. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explained: “Over the last three years, renter house-buying power has increased fast enough to keep pace with house price appreciation, so the share of homes that a renter can afford to buy has remained the same since 2015. Although mortgage rates are expected to rise, they are still low by historic standards, and real household incomes are the highest they have ever been. Assuming this trend continues, our measure of affordability, which takes into account income, interest rates, and house prices, indicates that homeownership is still within reach for renters.”
As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person building that equity. Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 4.51% last week.
Bottom Line: Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.
The #1 Reason to Put Your House on The Market TODAY!
July 29, 2018
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released the results of their latest Existing Home Sales Report which revealed that home sales declined 0.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million in June from 5.41 million in May, and are 2.2% below a year ago. Some may look at these numbers and think that now is a bad time to sell their house, but in fact, the opposite is true.
The national slowdown in sales is directly tied to a lack of inventory available for the buyers who are out in the market looking for their dream homes! In fact, the inventory of homes for sale had fallen year-over-year for 36 consecutive months before posting a modest 0.5% gain last month and has had an upward impact on home prices.
NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun had this to say, “It’s important to note that despite the modest year-over-year rise in inventory, the current level is far from what’s needed to satisfy demand levels. Furthermore, it remains to be seen if this modest increase will stick, given the fact that the robust economy is bringing more interested buyers into the market, and new home construction is failing to keep up.”
The few houses that are on the market are selling fast! According to NAR’sRealtors Confidence Index, properties were typically on the market for 26 days.
Bottom Line: If you are one of the many homeowners who is debating listing your house for sale this year, the time is now! Let’s get together to discuss the specifics of our market!
Lack of Listings Slowing Down the Market
July 22, 2018
As the real estate market continues to move down the road to a complete recovery, we see home values and home sales increasing while distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) continue to fall to their lowest points in years. There is no doubt that the housing market will continue to strengthen throughout 2018.
However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory!
Here’s what a few industry experts have to say about the current inventory crisis: Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors "Inventory coming onto the market during this year’s spring buying season…was not even close to being enough to satisfy demand, that is why home prices keep outpacing incomes and listings are going under contract in less than a month – and much faster – in many parts of the country.”
Sam Khater, Chief Economist for Freddie Mac "While this spring’s sudden rise in mortgage rates [took] up a good chunk of the conversation, it’s the stubbornly low inventory levels in much of the country that are preventing sales from really taking off like they should… Most markets simply need a lot more new and existing supply to cool price growth and give buyers enough choices.”
Alexandra Lee, Housing Data Analyst for Trulia "This seasonal inventory jump wasn’t enough to offset the historical year-over-year downward trend that has continued over 14 consecutive quarters…Despite the second-quarter gain, inventory was down 5.3% from a year ago. Still, this represents an easing of the double-digit drops we’ve been seeing since the second quarter of 2017.”
Bottom Line: If you are thinking about selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strongest while there is still very little competition which could lead to a quick sale for a great price.
Housing Will Not Fall Victim to Next Economic Storm
July 15, 2018
Some experts are calling for a slowdown in the economy later this year and most economists have predicted that the next recession could only be eighteen months away. The question is, what impact will a recession have on the housing market? Here are the opinions of several experts on the subject:
Ivy Zelman in her latest “Z Report”: "While economic activity appears to have accelerated so far in 2018, some prominent economic forecasters have become more cautious about growth prospects for 2019 and 2020… All told, while solid long-term demographic underpinnings support our positive fundamental outlook for housing, in the event micro-economic headwinds surface, we would expect housing transaction volumes and home prices to weather the storm.”
Aaron Terrazas, Zillow’s Senior Economist: "While much remains unknown about the precise path of the U.S. economy in the years ahead, another housing market crisis is unlikely to be a central protagonist in the next nationwide downturn.”
Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist: "If a recession is to occur, it is unlikely to be caused by housing-related activity, and therefore the housing sector should be one of the leading sources to come out of the recession.”
Mark J. Hulbert, Financial Analyst and Journalist: "Real estate may be one of your best investments during the next bear market for stocks. And by real estate, I mean your home or other residential properties.”
U.S. News and World Report: "Fortunately – and hopefully – the history of recessions and current issues that could harm the economy don’t lead many to believe the housing market crash will repeat itself in an upcoming decline.”
The #1 Reason to List Your House for Sale NOW!
July 8, 2018
If you are debating whether or not to list your house for sale this year, here is the #1 reason not to wait! Buyer Demand Continues to Outpace the Supply of Homes for Sale: The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun recently commented on the current lack of inventory: “Inventory coming onto the market during this year’s spring buying season – as evidenced again by last month’s weak reading – was not even close to being enough to satisfy demand.
That is why home prices keep outpacing incomes and listings are going under contract in less than a month – and much faster – in many parts of the country.”
The latest Existing Home Sales Report shows that there is currently a 4.1-month supply of homes for sale. This remains lower than the 6-month supply necessary for a normal market, and 6.1% lower than last year’s inventory level. The chart below details the year-over-year inventory shortages experienced over the last 12 months:
Anything less than a six-month supply is considered a “seller’s market.” Bottom Line: Let’s get together to discuss the supply conditions in our neighborhood so that I can assist you in gaining access to the buyers who are ready, willing, and able to buy right now!
VA Loans: Making a Home for the Brave Possible
July 1, 2018
Since the creation of the Veterans Affairs (VA) Home Loans Program, over 22 million veterans have achieved the American Dream of homeownership. Many veterans do not know the details of the program and therefore do not take advantage of the benefits available to them. If you are a veteran or you know someone who is, here is a breakdown of the VA Home Loan benefits that can be used to achieve the American Dream!
Top 5 Benefits of a VA Home Loan
The greatest benefit of a VA Loan is that borrowers can buy a home with a 0% down payment. In 2016, 82% of all VA Loans put down 0%!
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is not required! (Most other loans with down payments under 20% require PMI, which adds additional costs to your monthly housing expense!)
Credit Score requirements are also lower for VA Home Loans. The average FICO® score of a borrower for an approved VA Loan is 620, compared to 676 (FHA) or 753 (Conventional).
There is also a limitation on a veteran buyer’s closing costs. Sellers can pay all of a buyer’s loan-related closing costs and up to 4% in concessions in some cases.
Even with interest rates rising, VA Loans continue to have the lowest average interest rates of all loan types.
Who Qualifies for a VA Home Loan? One of the most important first steps when applying for a VA Home Loan is obtaining your Certificate of Eligibility (COE). “The COE verifies to the lender that you are eligible for a VA-backed loan.”
Have more than 6 years in the National Guard or Reserves
Are the spouse of a service member who has died in the line of duty or as the result of a service-related disability
You Can Use a VA Loan To:
Purchase a Home
Purchase a Condo
Build a Home
Refinance an existing home loan
Make improvements to a home by installing energy-related features or making energy-efficient improvements
Bottom Line: For more information or to find out if you or a loved one would qualify to use the VA Home Loan Benefit, let’s get together! Thank you for your service!
You DO NOT Need 20% Down to Buy Your Home NOW!
June 24, 2018
The Aspiring Home Buyers Profilefrom the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that the American public is still somewhat confused about what is required to qualify for a home mortgage loan in today’s housing market. The results of the survey show that the main reason why non-homeowners do not own their own homes is because they believe that they cannot afford them.
This brings us to two major misconceptions that we want to address today.
1. Down Payment: A recent survey by Laurel Road, the National Online Lender and FDIC-Insured Bank, revealed that consumers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan.
According to the survey, 53% of Americans who plan to buy or have already bought a home admit to their concerns about their ability to afford a home in the current market. In addition, 46% are currently unfamiliar with alternative down payment options, and 46% of millennials do not feel confident that they could currently afford a 20% down payment.
What these people don’t realize, however, is that there are many loans written with down payments of 3% or less. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with new programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket. 2. FICO®Scores: An Ipsos survey revealed that 62% of respondents believe they need excellent credit to buy a home, with 43% thinking a “good credit score” is over 780. In actuality, the average FICO® scores for approved conventional and FHA mortgages are much lower.
The average conventional loan closed in May had a credit score of 753, while FHA mortgages closed with an average score of 676. The average across all loans closed in May was 724. The chart below shows the distribution of FICO® Scores for all loans approved in May.
Bottom Line: If you are a prospective buyer who is ‘ready’ and ‘willing’ to act now, but you are not sure if you are ‘able’ to, let’s sit down to help you understand your true options today.
Parents Say Kids’ Opinions Matter Big When Buying a Home
June 17, 2018
A recent survey conducted by Harris Poll and released by SunTrust Mortgage found that “55% of homeowners with a child under the age of 18 at the time when they purchased their home said that the opinion of their offspring played a major role in their home buying decision.”
When the results were broken down by the parent’s age, millennials (those 18-36) led the way with 74% of homeowners saying that their child’s opinion was a factor in choosing which home to buy. Eighty-three percent of renters believe that their child’s opinion would be a deciding factor when looking to purchase a home.
So what features in a home are most important to kids?
Coming in at 57%, it should come as no surprise that gaining their own bedrooms was the top most-desirable feature of any home for kids, followed by a large back yard to play in at 34%.
Todd Chamberlain, Head of Mortgage Banking at SunTrust explained the reasoning behind the survey, “As a parent of two kids, I know from experience that including children in the home buying process is not only fun for the whole family, but also educational for our homebuyers of tomorrow.”
Bottom Line: If you’re thinking about selling your home this year, make sure to highlight all the kid-friendly features your home has to offer so that you can sway the real decision makers.
How A Lack of Inventory Impacts the Housing Market
June 10, 2018
The housing crisis is finally in the rear-view mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up, home sales are up, and distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen to their lowest points in years. The market will continue to strengthen in 2018.
However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. Buyer demand naturally increases during the summer months, but supply is not keeping up.
Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject: Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at National Association of Realtors ”The worsening inventory crunch through the first three months of the year inflicted even more upward pressure on home prices in a majority of markets. Following the same trend over the last couple of years, a strengthening job market and income gains are not being met by meaningful sales gains because of unrelenting supply and affordability headwinds.”
Sam Khater, Chief Economist for Freddie Mac ”As we head into late spring, the demand for purchase credit remains rock solid, which should set us up for another robust summer home sales season. While this year’s high rates – up 50 basic points from a year ago – have put pressure on the budgets of some home shoppers, weak inventory levels are what’s keeping the housing market from a stronger sales pace.”
Bottom Line: If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strong at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price.
5 Reasons Why to Sell This Summer!
June 3, 2018
Here are five reasons listing your home for sale this summer makes sense.
1. Demand Is Strong: The latest Buyer Traffic Reportfrom the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase…and are in the market right now!
More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy the same home. Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.
2. There Is Less Competition Now: Housing inventory has declined year-over-year for the last 35 months and is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon.
Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in his or her home was six, but that number has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.
The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.
3. The Process Will Be Quicker: Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latestOrigination Insights Report, the average time it took to close a loan was 41 days.
4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up: If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has forced these markets into a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!
Prices are projected to appreciate by 5.2% over the next year, according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.
5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life: Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?
Bottom Line: Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire. That is what is truly important.
4 Reasons Why Summer Is a Great Time to Buy a Home!
May 27, 2018
Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.
1. Prices Will Continue to Rise: CoreLogic’s latestHome Price Insights reports that home prices have appreciated by 7% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.2% over the next year. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.
2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase: Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have increased by half a percentage point already in 2018 to around 4.5%. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by nearly a full percentage point by this time next year.
An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.
3. Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage: There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.
As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity. Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?
4. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life: The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.
But what if they weren’t? Would you wait? Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer, or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.
Bottom Line: If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.
How Current Interest Rates Can Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power
May 20, 2018
According to Freddie Mac’s latestPrimary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at 4.61%, which is still near record lows in comparison to recent history!
The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.
Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford to buy will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget. The chart below shows the impact that rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a home within the national median price range while keeping your principal and interest payments between $1,850-$1,900 a month.
With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5% (in this example, $10,000). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be closer to 5% by this time next year. Bottom Line: Act now to get the most house for your hard-earned money.
Home Inspections: What to Expect
May 13, 2018
So you made an offer, it was accepted, and now your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. Oftentimes, agents make your offer contingent on a clean home inspection.
This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price you paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or even, in some cases, walk away. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.
How to Choose an Inspector: Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. HGTVrecommends that you consider the following 5 areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:
Qualifications – find out what’s included in your inspection and if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
Sample Reports – ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. The more detailed the report, the better in most cases.
References – do your homework – ask for phone numbers and names of past clients who you can call to ask about their experiences.
Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations often means that continued training and education are provided.
Errors & Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human after all, and it is possible that they might miss something they should have seen.
Ask your inspector if it’s okay for you to tag along during the inspection, that way they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.
Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof or crawling around in the attic and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace and chimney, the foundation, and so much more!
Bottom Line: They say ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money into a home of your own. Work with a professional who you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.
This Just In: Data Says May is the Best Month to Sell Your Home
May 6, 2018
According to a newly released study by ATTOM Data Solutions, selling your home in the month of May will net you an average of 5.9% above estimated market value for your home. For the study, ATTOM performed an “analysis of 14.7 million home sales from 2011 to 2017” and found the average seller premium achieved for each month of the year. Below is a breakdown by month:
ATTOM even went a step further and broke their results down by day. Top 5 Days to Sell:
June 28th – 9.1% above market
February 15th – 9.0% above market
May 31st – 8.3% above market
May 29th – 8.2% above market
June 21st – 8.1% above market
It should come as no surprise that May and June dominate as the top months to sell and that 4 of the top 5 days to sell fall in those two months. The second quarter of the year (April, May, June) is referred to as the Spring Buyers Season, when competition is fierce to find a dream home, which often leads to bidding wars.
One caveat to mention though, is that when broken down by metro, ATTOM noticed that while warmer climates share in the overall trend, it turns out that they have different top months for sales. The best month to get the highest price in Miami, FL, for instance, was January, and Phoenix, AZ came in with November leading the charge.
If you’re thinking of selling your home this year, the time to list is NOW! According to the National Association of Realtors, homes sold in an average of just 30 days last month! If you list now, you’ll have a really good chance to sell in May or June, setting yourself up for getting the best price!
Bottom Line: Let’s get together to discuss the market conditions in our area and get you the most exposure to the buyers who are ready and willing to buy!
4 Reasons Why Today’s Housing Market is NOT 2006 All Over Again
April 29, 2018
With home prices rising again this year, some are concerned that we may be repeating the 2006 housing bubble that caused families so much pain when it collapsed. Today’s market is quite different than the bubble market of twelve years ago. There are four key metrics that explain why:
1. HOME PRICES: There is no doubt that home prices have reached 2006 levels in many markets across the country. However, after more than a decade, home prices should be much higher based on inflation alone. Frank Nothaft is the Chief Economist for CoreLogic (which compiles some of the best data on past, current, and future home prices). Nothaft recently explained: “Even though CoreLogic’s national home price index got to the same level it was at the prior peak in April of 2006, once you account for inflation over the ensuing 11.5 years, values are still about 18% below where they were.” (emphasis added)
2. MORTGAGE STANDARDS: Some are concerned that banks are once again easing lending standards to a level similar to the one that helped create the last housing bubble. However, there is proof that today’s standards are nowhere near as lenient as they were leading up to the crash. The Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center issues a Housing Credit Availability Index (HCAI). According to the Urban Institute: “The HCAI measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates that lenders are willing to tolerate defaults and are taking more risks, making it easier to get a loan.” The graph below reveals that standards today are much tighter on a borrower’s credit situation and have all but eliminated the riskiest loan products.
3. MORTGAGE DEBT: Back in 2006, many homeowners mistakenly used their homes as ATMs by withdrawing their equity and spending it with no concern for the ramifications. They overloaded themselves with mortgage debt that they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) repay when prices crashed. That is not occurring today. The best indicator of mortgage debt is the Federal Reserve Board’s household Debt Service Ratio for mortgages, which calculates mortgage debt as a percentage of disposable personal income. At the height of the bubble market a decade ago, the ratio stood at 7.21%. That meant over 7% of disposable personal income was being spent on mortgage payments. Today, the ratio stands at 4.48% – the lowest level in 38 years!
4. HOUSING AFFORDABILITY: With both house prices and mortgage rates on the rise, there is concern that many buyers may no longer be able to afford a home. However, when we look at the Housing Affordability Index released by the National Association of Realtors, homes are more affordable now than at any other time since 1985 (except for when prices crashed after the bubble popped in 2008).
Bottom Line: After using four key housing metrics to compare today to 2006, we can see that the current market is not anything like the bubble market.
Why Home Prices Are Increasing?
April 22, 2018
There are many unsubstantiated theories as to why home values are continuing to increase. From those who are worried that lending standards are again becoming too lenient(data shows this is untrue), to those who are concerned that prices are again approaching boom peaks because of “irrational exuberance” (this is also untrue as prices are not at peak levels when they are adjusted for inflation), there seems to be no shortage of opinion.
However, the increase in prices is easily explained by the theory of supply & demand. Whenever there is a limited supply of an item that is in high demand, prices increase. It is that simple. In real estate, it takes a six-month supply of existing salable inventory to maintain pricing stability. In most housing markets, anything less than six months will cause home values to appreciate and anything more than seven months will cause prices to depreciate (see chart below).
According to the Existing Home Sales Reportfrom the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the monthly inventory of homes for sale has been below six months for the last five years (see chart below).
Bottom Line: If buyer demand continues to outpace the current supply of existing homes for sale, prices will continue to appreciate. Nothing nefarious is taking place. It is simply the theory of supply & demand working as it should.
How Much Do You Need to Make to Buy a Home in Your State?
April 15, 2018
It’s no mystery that cost of living varies drastically depending on where you live, so a new study by GOBankingRates set out to find out what minimum salary you would need to make in order to buy a median-priced home in each of the 50 states, and Washington, D.C.
States in the Midwest came out on top as most affordable, requiring the smallest salaries in order to buy a median-priced home. States with large metropolitan areas saw a bump in the average salary needed to buy with California, Washington, D.C., and Hawaii edging out all others with the highest salaries required. Below is a map with the full results of the study:
GoBankingRates gave this advice to anyone considering a home purchase, "Before you buy a home, it’s important to find out if you can afford the monthly mortgage payment. To do this, some financial experts recommend your housing costs — primarily your mortgage payments — shouldn’t consume more than 30 percent of your monthly income.”
As we recently reported, research from Zillow shows that historically, Americans had spent 21% of their income on owning a median-priced home. The latest data from the fourth quarter of 2017 shows that the percentage of income needed today is only 15.7%!
Bottom Line: If you are considering buying a home, whether it’s your first time or your fifth time, let’s get together to evaluate your ability to do so in today’s market!
Rising Prices Help You Build Your Family’s Wealth
April 8, 2018
Over the next five years, home prices are expected to appreciate, on average, by 3.6% per year and to grow by 18.2% cumulatively, according to Pulsenomics’ most recent Home Price Expectation Survey.
So, what does this mean for homeowners and their equity position? As an example, let’s assume a young couple purchased and closed on a $250,000 home this January. If we only look at the projected increase in the price of that home, how much equity will they earn over the next 5 years?
Since the experts predict that home prices will increase by 5.0% in 2018, the young homeowners will have gained $12,500 in equity in just one year.
Over a five-year period, their equity will increase by over $48,000! This figure does not even take into account their monthly principal mortgage payments. In many cases, home equity is one of the largest portions of a family’s overall net worth. Bottom Line: Not only is homeownership something to be proud of, but it also offers you and your family the ability to build equity you can borrow against in the future. If you are ready and willing to buy, find out if you are able to today!
Getting Pre-Approved Should Always Be Your First Step
April 1, 2018
In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.
Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the ‘My Home’ section of their website: “It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”
One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”
Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:
Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time
Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.
Bottom Line: Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so.
Are You Aware of How Much Equity You Have in Your Home? You May Be Surprised!
March 25, 2018
CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report revealed that 675,000 US homeowners regained positive equity in their homes in 2017. This is great news for the country, as 95.1% of all mortgaged properties are now in a positive equity situation. “U.S homeowners with mortgages (roughly 63% of all the properties) have seen their equity increase by a total of $908.4 billion since the fourth quarter 2016, an increase of 12.2%, year over year.”
Price Appreciation = Good News for Homeowners Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic’s Chief Economist, explains: “Home-price growth has been the primary driver of home-equity wealth creation. The CoreLogic Home Price Index grew 6.2 percent during 2017. The largest calendar-year increase since 2013. Likewise, the average growth in home equity was more than $15,000 during 2017, the most in four years.” He also believes this is a great sign for the market in 2018, saying: “Because wealth gains spur additional consumer purchases, the rise in home-equity wealth during 2017 should add more than $50 billion to U.S. consumption spending over the next two to three years.”
This is great news for homeowners! But, do they realize that their equity position has changed? A study by Fannie Mae suggests that many homeowners are not aware that they have regained equity in their homes as their investment has increased in value. For example, their study showed that 23% of Americans still believe their home is in a negative equity position when, in actuality, CoreLogic’s report shows that only 4.9% of homes are in that position (down from 6.3% in Q4 2016). The study also revealed that only 37% of Americans believe that they have “significant equity” (greater than 20%) when in actuality, 83% do! This means that 46% of Americans with a mortgage fail to realize the opportune situation they are in. With a sizeable equity position, many homeowners could easily move into a house (either larger or smaller) that better meets their current needs.
Fannie Mae spoke out on this issue in their report: “Homeowners who underestimate their homes’ values not only underestimate their home equity, they also likely underestimate 1) how large a down payment they could make with their home equity, 2) their chances of qualifying for mortgages, and, therefore, 3) their opportunities for selling their current homes and for buying different homes.” Bottom Line: If you are one of the many Americans who is unsure of how much equity you have built in your home, don’t let that be the reason you fail to move on to your dream home in 2018! Let’s get together to evaluate your situation!
Dreaming of a Luxury Home? Now’s the Time!
March 18, 2018
If your house no longer fits your needs and you are planning on buying a luxury home, now is a great time to do so! Recently, the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing released its Luxury Market Report which showed that in today’s premium home market, buyers are in control.
The inventory of homes for sale in the luxury market far exceeds the number of people searching to purchase these properties in many areas of the country. This means that homes are often staying on the market longer or can be found at a discount.
Those who have a starter or trade-up home to sell will find buyers competing, and often entering bidding wars, to be able to call their house their new home. The sale of your starter or trade-up house will help you come up with a larger down payment for your new luxury home. Even a 5% down payment on a million-dollar home is $50,000. But not all who are buying luxury properties have a home to sell first. A recent Bloombergarticle gave some insight into what many millennials are choosing to do: “A new generation of affluent homebuyers powered by a surge in inherited wealth is driving the luxury-home market, demanding larger spaces and fancier finishes, according to a report heralding ‘the rise of the new aristocracy.’” Bottom Line: The best time to sell anything is when demand is high, and supply is low. If you are currently in a starter or trade-up house that no longer fits your needs and you are looking to step into a luxury home, now’s the time to list your house for sale and make your dreams come true.
Is a Major Home Renovation Worth It in the Long Run?
Let’s look at this example. Let’s say you have a 4-bedroom colonial style home in a great school district. The neighborhood is amazing, and you are very comfortable there, but your kids are all grown up and the original benefits of the home no longer apply.
You’ve always wanted a huge master suite and are considering merging 3 of the smaller bedrooms on the second floor to achieve this dream. In the short term, you are over the moon excited about your newly renovated oasis. In the long term, when you go to sell your home down the road, you’ve now taken a 4-bedroom home in a great school district and turned it into a 2-bedroom home. Your pool of potential buyers has shrunk significantly and so has the value of your home (unless you are able to find someone who has the exact needs you have today!).
Why not consider listing your 4-bedroom home now and moving into a gorgeous 2-bedroom with a master suite? Your house can become a home for the next family looking for that perfect neighborhood with a great school district to raise their kids in! You may even be able to achieve your dream in the same area you love, without having to give up your favorite restaurants and grocery stores.
Bottom Line: If you are debating a major renovation that would change the layout of your home, before you pick up that sledgehammer, let’s get together and discuss the available listings in our area that might meet your needs today!