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Where Did Americans Move in 2018? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Every year United Van Lines conducts their National Movers Study by tracking their customer’s movement state-to-state over the course of the year.
  • Vermont claimed the top spot of states with the highest percentage of inbound residents following a campaign that covered relocation costs for skilled workers who moved to the state.
  • The most common response for why someone relocated to another state was for a new job or company transfer.

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First Comes Love… Then Comes Mortgage? Couples Lead the Way

According to the National Association of REALTORS most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, married couples once again dominated the first-time homebuyer statistics in 2018 at 54% of all buyers. It is no surprise that buying a home is more attainable with two incomes to save for down payments and contribute to monthly housing costs.

However, many couples are also deciding to buy a home before spending what would be a down payment on a wedding. Last year, unmarried couples accounted for 16% of all first-time buyers.

If you’re single, don’t fret! Single women made up 18% of first-time buyers in 2018, while single men accounted for 10% of buyers. One recent article pointed to a sense of responsibility and commitment that drives many single women to want to own their home, rather than rent.

Here is the breakdown of all first-time homebuyers in 2018 by percentage of all buyers, income, and age:

First Comes Love… Then Comes Mortgage? Couples Lead the Way | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

You may not be that much different than those who have already purchased their first homes. Meet with a local real estate professional today to determine if your dream home is already within your grasp!


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Why Homeownership Matters Now More Than Ever

Study after study shows that no matter what generation Americans belong to, the vast majority believe that homeownership is an important part of their American Dream. The benefits of homeownership can be broken into two main categories: financial and non-financial (often referred to as emotional or social reasons.)

For Americans approaching retirement age, one of the greatest benefits to homeownership is the added net worth they have been able to achieve simply by paying their mortgage!

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, with nearly half their net worth coming from home equity!

Why Homeownership Matters Now More Than Ever | 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.

Why Homeownership Matters Now More Than Ever | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Your monthly mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ building your net worth with every payment!


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5 Reasons to Love Hiring A Real Estate Pro [INFOGRAPHIC]

Highlights:

  • Hiring a real estate professional to guide you through the process of buying a home or selling your house can be one of the best decisions you make!
  • They are there for you to help with contracts, explaining the process, negotiations, and pricing (both when making an offer or setting the right price for your home).
  • One of the top reasons to hire a real estate professional is their understanding of your local market and how the conditions in your neighborhood will impact your experience.

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How to Get a Better Perspective on Affordability

Headlines spotlight the fact that buying a home is less affordable today than it was at any other time in more than a decade. Those headlines are accurate.

Understandably, buying a home is more expensive now than immediately following one of the worst housing crashes in American history. Over the past decade, the market was flooded with distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) selling at 10-50% discounts. There were so many that this lowered the prices of non-distressed homes in the same neighborhoods. As a result, mortgage rates were kept low to help the economy.

Prices have since recovered. Mortgage rates have increased as the economy has gained strength. This has impacted housing affordability. However, it’s necessary to give historical context to the subject of affordability.

Two weeks ago, CoreLogic reported on what they call the “typical mortgage payment”. As they explain:

“One way to measure the impact of inflation, mortgage rates and home prices on affordability over time is to use what we call the ‘typical mortgage payment.’ It’s a mortgage-rate-adjusted monthly payment based on each month’s U.S. median home sale price. It is calculated using Freddie Mac’s average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20 percent down payment…

The typical mortgage payment is a good proxy for affordability because it shows the monthly amount that a borrower would have to qualify for to get a mortgage to buy the median-priced U.S. home…

When adjusted for inflation, the typical mortgage payment puts homebuyers’ current costs in the proper historical context.”

Here is a graph showing the results of CoreLogic’s research:

How to Get a Better Perspective on Affordability | Keeping Current Matters

As the graph indicates, the most recent calculation remained 28% below the all-time peak of $1,275 in June 2006. That’s because the average mortgage rate at that time was 6.68%. As seen in the graph, both today’s typical payment and CoreLogic’s projection for the end of the year are less than it was in January 2000.

Bottom Line

Even though home prices are appreciating at a slower rate, home affordability will likely continue to slide. However, this does not mean that buying a house is an unattainable goal in most markets. It is still less expensive today than it was prior to the housing bubble and crash.


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One More Time… You Do Not Need 20% Down to Buy a Home

The largest obstacle renters face when planning to buy a home is saving for a down payment. This challenge is amplified by rising rents, which has eaten into the amount of money renters have leftover for savings each month after paying expenses.

In combination with higher rents, survey after survey has shown that non-homeowners (renters and those living rent-free with family or friends) believe they need to save upwards of 20% for their down payment!

According to the “Barriers to Accessing Homeownership” study commissioned in partnership between the Urban Institute, Down Payment Resource, and Freddie Mac, 39% of non-homeowners and 30% of those who already own a home believe they need more than a 20% down payment.

The percentage of those who are aware of low down payment programs (those under 5%) is surprisingly low at 12% for non-homeowners and 13% for homeowners.

In a recent Convergys Analytics report, they found that 49% of renters believe they need at least a 20% down payment.

The median down payment on loans approved in 2018 was only 5%! Those waiting until they have over 20% may already have enough saved to buy now!

There are over 45 million millennials (33%) who are mortgage ready right now, meaning their income, debt, and credit scores would all allow them to qualify for a mortgage today!

Bottom Line

If your five-year plan includes buying a home, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you determine what it will take to make that plan a reality. You may be closer to your dream than you realize!


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Whose Mortgage Do You Want to Pay? Yours or Your Landlord’s?

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.


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5 Reasons Homeowners Throw the Best Super Bowl Parties! [INFOGRAPHIC]

Highlights:

  • Watching the big game at home with your friends & family offers many advantages.
  • There’s more room to entertain a large crowd, and you don’t have to worry about complaints to your landlord if you cheer too loudly!
  • The kitchen is big enough to make as many appetizers as you want, and if some of your guests are only there to watch the commercials, they can do so on a different TV in another room!

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4 Proven Ways Real Estate Can Build Sizable Family Wealth

Recently, David Greene, co-host of the BiggerPockets podcast and a nationally renowned author and speaker, wrote an article in Forbes explaining how investing in real estate could help build wealth. Many of the points he made also apply to a family owning their own home. Here are a few:

1. Appreciation

“The rising of home prices over time, is how the majority of wealth is built in real estate. This is the ‘home run’ you hear of when people make a large windfall of money. While prices fluctuate, over the long run real estate values have always gone up, always, and there is no reason to think that is going to change.

One thing to consider when it comes to real estate appreciation affecting your ROI is the fact that appreciation combined with leverage offers huge returns. If you buy a property for $200,000 and it appreciates to $220,000, your property had made you a 10% return. However, you likely didn’t pay cash for the property and instead used the bank’s money. If you consider that you may have put 10% down ($20,000), you actually have doubled your investment, a 100% return.”

2. Leverage

“By nature, real estate is one of the easiest assets to leverage I have ever come across—maybe the easiest. Not only is it easy to leverage the financing of it, but the terms are incredible compared to any other kind of loan. Interest rates are currently below 5%, down payments can be 20% or less, and loans are routinely amortized over 30-year periods.”

3. Paying Off the Debt

“One of the best parts of investing in real estate is the fact that … you’re slowly paying down your loan balance with each payment to the bank… After enough time passes, a good chunk of every payment comes off the loan balance, and wealth is created.”

4. Forced Equity

“Forced equity is a term used to refer to the wealth that is created when an investor does work to a property to make it worth more…

Example of this would be adding a third or fourth bedroom to a property with only two, adding a second bathroom to a property with only one, or adding more square footage to a property with less than the surrounding houses.”

Though Green was talking about investors, the same could be said about a family upgrading their own home.

Bottom Line

Green put it best by saying:

There are many ways to build wealth in America, but real estate might be the safest, steadiest and simplest way to do so.”

To read the full article, click here.


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Is Student Loan Debt A Threat to Homeownership? No!

Over the course of the last thirty years, a shift has happened. An entire generation has been raised to believe that a college education is their key to unlocking opportunities that were not available to their parent’s or grandparent’s generations.

Due to this, student loan debt has soared to $1.5 trillion and represents the largest category of debt, surpassing credit card and auto loan debt in 2010 and never looking back. As more and more Americans continue their education amongst rising tuition costs, this number will no doubt increase.

Many housing experts have blamed student loans for a drop in the homeownership rate for young families, and to an extent, they’ve been right. Increased debt at the time of graduation has no doubt limited young people from being able to afford a home at the same rate as their parents or grandparents did at the same age.

In a recent Forbes article, the author explained that “in just the class of 2017, the average student has about $40,000 in debt — almost enough for a 20% down payment on a median-priced home.”

The Federal Reserve set out to determine exactly how much impact student loan debt has had on the homeownership rate of those 18-34 (millennials). Their results found that,

Every $1,000 in student loan debt delays homeownership by about 2.5 months, but it doesn’t prevent homeownership entirely.

 In fact, by the time college grads reach their 30s, those with student loan debt have a homeownership rate nearly identical to those who didn’t take out loans.” (emphasis added)

In the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the Fed report, they found that recent graduates prioritize paying off their student loans over saving for a down payment, despite their desire to be a homeowner. Many with debt want to “get that monkey off (their) back (before they) make any new investments.”

This has just delayed the wave of young home buyers from hitting the market. But as Danielle Hale, the Chief Economist at realtor.com warns,

“2020 will be peak millennial, the year when the largest number of millennials will turn 30.”

 By age 30, those who attained a bachelor’s degree right after high school will be one or two years away from paying off their loans and will have been in their career long enough to earn a higher salary.

In the long run, research shows that attaining a bachelor’s degree or more actually increases the chances that someone will become a homeowner.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many millennials who has prioritized paying down your student loans over saving for a down payment, you’re not alone. Even if you are a couple years away from paying off your loans, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you determine if waiting really is the best decision for you!


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3 Things You Need in a Shifting Real Estate Market

Whether you are thinking of selling your house or buying a home, today’s real estate headlines can be confusing – perhaps even concerning. What is actually happening with mortgage rates? Are home values dropping or are they just rising at a slower pace? What impact will the economy have on the housing market?

If you are either a buyer or seller (or both), you need to know what it will mean to your family if you go ahead with the move. You need to understand three things:

1. What is happening in the housing market right now?

Consumers must get past those fear-mongering headlines and gain a deep understanding of what is truly happening. How strong is buyer demand right now? How much competition do listings have today compared to what they will have in the spring? People want to make an educated decision on what is probably their family’s greatest financial asset.

2. Why is it happening?

Understanding the individual pieces that impact the sale or purchase of real estate is important. Understanding how those pieces impact each other is critical. How does the amount of a down payment impact the mortgage rate a buyer will be offered? Can you still price your house a ‘little ahead’ of the market and still be sure it will sell?

3. How do the first two affect your local market?

Basically, you want an understanding of the overall housing market and a simple and effective explanation of how it will impact your personal real estate goals.

Bottom Line

The best way to get all three is to contact a local real estate professional who understands this shifting real estate market and can expertly guide you on the journey to reach your housing goals.

Agents: If you want to learn more about “How to Succeed in a Shifting Real Estate Market”, download our free 18-page eGuide today!


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The Importance of Homeownership to the American Dream

For centuries, people in this country have seen homeownership as part of the American Dream. Whether they were born here or immigrated from another country, they wanted to own a piece of America. With so many prominent societal changes over the last few decades, it is fair to ask if people in America still feel the same way about owning a home. The answer was made abundantly clear in two separate reports released earlier this month.

In their market trends report, As Housing Trends Shift, So Does Renter, Buyer and Seller Sentiment, Trulia revealed that:

“After two years of no change, the share of Americans who say that homeownership is part of their personal “American Dream” ticked up from 72 percent to 73 percent of Americans.”

At the same time, the National Association of Realtors released their Aspiring Home Buyers Profile. As the report explained:

“For both homeowners and non-homeowners alike, homeownership is strongly considered a part of the American Dream. For non-owners, roughly 75 percent reported that homeownership is part of their American Dream. For owners, nine in 10 believe it is part of their American Dream.”

Bottom Line

The belief among the vast majority of Americans, whether they rent or own, is that purchasing a home still remains a major step toward accomplishing the American Dream.


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The Difference Having a Professional on Your Side Makes

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!


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What is the Cost of Waiting Until Next Year to Buy? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • The cost of waiting to buy is defined as the additional funds it would take to buy a home if prices & interest rates were to increase over a period of time.
  • Freddie Mac predicts interest rates to rise to 5.1% by the end of 2019.
  • CoreLogic predicts home prices to appreciate by 4.8% over the next 12 months.
  • If you are ready and willing to buy your dream home, find out if you are able to!

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Last Chance! Homes are a Bargain Compared to Historic Norms

A loaf of bread used to be a nickel. A movie ticket was a dime.  Not anymore. Houses were also much less expensive than they are now. Inflation raised the price of all three of those items, along with the price of almost every other item we purchase.

The reason we can still afford to consume is that our wages have also risen over time. The better measure of whether an item is more expensive than it was before is what percentage of our income it takes to purchase that item today compared to earlier. Let’s look at purchasing a home.

The COST of a home is determined by three major components: price, mortgage interest rate, and wages. The big question? Are we paying a greater percentage of our income toward our monthly mortgage payment today than previous generations? Surprisingly, the answer is no.

Historically, Americans have paid just over 21% of their income toward their monthly mortgage payment.

Though home prices are higher than before, wages have risen as well. And, the most important component in the cost equation – the mortgage rate – is dramatically lower than it was in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.

Today, according to the latest Home Affordability Index just released by the National Association of Realtors, Americans are paying 17.4% of their income toward their mortgage payment. That is much lower than the 21% average previous generations have paid.

Last Chance! Homes are a Bargain Compared to Historic Norms | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

The cost of purchasing a home today is a bargain compared to previous generations when we look at it from a percentage of income basis. However, with mortgage rates expected to increase and home prices continuing to appreciate, that will not always be the case. Whether you are buying your first home or looking to move-up to a more expensive home, purchasing sooner rather than later probably makes sense.


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Buying a Home Young is the Key to Building Wealth

Homeowners who purchase their homes before the age of 35 are better prepared for retirement at age 60, according to a new Urban Institute study. The organization surveyed adults who turned 60 or 61 between 2003 and 2015 for their data set.

“Today’s older adults became homeowners at a younger age than today’s young adults. Half the older adults in our sample bought their first house when they were between 25 and 34 years old, and 27 percent bought their first home before age 25.”

The full breakdown is in the chart below:

Buying a Home Young is the Key to Building Wealth | Keeping Current Matters

The study goes on to show the impact of purchasing a home at an early age. Those who purchased their first homes when they were younger than 25 had an average of $10,000 left on their mortgage at age 60. The 50% of buyers who purchased in their mid-twenties and early-30s had close to $50,000 left, but traditionally had purchased more expensive homes.

Buying a Home Young is the Key to Building Wealth | Keeping Current Matters

Many housing experts are concerned that the homeownership rate amongst millennials, those 18-34, is much lower than previous generations in the same age range. The study results gave a great reason why this generation should consider buying instead of signing a renewal on their lease:

“As people age into retirement, they rely more heavily on their wealth rather than their income to support their lifestyles. Today’s young adults are failing to build housing wealth, the largest single source of wealth, at the same rate as previous generations.

While people make the choice to own or rent that suits them at a given point, maybe more young adults should take into account the long-term consequences of renting when homeownership is an option.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many young people debating whether buying a home this year is right for you, sit with a local real estate professional who can help.


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Buying a House This Year? This Should Be Your 1st Step!

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 that 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 not in an incredibly competitive market, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not 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:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. 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. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so today.


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The Cost Across Time [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • With interest rates still around 4.5%, now is a great time to look back at where rates have been over the last 40 years.
  • Rates are projected to climb to 5.0% by this time next year according to Freddie Mac.
  • The impact your interest rate makes on your monthly mortgage cost is significant!
  • Lock in a low rate now while you can!

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Is the Recent Dip in Interest Rates Here to Stay?

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!

Will This Trend Continue?

According to the latest forecasts from Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Association of Realtors, mortgage rates will increase over the course of 2019, but not at the same pace they did in 2018. You can see the forecasts broken down by quarter below.

Is the Recent Dip in Interest Rates Here to Stay? | Keeping Current Matters

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, meet with a local real estate professional who can help prepare you to take action.


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Belief in Homeownership as an Investment is Far from Dead

Following last year’s real estate market was like riding a rollercoaster. The market started off strong in 2018 and then softened before finishing with a mild flurry. However, one thing that did not waiver was America’s belief that owning a home makes sense from a financial standpoint.

An end-of-the-year survey by the Federal Reserve Bank’s Center for Microeconomic Data revealed that:

“The majority of households continue to view housing as a good financial investment.”

And that percentage has increased over the last three years.

Belief in Homeownership as an Investment is Far from Dead | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Though there is some uncertainty as to how the real estate market will perform over the next twelve months, one thing remains very certain: America’s belief in homeownership.


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Excited About Buying A Home This Year? Here’s What to Watch

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.

Excited About Buying A Home This Year? Here's What to Watch | Keeping Current Matters

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.

Excited About Buying A Home This Year? Here's What to Watch | Keeping Current Matters

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, make sure that you have an experienced local agent who can help you navigate the changes in mortgage interest rates and inventory.


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Where is the Housing Market Headed in 2019? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • ­Interest rates are projected to increase steadily throughout 2019, but buyers will still be able to lock in a rate lower than their parents or grandparents did when they bought their homes!
  • Home prices will rise at a rate of 4.8% over the course of 2019 according to CoreLogic.
  • All four major reporting agencies believe that home sales will outpace 2018!

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24 Hours that Suddenly Improved the Market

This year started strong for real estate, but then the market began to soften. Home inventory in the starter and move-up categories dwindled to almost nothing, mortgage rates were projected to rise, and home sales have now decreased for several months in a row.

To many, the outlook heading into 2019 appeared dim… at best.

Then, in a 24-hour window last week, things seemed to change. On Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) revealed in their Existing Homes Sales Report that home sales had INCREASED for the second consecutive month. The next day, NAR’s economic research team announced that the percentage of first-time buyers in the market was higher than last month and even higher than a year ago.

What happened to turn around the downward momentum in the market? 

You only needed to wait a few hours to find out. On the heels of NAR’s revelations, Zillow released their November Real Estate Market Report that explained:

“After nearly four years of annual declines in inventory, the number of homes for sale has now increased year-over-year for three straight months…”

Ending 2018, we now know two things:

  1. Listing inventory increased over the last three months
  2. Home sales increased over the last two months

Maybe a lack of inventory was the major challenge all along.

But, what about those pesky interest rates?

Last Thursday (the day after all of the above news), Freddie Mac announced that mortgage rates did not increase but instead decreased…again. From their release:

“The response to the recent decline in mortgage rates is already being felt in the housing market. After declining for six consecutive months, existing home sales finally rose in October and November and are essentially at the same level as during the summer months.

This modest rebound in sales indicates that homebuyers are very sensitive to mortgage rate changes – and given the further drop in rates we’ve seen this month, we expect to see a modest rebound in home sales as well.”

Bottom Line

Will 2019 start out better than many have predicted? Perhaps, but we’ll have to wait and see. Things do look much better today, though, than they did just a month ago.


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How to Save Thousands of Dollars in Interest on Your Mortgage

One of the most common loans you can get to buy a home is a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. If the thought of paying for your home over the course of 30-years seems daunting, here are some easy ways to shorten that term which will actually end up saving you money over the life of your loan.

Any additional payments to the principal amount (the original sum of money borrowed in a loan), helps to cut down the amount of interest that you will pay over the life of your loan and can also help to shave years off the loan as well.

When you make ‘extra’ payments toward your loan, the key is to let your lender/bank know that you want the extra funds to go toward your principal balance as they will not automatically do this for you.

You don’t have to double your mortgage payment to make a big difference either!

If you have a 30-year mortgage on a median-priced home ($250,000) with a 5% interest rate, you’ll be responsible for a $1,342.05 monthly principal and interest payment. Over the course of the loan, if you pay your exact monthly payment, you will have paid $233,133.89 in interest alone!

Paying a Little Extra Can Pay Off Big

1. Pay an additional 1/12th of your mortgage payment every month

Benefit: In the example above, adding $111.84 to your monthly mortgage payment might not seem like a lot, but each year you will have paid one extra month’s worth of payments which will shorten the term of your loan by 4 years and 8 months, all while saving you $42,000 in interest!

2. Pay an additional $50 per month towards your mortgage

Benefit: Fifty dollars might not seem like enough to make a difference on the term of your loan, but that small amount will save you over $21,000 in interest and will take over 2 years off the end of your loan. Twenty-eight years from now, you’ll be happy to pay off your loan that much sooner!

3. Make one-time lump sum payments when you can

Benefit: If you find yourself with a little extra money after a yearly bonus, a tax return, or from investment dividends, paying that money towards the principal can cut your costs. This option, however, is less predictable than the extra monthly payments.

If you have higher interest debts, like credit cards, consider using any extra funds you have to pay those debts down before applying that money towards your mortgage. Also, if you do not plan on staying in your home for more than 10 years, paying extra toward your mortgage might not make sense.

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering what strategies would work best for you to shorten the term of your loan, consult a local real estate professional who can answer your questions or connect you with someone who can.


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What Makes a House a Home For You?

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.


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