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Are Lending Standards Too Loose…or Too Tight?

With home values appreciating at record rates, some are concerned that we may be heading for another housing bubble like the one we experienced a decade ago. One of the major culprits of that housing boom and bust was the loosening of standards for mortgage credit.

In a study done at the University of North Carolina immediately after the crisis, it was revealed that:

“Lenders began originating large numbers of high risk mortgages from around 2004 to 2007, and loans from those vintage years exhibited higher default rates than loans made either before or after.”

A study by John V Duca, John Muellbauer, and Anthony Murphy concluded that those risky mortgages caused the housing crisis:

“Our findings indicate that swings in credit standards played a major, if not the major, role in driving the recent boom and bust in US house prices.”

How do today’s mortgage standards compare to those from 2004 to 2007?

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association tracts mortgage standards in their Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). A decline in the MCAI indicates that lending standards are tightening, while increases in the index are indicative of loosening credit. While the chart below shows the index going back to that period between 2004 and 2007 when loose standards caused the housing bubble, we can see that, though the index has risen slightly over the last several years, we are nowhere near the standards that precipitated the housing crisis.

Are Lending Standards Too Loose…or Too Tight? | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If anything, standards today are too tight and are preventing some qualified buyers from getting the mortgage credit they deserve.


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Parents Say Kids’ Opinions Matter Big When Buying a Home

A recent survey conducted by Harris Poll and released by SunTrust Mortgage found that “55% of homeowners with a child under the age of 18 at the time when they purchased their home said that the opinion of their offspring played a major role in their home buying decision.”

When the results were broken down by the parent’s age, millennials (those 18-36) led the way with 74% of homeowners saying that their child’s opinion was a factor in choosing which home to buy. Eighty-three percent of renters believe that their child’s opinion would be a deciding factor when looking to purchase a home.

So what features in a home are most important to kids?

Parents Say Kids’ Opinions Matter Big When Buying a Home | Keeping Current Matters

Coming in at 57%, it should come as no surprise that gaining their own bedrooms was the top most-desirable feature of any home for kids, followed by a large back yard to play in at 34%.

Todd Chamberlain, Head of Mortgage Banking at SunTrust explained the reasoning behind the survey,

“As a parent of two kids, I know from experience that including children in the home buying process is not only fun for the whole family, but also educational for our homebuyers of tomorrow.”

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your home this year, make sure to highlight all the kid-friendly features your home has to offer so that you can sway the real decision makers.


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When Is a Good Time to Rent? Not Now!

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

The Census Bureau recently released their 2018 first quarter median rent numbers. According to their report, here is a graph showing rent increases from 1988 until today:

When Is a Good Time to Rent? Not Now! | 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 Cost of Renting vs. Buying [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 (28.8%) vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (17.1%), 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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Did Tax Reform Kill the Luxury Market? NOT SO FAR!

The new tax code limits the deduction of state and local property taxes, as well as income or sales taxes, to a total of $10,000. When the tax reform legislation was put into law at the beginning of the year, some experts felt that it could have a negative impact on the luxury housing market.

Capital Economics:

“The impact on expensive homes could be detrimental, with a limit on the MID raising taxes for those that itemize.”

Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics:

“The impact on house prices is much greater for higher-priced homes, especially in parts of the country where incomes are higher and there are thus a disproportionate number of itemizers, and where homeowners have big mortgages and property tax bills.”

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) predicted price declines in “high cost, higher tax areas” because of the tax changes. They forecasted a depreciation of 6.2% in New Jersey and 4.8% in Washington D.C. and New York.

What has actually happened?

Here are a few metrics to consider before we write-off the luxury market:

1. According to NAR’s latest Existing Home Sales Report, here is the percent change in sales from last year:

  • Homes sales between $500,000 – $750,000 are up 11.9%
  • Homes sales between $750,000 – $1M are up 16.8%
  • Homes sales over $1,000,000 are up 26.7%

2. In a report from Trulia, it was revealed that searches for “premium” homes as a percentage of all searches increased from 38.4% in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 41.4% in the first quarter of 2018.

3. According to an article from Bloomberg:

“Median home values nationally rose 8 percent in March compared with a year earlier, while neighborhoods of San Francisco and San Jose, California, have increased more than 25 percent.

Prices in affluent areas in Delaware and New York, such as the Hamptons, also surged more than 20 percent.”

Bottom Line

Aaron Terrazas, Zillow’s Senior Economist, probably summed up real estate’s luxury market the best:

“We are seeing the opposite of what was expected. We have certainly not seen the doomsday predictions play out.”


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Homeowners & Appraisers See the Most Eye-to-Eye on Price in 3 Years

In today’s housing market, where supply is very low and demand is very high, home values are increasing rapidly. Many experts are projecting that home values could appreciate by another 5% (or more) over the next twelve months. One major challenge in such a market is the bank appraisal.

When prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the same neighborhood that recently closed) to defend the selling price when performing the appraisal for the bank.

Every month in their Home Price Perception Index (HPPI), Quicken Loans measures the disparity between what a homeowner who is seeking to refinance their home believes their house is worth and what an appraiser’s evaluation of that same home is.

March 2015 marked the first month of a three-year gap between what an appraiser and a homeowner believed a home was worth. That gap widened to 2.65% in September 2015 and had consistently hovered between 1.0% and 2.0% through November 2017.

The chart below illustrates the changes in home price estimates over the last three years:

Homeowners & Appraisers See the Most Eye-to-Eye on Price in 3 Years | Keeping Current Matters

In the latest release, the disparity was the narrowest it has been since March 2015, as the gap between appraisers and homeowners was only -0.33%. This is important for homeowners to note as even a .33% difference in appraisal could equate to thousands of dollars that a buyer or seller has to come up with at closing (depending on the price of the home).

Bill Banfield, Executive VP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans urges homeowners to find out how their local markets have been impacted by supply and demand: 

“The appraisal is one of the most important, although sometimes least predictable, parts of the mortgage process. The Home Price Perception Index is a way to illustrate the differences of opinion, and these differences affect everything from the type of mortgage a borrower can get to the expectations a seller has about the proceeds available upon sale of their home.”

Bottom Line

Every house on the market must be sold twice; once to a prospective buyer and then again to the bank (through the bank’s appraisal). With escalating prices, the second sale may be even more difficult than the first. If you are planning on entering the housing market this year, meet with an experienced professional who can guide you through this and any other obstacles that may arise.


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4 Steps to Follow When Presenting an Offer in Today’s Market!

So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you’ve finally found it! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure that you make a great offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true!

Below are 4 steps provided by Freddie Mac to help buyers make offers, along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Determine Your Price

“You’ve found the perfect home and you’re ready to buy. Now what? Your real estate agent will be by your side, helping you determine an offer price that is fair.”

Based on your agent’s experience and key considerations (like similar homes recently sold in the same neighborhood or the condition of the house and what you can afford), your agent will help you to determine the offer that you are going to present.

Getting pre-approved will not only show home-sellers that you are serious about buying, but it will also allow you to make your offer with confidence because you’ll know that you have already been approved for a mortgage in that amount.

2. Submit an Offer

“Once you’ve determined your price, your agent will draw up an offer, or purchase agreement, to submit to the seller’s real estate agent. This offer will include the purchase price and terms and conditions of the purchase.”

Talk with your agent to find out if there are any ways in which you can make your offer stand out in this competitive market! A licensed real estate agent who is active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer.

3. Negotiate the Offer

“Oftentimes, the seller will counter the offer, typically asking for a higher purchase price or to adjust the closing date. In these cases, the seller’s agent will submit a counteroffer to your agent, detailing their desired changes, at this time, you can either accept the offer or decide if you want to counter.

Each time changes are made through a counteroffer, you or the seller have the option to accept, reject or counter it again. The contract is considered final when both parties sign the written offer.”

If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home.” If the inspector uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller or even cancel the contract altogether.

4. Act Fast

The inventory of homes listed for sale has remained well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes.

Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as quickly as possible.

Bottom Line 

Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, having a local professional on your side who is an expert in his or her market is your best bet in making sure the process goes smoothly. Happy house hunting!


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4 Reasons Why Summer Is a Great Time to Buy a Home!

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 Insights reports that home prices have appreciated by 7% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.2% over the next year.

Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have increased by half a percentage point already in 2018 to around 4.5%. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by nearly a full percentage point by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage

There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer, or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

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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Top Reasons to Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • June is National Homeownership Month!
  • Now is a great time to reflect on the many benefits of homeownership that go way beyond the financial.
  • What reasons do you have to own your own home?

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Will Home Prices Fall as Mortgage Rates Rise?

Mortgage interest rates have increased by more than half of a point since the beginning of the year. They are projected to increase by an additional half of a point by year’s end. Because of this increase in rates, some are guessing that home prices will depreciate.

However, some prominent experts in the housing industry doubt that home values will be negatively impacted by the rise in rates.

Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist:

“Understanding the resiliency of the housing market in a rising mortgage rate environment puts the likely rise in mortgage rates into perspective – they are unlikely to materially impact the housing market…

The driving force behind the increase are healthy economic conditions…The healthy economy encourages more homeownership demand and spurs household income growth, which increases consumer house-buying power. Mortgage rates are on the rise because of a stronger economy and our housing market is well positioned to adapt.”

Terry Loebs, Founder of Pulsenomics:

“Constrained home supply, persistent demand, very low unemployment, and steady economic growth have given a jolt to the near-term outlook for U.S. home prices. These conditions are overshadowing concerns that mortgage rate increases expected this year might quash the appetite of prospective home buyers.”

Laurie Goodman, Codirector of the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute:

“Higher interest rates are generally positive for home prices, despite decreasing affordability…There were only three periods of prolonged higher rates in 1994, 2000, and the ‘taper tantrum’ in 2013. In each period, home price appreciation was robust.”

Industry reports are also calling for substantial home price appreciation this year. Here are three examples:

Bottom Line

As Freddie Mac reported earlier this year in their Insights Report, “Nowhere to go but up? How increasing mortgage rates could affect housing,”

“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.”


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Millennials Are Skipping Starter Homes for Their Dream Homes

A new trend has begun to emerge. With home prices skyrocketing in the starter home category, many first-time homebuyers are skipping the traditional starter homes and moving right into their dream homes.

What’s a Starter Home?

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), simply put, a starter home is a one or two-bedroom home (sometimes even a small, three bedroom).Prices vary widely by market but starters on average cost $150,000 to $250,000 while trade-up and premium homes cost upwards of $300,000.”

Finding Their Forever Homes Now

A recent CNBC article revealed that there are many factors that delayed older millennials (ages 25-35) from buying a home earlier in their lives. The aftereffects of the Great Recession teaming up with larger education costs forced many to either remain living in their parent’s homes or to rent.

With the economy continuing to improve, many millennials have been able to break into better-paying jobs which has helped spur down payment savings. As the dream of homeownership comes closer to reality, many millennials are saving for their forever homes.

According to the latest statistics from NAR, 30% of millennials bought homes for $300,000 or more this year (up from 14% in 2013). Diane Swonk, Chief Economist at Grant Thornton weighed in saying, “They rented for longer. Now they’re going to where they want to stay.”

More and more millennials are settling down, getting married, and starting families, which is a huge factor driving them to look for larger homes.

Increased competition in the starter home market has also been a driving force in waiting to afford their dream homes. Inventory in the starter home market is down 14.2% from last year, according to research from Trulia. This has driven prices up and has led to bidding wars.

Many first-time buyers who were originally looking for starter homes are realizing that for just a little bit more of an investment, they could afford trade-up or premium homes instead.

Bottom Line

If you plan on purchasing your first home this year, work with a local professional who can help you determine how much house you can afford. You may be pleasantly surprised.


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5 Reasons Why to Sell This Summer!

Here are five reasons listing your home for sale this summer makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase…and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy the same home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory has declined year-over-year for the last 35 months and is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon.

Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in his or her home was six, but that number has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the average time it took to close a loan was 41 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has forced these markets into a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

Prices are projected to appreciate by 5.2% over the next year, according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.


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Drop in Inventory Fuels Sales Slowdown [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Existing Home Sales are now at an annual pace of 5.46 million.
  • Inventory of existing homes for sale dropped to a 4-month supply, marking the 35th month in a row of declines.
  • The median price of homes sold in April was $257,900. This is the 74th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.

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Why Have Interest Rates Jumped to a 7-Year High?

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have climbed from 3.95% in the first week of January up to 4.61% last week, which marks a 7-year high according to Freddie Mac. The current pace of acceleration has been fueled by many factors.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist, had this to say:

“Healthy consumer spending and higher commodity prices spooked bond markets and led to higher mortgage rates over the past week.

Not only are buyers facing higher borrowing costs, gas prices are currently at four-year highs just as we enter the important peak home sales season.”

But what do gas prices have to do with interest rates?

Investopedia explains the relationship like this:

“The price of oil and inflation are often seen as being connected in a cause-and-effect relationship. As oil prices move up or down, inflation follows in the same direction.”

You may have noticed that filling your gas tank has become substantially more expensive in recent months. The average national gas price has climbed nearly $0.50 from the beginning of the year, leading to the highest price for Memorial Day weekend since 2014.

As rates go up, your purchasing power goes down, but don’t worry; rates are still well below the averages we’ve seen over the last four decades.

“Freddie Mac said this year’s higher rates have not yet caused much of a ripple in the strong demand levels for buying a home seen in most markets, but inflationary pressures and the prospect of rates approaching 5 percent could begin to hit the psyche of some prospective buyers.”

Buying sooner rather than later will help lock in a lower rate than waiting, as the experts believe rates will continue to climb. Even a small increase in interest rates can have a big impact on your monthly housing cost.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on buying a home this year, keep an eye on gas prices the next time you’re at the pump. If you start to feel a big jump in price, know that rates are probably on their way up too.


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How Current Interest Rates Can Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power

According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at 4.61%, which is still near record lows in comparison to recent history!

The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.

Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford to buy will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.

The chart below shows the impact that rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a home within the national median price range while keeping your principal and interest payments between $1,850-$1,900 a month.

How Current Interest Rates Can Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power | 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). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be closer to 5% by this time next year.

Act now to get the most house for your hard-earned money.


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Is Your First Home Within Your Grasp Now? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • According to the US Census Bureau, ‘millennials’ are defined as 18-36-year-olds.
  • According to NAR’s latest Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, the median age of all first-time home buyers is 32.
  • More and more ‘old millennials’ (25-36) are realizing that homeownership is within their grasp now!

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Moving Up to Your Dream Home? Don’t Wait!

Mortgage interest rates have risen by more than half of a point since the beginning of the year, and many assume that if mortgage rates rise, home values will fall. History, however, has shown this not to be true.

Where are home values today compared to the beginning of the year?

While rates have been rising, so have home values. Here are the most recent monthly price increases reported in the Home Price Insights Report from CoreLogic:

  • January: Prices were up 0.5% over the month before.
  • February: Prices were up 1% over the month before.
  • March: Prices were up 1.4% over the month before.

Not only did prices continue to appreciate, the level of appreciation accelerated over the first quarter. CoreLogic believes that home prices will increase by 5.2% over the next twelve months.

How can prices rise while mortgage rates increase?

Freddie Mac explained in a recent Insight Report:

“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.”

Bottom Line

If you are thinking about moving up to your dream home, waiting until later this year and hoping for prices to fall may not be a good strategy.


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Renters Under 50 Want to Buy a Home!

Every year, the New York Federal Reserve publishes the results of their Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE). Each survey covers a wide range of topics including inflation, labor market, household finance, credit access and housing.

One of the many questions asked in the housing section of the survey was:

Assuming you had the financial resources to do so, would you like to OWN instead of RENT your primary residence?

Over three-quarters of respondents under the age of 50 said that they would prefer to own their home, rather than rent. While only 52.6% of those over 50 would prefer to own. The full breakdown can be found in the chart below.

Renters Under 50 Want to Buy a Home! | Keeping Current Matters

When renters were asked what the average probability of owning a primary residence at some point in their future was, 66.4% of those under 50 believed that they would eventually own their home, while only 23% of those over 50 did.

Renters Under 50 Want to Buy a Home! | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Many had wondered if young Americans had lost their desire to own a home, but for those renting now, that dream is still alive.


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Homeownership: “A Man Is Not a Complete Man, Unless He Owns a House”

The famous quote by Walt Whitman, “A man is not a whole and complete man, unless he owns a house and the ground it stands on,” can be used to describe homeownership in America today. The Census revealed that the percentage of homeowners in America has been steadily climbing back up since hitting a 50-year low in 2016. The homeownership rate in the first quarter of 2018 was 64.2%, higher than last year’s 63.6%.
Homeownership: "A Man Is Not a Complete Man, Unless He Owns a House" | Keeping Current Matters

Chief Economist, Dr. Ralph McLaughlin, in his VUE Blog gave these new homeownership numbers some context:

“The trend is clear: the homeownership rate has been ticking up for five consecutive quarters, and the number of new renter households has fallen for four consecutive quarters. Owner-occupied households grew by 1.345 million from a year ago, while the number of renters actually fell by 286,000 households.

The fact that we now have four consecutive quarters where owner households increased while renter households fell is a strong sign households are making a switch from renting to buying. This is a trend that multifamily builders, investors, and landlords should take note of.”

In a separate article comparing the rental population in America to the homeowner population, Realtor.com also concluded that the gap is now shrinking:

“The U.S. added 1.3 million owner households over the last year and lost 286,000 renter households, the fourth consecutive quarter in which the number of renter households declined from the same quarter a year earlier. That could pose challenges for apartment landlords, who are bracing this year for one of the largest infusions of new rental supply in three decades.”

America’s belief in homeownership was also evidenced in a survey conducted by Pew Research. They asked consumers “How important is homeownership to achieving the American Dream?”

The results:

  • 43% said homeownership was essential to the American Dream
  • 48% said homeownership was important to the American Dream
  • Only 9% said it was not important

Bottom Line

Homeownership has been, is, and always will be a crucial part of the American Dream.


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3 Tips for Making Your Dream of Owning a Home a Reality [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Setting up an automatic savings plan that saves a small amount of every check is one of the best ways to save without thinking much about it.
  • Living within a budget right now will help you save money for down payments while also paying down other debts that might be holding you back.
  • What are you willing to cut back on to make your dreams of homeownership a reality?

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5 Ways Tax Reform Has Impacted the 2018 Housing Market

Starting late last year, some predicted that the 2018 tax changes would cripple the housing market. Headlines warned of the potential for double-digit price depreciation and suggested that buyer demand could drop like a rock. There was even sentiment that homeownership could lose its coveted status as a major component of the American Dream.

Now that the first quarter numbers are in, we can begin to decipher the actual that impact tax reform has had on the real estate market.

1. Has tax reform killed off home buyer demand? The answer is “NO.”

According to the Showing Time Index which “tracks the average number of buyer showings on active residential properties on a monthly basis” and is a “highly reliable leading indicator of current and future demand trends,” buyer demand has increased each month over the last three months and is HIGHER than it was for the same months last year. Buyer demand is not down. It is up.

2. Have the tax changes affected America’s belief in real estate as a long-term investment? The answer is “NO.”

Two weeks ago, Gallup released its annual survey which asks Americans which asset they believed to be the best long-term investment. The survey revealed:

“More Americans name real estate over several other vehicles for growing wealth as the best long-term investment for the fifth year in a row. Just over a third cite real estate for this, while roughly a quarter name stocks or mutual funds.” 

The survey also showed that the percentage of Americans who believe real estate is the best long-term investment was unchanged from a year ago.

3. Has the homeownership rate been negatively impacted by the tax changes? The answer is “NO.”

Not only did the homeownership rate not crash, it increased when compared to the first quarter of last year according to data released by the Census Bureau.

In her latest Z Report,Ivy Zelman explains that tax reform didn’t hurt the homeownership rate, but instead, enhanced it:

“We have been of the opinion that homeownership is most highly correlated with income and the net effect of tax reform would be a positive, rather than negative catalyst for the homeownership rate. While still in the early innings of tax changes, this has proven to be the case.”

4. Has the upper-end market been crushed by new State and Local Taxes (SALT) limitations? The answer is “NO.”

In the National Association of Realtors latest Existing Home Sales Report it was revealed that:

  • Sales between $500,000 and $750,000 were up 4.5% year-over-year
  • Sales between $750,000 and $1M were up 15.1% year-over-year
  • Sales over $1M were up 17.3% year-over-year

5. Will the reforms in the tax code cause home prices to tumble over the next twelve months? The answer is “NO.”

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insights Report, home prices will appreciate in each of the 50 states over the next twelve months. Appreciation is projected to be anywhere from 1.9% to 10.3% with the national average being 4.7%.

Bottom Line

The doomsday scenarios that some predicted based on tax reform fears seem to have already blown over based on the early housing industry numbers being reported.


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Real Estate Tops Best Investment Poll for 5th Year Running

Every year, Gallup surveys Americans to determine their choice for the best long-term investment. Respondents are given a choice between real estate, stocks/mutual funds, gold, savings accounts/CDs, or bonds.

For the fifth year in a row, real estate has come out on top as the best long-term investment!

This year’s results showed that 34% of Americans chose real estate, followed by stocks at 26%. The full results are shown in the chart below.

Real Estate Tops Best Investment Poll for 5th Year Running | Keeping Current Matters

The study makes it a point to draw attention to the contrast in the sentiment over the last five years compared to that of 2011-2012, when gold took the top slot with 34% of the votes. Real estate and stocks took second and third place, respectively, while still in recovery from the Great Recession.

Bottom Line

As the real estate market has recovered, so has the belief of the American people in the stability of housing as a long-term investment.


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Home Inspections: What to Expect

So you made an offer, it was accepted, and now your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. Oftentimes, agents make your offer contingent on a clean home inspection.

This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price you paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or even, in some cases, walk away. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

How to Choose an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. HGTV recommends that you consider the following 5 areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:

  1. Qualifications – find out what’s included in your inspection and if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
  2. Sample Reports – ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. The more detailed the report, the better in most cases.
  3. References – do your homework – ask for phone numbers and names of past clients who you can call to ask about their experiences.
  4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations often means that continued training and education are provided.
  5. Errors & Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human after all, and it is possible that they might miss something they should have seen.

Ask your inspector if it’s okay for you to tag along during the inspection, that way they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.

Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof or crawling around in the attic and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace and chimney, the foundation, and so much more!

Bottom Line

They say ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money into a home of your own. Work with a professional who you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.


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What If I Wait Until Next Year to Buy a Home?

We recently shared that national home prices have increased by 6.7% year-over-year. Over that same time period, interest rates have remained historically low which has allowed many buyers to enter the market.

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 Index Report, home prices will appreciate by 5.2% over the next 12 months.

What Does This Mean as a Buyer?

If home prices appreciate by 5.2% 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 Next Year 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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50% of Homes Sold in 30 Days in March [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • The National Association of REALTORS® recently surveyed their members for their Confidence Index.
  • The REALTORS® Confidence Index is a key indicator of housing market strength based on a monthly survey sent to over 50,000 real estate practitioners. Practitioners are asked about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions.
  • Homes sold in less than 60 days in 35 out of 50 states and Washington D.C.
  • Homes typically went under contract in 30 days in March!

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