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Home Buying Myths Slayed [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • The average down payment for first-time homebuyers is only 6%!
  • Despite mortgage interest rates being over 4%, rates are still below historic numbers.
  • 88% of property managers raised their rents in the last 12 months!
  • The credit score requirements for mortgage approval continue to fall.

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Is Family Mortgage Debt Out of Control?

Some homeowners have recently done a “cash out” refinance and have taken a portion of their increased equity from their house. Others have sold their homes and purchased more expensive homes with larger mortgages. At the same time, first-time buyers have become homeowners and now have mortgage payments for the first time.

These developments have caused concern that families might be reaching unsustainable levels of mortgage debt. Some are worried that we may be repeating a behavior that helped precipitate the housing crash ten years ago.

Today, we want to assure everyone that this is not the case. Here is a graph created from data released by the Federal Reserve Board which shows the Household Debt Service Ratio for mortgages as a percentage of disposable personal income. The ratio is the total quarterly required mortgage payments divided by total quarterly disposable personal income. In other words, the percentage of spendable income people are using to pay their mortgage.

Is Family Mortgage Debt Out of Control? | Keeping Current Matters

Today’s ratio of 4.44% is nowhere near the ratio of 7.21% during the peak of the housing bubble and is instead at the lowest rate since 1980 (4.38%).

Bill McBride of Calculated Risk recently commented on the ratio:

“The Debt Service Ratio for mortgages is near the low for the last 38 years. This ratio increased rapidly during the housing bubble and continued to increase until 2007. With falling interest rates, and less mortgage debt, the mortgage ratio has declined significantly.”

Bottom Line

Many families paid a heavy price because of questionable practices that led to last decade’s housing crash. It seems the American people have learned a lesson and are not repeating that same behavior regarding their mortgage debt.


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How Much Do You Need to Make to Buy a Home in Your State?

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:

How Much Do You Need to Make to Buy a Home in Your State? | Keeping Current Matters

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, consult a local real estate professional who can help evaluate your ability to do so in today’s market!


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Rising Prices Help You Build Your Family’s Wealth

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?

Rising Prices Help You Build Your Family’s Wealth | Keeping Current Matters

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!


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Getting Pre-Approved Should Always Be Your First Step

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:

  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 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.


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A Tale of Two Markets [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • A trend that has been emerging for some time now is the contrast between inventory & demand in the Premium & Luxury Markets vs. the Starter & Trade-Up Home Markets and what that’s, in turn, doing to prices!
  • Inventory continues to rise in the luxury & premium home markets which is causing prices to cool.
  • Demand continues to rise with low inventory in the starter & trade-up home markets, causing prices to rise!

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The COST of Your Next Home Will Be LESS Than Your Parents’ Home Was

There is no doubt that the price of a home in most regions of the country is greater now than at any time in history. However, when we look at the cost of a home, it is cheaper to own today than it has been historically.

The Difference Between PRICE and COST

The price of a home is the dollar amount you and the seller agree to at the time of purchase. The cost of a home is the monthly expense you pay for your mortgage payment.

To accurately compare costs in different time periods, we must look at home prices, mortgage rates, and wages during each period. Home prices were less expensive years ago, but paychecks were also smaller and mortgage rates were much higher (the average mortgage interest rate in 1988 was 10.34%).

The best way to measure the COST of a home is to determine what percentage of income is necessary to buy a home at the time. That would take into account the price of the home, the mortgage interest rate and wages at the time.

Zillow just released research that examined home costs using this formula. The research compares the historic percentage of income necessary to afford a mortgage to the percentage needed today. It also revealed the cost if mortgage rates continue to rise as experts are predicting. Here is a graph of their findings*:

The COST of Your Next Home Will Be LESS Than Your Parents' Home Was | Keeping Current Matters

Rates would need to jump to 7% in order for the percentage of necessary income to be greater than historic norms.

Bottom Line

Whether you are a homeowner considering selling your current house and moving up to the home of your dreams, or a first-time buyer trying to purchase your first home, it’s a great time to move forward.

*Assumptions in the Zillow report: Buyer puts 20% down, takes out a conforming, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at rates prevailing at the time, earns the median household income, and is buying a median-valued home.

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Mortgage Interest Rates Have Begun to Level Off

Whether you are a buyer searching for your first home, or a homeowner looking to move up to your next home, you should pay attention to where mortgage interest rates are heading.

Over the course of 2018, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates have increased from 3.95% in the first week of January to 4.40% in the first week of April.

At first glance, the difference between these numbers in such a short amount of time could be concerning, but if we look at the graph below, we’ll see that rates have already started to level off and return to the mark set in February.

Mortgage Interest Rates Have Begun to Level Off | Keeping Current Matters

This is great news for anyone looking to buy a home this spring! The spring is always one of the busiest seasons for home buying, and with rates increasing even more, buyers have come off the fence to lock in great rates! This is still great advice as the experts believe that rates will continue to rise throughout the year.

Every month, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors release their projections for where they believe mortgage rates will be in the coming months. If we take the average of what each of the four organizations is predicting for the second quarter, rates are expected to rise to about 4.48% by June.

That average climbs to 4.73% by the end of this year.

So, what does this mean?

Waiting until the end of the year to buy, with rates still projected to increase, will end up costing you more money on your monthly mortgage payment. For every $250,000 you need to borrow to purchase your dream home, you will spend $49.21 more per month, $590.52 per year, and over $17,700 by the end of your 30-year mortgage.

And that’s just the impact of your interest rate going up!

Bottom Line

If you are ready and willing to purchase a home, find out if you’re able to by sitting with a local real estate professional who can evaluate your needs and help you with next steps!


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What Is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?

When it comes to buying a home, whether it is your first time or your fifth, it is always important to know all the facts. With the large number of mortgage programs available that allow buyers to purchase homes with down payments below 20%, you can never have too much information about Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

What is PMI?

Freddie Mac defines PMI as:

“An insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. It’s a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that is required for all conforming, conventional loans that have down payments less than 20%.

Once you’ve built equity of 20% in your home, you can cancel your PMI and remove that expense from your mortgage payment.”

 As the borrower, you pay the monthly premiums for the insurance policy, and the lender is the beneficiary. Freddie Mac goes on to explain that:

“The cost of PMI varies based on your loan-to-value ratio – the amount you owe on your mortgage compared to its value – and credit score, but you can expect to pay between $30 and $70 per month for every $100,000 borrowed.” 

According to the National Association of Realtors, the average down payment for all buyers last year was 10%. For first-time buyers, that number dropped to 5%, while repeat buyers put down 14% (no doubt aided by the sale of their homes). This just goes to show that for a large number of buyers last year, PMI did not stop them from buying their dream homes.

Here’s an example of the cost of a mortgage on a $200,000 home with a 5% down payment & PMI, compared to a 20% down payment without PMI:

What Is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)? | Keeping Current Matters

The larger the down payment you can make, the lower your monthly housing cost will be, but Freddie Mac urges you to remember:

“It’s no doubt an added cost, but it’s enabling you to buy now and begin building equity versus waiting 5 to 10 years to build enough savings for a 20% down payment.”

Bottom Line

If you have questions about whether you should buy now or wait until you’ve saved a larger down payment, meet with a professional in your area who can explain your market’s conditions and help you make the best decision for you and your family.


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US Housing Market Still In ‘Buy Territory’!

According to the Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent (BH&J) Index, the U.S. housing market has continued to move deeper into buy territory, supporting the belief that housing markets across the country remain a sound investment.

The BH&J Index is a quarterly report that attempts to answer the question:

In today’s housing market, is it better to rent or buy a home?

The index examines the entire US housing market and then isolates 23 major cities for comparison. The researchers “measure the relationship between purchasing property and building wealth through a buildup in equity versus renting a comparable property and investing in a portfolio of stocks and bonds.” 

While 13 of the 23 metropolitan markets examined moved further into buy territory, markets like Dallas, Denver, and Houston are currently deep into rent territory. Due to a lack of inventory, the home prices in these areas have increased by 6.7%6.3%, and 5.3%  respectively from a year ago.

According to Eli Beracha, Ph.D., Co-Creator of the index, home prices will begin to return to more normal levels.

Our data indicates that prices are above their 40-year trend but not significantly so as they were in 2007. Rather than a crash, I anticipate slower growth in prices accompanied by longer marketing times for sellers and increasing inventories, which should bring prices back in conjunction with their 40-year trend.”

Bottom Line

The majority of the country is strongly in buy territory. Buying a home makes sense socially and financially, as rents are predicted to increase substantially in the next year. Protect yourself from rising rents by locking in your housing cost with a mortgage payment now. 

To Find Out More About the Study: The BH&J Index and other FAU real estate activities are sponsored by Investments Limited of Boca Raton. The BH&J Index is published quarterly and is available online at http://business.fau.edu/buyvsrent.


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VA Loans by the Numbers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Since the creation of the VA Home Loans Program, 22 million veterans have been able to achieve the American Dream of homeownership.
  • In 2017, $188 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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What Should You Look for In Your Real Estate Team?

How do you select the members of your team who are going to help make your dream of owning a home a reality? What should you be looking for? How do you know if you’ve found the right agent or lender?

The most important characteristic that you should be looking for in your agent is someone who is going to take the time to really educate you on the choices available to you and your ability to buy in today’s market.

As the financial guru Dave Ramsey 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.”

Do your research. Ask your friends and family for recommendations of professionals they’ve worked with in the past and have had good experiences with.

Look for members of your team who will be honest and trustworthy; after all, you will be trusting them to help you make one of the biggest financial decisions of your life.

Whether this is your first or fifth time buying a home, you want to make sure that you have an agent who is going to have the tough conversations with you, not just the easy ones. If your offer isn’t accepted by the seller, or they think that there may be something wrong with the home that you’ve fallen in love with, you would rather know what they think than make a costly mistake.

According to the Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report:

Buyers from all generations primarily wanted their agent’s help to find the right home to purchase. Buyers were also looking for help to negotiate the terms of sale and to help with price negotiations.” Additionally, “Help understanding the purchase process was most beneficial to buyers 37 years and younger at 75 percent.”

Look for someone to invest in your family’s future with you. You want an agent who isn’t focused on the transaction but is instead focused on helping you understand the process while helping you find your dream home.

Bottom Line

In this world of Google searches, where it seems like all the answers are just a mouse-click away, you need an agent who is going to educate you and share the information that you need to know before you even know you need it.


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NOT Owning Your Home Can Cost You a Lot of Money!

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 as long as America has existed.

Realtor.com recently reported 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. Just a few months ago, we explained that a family that purchased an average-priced home at the beginning of 2018 could build more than $44,000 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 a home has always been, and will always be, better from a financial standpoint than renting.


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The Cost of Renting vs. Buying Today [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 (28.9%) vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (15.7%), 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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Be Thankful You Don’t Have to Pay Your Parents’ Interest Rate!

Interest rates hovered around 4% for the majority of 2017, which gave many buyers relief from rising home prices and helped with affordability. In the first quarter of 2018, rates have increased from 3.95% up to 4.45% and experts predict that rates will increase even more by the end of the year.

The rate you secure greatly impacts your monthly mortgage payment and the amount you will ultimately pay for your home. 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.

Be Thankful You Don’t Have to Pay Your Parents’ Interest Rate! | 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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Freddie Mac: Rising Mortgage Rates DO NOT Lead to Falling Home Prices

Recently, Freddie Mac published an Insight Report titled Nowhere to go but up? How increasing mortgage rates could affect housing. The report focused on the impact the projected rise in mortgage rates might have on the housing market this year.

Many believe that an increase in mortgage rates will cause a slowdown in purchases which would, in turn, lead to a fall in house values. Ultimately, however, prices are determined by supply and demand and while rising mortgage rates may slow demand, they also affect supply. From the report:

 “For current homeowners, the decision to buy a new home is typically linked to their decision to sell their current home… Because of this link, the financing costs of the existing mortgage are part of the homeowner’s decision of whether and when to move.

Once financing costs for a new mortgage rise above the rate borrowers are paying for their current mortgage, borrowers would have to give up below-market financing to sell their home.

Instead, they may choose to delay both the sale of their existing home and the purchase of a new home to maintain the advantageous financing.”

The Freddie Mac report, in acknowledging this situation, concluded that prices are not adversely impacted by higher mortgage rates. They explained:

“While there is a drop in the demand for homes, there is an associated drop in the supply of homes from the link between the selling and buying decisions. As both supply and demand move together in this way they have offsetting effects on price—lower demand decreases price and lower supply increases price.

They went on to reveal that the Freddie Mac National House Price Index is…

“…unresponsive to movements in interest rates. In the current housing market, the driving force behind the increase in prices is a low supply of both new and existing homes combined with historically low rates. As mortgage rates increase, the demand for home purchases will likely remain strong relative to the constrained supply and continue to put upward pressure on home prices.”

The following graph, based on data from the report, reveals what happened to home prices the last six times mortgage rates rose by at least 1%.

Freddie Mac: Rising Mortgage Rates DO NOT Lead to Falling Home Prices | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Whether you are a move-up buyer or first-time buyer, waiting to purchase your next home based on the belief that prices will fall because of rising mortgage rates makes no sense.


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Dreaming of a Luxury Home? Now’s the Time!

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 Bloomberg article 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.


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The Cost of Waiting: Interest Rates Edition [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Interest rates are projected to increase steadily heading into 2019.
  • The higher your interest rate, the more money you end up paying for your home and the higher your monthly payment will be.
  • Rates are still low right now. Don’t wait until rates hit 5% to start searching for your dream home!

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You Can Save for a Down Payment Faster Than You Think!

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 the United States Census Bureau and Zillow, 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 Ohio can save for a down payment the quickest in just under 3 years (2.44). Below is a map that was created using the data for each state:

You Can Save for a Down Payment Faster Than You Think! | Keeping Current Matters

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 5 or 10 years, but becomes possible in a year or two in many states as shown on the map below.

You Can Save for a Down Payment Faster Than You Think! | Keeping Current Matters

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! Meet with a local real estate professional who can help you evaluate your ability to buy today.


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4 Reasons Spring is a Great Time to Buy a Home!

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

Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 6.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.3% 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.

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage hovered close to 4.0% in 2017. 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.

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?

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: The Difference 5 Years Makes

The economists at CoreLogic recently released a special report entitled, Evaluating the Housing Market Since the Great Recession. The goal of the report was to look at economic recovery since the Great Recession of December 2007 through June 2009.

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 December 2012 to December 2017 to show how prices over the last five years have fared.

Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, commented on the importance of breaking out the data by state,

“Homeowners in the United States experienced a run-up in prices from the early 2000s to 2006, and then saw the trend reverse with steady declines through 2011. After finally reaching bottom in 2011, home prices began a slow rise back to where we are now.

Greater demand and lower supply – as well as booming job markets – have given some of the hardest-hit housing markets a boost in home prices. Yet, many are still not back to pre-crash levels.”

The map below was created to show the 5-year appreciation from December 2012 – December 2017 by state.

Home Prices: The Difference 5 Years Makes | Keeping Current Matters

Nationally, the cumulative appreciation over the five-year period was 37.4%, with a high of 66% in Nevada, and a modest increase of 5% in Connecticut.

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 December 2012 survey results, national homes prices were projected to increase cumulatively by 23.1% by December 2017. The bulls of the group predicted home prices to rise by 33.6%, 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 18.2% over the next 5 years. The bulls of the group predict home prices to rise by 27.4%, while the more cautious bears predict an appreciation of 8.3%.

Bottom Line

Every day, thousands of homeowners regain positive equity in their homes. Some homeowners are now experiencing values even higher than before the Great Recession. If you’re wondering if you have enough equity to sell your house and move on to your dream home, contact a local real estate professional who can help!


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Are Home Values Really Overinflated?

Last week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their most recent Existing Home Sales Report. According to the report:

“The median existing-home price for all housing types in January was $240,500, up 5.8 percent from January 2017 ($227,300). January’s price increase marks the 71st straight month of year-over-year gains.”

Seventy-one consecutive months of price increases may have some concerned that current home values may be overinflated.

However, at the same time, Zillow issued a press release which revealed:

“If the housing bubble and bust had not happened, and home values had instead appreciated at a steady pace, the median home value would be higher than its current value.”

Here are two graphs that help show why home prices are exactly where they should be.

The first graph shows actual median home sales prices from 2000 through 2017.

Are Home Values Really Overinflated? | Keeping Current Matters

By itself, this graph could heighten concerns as it shows home values rose in the early 2000s, came tumbling down and are now headed up again. It gives the feel of a rollercoaster ride that is about to take another turn downward.

However, if we also include where prices would naturally be, had there not been a boom & bust, we see a different story.

Are Home Values Really Overinflated? | Keeping Current Matters

The blue bars on this graph represent were prices would be if they had increased by the normal annual appreciation rate (3.6%). By adding 3.6% to the actual 2000 price and repeating that for each subsequent year, we can see that prices were overvalued during the boom, undervalued during the bust, and a little bit LOWER than where they should be right now.

Bottom Line

Based on historic appreciation levels, we should be very comfortable that current home values are not overinflated.


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It’s Tax Season… Use Your Refund to Jump Start Your Down Payment Savings!

According to data released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Americans can expect an estimated average refund of $2,840 this year when filing their taxes. This is down slightly from the average refund of $2,895, 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 2018, 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. (The refunds received for the 2017 tax year should continue to reflect these numbers as the new tax code will go into effect for 2018 tax filings.)

It's Tax Season… Use Your Refund to Jump Start Your Down Payment Savings! | Keeping Current Matters

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%, with Veterans Affairs Loans allowing 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.

It's Tax Season… Use Your Refund to Jump Start Your Down Payment Savings! | Keeping Current Matters

The darker the blue, the closer your tax refund gets you to homeownership! For those in Alabama looking to purchase their first homes, their tax refund could potentially get them 69% 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!


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Is Now a Good Time to Rent?

People often ask if now is a good time to buy a home, but nobody ever asks when it’s a good time to rent. Regardless, we want to make certain that everyone understands that today is NOT a good time to rent.

The Census Bureau recently released their 2017 fourth quarter median rent numbers. Here is a graph showing rent increases from 1988 until today:

Is Now a Good Time to Rent? | Keeping Current Matters

As you can see, rents have steadily increased and are showing no signs of slowing down. If you are faced with making the decision of whether or not you should renew your lease, you might be pleasantly surprised at your ability to buy a home of your own instead.

Bottom Line

One way to protect yourself from rising rents is to lock in your housing expense by buying a home. If you are ready and willing to buy, meet with a local real estate professional who can help determine if you are able to today!


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The Mortgage Process: What You Need to Know [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Many buyers are purchasing a home with a down payment as little as 3%.
  • You may already qualify for a loan, even if you don’t have perfect credit.
  • Take advantage of the knowledge of your local professionals who are there to help you determine how much you can afford.

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