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No Bubble Here! How New Mortgage Standards Are Helping

Real estate is shifting to a more normal market; the days of national home appreciation topping 6% annually are over and inventories are increasing which is causing bidding wars to almost disappear. Some see these as signs that the market will soon come tumbling down as it did in 2008.

As it becomes easier for buyers to obtain mortgages, many are suggesting that this is definite proof that banks are repeating the same mistakes they made a decade ago. Today, we want to assure everyone that we are not heading to another housing “bubble & bust.”

Each month, the Mortgage Bankers’ Association (MBA) releases a measurement which indicates the availability of mortgage credit known as the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to the MBA:

“The MCAI provides the only standardized quantitative index that is solely focused on mortgage credit. The MCAI is calculated using several factors related to borrower eligibility (credit score, loan type, loan-to-value ratio, etc.).” *

The higher the measurement, the easier it is to get a mortgage. During the buildup to the last housing bubble, the measurement sat at around 400. In 2005 and 2006, the measurement more than doubled to over 800 and was still at almost 600 in 2007. When the market crashed in 2008, the index fell to just over 100.

Over the last decade, as credit began to ease, the index increased to where it is today at 186.7 – still less than half of what it was prior to the buildup of last decade and less than one-quarter of where it was during the bubble.

Here is a graph depicting this information (remember, the higher the index, the easier it was to get a mortgage):

No Bubble Here! How New Mortgage Standards Are Helping | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

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.

*For more information on the MCAI, including methodology, FAQs, and other helpful resources, please click here.


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Don’t Get Caught in the Rental Trap in 2019

Every year around this time, we take time to reflect and plan for next year. If you are renting your current home but have dreams of homeownership, your plan for the new year may include buying, and you wouldn’t be alone!

According to the 2018 Bank of America Homebuyer Insights Report, 74% of renters plan on buying in the next 5 years, with 38% planning to buy in the next 2 years!

When those same renters were asked why they disliked renting, 52% said that rising rental costs were their top reason, and 42% of renters believe that their rent will rise every year. The full results of the survey can be seen below:

Don't Get Caught in the Rental Trap in 2019 | Keeping Current Matters

It’s no wonder that rising rental costs came in as the top answer! The median asking rent price has risen steadily over the last 30 years, as you can see below!

Don't Get Caught in the Rental Trap in 2019 | Keeping Current Matters

There is a long-standing rule that a household should not spend more than 28% of its income on housing expenses. With nearly half of renters (48%) surveyed already spending more than that, and with their rents likely to rise again… why are they renting?

When asked why they haven’t purchased a home yet, not having enough saved for a down payment (44%) came in as the top response. The report went on to reveal that nearly half of all respondents believe that “a 20% down payment is required to buy a home.”

If the majority of those who believe they haven’t saved a large enough down payment believe that they need 20% down to buy, that means a large number of renters may be able to buy now!

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many renters who is fed up with rising rents but may be confused about what is required to buy in today’s market, contact a local real estate professional who can help you on your path to homeownership.


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How to Simply Increase Your Family Wealth by Paying for Housing

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 and asks them 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 Q4 2018 Survey revealed that home prices are expected to round out the year 5.8% higher than they were in January. For the next 5 years, home values will appreciate by an average of nearly 3% a year.

This is still great news for homeowners!

For example, let’s assume a young couple purchases and closes on a $250,000 home in January. Simply through their home appreciating in value, those homeowners can build their home equity by nearly $40,000 over the next five years.

How to Simply Increase Your Family Wealth by Paying for Housing | Keeping Current Matters

Let’s look at the potential equity gained over the same period of time at some higher price points:

How to Simply Increase Your Family Wealth by Paying for Housing | Keeping Current Matters

In many cases, home equity is a large portion of a family’s overall net worth.

Bottom Line

If your plan for 2019 includes entering the housing market to purchase a home, whether it’s your first or your fifth, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you understand where prices are headed in your area.


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What If I Wait A Year to Buy a Home?

National home prices have increased by 5.4% since this time last year. Over that same time period, interest rates have remained near historic lows which has allowed many buyers to enter the market and lock in low rates.

As a seller, you will likely be most concerned about ‘short-term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, however, you must not be concerned about price but instead about the ‘long-term cost’ of the home.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by this time next year. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Insights Reporthome prices will appreciate by 4.8% over the next 12 months.

What Does This Mean as a Buyer?

If home prices appreciate by 4.8% over the next twelve months as predicted by CoreLogic, here is a simple demonstration of the impact that an increase in interest rate would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:

What If I Wait Until 2019 To Buy A Home? | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If buying a home is in your plan for this year, doing it sooner rather than later could save you thousands of dollars over the terms of your loan.


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The Tale of Two Markets [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • An emerging trend for some time now has been the difference between available inventory and demand in the premium and luxury markets and that in the starter and trade-up markets and what those differences are doing to prices!
  • Inventory continues to rise in the luxury and premium home markets which is causing prices to cool.
  • Demand continues to rise with lower-than-normal inventory levels in the starter and trade-up home markets, causing prices to rise on a year-over-year basis for 80 consecutive months.

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2008 vs. Now: Are Owners Using Their Homes as ATMs Again?

Over the last six years, we have experienced strong price appreciation which has increased home equity levels dramatically. As the number of “cash-out” refinances begins to approach numbers last seen during the crash, some are afraid that we may be repeating last decade’s mistake.

However, a closer look at the numbers shows that homeowners are being much more responsible with their home equity this time around.

What happened then…

When real estate values began to surge last decade, people started using their homes as personal ATMs. Homeowners would refinance their houses and convert their equity into instant cash (known as “cash-out” refinances). Because homes were appreciating so rapidly, many homeowners tapped into their equity multiple times.

This left homeowners with little-or-no equity left in their homes, so when prices started to fall many homeowners found their houses in a negative equity situation (where the mortgage amount was greater than the value of the home). When some of these homeowners saw that there was no value left in their houses, they just stopped paying their mortgages altogether.

Banks eventually foreclosed on those homes and the foreclosures drove prices down even further and put more homes in the negative equity category. This cycle continued, leading to the worst housing crash in almost one hundred years.

What’s happening now…

Again, Americans are seeing their home equity grow. Today, over 48% of all single-family homes in the country have over 50% equity, and yes, some families are tapping into that equity. However, this time around, homeowners are not doing making irresponsible decisions. According to the latest information from Freddie Mac, the total equity being “cashed out” is a fraction of what it was leading up to the crash. Here are the numbers:

2008 vs. Now: Are Owners Using Their Homes as ATMs Again? | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

The recklessness that accompanied the build-up in equity prior to the last crash does not exist today. That makes this housing market much more secure than the one we had heading into 2008.


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Where Are Interest Rates Headed in 2019?

The interest rate you pay on your home mortgage has a direct impact on your monthly payment. The higher the rate, the greater the payment will be. That is why it is important to know where rates are headed when deciding to start your home search.

Below is a chart created using Freddie Mac’s U.S. Economic & Housing Marketing Outlook. As you can see, interest rates are projected to increase steadily throughout 2019.

Where Are Interest Rates Headed in 2019? | Keeping Current Matters

How Will This Impact Your Mortgage Payment?

Depending on the amount of the loan that you secure, a half of a percent (.5%) increase in interest rate can increase your monthly mortgage payment significantly. But don’t let the prediction that rates will increase stop you from purchasing your dream home this year!

Let’s take a look at a historical view of interest rates over the last 45 years.

Where Are Interest Rates Headed in 2019? | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Be thankful that 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.


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Homeowners Aged 65+ Have 48x More Net Worth Than Renters

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 covers responses from 2013-2016.

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.

There are many who see that statistic and point toward how broad the range of respondents are for the Federal Reserve survey. Their study includes all economic and social groups and also includes all age groups. The argument is that older respondents have a higher likelihood of being homeowners, while the homeownership rate among younger survey takers is much lower.

Recently, the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University focused on homeowners and renters over the age of 65. Their study revealed that the difference in net worth between homeowners and renters at this age group was actually 47.5 times greater!

Homeowners Aged 65+ Have 48x More Net Worth Than Renters | Keeping Current Matters

Homeowners over the age of 65 are much more financially prepared for retirement and often own their homes outright if they were fortunate enough to purchase their homes before the age of 36. Their 30 years of mortgage payments have paid off as they gained equity through their monthly payments and as home values appreciated.

It is no surprise that lifelong-renters have had a hard time accruing net worth as the latest Census report shows that the Median Asking Rent has been climbing consistently over the last 30 years.

Homeowners Aged 65+ Have 48x More Net Worth Than Renters | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

As a homeowner you put your monthly mortgage payment to work for you, building your net worth with every payment.


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4 Reasons to Buy A Home This Winter!

Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insight report revealed that home prices have appreciated by 5.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.7% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. 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 hovered around 4.8%. 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 in 2019.

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 homes 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 build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person building 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.

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.


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Home Prices Up 6.34% Across the Country! [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently released their latest Quarterly Home Price Index report.
  • In the report, home prices are compared both regionally and by state.
  • Based on the latest numbers, if you plan on relocating to another state, waiting to move may end up costing you more!

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Buyers: Don’t Be Surprised by Closing Costs!

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.


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Will Your Side Hustle Buy You a House This Year?

The top concern for most first-time home buyers is their ability to save for a down payment. According to a new survey, 36% of millennials took on a second job to make their dreams of homeownership a reality in 2017.

Among millennials with incomes over $100,000 a year, the top ways to come up with the necessary funds were to sell stocks (20%) or to sell cryptocurrency (16%).

The most popular method of savings was the most traditional; 60% of those saving for a down payment used a percentage of their paychecks to achieve their goal, while 75% of those with salaries over $100k were able to save this way.

For those who have not yet begun to save for their down payment, 32% plan on pursuing additional employment, while 15% plan on driving for a ride-share service as their second job.

Many first-time buyers are mistaken about the down payment needed in today’s real estate market. In fact,

“In a 2017 survey, 68% of renters cited saving for a down payment as an obstacle to homeownership. Thirty-nine percent of renters believe that more than 20% is needed for a down payment and many renters are unaware of low-down payment programs.”

The many benefits of homeownership make the extra jobs, sacrificing new clothes, or skipping vacations well worth it.

Bottom Line

If you have been saving for your down payment for a while now and are curious how much further you have to go, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you determine what priced home you can afford and what size down payment you’ll need.


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Females Are Making It a Priority to Invest in Real Estate!

Everyone wants a place to call home; a place that gives them a sense of security. We are currently seeing major interest from females who want to achieve this dream, and the numbers are proving it!

In 2018, for the second year in a row, single female buyers accounted for 18% of all buyers. In 2017, 60% of millennial women listed as the primary borrowers on mortgages were single.

According to the 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report by the National Association of Realtors, one in five homebuyers in the U.S. were single females (most of them part of the baby boomer generation) as you can see in the graph below:

Females Are Making It a Priority to Invest in Real Estate! | Keeping Current Matters

This does not come as a surprise since 50.8% of the U.S. population is female and 15.6% of them are 65 years and over, according to the Census Bureau.

What are the reasons for this demographic’s booming interest in homeownership?

Bankrate published an article with what they believe to be some of the reasons:

  • Divorce rate: Known as the “Gray Divorce,” the divorce rate has doubled for those ages 50 and over and tripled for those ages 65 and over.
  • Average life expectancy: For women it’s 81, four years longer than men.
  • To build home equity: Women want to build equity through their home. As mentioned by Bankrate, “some are hoping to escape rising rents, some might be downsizing or looking for a new start,” especially those going through a gray divorce.

Are they only downsizing and buying small homes?

Not really; The Institute of Luxury Home Marketing recently stated that:

The number of female billionaires grew faster globally in 2017 than the number of male billionaires. This redistribution of wealth has seen an impact on luxury real estate both in its purchase and design attributes – and obviously, this is important for realtors to recognize when relating to their clients.”

Bottom Line

Whether you are a millennial who wants to buy a starter home, a billionaire looking for that luxury home you’ve always wanted, or maybe even someone who just went through a gray divorce, contact a local real estate professional who can help you create your real estate portfolio and start investing your money in real estate today!


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The Cost of Renting vs. Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a tough decision.
  • Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (28.4%) vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (17.5%), the choice becomes obvious.
  • Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you can put your housing costs to work by buying this year!

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VA Home Loans by the Numbers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • The Veterans Administration (VA) Home Loan is a benefit that is available to more than 22 million veterans & 2 million active duty service members which helps them achieve their dreams of homeownership.
  • In 2017, $189 billion was loaned to veterans and their families through the program.
  • VA Purchase Loans are on the rise in 46 out of 50 states and Washington, DC.

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75% of Renters Have Been Misinformed

Recently, multiple headlines have been written asserting that homeownership is less affordable today than at any other time in the last decade. Though the headlines are accurate, they lack context and lead too many Americans to believe that they can’t partake in a major part of the American Dream – owning a home.

In 2008, the housing market crashed and home values fell by as much as 60% in certain markets. This was the major trigger to the Great Recession we experienced from 2008 to 2010. To come back from that recession, mortgage interest rates were pushed down to levels that were never seen before.

For the last ten years, you could purchase a home at a dramatically discounted price and attain a mortgage at a historically low mortgage rate.

Affordability skyrocketed.

Now that home values have returned to where they should be, and mortgage rates are beginning to increase, it is less affordable to own a home than it was over the last ten years.

However, what is not being reported is that it is MORE AFFORDABLE to own a home today than at any other time since 1985 (when data was first collected on this point).

If you take out the years after the crash, affordability today is greater than it has been at almost any time in American history.

This has not been adequately reported which has led to many Americans believing that they cannot currently afford a home.

As an example, the latest edition of Freddie Mac’s Research: Profile of Today’s Renter reveals that 75% of renters now believe it is more affordable to rent than to own their own homes. This percentage is the highest ever recorded. The challenge is that this belief is incorrect. Study after study has proven that in today’s market, it is less expensive to own a home than it is to rent a home in the United States.

Thankfully, some are starting to see this situation and accurately report on it. The National Association of Realtors, in their 2019 Housing Forecast, mentions this concern:

“While the U.S. is experiencing historically normal levels of affordability, potential buyers may be staying out of the market because of perceived problems with affordability.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many renters who would like to own their own homes, talk to a local real estate professional to find out if homeownership is affordable for you right now.


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5 Tips When Buying a Newly Constructed Home

The lack of existing inventory for sale has forced many homebuyers to begin looking at new construction. When you buy a newly constructed home instead of an existing home, there are many extra steps that must take place.

To ensure a hassle-free process, here are 5 tips to keep in mind if you are considering new construction:

1. Hire an Inspector

Despite the fact that builders must comply with town and city regulations, a home inspector will have your best interests in mind! When buying new construction, you will have between 1-3 inspections, depending on your preference (the foundation inspection, the pre-drywall inspection, and a final inspection).

These inspections are important because the inspector will often notice something that the builder missed. If possible, attend the inspection so that you can ask questions about your new home and make sure the builder fixes any problems found by the inspector.

2. Maintain good communication with your builder

Starting with the pre-construction meeting (where you will go over all the details of your home with your project manager), establish a line of communication. For example, will the builder email you every Friday with progress updates? If you are an out-of-state buyer, will you receive weekly pictures of the progress via email? Can you call the builder and if so, how often? How often can you visit the site?

3. Look for builder’s incentives

The good thing about buying a new home is that you can add the countertop you need, the mudroom you want, or an extra porch off the back of your home! However, there is always a price for such additions, and they add up quickly!

Some builders offer incentives that can help reduce the amount you spend on your home. Do your homework and see what sort of incentives the builders in your area are offering.

4. Schedule extra time into the process

There are many things that can impact the progress on your home. One of these things is the weather, especially if you are building in the fall and winter. Rain can delay the pouring of a foundation as well as other necessary steps at the beginning of construction, while snow can freeze pipes and slow your timeline.

Most builders already have a one-to-two-week buffer added into their timelines, but if you are also in the process of selling your current home, you must keep that in mind! Nobody wants to be between homes for a couple of weeks.

5. Visit the site often

As we mentioned earlier, be sure to schedule time with your project manager at least once a week to see the progress on your home. It’s easy for someone who is not there all the time to notice little details that the builder may have forgotten or overlooked. Additionally, don’t forget to take pictures! You might need them later to see exactly where that pipe is or where those electrical connections are once they’re covered up with drywall!

Bottom Line

Watching your home come to life is a wonderful experience that can sometimes come with hassles. To avoid some of these headaches, keep these tips in mind!

If you are ready to put your current home up for sale and find out what new construction is available in your area, call a local real estate agent who can help you with the sale of your current home and the search for your new one.


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2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers

Urban Institute recently released a report entitled, “Barriers to Accessing Homeownership: Down Payment, Credit, and Affordability,” which revealed that,

“Consumers often think they need to put more money down to purchase a home than is actually required. In a 2017 survey, 68% of renters cited saving for a down payment as an obstacle to homeownership. Thirty-nine percent of renters believe that more than 20% is needed for a down payment and many renters are unaware of low–down payment programs.”

Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”

Buyers often overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the same report:

“Most potential homebuyers are largely unaware that there are low-down payment and no-down payment assistance programs available at the local, state, and federal levels to help eligible borrowers secure an affordable down payment.”  

These numbers do not differ much between non-owners and homeowners. For example, “30% of homeowners and 39% of renters believe that you need more than 20 percent for a down payment.”

While many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream homes, they do not realize that there are programs available which allow them to put down as little as 3%. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher to Buy”

Similar to the down payment, many either don’t know or are misinformed about what FICO® score is necessary to qualify.

Many Americans believe a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.

To help debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.

2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers | Keeping Current Matters

As you can see in the chart above, 51.7% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 600-749.

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Your dream home may already be within your reach.


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Taking Fear Out of the Mortgage Process

A considerable number of potential buyers shy away from jumping into the real estate market due to their uncertainties about the buying process. A specific cause for concern tends to be mortgage qualification.

For many, the mortgage process can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be!

In order to qualify in today’s market, you’ll need a down payment (the average down payment on all loans last year was 5%, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income, and good credit history.

Throughout the entire home buying process, you will interact with many different professionals who will all perform necessary roles. These professionals are also valuable resources for you.

Once you’re ready to apply, here are 5 easy steps that Freddie Mac suggests to follow:

  1. Find out your current credit history & score – even if you don’t have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO Score® of all closed loans in September was 731, according to Ellie Mae.
  2. Start gathering all of your documentation – income verification (such as W-2 forms or tax returns), credit history, and assets (such as bank statements to verify your savings).
  3. Contact a professional – your real estate agent will be able to recommend a loan officer who can help you develop a spending plan, as well as help you determine how much home you can afford.
  4. Consult with your lender – he or she will review your income, expenses, and financial goals in order to determine the type and amount of mortgage you qualify for.
  5. Talk to your lender about pre-approval – a pre-approval letter provides an estimate of what you might be able to borrow (provided your financial status doesn’t change) and demonstrates to home sellers that you are serious about buying!

Bottom Line

Do your research, reach out to professionals, stick to your budget, and be sure that you are ready to take on the financial responsibilities of becoming a homeowner.


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Are You Spending TOO Much on Rent?

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.

Are You Spending TOO Much on Rent? | Keeping Current Matters

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!


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Buying a Home Can Be Scary… Until You Know the Facts [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

Many potential homebuyers believe that they need a 20% down payment and a 780 FICO® score to qualify to buy a home which stops many of them from even trying! Here are some facts:

  • 72% of buyers who purchased homes this year have put down less than 20%.
  • 76.4% of loan applications were approved last month.
  • The average credit score of approved loans was 727 in September.

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Still Think You Need 15-20% Down to Buy a Home? Think Again!

According to a new study from Urban Institute, there are over 19 million millennials in 31 cities who are not only ready and willing to become homeowners, but are able to as well!

Now that the largest generation since baby boomers has aged into prime homebuying age, there will no doubt be an uptick in the national homeownership rate. The study from Urban Institute revealed that nearly a quarter of this generation has the credit and income needed to purchase a home.

Surprisingly, the largest share of mortgage-ready millennials lives in expensive coastal cities. These cities often attract highly skilled workers who demand higher salaries for their expertise.

So, what’s holding these mortgage-ready millennials back from buying?

Myths About Down Payment Requirements! 

Most of the millennials surveyed for the study believe that they need at least a 15% down payment in order to buy a home when, in reality, the median down payment in the US in 2017 was just 5%, and many programs are available for even lower down payments!

The study goes on to point out that:

“Despite limited awareness, every state has programs that provide grants and loans to make homeownership more attainable, with average assistance in various states ranging from $2,436 to $21,171.”

Bottom Line

With so many young families now able to buy a home in today’s market, the demand for housing will continue for years to come. If you are one of the many millennials who have questions about their ability to buy in today’s market, sit with a local real estate professional who can assist you along your journey!


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Housing Is Still Affordable in the United States!

Lately, there have been many headlines circulating about whether or not there is an “affordability issue forming in the housing market.”

If you are considering selling your current house and moving up to the home of your dreams, but are unsure whether or not to believe what you’re seeing in the news, let’s look at the results of the latest Housing Affordability Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

According to NAR:

“A value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index above 100 signifies that a family earning the median income has more than enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment.”

  • The national index results for August came in at 141.2.
  • This is up from 138.9 in July, but down 8.3% from last August’s value of 153.9.

One big factor in determining affordability each month is the interest rate available at the time of calculation. In August 2017, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage interest rate was 4.19%. This August, the rate rose to 4.78%!

With an index reading of 141.2, housing remains affordable in the U.S.

Regionally, affordability is up in three out of four regions. The Northeast had the biggest gain at 6.2%. The South had an increase of 2.4% followed by the West with a slight increase of 0.1%. The Midwest had the only dip in affordability at 4.8%.

Despite month-over-month changes, the most affordable region remains the Midwest, with an index value of 175.7. The West remains the least affordable region at 101.2. For comparison, the index was 146.7 in the South, and 151.2 in the Northeast.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling your home, contact a local real estate professional who can help you understand the affordability conditions in your marketplace.


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Will Home Prices Continue to Increase?

There are many unsubstantiated theories about what is happening with home prices. From those who are worried that prices are falling (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 greater than seven months will cause prices to depreciate (see chart below).

Will Home Prices Continue to Increase? | Keeping Current Matters

According to the Existing Home Sales Report from 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).

Will Home Prices Continue to Increase? | Keeping Current Matters

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.


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Is the Increase in Inventory a Bullish or Bearish Sign for Real Estate?

In a recent article, National Housing Inventory Crisis Reaches Inflection Point, realtor.com reported that:

    1. New listings jumped 8% year-over-year nationally, the largest increase since 2013
    2. Total listings in the 45 largest markets are now up 6% on average over last year

This increase in housing inventory has sparked two different reactions. Some are saying this is the first sign of a potential collapse while others are saying it is a welcomed reprieve from the lack of inventory that has stalled the market recently. As Zelman & Associates reported in a recent ‘Z Report’:

“With the rate of home price appreciation starting to decelerate alongside the uptick in inventory, we expect significant debate whether this is a bullish or bearish sign.”

Is this a sign the market might crash?

There are those who look at the increase in inventory as a sign that we are returning to the market we saw last decade. However, a closer look shows that we are nowhere near the levels of inventory we reached before the crash in 2008.

A normal market would have about 6-months inventory, but the latest Existing Home Sales Report issued by the National Association of Realtors revealed that:

“Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace up from 4.1 months a year ago.”

A decade ago, prices began to rapidly depreciate in June 2007. At that time, we had a 9.1-month supply (more than double what it is today) and inventory kept rising until it hit a peak of 11.1 months in April of 2008.

With the current levels of buyer demand, any such increase in months supply is highly unlikely. As Danielle Hale, realtor.com’s Chief Economist explains:

 “After years of record-breaking inventory declines, September’s almost flat inventory signals a big change in the real estate market. Would-be buyers who had been waiting for a bigger selection of homes for sale may finally see more listings materialize. But don’t expect the level to jump dramatically.

Plenty of buyers in the market are scooping up homes as soon as they’re listed, which will keep national increases relatively small for the time being.”

What will be the result of the increase in inventory?

The increase in inventory will allow many families who had been unable to find a home to finally become homeowners. Again, we quote from the ‘Z Report’:

“In our view, the short-term narrative will probably be confusing, but more sustainable growth and affordability will likely be the end result.”

Bottom Line

If you are either a first-time or second-time buyer who has given up, check with a local real estate professional to see if new listings have come to the market in your area.


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